Cheers to everyone that loves draft season! We’re back for part five of the Canis Draft Guide, created to help readers get up-to-date with the talented 2017 NBA draft class, labeled as the best in years (perhaps since 2003). If you missed any of the previous parts of this series, check those out to get caught up! Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4
All of the height, wingspan, weight, and age data comes from Draft Express. Visit their excellent site all year long for outstanding prospect coverage.
Jonathan Jeanne, Nancy International, C
WINGSPAN: 7'6 ½"
Draft Express Rank: #19
Via Eric in Madison @canishoopus:
When you think tall, skinny, French center, of course you think about Rudy Gobert, who has emerged as a force for the Utah Jazz since being drafted late in the first round in 2013. A rim protector of the highest caliber, whose offense, while limited, is very efficient, Gobert is a hugely valuable commodity in the NBA.
Now another tall, skinny French center is set to be drafted, likely late in the first round, and it’s pretty easy to imagine getting a similar player. Jonathan Jeanne has terrific measurements: 7’2” in shoes, impressive wingspan and reach, and not yet 20 years old, Jeanne is a player you can dream on a bit.
But of course we need to be careful about the Gobert comparisons. There are real, measurable differences between them that should absolutely make us hesitate about Jeanne, which of course is why he’s expected to go late in the first round instead of the lottery.
The good news is he’s a full year younger than Gobert was when he was drafted. He’s also 30 pounds lighter, and his impressive wingspan and standing reach measurements (7’6.5”, 9’5”) aren’t quite up to Gobert’s standards from the 2013 Combine (7’8.5”, 9’7”.)
Gobert also had more demonstrable skills. He shot a very high percentage from the field in the same French Pro A league Jeanne competed in this season. He played more, had a bigger impact at both ends of the floor, was a better finisher, stronger, and blocked more shots than Jeanne.
But enough about Gobert. Who is Jonathan Jeanne? He spent this season on loan with Nancy, one of the weakest teams in the French league. He played about 13 minutes per game, and really lacks experience in high-level basketball. He is an effective shot blocker, particularly in help situations, and a good offensive rebounder (over four per pace adjusted 40.)
He’s quick on his feet for someone his size, runs the floor well for a big man, and shows some aptitude for switching out to the perimeter, which is impressive for a seven footer who is 19 years old.
He is also extremely raw. He has trouble converting, especially against physicality, even that of the French league. He shot under 50 percent on two pointers. He is willing to take threes (nearly two attempts per pace adjusted 40,) but showed limited ability to actually make them. He is not a strong free throw shooter.
The clip above is not Jeanne highlights; it’s essentially an edited version of the game showing the time Jeanne was on the floor. You can see the pluses and minuses. He gets absolutely bullied in the post on a couple of occasions, something that will happen relentlessly if he sees the floor in the NBA any time soon. But he also has a few impressive weakside blocked shots. His teammates have little interest in passing him the ball quite obviously, but he gets a couple of buckets, one on a nice dribble move from the perimeter. He runs the floor with energy, but is rarely in a position to rebound the ball, especially in traffic. He clearly is not making a huge impact on this game, and has a long way to go before we can expect much in the NBA. But seven footers who can run are intriguing.
You can see other videos at the Draft Express page, and I suggest you watch the breakdown of an earlier game vs. Chalet-en-Champagne. That was one of his better outings, and you can see some of the things he does well—particularly running the floor and working defensively, as well as some of his weaknesses.
Jeanne is a project. He has so many things to work on, including his body, his shooting, his post-offense, and his awareness, that it’s hard to see what the finished product might look like. Of course we can dream about a rim-running, paint protecting monster, and perhaps that’s what he becomes, but there are so many issues right now that it’s going to require an immense amount of patience and work to develop that player.
Although Tom Thibodeau talked about needing more rim protection, it’s hard to imagine Jeanne is really on their radar. He’s a long way from helping, and if they wind up trading down to an area where he might make sense, I have to imagine they have other players in mind. He’s the kind of guy that’s a lot more interesting to a team with multiple first round picks or no immediate needs. While Thibs showed admirable patience in many ways this season, I don’t know that he’s quite that patient.
