The Perfect Nightmare
Every once in a while, an NBA Draft class comes along that installs a new chapter of terror in your life.
“Time to Float.”
There’s an idea that comes with each and every NBA Draft class. A wonderful dream that involves the vision of a joyful experience filled with lengthy evenings of basketball consumption. Consider it a personal adventure, one that will have an individual possessed with the goal of finding the next superstar to step foot onto a professional basketball court.
Throughout my time of honing my craft as a talent evaluator, I’ve found that each NBA Draft class can provide you with a number of pleasant surprises. You can find yourself quickly realizing that a slate of incoming talent might include a much deeper class than expected. There’s also the special time of the year in which you realize your personally starting to get into a rhythm. You’ll start to actually start to see the game differently, picking up on important details that you might have missed in previous years. Every incoming Draft class offers an assortment of young talent that will have fan bases dreaming of find their next building block.
But there’s also the rare class that comes around once every 27 years…
“For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you.” - Pennywise
As evaluators we've been given a golden gift over the last couple of years when it comes to the amount of prospects who have gone on to thrive at the NBA level. It’s been absolutely remarkable to look back and see the plethora of young talent that have come into the league and experienced such rapid success. The problem with this is that we are going to have a number of Draft fans that are drunk off unrealistic expectations. Sure, we are all looking back at the most recent Draft hauls and find ourselves dancing around the room like Richard Simmons teaching a fitness class. When you find that there’s been a number of sensational Draft classes, it also means that sooner or later, there’s going to be a horror film of epic proportions inserting itself into the picture.
I’ve seen it too many times. You start to find yourself surging with energy because each and every day, you find a new prospect that you start to become fascinated with. Addiction starts to kick in and that can lead you to having a disregard for some glaring “warning” signs. You continue to remind yourself that "hey, look how solid the last couple of drafts were…we could find ourselves a really nice piece later in the draft.” That’s when it finally starts to hit you. It doesn’t just hit you at once like a ton of bricks falling on top of you. It’s a slow drawn out feeling that continues to creep into your soul with each passing hour. You wake up in the middle of the night with a chill running down your spine, convinced that something isn’t right.
That’s when you realize The Perfect Nightmare is here.
Now before you start to shake in complete fear, let’s get this safety statement out of the way for all the children out there. No, I’m not saying that this piece has the “goal” of trying to suggest that the 2022 NBA Draft class isn’t going to have a number of players that will go on to have successful NBA careers. If you’ve been following No Ceilings throughout the year, you should know by now that we are rooting for every prospect to have as much success as humanly possible. But I’m here to warn you about the incoming point guard class…because it’s horrifying.
There’s always an incoming crop of talent that is going to offer some extreme challenges when it comes to the evaluation process. For the 2022 NBA Draft class, the point guard position has been that curveball. There’s simply plenty of questions that are still unanswered when it comes to the assortment of floor generals in this class. In the classic horror film series “IT,” an ancient lunatic clown (Pennywise) comes back into the town of Derry, Maine once every 27 years in order to feed off of the fear of children. The point guard class of 2022 is Pennywise and I am the children of Derry. Pennywise scares the living crap out of the young kids, often shaping himself to be a figure that each young child is most frightened by.
He also has an obsession with using Red Balloons to signify how creepy and horrifying he can be which gives me an idea…
THE FLOOR GENERALS
JD Davison, G, Alabama
The Selling Point: Athleticism & Upside
The Red Balloon (Horror Factor): Rawness, Feel for the Game.
Stats as of 2/23: 8.5 PTS, 4.8 REB, 4.0 AST, 0.8 STL, 46/29/72
Heading into the 2021-22 NCAA season, Alabama freshman guard JD Davison was generating plenty of buzz as a potential candidate to be one of the top point guard’s in the incoming class. When you start to dive into Davison’s game, you find yourself checking a number of boxes quickly. He’s got some strong measurables at 6’3” with a rumored freakish 6’8” wingspan. Davison dominated the high school ranks with his remarkable athleticism. He as a poster printing machine and floats through the lane like Pennywise and his red balloons.
