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2021 NBA Draft Watch: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. whatever

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Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Drew Timme on full display in another Gonzaga’s rout

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Virginia Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This Zagas team is very loaded, unfortunately, it is stuck playing in a mediocre conference. Thus, it’s difficult to watch Bulldogs game and see them firing on all cylinders… at least those cylinders interesting for multiple draft picks owners like ourselves, that is Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Drew Timme. With the advent of conference play, Suggs, for example, decided to dial down his 3-point game after making almost half of them earlier. And Kispert, a 71.6 TS% player, had a few games with less than 45 FG% – are you kidding me!?

Auspiciously, there’s a lot of film on them, so we were able to find a game in which all of its interesting prospects played well, even if the game itself wasn’t too interesting – they won, like in their 15 previous and 3 subsequent matchups. In other words, they are still undefeated. It’s a game that took place at the end of January, when Gonzaga Bulldogs visited (and demolished) San Diego Toreros. Zags got 57 points combined from the trio of players of interest.

Suggs is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound, 6-foot-5 wingspan freshman guard who scored 17 points, making 5 out of 9 shots with 3 of the makes coming from the long line (out of 4 tries from there). He added 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, noting also 3 turnovers. Thus he was exceeding some of his average numbers and below others as he averages 14.4 PPG (on 51,7/36,7/71,9 shooting splits), 5.5 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.2 SPG and 2.8 TOs.

In the game we didn’t had to see him making his specialty – attacks on hoop. The freshman is taking more than half of his shots (53.1%) from the closest distance, making 67.7% of them. But in the game all we could see in this regard was this play in open court in which he draws a foul.

However, the play exemplifies one more of Suggs’ strengths, namely his ability to get to the free throw line (he has 33.1% FTr). Instead, the young guard showed more than his usual self in shooting department where 34.3% of his shots come from. On the film, you can watch him making catch-and-shoot threes and pullup as well as nice step back which he missed though.

Next, he showed the ability to make cuts and play in the post (never mind the finish in those particular plays).

Suggs’ cut

Suggs’ post play

He also showed up as a solid facilitator.

On defense, he displayed his already well-known competence in playing the passing lanes as well as good footwork and some active hands in on ball D.

Suggs’ plays in passing lanes

Suggs’ on ball D

However, in Suggs recent performance most of those positives are shadowed by negatives. To continue the defense talk, his awareness needs work. He can be find lost in P&R coverage and on switches guarding off ball.

And his on-ball D can’t be much productive whenever it’s based on such a poor stance or technique on screens.

On offense, there’s that problem with his dribble. On the film below, you can seen him having sometimes too lose handle, ending up in dead end where’s nothing to do, being unable to come with something creative.

This will be helped by more spaced game of the NBA. But those matters have me worry whether he can be something more that Russell Westbrook type of PG-slasher (more so when he’s trying to make passes showing his confined vision or carelessness like those two).

If not, I wouldn’t be so eager to take him with Pistons’ first selection, whenever it might land.

Senior Kispert, a 6-foot--7, 220-pound wing, had 19 points (on 13 shots), 8 rebounds, a couple of assists, a steal and block as well as four turnovers. For the season, he averages 19.5 PPG (with shooting splits of 56.5/48.3/88.5), 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.2 TOs. Yes, he’s incredibly efficient – a shooting wing with 71.6 TS%!

On defense, Kispert doesn’t have overwhelming counting stats (0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG), but during the game, he displayed the ability to slide on his feet very decently, to deny driving wing, to help and to out-hustle opponents to get a long rebound.

On offense, his game is concentrated in two zones. 51.3% of all his shots come from beyond the arc. 35.2% of his shots come at the rim which he converts at 80.2% clip. He doesn’t pay too much attention to what’s in between – 25.8 FG% from midrange. Thus in the game the senior, first of all, showed his specialty, namely threes served in bunches.

Then he also showed that he can attack the rack in curls or more advanced dribble penetrations.

He used this occasion to prove that he can be a force in transition as well.

Finally, although Kispert was pinned on some ill-advised pass during the game, we need to emphasize that he progressed – even though his starting point wasn’t bad – in taking care of the ball: his TOV% is down to 8.2 from 11.1 season before, despite him having bigger usage rate (22.6 to 18.2).

Kispert is an intriguing prospect. But taking him might require a lottery pick in teens. So he might be out of Pistons reach.

Timme, who’s a 6-foot-10, 235-pound four/five with 7-foot-0.5 wingspan, led the team with 21 points (also on 13 shots). He added 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block. Overall, he’s maybe not overly athletic (though not phlegmatic either) but quite skillful type – kind of tailor-made big for Gregg Popovich. For the season, he scores 18.9 PPG (on 62.5/30.8/68.8 shooting), grabs 7.1 RPG and dishes 2.1 APG.

Like in Kispert’s case, although his counting stats suggest otherwise, he showed that he can be useful rim protector and defender in space.

Timme protecting the rim

Timme defending in space

Offensively, he has some bag of tricks (as you can see, some old fashion ones) in post, which he meshes well with ability to use his strength.

He’s also productive and skillful roller.

Although not prolific rebounder under own basket (17.8 DRB%), he looks better under the other basket (though his 10.6 ORB% still command continence).

And he shows to be a good passer (12.1 AST%). What he didn’t show was the ability to shoot long ball.

But he’s 4/13 for the season, so he definitely isn’t a loss case in this regard.

All in all, Timme looks conventionally solid. But it might be not enough to make a career in the NBA. I’d rather roll with maybe a little less solid Sandro Mamukelashvili, who has more unconventional upside.