At any rate, Jonathan Jeanne’s development will be interesting to watch. He could wind up as anything. I hope he goes to a franchise that knows how to teach, and won’t get impatient with him.
Justin Patton, Creighton, C
AGE: 19.9 (redshirt freshman)
Draft Express Rank: #21
Via Josh Clement:
Basic Stats (per game): 25.5 minutes, 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 rebounds, shot 68.4 percent from the floor, 51.8 percent free three throw shooter.
There are a plethora of big men who are at the end of the draft who seem to blend into each other, their skill sets and deficiencies overlapping. It makes it very hard to figure out who is better than the other, or if they all just exist in the deep morass of maybe-good Big men who are young, athletic, and not particularly ready for the NBA.
Patton certainly fits that mold, although he seems to have a defined NBA skill set that he can grow from, as his frame is perfect for that of a shot-blocking, rim-running center who is able to control the paint on both ends of the floor. When it all works, he looks like some virtuoso center who has a strong offensive game that can switch out on the perimeter. When it doesn’t work, well it isn’t too pretty.
Patton looks the part of an NBA center. He is long, with a huge wingspan and his standing reach of 9 feet 3 inches puts him near the basket simply by reaching his arms up in the air. Patton is great at rolling to the rim on a pick-and-roll, or simply slipping the screen and running to the basket. It’s easy to imagine an offensive game plan similar to what the Clippers employ that has Patton putting pressure on the defense via lob dunks. Patton was one of the best finishers in the NBA around the basket, scoring 74.8 percent of all field goals around the rim, which is the sixth best mark in the NCAA among all players with over 100 attempts.
He’s fairly fast too, with a great motor, and is often the first big down the floor in transition. Patton has a decent handle, although he lets that get him in trouble fairly often, but he looks like he could be adept at getting to the basket with some more polish. When everything is going well, he can look like Karl-Anthony Towns-lite, getting past defenders easily and making face-up shots away from the basket. He looks smooth out there and has decent vision, both passing from the perimeter and driving to the rim.
On defense, he is a good shot blocker, with a block percentage of 5.9 percent. Although for fun I did look up what elite shot blockers were like in college. Anthony Davis had a block percentage of 13.9 percent (and a BPM of 18.7).
Patton also made 57.1 percent of his three-pointers! On 13 attempts...
A lot of Patton’s issues stem from his frame and his age. He plays young and like a player who needs to fill out. He ranks 24 out of 28 among all big men in Draft Express’s top 100 big men for rebounding percentage. Patton is athletic enough to fight on the boards, and has a good motor do to so, but often is caught out of position or bullied out of the way by bigger players. He does not have a strong base and that becomes problematic on offense and defense as he fights for position.
The other issues on defense come from a lack of defensive awareness. He can do well on the pick-and-roll, but will sometimes cheat and gets called for quite a few fouls. There are also a bevy of mental mistakes that will leave him in a bad spot, which is no surprise considering his youth and lack of experience.
Offensively, there is much of the same issue, as Patton will simply try to do too much. He will get caught driving to the basket and utilizing his handle too much. His shot making away from the basket is extremely inconsistent and his shot mechanics have a habit of going all over the place. Patton’s 51.8 free throw percentage does not exactly inspire confidence in that improving either. He has a high turnover percentage in the post, 19.7 percent, and does not have great footwork either. He is a project in many ways.
Wolves Point of View
Patton looks like an NBA center, and certainly can play like one at times, which is not exactly a need for an imbalanced Wolves roster. It’s hard to say too much definitively about him, as he really could go in any direction with his development. If his handle improves, a team can fix his shot mechanics (he does have a fairly smooth shot for a big man), his defensive awareness improves, and he puts some weight on this frame, he could be really good.
But will all of those things happen? If a few of them happen, which ones? It’s almost impossible to tell. Patton is probably worth a late lottery pick for a team that can wait to invest in a big man to see what happens. The Timberwolves should not be that team.
