It's Overthinking Season
It's a magical time of the year for NBA Draft fans. It's also a time in which overthinking and boredom can become your worst enemies.
If you’ve ever found yourself overthinking a situation in life, you understand the frustration that comes with it. You sit around and examine each and every outcome. No matter how unlikely or unrealistic, you still spend valuable seconds concerned about a hypothetical route of solution becoming true.
The game of basketball can be something that toys with our emotions. As fans, we fall in love with this beautiful sport, pouring our hearts into an empty glass before repeating the process with each upcoming game day. We triumph when our favorite team flourishes, getting our hopes up that our soldiers on the battlefield can push forward toward the goal of winning an NBA championship. Once they come up short, we mourn their heartbreak. That’s the moment in which the rainstorm must eventually turn into a sunrise. That sunrise becomes the NBA Draft: a land full of promise and the idea of improving on the past.
NBA Draft fans and evaluators will spend the entire cycle burning through hours of film. Any blank canvas finds our minds trying to put together an imaginary big board or mock draft. But after months and months of similar questions and comparisons, we all can run into one common danger.
“Oh shit. Am I starting to overthink this?”
The answer is most likely yes. If you’ve found yourself planting a flag on “I’d be taking Amen Thompson third overall” for the last four months…why are you suddenly questioning it in March? An important part of evaluation is to take into consideration all possible outcomes. It doesn’t mean that if you decided on December 5th that a draft prospect was fifth on your big board, that you can’t change your mind.
But there’s also a time of the year in which draft maniacs simply start to overanalyze situations. We all do it. Yes, even you reading this sentence. We continue to watch the same film while asking the same questions over and over again.
“Man, Amen is so gifted, and if that shot comes around, my goodness…but what if the shot doesn’t come around?”
“ Keyonte George has been so awesome this year, but why aren’t his percentages a bit better?”
“GG Jackson is scary talented; why isn’t he averaging more assists?”
Your mind can be your worst enemy around this time of the year. Conference tournaments in the NCAA are getting underway, which means we are all foaming at the mouth for Selection Sunday and March Madness to get underway.
It also means that we now have a massive slate of regular season games in both the NCAA and International play to go back and watch. With the NBA winding down its final games of the 2022-23 regular season, it’s also becoming more clear what teams are going to be in a specific region for lottery standings. All of this can lead to some impatience and a desire to chase a new question when it comes to discussing a prospect. I’m here to tell you to be careful. Go back and review your notes.
Here are some reminders to help your “overthinking.”
Scoot Henderson is Still That Guy
Throughout the draft cycle, I’ve noticed a humorous development. As time has gone on, it looks as if fans are simply trying to talk themselves OUT of Scoot Henderson. I don’t know why, because Henderson has been just flat-out sensational this year.
At the beginning of the draft cycle, I traveled to Las Vegas with fellow No Ceilings member Albert Ghim. As part of the Victor Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson showdown, plenty of NBA executives and scouts piled into their seats to get a look at the talented duo. I left that weekend jaw-dropped from not only seeing Wembanyama dominate but also the potential from Henderson as well.
Scoot is not built like your typical point guard. Although he’s listed at 6’2”, the overall build of Henderson was shocking. He’s lengthy and built like a brick. You pair that with his athleticism and speed, as well as his HUGE steps in development as a playmaker this season, Scoot is it.
14.6 PTS, 4.7 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.9 STL
45.4 FG%, 19.6 3P%, 78.0 FT%
17.8 PTS, 4.9 REB, 6.1 AST, 1.3 STL
44.8 FG%, 32.8 3P%, 76.1 FT%
Henderson has played with impressive improvements throughout the year. He missed several weeks during the season after suffering a nasal fracture. He just turned 19 years old last month and will have two seasons of G League experience under his belt. It’s easy for our minds to play games with us this time of the year. I still firmly believe that this draft should include Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson as the first two picks regardless of teams. I’m sure there will be others that think differently, and that’s perfectly fine.
The Thompson Twins are Great Prospects
Are the Thompson Twins going to be two of the most dissected prospects in this draft class? It seems as if each week I’ve found myself having a new conversation centered around one of the twins. People continue to scratch their heads and wonder just how good the Twins can be.
That has resulted in the same conversation from LAST year coming back into the picture. “Well, how good is the competition level really?”
Here are the simple facts. The talent level at the Overtime Elite level has gotten drastically better. The Thompson Twins have taken steps forward in their development compared to last year. That means that the OTE experiment is paying off for the Twins. Evaluators continue to nitpick Ausar and Amen Thompson as closely as they can. The truth could be ugly when it comes to draft fans.
Are we just desperately trying to convince ourselves that this class is going to have a plethora of superstars? Why aren’t we simply realizing how awesome both of the Twins could be even if they aren’t superstars? We’re talking about two 6’7” wings with sensational athleticism and their own unique flavor on the court. Amen will be the flashier playmaking prospect who can explode down the lane for vicious slams above the rim.
Ausar has taken leaps forward when it comes to his shooting and projects to be a more versatile off-the-ball weapon early on. Instead of obsessing about what number the Thompson Twins get selected on draft night, we should focus on the excitement of their tools being added to a franchise.
Pay Attention to the “Overlooked” Names
One of my favorite things to monitor throughout draft season is the names that haven’t gotten enough buzz. There are always some “stars” that don’t get enough shine throughout a draft cycle. You might believe they are getting worthy attention, but I believe that they quickly become the prospects that fans aren’t enamored with enough.
Admit it, sometimes you just want to watch the electrifying highlight machines that are blocking shots into the fifth row or crossing up defenders on a regular basis. But what about the other guys? What about the prospects that are battling in the trenches and impacting the game without showing up in the box score?
