Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Bennedict Mathurin: The Tale of Two Draft Stocks | The Morning Dunk
This week saw Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Milwaukee play another power conference game against Colorado and struggle mightily, while Bennedict Mathurin and Arizona keep rolling.
Welcome to another edition of The Morning Dunk!
What a week it was, as I was in the building with Corey Taluba for Purdue-Rutgers, and I got to see my alma mater Temple take on St. Joseph’s at Hagan Arena to witness another great Big 5 performance by Jordan Hall.
Not to mention, draft media pioneer Chad Ford stopped by the Draft Deeper Podcast to compare big boards and offer up some intel on plenty of first-round prospects. In case you missed the episode, check it out down below!
And if you missed any of our other podcast offerings this week, please check them out on the No Ceilings podcast network! We had releases from No Ceilings, The Draftdaq AND the return of Backcourt Violation with an awesome former G-League coach giving us some behind-the-scenes insight!
But enough about us, you’re here to read about the week that was in scouting and college hoops and that means talking about who’s hot and who’s not, including Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Bennedict Mathurin.
Matter of fact, that’s where I want to start before I “empty the notebook” on what I saw up close.
So let’s get right into it.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Bennedict Mathurin: The Tale of Two Draft Stocks
There’s no question that narrative can drastically alter the draft stock of a prospect. Majority of the time, it’s unfairly built on one or two poor performances that lead to questions that don’t capture a full body of work.
Tyler Rucker and I talked about the premise of Baldwin’s stock dropping rapidly after a few poor performances.
That’s exactly what’s happening not just on social media but from intel around the league according to insider Chad Ford.
On my podcast, Ford stated that scouts have been the least impressed by what they’ve seen from Baldwin up to this point, and that show was recorded before he only converted on 3-of-13 shots from the field against the Buffaloes.
But does he deserve to drastically rocket down big boards?
At No Ceilings, we’ve already tried to put out content that reflects our patience with prospects and the process overall. Freshman players struggle all the time to adjust to new settings, playing with different teammates and trying to tailor their games to their new coach’s vision.
Wanting to play for his father is one thing, but Baldwin’s supporting cast isn’t doing him any favors either. This is a BAD Panthers team.
Compare Baldwin’s situation to Paolo Banchero’s at Duke for example. Teams can’t defend Banchero the same way they can load up on Baldwin. Sure, Jabari Walker is likely guarding both guys. However, the pressure to hit tough shots and try to look as impressive as possible in two or three games in particular is a tough ask of any teenager.
Banchero can have a bad game or two and still maintain his draft stock because he has double digit showcase games on national television playing at Duke. Not only is their non-conference schedule loaded, but the Blue Devils square off in the ACC.
Baldwin doesn’t have that luxury. He has one more chance to play a more “respectable” opponent for his talent level in scouts’ eyes against Rhode Island tonight.
Even if Baldwin tears up the Horizon league from here on out, evaluators and executives in front offices will just point to his missed opportunities.
Has he shown the body of work to justify a top selection in the 2022 draft up to this point? Admittedly, no. But I stand for evaluating an entire season, keeping certain factors within context and using the eye test to judge more so than the numbers.
Matter of fact, some of the numbers aren’t even poor! Per Synergy Sports, Baldwin ranks in the 88th percentile on spot-up shooting, the 68th percentile in transition scoring and the 96th percentile in jump shots made off the dribble.
At 6’9”, that’s a really great shot profile to have especially when you factor in his 92nd percentile rating in pick-and-rolls including passes. I’m still massively intrigued by a shot maker who’s comfortable at creating off the bounce at his size.
Baldwin has proof on tape of his ability to handle the ball, make timely passes and hold his own defending multiple positions (88th percentile in total defense).
Selling all Baldwin stock and rocketing him down to late lottery or lower on boards this early in the year is a MAJOR overreaction. Once teams get him in for private workouts and see the talent on their own practice floors, I’m confident his name will pop right back near the top where it belongs.
On the other side of the country, buzz is brewing in a big way for Arizona’s gifted sophomore wing in Mathurin.
I’m not sure any player has helped himself more coming back to school for another year than him. Yes, I’m sure Keegan Murray at Iowa would like a word but I’m not as sold on him as an NBA difference maker when compared to Mathurin.
Standing at 6’7”, Mathurin’s athletic ability is tantalizing. He has the speed and quickness turning the corner to make teams pay. His verticality is as impressive as his newfound comfort level and consistency stopping on a dime and operating out of the midrange.