Isaiah Hartenstein, Zalgiris International, PF/C
WINGSPAN: 7'2 ¼"
Draft Express Rank: #23
Via Dane Moore: @NikolaPekovic
Ah, the glorious Euro draft-and-stash. At the end of the first round, there are a couple teams with rosters that are too full of NBA talent to add a rookie (think Utah) or teams with too many first round picks (think Portland.) For these teams, the draft-and-stash is particularly intriguing. Isaiah Hartenstein fits this bill as he is currently playing for Zalgiris in Lithuania and is likely to stay there for the immediate future.
On top of Hartenstein stash-ability, he is also an interesting prospect. In 2017, it is ideal if a big man can check these four boxes; size, lateral quickness, rebounding ability and shooting. Hartenstein checks the first three.
Hartenstein is massive. He measured 7’1.25” in shoes with a 9’ 1” standing reach. His length, however, is not his most impressive physical feature. At just 19-years-old he already weighs 250 pounds with room to add to his frame. If you are trying to picture 7’1” 250 pounds, think Tyler Zeller—the one on the Celtics. Again, at 19, it is likely that he puts on even more weight. Eventually, I would imagine Hartenstein will have the build of Brook Lopez, who is 7’0” 260 pounds.
As large as Hartenstein is in his measurements, he plays much smaller. Any profile of the seven-footer will note the hunching nature in which he plays. You can’t teach height, but you can teach form. Hartenstein will need to be coached up in utilizing his size.
With the build of Tyler Zeller, it is impressive how well Hartenstein can move his feet. He has flashes of being a big who can switch onto smaller players and not get completely torched. He also uses this quickness on offense in taking players off the dribble from the perimeter. On this drive, you would probably prefer Hartenstein to just shoot the corner three, but the speed in which he attacks the closeout is impressive given his size.
To best utilize this quickness, Hartenstein would greatly benefit from improving his shot and finishing ability, but that quickness is noteworthy given his size.
With his size and motor, Hartenstein could cause opposing defenses problems with his ability to offensive rebound. Hartenstein has a dismal vertical leap (25.5 inches) but he has a nose and desire for the basketball around the rim. He is the physically tenacious rebounder, not the athletic rebounder. Hartenstein plays with no shortage of heart.
As the Draft Express video points out, his ability to finish after rebounding is currently a serious issue. Personally, I am willing to forgive efficiency after an offensive rebound being as you are, then, essentially playing with house money.
Hartenstein’s most troubling characteristic is his shooting form. While it is hard to see in YouTube videos, his shot apparently has a Joakim Noah-esque side spin. This, of course, is not encouraging for the idea of stretching his game to the perimeter. This likely can be tweaked by adjusting the way he holds the ball, but at the moment his shot is very erratic.
That said, the form looks fairly fluid.
Hartenstein is an odd prospect. He has size and strength but doesn’t use it effectively. He is a fluid athlete but uses the athleticism in odd if not ineffective ways. He’s a great offensive rebounder but sucks at putbacks. His jumper looks great but doesn’t consistently go in. This is the nature of late first round picks, they are risky.
Theoretically, some of these issues can be coached through. Physically the pieces are in place, but betting on Hartenstein (and drafting him) is a bet on your franchises coaching ability. Some team willing to be patient will draft-and-stash Hartenstein somewhere in the 20-30 range.
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse (automatically blacklisted for the Wolves), SF/PF
AGE: 21.1 (sophomore)
Draft Express Rank: #24
Via Kyle Theige @kyletheige:
If the NBA were a country, it’s national currency would definitely be shooting. As teams continue to explore unique ways to spread the floor and create more spacing for their star players to attack, the desire to surround those stars with competent and consistent shooters has never been more fierce.
If the league’s national currency is shooting, then consider Tyler Lydon an ATM. In his two years at Syracuse, Lydon shot an impressive 40% from beyond the arc on 245 attempts. That percentage would have ranked Lydon in the top 30 in the NBA this past season, ahead of guys like Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Danilo Gallinari, Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant, and his doppelgänger Doug McDermott (more about him in a minute).
As a spot up shooter, Lydon’s jump shot is extremely pure and well-groomed, displaying a quick trigger and a high release point that translates seamlessly to the next level. His jumper off the dribble isn't nearly as effective, as Lydon shot a ghastly 29% on pull-up jumpers this past year at Syracuse. While he wasn’t asked to be a primary ball handler for the Orange, Lydon does display the ability to improve in that area, which would only benefit his pull-up game and help strengthen his overall ability as a floor spacer.