My personal problem with raw, athletic floor generals is that they usually still have a long way to go when it comes to figure out what it takes to be a more complete point guard. Davison has had his fair share of impressive performances this year (watch the game against Gonzaga), but there’s still some inconsistency that will have evaluators and scouts puzzled. It’s not to say that Davison doesn’t have the upside to become a dangerous ball handler at the next level, but one could question as to whether or not another year of development would be a strong decision. Davison has also had to deal with some traffic this year, as the Crimson Tide already have a crowded backcourt the features a number of talented guards. The hair is electric and the athleticism is awesome, but Davison will need some time to learn how to play with pace and better utilize his lightning quick speed.
Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite
The Selling Point: Playmaking & Elusiveness
The Red Balloon: Competition Level & Uncertainty
Stats as of 2/17: 17.4 PTS, 7.6 REB, 4.9 AST, 3.7 STL, 54/28/70
The Jean Montero situation is shaping up to be a horror film dynasty. If you watched Montero throughout his 2020-21 season overseas with Spanish ACB team Gran Canaria, you can understand the serious fascination with his tools. Throughout those games, Montero shows some sensational playmaking upside and has the vision and ability to throw passes in tight windows. There’s a reason why NBA scouts and personnel have been tracking Montero closely over the years. He started to shine as a 15-year-old while playing at the FIBA U17 World Cup and then parlayed that into an impressive showing at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camp in 2020.
Montero made the decision to spend the year training with the Overtime Elite this year in preparation for the NBA Draft. It’s the first time that the league has started to generate some notable prospects and it’s going to become a puzzling situation for evaluators throughout the scouting world. It’s not to put any shade at the Overtime Elite for their desire to open up a new avenue for prospects to develop their craft, but the competition level is going to continue to come into question here. Montero has put up plenty of impressive box scores throughout the season with the Overtime Elite. Still, many will wonder if the “jump” will suddenly be a bit steeper than if Montero had simply tried to play another year overseas.
With the playmaking upside and explosive shiftiness that Montero has in his arsenal, there’s still a strong chance that the 18-year-old guard can generate plenty of fans in Front Offices. Personally, I think this is a prospect who can heat up more than anyone with a strong pre-draft process. Montero has been listed everywhere from 6’2” to 6’4” throughout the year. If Montero can get in front of NBA decision makers and put on a show, he could start to make some serious movement up Draft boards. For now, his evaluation will continue to haunt my dreams on a nightly basis.
Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee
The Selling Point: Feel for the Game & Defensive ability
The Red Balloon: Size & NBA Fit
Stats as of 2/23: 13.6 PTS, 3.4 REB, 4.8 AST, 2.3 STL, 45/33/63
They will tell stories one day of the confusing madness of love that I’ve personally had for Tennessee freshman Kennedy Chandler this year. Listed at 6’0”, 170 pounds, Chandler is going to draw the groan of plenty of evaluators that are skeptical of the “undersized” floor general. Look, I get it and I understand your fear. I’m not trying to feed off of the fear, but I do think that there’s still some intriguing appeal when it comes to Chandler as a prospect.
If you go back and watch Chandler throughout his playing time with Team USA in the FIBA ranks, you’ll see a ball-handler that can really stand out with his play all over the court. The modern NBA has continued to transition into a league that is quickly generating a plethora of point guards that have impressive size. While the 19-year-old guard will be on the smaller size, Chandler still stands out with his intriguing ability on both sides of the ball. Chandler is an absolute blur with the ball in his hands, but he also understands how to play with a change of gears.
There’s been plenty of instances throughout the year where I find myself wanting to move Chandler down my board before he starts to have a strong stretch of performances. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull be back in.” There’s still time for Chandler to cement himself as a player who can start to generate some momentum up boards again. My bet is that NBA scouts and personnel won’t be scared of Chandler’s one year Tennessee and that he will find a way to sneak into the end of the first round as a potential rotation asset for his next team.