Last year, Mathurin’s proficiency at finishing around the basket on straight line drives and nailing open triples were what was talked about the most. His passing, defense and tempo weren’t viewed as highly, and therefore was labeled as an intriguing late first-round gamble with plenty of upside.
This season he’s answered a ton of questions about the completeness of his game and has put scouts on notice.
Right now, Mathurin is averaging 18.4 PPG on 49.6% shooting from the field including 38.2% from range. That number from three is a slight dip, but he’s also taking nearly double per game. I’ll take a slight dip in percentage made on a massive volume increase.
He’s still figuring out how to better operate off the bounce, but his jump shooting overall has been impressive as has his live dribble passing. Not every look has lead to an assist, but he’s made the right decisions with the basketball in his hands which is really what I’m the most concerned about.
I’m curious to see how he continues to develop as a playmaker and scorer out of pick-and-roll, but his impact on and off the ball offensively while rating out in the 92nd percentile defensively has me wanting more.
I said this at one point last year, but I got some early Andrew Wiggins vibes watching his freshman tape. A smooth, athletic scorer with so much natural talent to tap into so long as the aggression and willingness to take over were there. Flash forward to his sophomore campaign, and those instincts to dominate jump off the screen now more than ever.
Always bet on wings with his statistical profile and eye test grade. Mathurin’s stock is skyrocketing after three straight games of 24-plus points. Make sure to buy your shares now before the market price is too rich for your blood.
Has Taran Armstrong Earned First-Round Consideration?
I can’t let another week go by without writing words on Taran Armstrong. But before you continue on to find out where I’m at on the Cal Baptist frosh, Alex on our No Ceilings team wrote a beautiful piece fully breaking down what he’s seen in his game!
That being said, I LOVE the passing wizardry from Armstrong. The only other prospect I can recall evaluating in my almost 11 years scouting who has similar vision and touch is LaMelo Ball (and we all know how high he got drafted).
The other night, Armstrong had 15 ASSISTS to TWO TURNOVERS against North Dakota. Honestly, that’s absurd for a college freshman.
The stat line is mind boggling for someone his age, but it’s more than just the box score. Flip on the tape as Alex detailed and you’ll see why there are scouts ready to drop his name into the point guard conversation along with JD Davison, Kennedy Chandler, TyTy Washington and Jean Montero.
Passing is more than just making the right read. On film, I can make the argument everyone I just rattled off has the vision to see what the defense is doing and react accordingly.
Not every primary initiator has ELITE understanding in that aspect, but almost every NBA-caliber guard can make the right reads and deliver a simple pass.
But then there are floor generals like Ball and Armstrong who can do some ridiculous things with their transcendent passing ability. Ball placement is what separates guys, as well as the angles one is able to pass from.
Armstrong’s proficiency at whipping the ball cross court from anywhere at any time makes me fall out of my chair when I watch. No one should be able to do what he can do. It’s the same gift that sets social media ablaze when Ball in the NBA or Patrick Mahomes in the NFL do something that drops every jaw on the Internet.
Obviously there’s more to playing the guard position in the league than moving the ball. Armstrong’s shooting does need to continue developing, especially off the dribble where he only ranks in the 11th percentile. But his catch-and-shoot efficiency hasn’t been terrible, he currently ranks in the 88th percentile on runners and he’s been masterful scoring and assisting out of isolations.
At 6’5”, Armstrong has plus size as a point guard and also has the most complete basic stats profile of any of the other names mentioned. He’s currently averaging 12.3 PPG, 7.7 REB and 8.8 AST per game with plenty of room to improve.
Armstrong doesn’t possess that elite quickness off the bounce or a first step that puts defenses in a bind. Couple that with his so-so jump shooting off the dribble as noted, and it doesn’t make for a dynamic pick-and-roll operator in the mold of a Chandler or Montero.
But he has the handle, craft and IQ to improve in pick-and-roll sets especially if in tandem with a better dance partner of a big man. At the NBA level, I’m confident his passing gravity and quality of teammates could make a massive difference in where he sits percentile wise in that play type.
I will have his name somewhere on the next edition of my Draft Deeper board, and I’m also confident he will make the next No Ceilings composite rank. But how high can he climb?
Armstrong has as high if not higher upside of any point in the class. Davison is above him athletically, but isn’t in the same conversation as a passer along with Washington. Chandler doesn’t have the same size and struggles more so in isolation. Montero has some of the best moments of any prospect in the 2022 draft period, but also some of the lowest of lows against high schoolers.
