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The Magnificent Josh Minott | The Prospect Overview
Josh Minott only played 14.6 minutes per game for Memphis, but I'm all in on him. Plus, Teafale Lenard is the Draft Sicko Deep Cut Prospect of the Week, and more!
I’ll never forget the day my mom came home from work and told me she had bought me a new Gameboy game: “Pokémon: Red Version.” I had no idea what Pokémon was at the time, but I was ecstatic to have something new to play. Within an hour, I was absolutely hooked. My Charmander was decimating Rattatas and Pidgeys left and right. The next day at school, I talked to my friends about it, and they had similarly been bit by the Pokémon bug. They had all sorts of tips and strategies to help me advance in my quest to become the greatest trainer in the Kanto region. Soon, my Pokémon adventure stemmed into the world of trading cards.
There was no greater thrill than opening a pack of Pokémon cards. Much like life and a box of chocolates, you never knew what you were going to get. The uncertainty was tantalizing. As I got older, I turned to other interests. However, I recently began to experience that same excitement again. Not with Pokémon cards, but rather with human beings who play the sport of basketball. The mystery and excitement of what a player could become get my gears turning. I’ll lay in bed, wide awake, thinking about what someone could become with the right developmental opportunities. This is a bad thing to do, given that I’m already short on sleep, thanks to my incredible daughter, who is almost six months old now. But still, I can’t help myself.
The player who is most responsible for this phenomenon is Memphis’s Josh Minott. There were some skeptics when Josh Minott declared for the NBA Draft, given that he only played 14.6 minutes per game in his only college season, and there are fair reasons to be concerned. But I’m in on The Josh Minott Experience, and I want to tell you why.
Defense will likely be Minott’s calling card early in his career. His 3.1 STL % and 5.4 BLK % tell a story on paper, but the film brings that story to life. He has the basics, he’s disruptive, he’s athletic, and he has great size at 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan. On the ball, he does a good job with his feet and arms, walling off defenders and preventing them from getting to their spots. He’s also twitchy and quick to react, so even tricky maneuvers aren’t a guarantee to generate separation from him. His hands move quickly, allowing him to get into handles and poke the ball loose. Minott has a real toughness to him, and he stays tight when bigger players try to bully him. When he does get beat off the ball, his high motor, long strides, and leaping ability always keep him in the play. His recovery effort is tremendous, and he’s never out of a play.
Off the ball, he stays in tune with the play without abandoning his man or falling victim to ball-watching. Like E.J. Liddell, he’s a smart helper who can spring into action at warp speed to meet opposing players at the rim. What differentiates Minott is that he’s an outstanding leaper. He’ll float for blocks. To top it off, he boasts high-end coordination, allowing him to perfectly pinpoint the ball and remain in control of his body even when the offensive player adjusts mid-air.
One of the first notes I took about Minott early in the season was that for a player who many labeled as “raw,” he’s an advanced passer. As the season progressed, it became increasingly clearer that his passing and playmaking were fantastic, real tools. His feel on offense runs parallel with that of his feel on defense. He always has a sense of the floor, where his teammates are, and how he needs to thread needles to avoid defenders. Minott graded out in the 71st percentile per Synergy in spot-up situations. Much of that stems from the possessions where he goes “to the basket” off the catch, where he grades out in the 98th percentile. His slashing is sublime. Minott’s quick first step, elevation, and touch around the basket make him a potent finishing threat. What takes him to the next level, though, is the fact that he always keeps his head up. If a defensive rotation leaves a teammate open, he’ll hit the open man with flare. It’s one thing to recognize an open teammate, but it’s another to consistently deliver the right pass in a timely manner to get them the ball. Minott’s passing arsenal is tremendous for a player his age with his size. He can use his length to get around defenders, drop sneaky bounce passes to bigs, sling it out to spot-up shooters, or hot potato the rock to a cutter. Short-roll passing has become an important skill for NBA big men, and Minott has displayed the necessary craft to earn trust in those situations.
REBOUNDING AND PRODUCTION:
Josh Minott’s nose for the glass is exceptional. He pulled in 10.3 rebounds. His physical tools help here, obviously, but his fundamentals and tenacity are what allow him to truly thrive on the boards. He’ll always box his man out, and he fully embraces the physicality that comes with competing for the ball. When you factor in that nearly 42% of his rebounds came on the offensive side of the ball, too, you come to appreciate how many extra opportunities he can earn for his team.