Another strength that not many people know about Lydon (myself included) is his sneaky athleticism. To be honest, before I started researching Lydon, I was fairly certain all he could do was catch and shoot (spoiler alert: I was way off). As the video from Draft Express shows below, Lydon demonstrated sneaky athleticism in college, showing his potential as a PNR finisher and tip-dunk connoisseur that would greatly expand his potential toolbox on the offensive end. A surprisingly fluid athlete, Lydon has the ability to run the floor effectively and use his above-average ability as a two-foot leaper to attack the offensive glass.
Personally, I’m not huge into comparing incoming rookies to current NBA players based solely on physical appearance, but at 6’9.5” and 215 pounds, Lydon is built eerily similar to another sharp-shooting wing who hasn't displayed much success thus far translating his college game into the NBA. Doug McDermott.
On the surface, Lydon’s advanced college stats actually translate far more promising than McDermott’s did, with Lydon posting a TRB% of 12.7 and BLK% of 5.8 in his two years with the Orange. Compare that with the elite college wings projected to go in the lottery (Jayson Tatum—12.6 TRB%, 3.2 BLK%; Josh Jackson—13.3 TRB%, 3.3 BLK%) and you can start to build a case why the sharpshooter from Hudson, NY could be a steal in the late first round.
Conversely, at 6’8.5” and 225 pounds, McDermott has struggled during his time with the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder to carve out consistent playing time and/or find his natural place on the floor. Moreover, his feet aren't quick enough to defend wings on the perimeter, and he’s too short (both in terms of height and wingspan) to make any real impact cleaning the glass or protecting the rim (McDermott has posted a TRB% of 6.3 and BLK% of 0.2 in his first three seasons in the league compared to a TRB% of 14.8 and BLK% of 0.4 during his time at Creighton).
Lydon’s less than ideal 7-foot wingspan paired with his average to below-average lateral quickness could do him in much like it’s done in McDermott so far. If shots aren't falling for players like this, it’s nearly impossible in today’s day and age for a coach to trust and find consistent minutes for a player who may be better served as a parking cone.
Advanced stats aside, another issue facing Lydon is that he attended Syracuse University. You know, the same university as Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Michael Carter-Williams, Fab Melo, and Dion Waiters (oh, and Carmelo Anthony). While all of those players were drafted in the first round, only one (Carmelo) has demonstrated consistent success in the NBA and proven to be worth the first-round selection (apologies to all of you still leasing property on Waiters Island). Much like the rest of these Syracuse guys, Lydon spent important developmental years playing in the patented Syracuse zone scheme rather than honing his skills as an on-ball defender (a personal pet peeve of mine), which is a major red flag when you consider none of the players listed above were ever known for their defensive prowess.
Wolves Point of View
Similar to all the other players in this preview, the fit for the Wolves depends solely on how the rest of their draft plays out. Projected as the 26th player off the board, Lydon will more than likely be available in the late stages of the first round, meaning that the Wolves could attempt to trade back into the end of the first round with a team who possesses multiple first rounders (Orlando, Portland, Brooklyn, and/or the Lakers).
In terms of pure fit on the roster, the Wolves could never and should never be against adding more shooters. Lydon’s strengths as an athletic stretch four (albeit undersized) would be the ideal fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns; however, his lack of ability on the defensive end doesn't seem to fit what Thibs and Layden (not to be confused with Lydon) desire for the franchise.
Whether or not Tyler Lydon ever puts on a Wolves jersey, I personally see the 6’9.5” prospect as a sneaky late first rounder who could be a solid contributor for a semi-contender that lacks in the shooting department (teams like Utah, Oklahoma City, and Toronto).
T.J. Leaf, UCLA, PF
Is that Shawn Kemp or T.J. Leaf? I can’t really tell.