The argument against Armstrong is that he did have a very poor game against Texas earlier on where he struggled to score effectively from the field and had only 1 assist to 7 turnovers. I went back to watch the tape on that one, and came away not as concerned as I thought I would in terms of the AST/TO ratio.
Sometimes players as gifted as Armstrong at processing the game see one or two plays ahead more often than his teammates. He sees one thing, the man supposed to cut or move into the shot created may not see that same angle emerge. Those turnovers count on the stat sheet, but I obviously pay attention to what my eyes are telling me there. It’s a game critics will point to, but I won’t let that one performance against a vastly superior squad warp my evaluation process.
I’m leaving the door wide open for him to surprise us all and cement himself as the best point guard eligible for the draft come June. There’s always a few guys who shock the world and soar up boards. Johnny Davis, who I talked about last week, is certainly one of them. I’m putting money on Armstrong to be another.
Emptying the Notebook: Purdue-Rutgers and Temple-St. Joe’s
Ron Harper Jr. had himself a NIGHT far beyond just that last-second heave. The 6’6” senior wing scored 30 points and also brought down 10 rebounds for a double-double against then top-ranked Purdue.
Obviously Corey and I were there to get eyes on sophomore phenom Jaden Ivey, but I wasn’t finished keeping tabs on Harper as a draftable prospect.
Is he a first-round talent? I can’t quite make that case. But should an NBA team consider spending a second-round pick on him? Absolutely.
Not many wings have his build, and it helps him hunt for mismatches offensively while also holding his own down low on switches and contests. What shocks me more is how good his feet are on the perimeter. Harper can stay with quicker guards and wings, and at 245 lbs. no one is pushing him off a spot.
Once he gets a head of steam toward the rim, it’s hard to keep him out of the paint. At that point, Harper is on his way to an easy deuce. Factor in his pull-up shooting ability and he’s a dangerous weapon for an NBA team to deploy.
The main concerns surround RHJ include weight management, conditioning and consistent scoring output. But in one-on-one situations, whether it’s a face-up shot with a hand in his face or a turnaround out of the post, there’s not a more unique option in the country than Harper.
Currently ranking in the 98th percentile in spot-up shooting, 81st percentile on post-ups and 86th percentile on jumpers overall including 91st on catch-and-shoot looks, Harper has the shot profile of an NBA wing. And in today’s game where his bulk could help him play up a spot in a small ball lineup, there’s little question to ME whether he has a home in the league or not.
Do NBA teams see the same versatility? Or will they talk themselves out of Harper because of the aforementioned question marks? I’d venture to guess this performance put him right back on teams’ radars and rightfully so. He earned that shot and it was well deserved.
On the Purdue side, I’ve already written about Ivey in spades but getting a look at him was worthwhile to pick out a few things about his scoring attack overall and his jump shooting mechanics.
Watching Ivey on tape, his open court speed stands out immediately in transition. But in person, it’s easy to deduce he’s on another level when it comes to “being fast”. I love when he turns the corner to get downhill and put pressure on defenses in the halfcourt.
Unfortunately because of the game plan those opportunities are few and far between. The Boilermakers run a post-centric scheme that forces Ivey to spend a ton of time off the ball and it limits how he can effectively impact the game.
If Purdue wants to get Ivey more involved, they should focus on bringing Trevion Williams out more to run some DHO actions to get Ivey going toward the basket. Even just letting him operate more from the top with a screen would do the team some good versus immediately throwing an entry pass into Williams or Zach Edey every single trip down the floor.
That’s why I have the strong belief that Ivey will be much better in the NBA where he’ll be tasked with operating off screens more often that not.
As for his shooting, Ivey’s mechanics allow him to knock down open catch-and-shoot looks when he has the time and space to set up. But every time he’s forced to rush his mechanics, he doesn’t follow through and bricks the shot.
I’m not sure what the answer is to get rid of that bad habit, but he has to get more comfortable at not rushing just because a defender is closing out or jumping to contest. Even off the dribble, I like the release point and the elevation he gets. Now it’s about re-working his mindset just a smidge and empowering him to maintain and hold his follow through every time he takes a jumper.
Speaking of Williams, he put on a CLINIC passing the basketball against the Scarlet Knights. One of the most fascinating playmakers out of the post in the country, he’s putting NBA scouts on notice according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
As a second-round selection, Williams could provide stability down low for a bench unit in need of scoring, ball movement and effectiveness on the glass. He’s no slouch athletically and can get up off the floor much better than I thought for a 6’10” 256 lbs. forward. I have him flagged as a top 60 guy on my expanded board, and it appears I’m not the only one.