The last big positive I want to touch on with Minott is that he’s a winning player. I’m sure some of you just had your eyes roll so hard in the back of your head that your brain started to bleed, but hear me out on this one. Memphis was a much better team when Minott was on the court. His Box Plus/Minus this season was 7.2, which was the second-highest on the squad. The only player ahead of him was Deandre Williams, who is 25 years old. This also means that Minott posted a higher BPM than Jalen Duren, a consensus lottery pick. I’m certainly not saying that Minott is better than Duren; Duren is much higher on my board, and Minott had the advantage of having fresher legs. But it does show that Josh Minott was a fantastic contributor and that he likely would have been on the floor much more often if he wasn’t playing behind a consensus lottery pick and a 25-year-old.
To call Josh Minott’s shooting “a bit of a concern” would be equivalent to calling The Pope “sort of into Catholicism.” Minott took 15 catch-and-shoot jumpers last season, and he only made two of them. I wish I could say, “let’s brush it off and move along, folks, small sample size!” Sadly, I can’t do that. Some of the misses are bad, veering off to the sides of the rim or going way long. The 2-for-15 number feels even worse when you consider that one of those makes was the hilarious banked-in three-pointer in the video above.
There are a lot of issues that stem from his mechanics and timing. To start, he has a tendency to take the ball down below his left hip. Given that he’s a right-handed shooter, this is troublesome. He then brings the ball up and across his body, creating an odd trajectory before his release. On occasion, he’ll include a dramatic leg flail. There is so much noise throughout the entire movement that he’s making it exceptionally difficult to keep the final product under control. To make matters worse, Minott also has a tendency to rush through the entire motion, further exacerbating the control issue.
Thankfully, I can offer you a bit of optimism here. Minott got to the free-throw line frequently (5.4 FTAs per 40 mins) thanks to his aggressive attacking game. At the line, Minott’s shooting motion is…completely normal! It’s like he’s a different guy! He made 75.4% of his shots at the charity stripe with a clean stroke. The mechanics he displays on those attempts are great. While he needs to rebuild his in-game jumper from scratch, his touch on shots around the basket and free throws leads me to believe he can do it.
This is where things get weird! Most guys who play under 20 minutes per game as freshmen don’t go pro. If you look at the ones who do over the last ten years and get taken in the top 40 picks, you get a bizarre list of players. You get NBA flame-outs like Grant Jerrett, fringe players like Cheick Diallo and Skal Labissiere, journeymen like Tony Bradley, and the odd Day’Ron Sharpe, who merely happened to play in a loaded frontcourt that prevented him from getting playing time he would have gotten almost anywhere else. It’s not entirely helpful, but it also doesn’t give a ringing endorsement to Minott.
A more interesting list came up during a BartTorvik query, though. Since 2016, only four players have had a BLK % over 5.0, a STL % over 3.0, an AST % over 12, and an OREB % over 12. They are as follows:
-Fringe NBA Player Gary Clark as a senior at Cincinnati
-Consensus first-round pick LSU sophomore Tari Eason
-Former number one overall pick Zion Williamson as a freshman at Duke
That’s quite the company! Now, I’m not saying that Minott should similarly be regarded as a prospective generational talent because Zion Williamson is the only other freshman on the list. What I am saying is that his defensive production, passing feel, physical tools, and motor, paired with his age, are a rare package. Skillset rarity should be taken into account when teams are drafting. If a type of player who doesn’t come around as often is available, that should hold more value than a player of a more common archetype.
WHERE I WOULD TAKE HIM:
Currently, I am much higher than the consensus on Josh Minott. He wasn’t included on Corey Tulaba’s most recent Top 55 $DRFT Stock Market. ESPN’s Big Board currently has him slotted 47th, and the most recent No Ceilings BIG Board had him 43rd. At this moment in time, I have Josh Minott 22nd on my board. That may seem egregious, and I get that. But I love what he has to offer, and I believe in him eventually becoming a near-respectable jump shooter. Given everything else he has to offer, I believe that’s all he’ll need to be. If he can get defenders to come out on the perimeter, he’ll be a real problem. His strong first step, facilitating, and lift all make him a potent driver or short-roll operator. That said, if he can’t command any level of attention outside the paint, his halfcourt offense could prevent him from sticking in the NBA. If defenders sag off on him, it will sap his athleticism and prevent him from initiating the defensive rotations that open up his playmaking. Still, his combination of solid free throw mechanics, feel, and on-court motor is enough to make me buy in. Big, smart players tend to figure it out even if the shot isn’t there; look at how Trendon Watford and Dalano Banton held their own this year. Their shots were further along, but Minott is leaps and bounds ahead of them athletically, and I like his defense more than either of theirs.