AGE: 20.1 (freshman)
Draft Express Rank: #26 (what a joke)
Via John Meyer @thedailywolf:
Hello, T.J.’s father here. I still remember when Ty Jacob was a young lad running around our humble abode over in Israel. Now his NBA dreams are about to come true, and his life is set to change dramatically. If you’re a frequent visitor of Canis Hoopus, you are well aware of the irrefutable fact that T.J. Leaf is actually my son and he is destined for stardom.
Eric in Madison was a little uneasy when hearing the news that it would be I, father of T.J., who would be writing his profile for the Canis Hoopus Draft Guide. It can be tough for parents to acknowledge their kids weaknesses and be completely honest about their flaws (guilty as charged) but I assured Eric my coverage would be extremely fair and not biased in any way. T.J. is not a perfect prospect by any means.
While I believe my son has all of the talent in the world to flourish as a stretch four in a league that is phasing out the post-up game, he certainly needs to add strength (he would be the first to admit this) and work on his NBA range from deep. He also must tighten up his handle so he can take defenders off the bounce when they close out to the perimeter. Plus, and this might determine whether or not he can become a legit starter (I think), he must watch 1,000 hours of film on how to correctly defend the pick-and-roll.
Let’s check out some of his strengths:
And now for the weaknesses:
Can T.J. guard the bigger and more powerful forwards across the NBA? Will he be able to defend on the perimeter? Does he understand how to deal with a pick-and-roll? Will his scoring ability translate to the pros? Can he take his man off the dribble? These are the serious questions that need to be asked about him.
Some have criticized me of being like LaVar Ball, but I would never put an ugly shoe out on the market for $495 and I most certainly am not going to sit here and tell you that T.J. is better than Kevin Love or Paul Millsap.
But I do think Leaf, at his peak, can be a deadly offensive weapon who can help his team control the glass (8.2 rebounds per game in 29.9 minutes during his lone freshman season) and really get out and run in transition. That’s something he put on full display this past college season alongside Lonzo Ball at UCLA, and the best system for him is probably an uptempo attack that wants to push like the Rockets and Warriors, as well as the Suns, Nets, and Sixers (top five teams in PACE). He runs the floor quite well, and is more athletic than people might give him credit for.
T.J. often displays a great motor and very high basketball IQ. He knows where to be on the court (awareness!) and seems to consistently make the right play. He is quietly a pretty good passer for his size (2.4 assists per game) and has the ability to block a shot here and there (1.1 blocks). He averaged 16.3 points on 64.4/46.6/67.9 shooting splits in his only season at UCLA. The free throw percentage is a slight concern, but his form looks good enough to make you think that mark will increase in the pros.
His game against Kentucky really stood out to me because one of the bigger knocks against T.J. is that he stacks stats against lower competition, and struggles more against blue chip players and big name opponents. The Washington State’s and UC Santa Barbara’s of the world, for example, were roasted by him. This is undoubtedly true—he has made a living off killing bad teams—but I would hope a talented NBA prospect destroyed the lesser squads across the NCAA. Still, any reasonably minded person wants to see prospects show up on the biggest stage in prime time matchups.
Anyways, T.J. worked the Wildcats earlier this year.
Wolves Point of View
T.J. would fit quite nicely with the Wolves, especially if his defense proves to be adequate enough down the road once he bulks up. Adding a talented stretch four prospect to the roster seems like a smart move because it’s something Thibs doesn’t have at the moment. Getting Leaf would require trading down or adding another pick (Portland?) which doesn’t seem likely but ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
Minnesota fans already dig UCLA players, too, so it’s basically a perfect fit. Love. LaVine. Leaf. This all makes way too much sense. I’m also his real father and that’s not debatable, as the unparalleled CWM outlined above. He is the future stretch four the Wolves need. It’s really a no-brainer to be quite honest. Find a way to get my son to Minneapolis, Thibs.
Andrew Johnson’s Draft projection model loves T.J. Leaf by the way! Johnson is a writer for Nylon Calculus. Will and Ian’s WISP model also ranks T.J. very highly (smart model). And finally, my very own L.E.A.F model—even more simple than the PKP one I released last offseason—concludes that drafting T.J. is a super wise decision for any franchise.
Enough said, right? T.J. (not biased at all) is my favorite prospect in the draft (again, not biased) and whoever lands him is probably going to be thrilled with the return on investment.