Cason Wallace is quickly becoming a prospect that I believe could be one of the safest in the lottery. Wallace has been awesome for Kentucky this year. This is something we often do with an incoming freshman or even with some returners. We give them a “task” as an evaluator. For Wallace, many scouts wanted to see how his outside shot would develop as a freshman guard for the Wildcats. For most of the year, Wallace was sensational from three levels. He showcased a smooth and consistent outside shot that looked like it was going to be a factor at the next level.
The more tape I’ve watched on Wallace, the more flashes of versatility have popped throughout the year. His defensive ability alone makes him a prospect that should have a lengthy career in the NBA as a floor general.
Xavier guard Colby Jones and UConn wing Jordan Hawkins have also become two more names I believe need some spotlight in this discussion. Let’s first start with Jones. The junior guard came into the year with the reputation of a player that can impact the game in a variety of ways. But Jones needed to showcase a consistent outside shot to get the “serious” attention of scouts. Colby has shot 40.2% from three-point range over 30 games. At the same time, he has averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Are we overthinking and overlooking a player like Jones just because he isn’t a highlight machine? If he was doing this as a freshman, we’d all be freaking out. Is this the upperclassmen prospect we look back and go “man, why do we always do this?”
Jordan Hawkins has cemented himself as a player who I believe can have a bit of a surge in the predraft process. NBA teams are hunting for offensive weapons more than ever. Hawkins has showcased that he can be a lethal weapon on the offensive side of the ball, especially without the ball in his hands. Chasing Hawkins as a defender looks like one of the most exhausting things to do in life. But Hawkins has shown great improvements when it comes to his offensive versatility and movement shooting. Why isn’t he a Top 20 pick? Why isn’t he a Lottery pick?
Stretch Runs Are Fun; They Don’t Tell it All
It’s very important to remember this one, folks. We can all get jacked up on a new shiny object that is on a serious heater. It can start to twist our minds into believing that this is the “norm” now. Sometimes a limited sample can simply be the light switch coming on for a young talent. Other times, can we be worried about it being fool’s gold?
First 23 Games:
12.3 PTS, 3.6 REB, 3.6 AST, 2.0 STL
48.6 FG%, 40.8 3p%, 69.8 FT%
Last 6 Games:
9.7 PTS, 3.3 REB, 6.5 AST, 1.5 STL
30.6 FG%, 10.0 3p%, 90.0 FT%
First 22 Games:
6.6 PTS, 2.5 REB, 0.9 AST, 0.9 STL
41.5 FG%, 35.6 3p%, 65.9 FT%
Last 8 Games:
18.3 PTS, 3.6 REB, 1.3 AST, 0.6 STL
53.9 FG%, 41.2 3p%, 66.7 FT%
If you were to look at those two prospects above without knowing who they were, you’d probably have some interesting thoughts.
Prospect A is Kentucky Wildcats freshman Cason Wallace. Prospect B is Florida Gators guard Riley Kugel.
You’ve got to make sure to evaluate an entire slate of a season when you want to get a grasp of a prospect. A bad or strong stretch of games can be eye candy, especially if you find yourself passionate about one side of the fence. But is one bad stretch going to convince you to change your entire thought process on a talent?
Potential vs Production
The “Potential vs. Production” debate is a tradition unlike no other when it comes to the NBA Draft. The 2023 class is shaping up to have some monster “potential” poster boys as well.
Now if you’ve been following No Ceilings closely since last year, you should know how I feel about production. I love players that continue to show progression, especially if they are individuals that spent multiple years at the collegiate level. But there’s also untapped potential that cannot be ignored when it comes to prospects.
The 2023 class has a number of talented young players with scary potential that is just waiting to be groomed and unlocked. International big man James Nnaji is one name that you better still be buying stock in when it comes to his ability. If you’re looking for Nnaji to wow you with his production, keep looking. Go look at the roster that Nnaji is trying to earn minutes on…it’s absurdly good. He won’t turn 19 years old until August. Front offices are going to be drooling.
Rayan Rupert is another name that is going to have some SERIOUS fans in front offices. This is the time of the year in which many of you might be looking at a player and saying “he looks like he needs some time.” But think about his game right now. What can he do? Rupert might be a player that looks like he needs development on the offensive side of the ball, but teams might believe he can impact with his defensive weaponry early on.
There are also going to be players on the other side of the fence that offer the idea of “early contribution.” Should teams be more intrigued with the likes of Iowa’s Kris Murray or Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis? Are we overthinking the fact that both of those players have been consistently productive throughout the 2022-23 NCAA season? What about a senior guard like Houston’s Marcus Sasser? Hasn’t he shown enough to warrant a Top-25 selection this year?
Intel Season Will Shake Things Up
We’re reaching a magical time of the year. It’s March Madness time. Regardless of what you want to believe, there are going to be some names that get a nice little “Madness bump” due to their performance & hype of the tournament. It happens each year; just learn to accept it.
That doesn’t mean you have to let it sway your personal rankings, but don’t be surprised if others try to push the boulder up the mountain. It’s also an important time to remind everyone of one of the most important things in the Draft Universe.
Intel is everything.
We will all have our Big Boards and Mock Drafts looking incredible near the end of the NCAA tournament. Then the NBA Draft combine will approach. That means that private workouts, interviews, medicals, and all that fun stuff will throw a massive wrinkle into the equation. Intel will start to cook around the basketball world and that will have some ramifications on rankings.
So when you find yourself wondering “how in the heck did that guy go 20th? I had him ranked 10th…”
There’s probably something going on behind the scenes you don’t know about.