Minott is far from a sure thing, but he has the underlying traits I look for when I’m going to take a risk. You never know for sure what is going to be in a pack of Pokémon cards when you open it up; you’re going in blind. But sometimes, you peel back the packaging, and you see the light reflect off the shimmering cardboard, indicating a valuable holographic may be in your hand. Sometimes it is the coveted Charizard, other times the less valuable Meowth. But with Minott, I see enough of the card to get my hopes up.
The Draft Sicko Deep Cut Prospect of the Week is…TEAFALE LENARD!
You may recognize Teafale Lenard from the big championship game in the tournament. That’s right: I’m talking, of course, about the College Basketball Invitational finals between UNC Wilmington and Middle Tennessee State!
But in all seriousness, Teafale Lenard deserves your attention. Check this out:
The 6’7” freshman posted a fascinating statistical profile in his 20 minutes per game: 6.9 PPG on 56.0/33.8/60.0 splits, 3.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.9 STL, and 1.5 BPG. Lenard also posted 48 dunks. The only freshman with more were Chet Holmgren, DaRon Holmes, and Jalen Duren—all big men. His ability to get to the rim with his long strides and soar for slams allowed him to finish in the 90th percentile around the basket in the halfcourt, per Synergy. Lenard is also wise with when he pulls the trigger, which is why he shot 69.3% on twos.
Lenard’s defensive production is excellent for a wing, especially given how few minutes he played early in the year. He takes advantage of inattentive ball handlers for strips and flies for blocks. Lenard also does a great job of tracking the ball while in the air. Help instincts are solid, and his long body allows him to swallow up smaller players when he’s guarding the ball. He’s attentive, and his motor runs high, so he’s never out of the play. He’ll occasionally lose his man trying to get in position for blocks, but that’s common for young players.
Lenard’s shot is his weak point, but mechanically, it’s fine. His shot prep is simple, and his motion is clean. Still, it needs to go in at a higher clip, especially at the charity stripe. MTSU didn’t play him in the closing stretch of a few close games, and I wonder if the free throw numbers played a factor in that. His legs are also skinny, but just about every college player needs to gain size, so I’m not sweating that.
Lenard got bigger opportunities as the season progressed, and it’s because he earned them. He’s a big-time athlete who plays with fire. It’s rare to see mid-major players with his level of bounce and speed. If the shot comes along, there’s a real chance we’re talking about him as a serious draft prospect this time next year. It may take him a bit longer, and that’s fine; not everyone follows the same trajectory. But make sure you’re filing this one away. Lenard is an awesome defender, a high-end finisher, and someone who plays hard. He’s the best prospect I’ve covered in this section.
-Throughout this portion of the draft process, I’ve been deep diving into prospects’ best and worst games that I didn’t catch during the season. I’ll be covering a few of my “final thoughts” here.
-I feel like I was harsher than I should have been to Justin Lewis on my last big board. His feet aren’t great, but there are small moments of hesitation into burst on offense that give me optimism. His lack of touch around the basket, tendency to pick up his dribble too early, and lack of passing ability keep him out of the first round for now. I don’t think he should fall much further than that, though. Players with his size, shooting ability, and propensity to improve absolutely deserve to be drafted.
-Isaiah Mobley will be a real test case for the value of savvy and feel vs. athleticism. He’s supremely skilled and patient with the ball, but his lack of burst and bounce is troublesome. I don’t feel great about him at the 4, and his size isn’t ideal for the 5, especially since he struggles to get off the floor. His handle is impressive, but I don’t know how often that will come into play at the next level. Currently, I would prefer someone like Pete Nance, who is a more reliable shooter with other similar traits.
-I wish I could put a better grade on Orlando Robinson. He’s been a joy to watch, and his step forward has been one of the most exciting stories in the sport. His mentality is night and day from last season. Not only does he never mentally take himself out of games, but he’s become a true leader on the floor. Still, he doesn’t have good enough feet when closing out, he struggles to contest at the rim, and he’s not as strong with the ball as I would like. Robinson has the makings of a unique backup center due to his wide-ranging offensive arsenal, but too many little things are missing for me to rank him in my Top 60.
-My 5 through 12 range is tightly packed, but Jalen Duren managed to inch himself up. His post game and face-up offense gained polish in a hurry. Duren also started to relish doing the dirty work once he had competent point guard play at his disposal. His catch radius, lob-readiness, and ability to finish with one hand are all big-time.
-It was great to see Jean Montero have a big performance at The Nike Hoop Summit. Evaluating him in the OTE environment has been difficult, so seeing him with new scenery was refreshing. His offensive footwork generated him plenty of separation, and his outside shot was falling while simultaneously looking the part. He used his rhythm well to set up his burst. Montero’s size has been a knock on him throughout this draft cycle, but he didn’t look or play small in the face of Team USA’s bigger roster. This was a signature performance for him that should quell some doubts.