Dyson Daniels, G, G-League Ignite
The Selling Point: Basketball IQ & Upside
The Red Balloon: NBA Role & Shooting
Stats as of 2/23: 11.0 PTS, 6.1 REB, 4.5 AST, 2.0 STL, 45/31/52
So this is the part of the segment in which things are starting to get “less” scary. Look, I know what you’re probably thinking when you saw the graphic… “Wait, why are Dyson Daniels and TyTy Washington included in this piece?” Just trust me folks, as I always say…I have a method to my madness. Dyson Daniels was a prospect that I was quickly puzzled about at the beginning of the year. But as I wrote about in my “Matrix” scouting piece, he was a player that I quickly realized I was going to have to come back and check-in on.
Once I got around to getting a larger sample size of film on Daniels, I quickly started to see the intrigue. Daniels is an Australian-born guard with great size at around 6’6”, 185 pounds. He plays the game with a composed feel, as if he’s giving off Golden State Warriors Shaun Livingston vibes. The kicker here is that Daniels won’t be turning 19-years-old until March 17th. There’s plenty to like when you talk about the feel for the game and defensive ability that Daniels has on the floor.
The puzzling opinion that I can’t seem to shake personally is what is the specific NBA Role for Daniels moving forward. His outside shot looks to have some upside, but it’s still going to need some time to become more consistent. While Daniels plays the game with the vision and composure of a floor general, are some teams going to see him as more of a combo guard? Are teams Drafting him with the idea that he can groom into a potential floor general? Or are you just drafting a guard who can play the game with a high basketball IQ and letting him be an impactful presence in the backcourt?
As I said before, this isn’t me knocking Daniels’ potential at the NBA level, as I currently have him ranked 13th on my personal Big Board, but I do think there are some lingering questions that need to be answered moving forward.
TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky
The Selling Point: Feel For the Game & Shooting Stroke
The Red Balloon: Explosiveness & Finishing
Stats as of 2/23: 12.4 PTS, 3.6 REB, 4.1 AST, 1.2 STL, 47/35/72
If you’ve been following the No Ceilings NBA Draft content throughout the year, then you should know that I’ve been a bit “skeptical” when it comes to TyTy Washington. It took me a long time, but the light has started to finally come on for me when it comes to the Kentucky Wildcats freshman. Still, I have some questions that will need to be answered moving forward.
If you watch Washington closely on film, you understand the upside and idea around his game. Listed at 6’3”, 197 pounds, Washington stands out on the court with his veteran like poise on the floor and his shooting touch at three-levels. He’s got some serious touch around the basket, especially when it comes to floaters and pull-up jumpers. Washington has some impressive shiftiness to his game. He understands that he might not possess that fifth or sixth gear to blow by defenders with relative ease, but he utilizes his elusiveness in tight windows to get to his spots on the floor.
The playmaking ability is something that really started to stand out to me and it’s one of the reasons in which I think Washington has started to separate himself from the rest of the pack of floor generals. The only question I have moving forward is if Washington’s lack of elite explosiveness can allow him to survive at the next level. Are we falling in love with Washington because of his actual game? Or are we fascinated with him as a point guard because of the question marks with the other prospects. It’s not me trying to downplay his ability, but I do think that’s an important question to put into your mind when you’re evaluating the full slate of playmakers in this class.
Washington has had his struggles when it comes to finishing around the rim, but I do think there’s enough personal awareness in that aspect that allows him to utilize his floater and touch in the lane to “hide” that weakness.
Like every class before it, the incoming slate of prospects for the 2022 NBA Draft is shaping up to offer plenty of intrigue and excitement. As we inch closer to the conclusion of the 2021-22 NCAA season, there’s going to be plenty of discussions that involve movement among the ranks of some of the top players in the class. There’s still a range in this Draft that NBA teams are looking for players to sneak up and make a statement.
Although each NBA Draft class can offer the idea of unmatched happiness, there’s also the other side of the fence that can come into play as well. When it comes to the point guard class of 2022, I find myself starting to look over my shoulder with an uncomfortable feeling of fear. Time will tell if these floor generals can prove me wrong and odds are that they will.
For now, I’ll continue to watch them closely and look out for any random red balloons floating around…