Finally, I got to get down to Philadelphia on Saturday to see Hall take over in a win against the Owls.
Hall had 26 points on great splits from the perimeter, knocking in another four triples to bring his total made on the week to 15!
When I evaluated Hall last year, I loved the shooting mechanics and figured the efficiency would increase if he came back to college for another go-round. But his improvements from deep on noticeable volume increase is a great sign for his draft stock heading into the 2022 cycle.
As far as what makes him unique, however, is his court vision and lead guard ability at his size. The 6’8” wing brings the ball up the floor regularly for his team, and sees things way before the rest of his teammates do. He processes the game on both ends at a high level and takes vocal command of leading his squad, motioning where everyone should be and calling out what’s happening each possession.
I love the responsibility and leadership I saw from him up close, and he seems to have the respect of his peers as no one argues back against him or questions his IQ and judgment.
Hall hasn’t been seen on a ton of draft boards early on this season. After seeing improvements from him as a shot maker as well as his awareness and effort defensively this weekend, he’ll be in my top 30 when I release an update to my current board.
Terrence Shannon Jr. had an impressive performance in Madison Square Garden against Tennessee, going for 18 points and 12 rebounds while hounding the Volunteers defensively. A versatile two-way wing who’s shown the willingness to handle the ball, make plays and lead his team, Shannon has become underrated as a prospect. He’s the only player on Texas Tech who could actually make something happen and undertook a role he’ll never be asked to play in the league. As Nick wrote for us last week, there’s plenty of reason to hold stock in who is now considered a sleeper for 2022.
Christian Koloko has surprised many, myself included, with his improved play this year for Arizona. The Wildcats aren’t just winning because of Mathurin’s step up in offensive production. The 7’1” junior is averaging 13.2 PPG and 6.9 REB with a 31.8 PER and a 65.3 TS%. There’s a legitimate debate to be had between him and Mark Williams as the best rim-running threat to draft in the first round. His stock is on the rise and we have a few members on our staff who bought in early.
Cincinnati transfer Tari Eason has made waves over the last few weeks as a potential prospect in 2022. After scoring 20-plus in three of his last four games, the 6’8” wing is gaining steam because of his finishing ability and defensive prowess. Averaging over 1 block and steal per game, Eason has plenty more eyes watching his furthered development. If he starts hitting jumpers with regularity, he could be all over top 30 boards by the end of the year.
Georgetown’s Aminu Mohammed put the Hoyas on his back in a big win Saturday against rival Syracuse, going for 23 points on 7-of-14 from the field while also adding 5 assists. Flip on tape from the game, and his explosiveness pops off the screen. He’s hit 40% of his threes on low volume, but similar to Eason in that if that becomes a weapon from him he’ll continue to gain a rather large following in a hurry.
5 Games To Watch This Week
12/14, 9pm EST: Alabama @ Memphis: The first of two massive matchups for the Tigers this week, we’ll see if the tempo and pressure of the Crimson Tide can rattle a Memphis team that’s already shaken up in the backcourt. Jalen Duren will have the size advantage down low and could have a breakout game if he’s aggressive. As always, watch the perimeter quartet for Alabama of Davison, Keon Ellis, Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly.
12/17, 8pm EST: Villanova @ Creighton: I’m excited to get a better look at Ryan Nembhard and the rest of his squad than I have of late, especially against a tough opponent in Villanova. The Wildcats still have two great college guards in Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore, but Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater have earned fans here at No Ceilings from a draft stock perspective.
12/18, 12pm EST: Tennessee vs. Memphis: Less than a week later, the Tigers have to go up against another difficult backcourt to contend with in Chandler and Santiago Vescovi. If Duren can’t win the interior battle against a proven big like John Fulkerson, scouts could sour even more so on his stock than they already are.
12/18, 1pm EST: Gonzaga vs. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ impressive win over the Volunteers last week opened my eyes to their versatility, as every starter is between 6’6”-6’8”. Could that length and switching style give the Bulldogs some problems? Or will Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme find a way to utilize their superior size to leverage an advantage? Continue to keep an eye on Shannon Jr. as a potential first-round pick.
12/18, 5:15pm EST: Ohio State vs. Kentucky: I’m sure EJ Liddell has this game circled on the calendar multiple times as a statement opportunity for NBA scouts. Kentucky still has interior size and some crafty guards, but no specific answer for the prolific scoring of Liddell. Anxious, excited, eager. Those are the best words to describe how I’m feeling about this game.