As each day passes by in this barren basketball wasteland, it seems more and more unlikely that we will get to experience the frustrating and (albeit rare) beautiful Minnesota Timberwolves team we hate to love.
That makes finding things to scratch our hoops itch even more appealing, and the NBA Draft is the perfect way to get your mind off the bizarre climate we are living in and back onto sports. It’s now less than a month before the draft lottery is (currently) scheduled to take place and we still don’t have any word on a postponement — which is great news. Hopefully, they can take a page out of the WNBA’s awesome social distancing lottery and we can be picking apart something new in just a matter of weeks.
The Wolves currently hold the third-worst record in the league which, per Tankathon, which lands them with the odds you see below to rise or fall in the lottery. They also have Brooklyn’s first round pick, which will convert if the Nets land outside of the lottery, which they are currently slated to do.
Keep in mind that, within the true spirit of Minnesota sports, the Timberwolves have never been lucky enough for the ping pong balls to fall their way and move up in the draft standings. Even if that doesn’t change this year, you can bet president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and his front office cohorts have a plan for any and every scenario.
With that depressing statistic in our collective mind, we take another trip down draft lane with part five of our Draft Radar. We have already run the microscope over Deni Avdija, Patrick Williams, Devin Vassell and Isaac Okoro and today we will dig into TCU senior Desmond Bane.
Team: Texas Christian University (TCU)
Draft Age: 21.99
Position: Shooting Guard/Combo Guard
Standing Reach: 8’4”
Weight: 215 lbs
Per Game: 36 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 45.2% FG, 44.2% 3PT, 78.9% FT
Advanced: 57.3 TS%, 55.7 EFG%, 24.4% Usage Rate, .184 WS/40, 10.3 BPM, 4.94 PIPM
After toiling away for four years at TCU, Desmond Bane is finally ready to take the leap to the NBA. His senior year turned out to be his best yet, as the 6’5” shooting guard thoroughly dominated the Big 12. At the call of the season, he led the conference in total minutes, field goals, 3-point makes and 3-point percentage.
In the various mock drafts scattered around the interwebs, Bane projects to be drafted literally anywhere in the second round. Some outlets even have him missing out entirely. However, many smart draft heads are bullish on Bane and predict him to be one of the most underrated prospects around.
It’s very likely he will be available with Minnesota’s second round pick, which is slotted at #33.
- Long-Range Sniping
To put it simply, Desmond Bane is a flamethrower from beyond the 3-point arc. In pretty much every way imaginable, he excels at launching from deep. With almost non-existent scoring help at TCU, it’s even more impressive how effective he was as a shooter. He shot 44.2 percent from deep last season and 43.3 percent on 575 attempts throughout his collegiate career.
Like most snipers, he is a machine in standstill catch-and-shoot situations. One of those players you simply cannot leave to take an uncontested spot-up triple. Hell, even semi-contested shots when he has his feet set are likely going to rip the twine. The 21-year-old scored a blistering 1.14 points per possession (PPP) in spot-up scenarios, which ranked him in the 91st percentile nationwide. On all jump shots, from both inside and outside the arc, he ranked in the 89th percentile, per Synergy.
It’s ultra-important to be able to bury standstill jumpers in the NBA, but truly elite shooters can find ways to make shots in a plethora of ways; Bane fits that mold like a hand sliding smoothly into a glove.
In general, he isn’t the fastest player, but he packs that quick eruption around screens that the great shooters have. It allows him to get to his spot without defenders on his hip, and that’s all the space he needs. Once Bane is spotted-up, he gets his feet set and his body balanced instantly, helping him rise into his shot motion effortlessly.
Like his off-movement launching, Bane showed a consistent ability to shoot pull-up triples from all over the court. Whether it was late in the shot clock when the play broke down or simply in isolation, the former TCU Horned Frog was a bomber in off-dribble situations. He uses some simple hang dribbles and step-backs, but he isn’t the shiftiest ball-handler and doesn’t create loads of separation. However, it doesn’t affect his form, as he uses the defender’s eyes as a gunsight and sprays buckets for fun.
According to Synergy, Bane finished the season hitting a remarkable 44.3 percent of his 3-pointers off the dribble, which is good for 1.33 PPP and lands him in the 96th percentile. No matter what way you slice it, those are absolutely bonkers numbers.
Having players who can make 3-pointers in a variety of ways is such a crucial element for a team to possess, which makes Bane’s skill set that much more valuable. If he can bring even 75 percent of his collegiate exploits to the big leagues, he will earn a paycheck for a long time.
- Pick-and-Roll and Passing Ability
Unlike some other high-volume college scorers, Bane isn’t just a pure shooter, he manipulates the pick-and-roll well in his ability to both score and create for others. In all offense derived from pick-and-roll play, Bane created 0.98 PPP, grading him in the 86th percentile. He isn’t ever going to be a primary ball-handler, but it does help him as a secondary creator with combo guard potential.
Of course, it starts with his ability to use the screen and create space to shoot. Bane uses screens really well, and needs very little space to set his feet and fire. He doesn’t mess around too much after coming off the pick, preferring a simple one-dribble pull-up and foregoing the fancy dribble moves. While he is deadly going to his favored right hand, Bane has no problem moving either way into his jumpers; a crucial skill for any pick-and-roll ball handler.
He has limited burst overall, but he does get downhill fairly well, using his screen utilization to free himself from his defender. He rarely gets all the way to the rim, which we will get to later, but he does have a nice floater game, although his penchant for pull-up jumpers sees them come quite infrequently. According to Synergy, which can have a little bit of noise at times, he finished 54.5 percent of the 22 runners he attempted.
What Bane does do more often is make really solid reads and passes with or without a screen to work around. He isn’t a passing savant by any means, but he sees the floor well and doesn’t have sticky hands, despite being the unimpeded first scoring option at TCU.
In pick-and-roll, he likes to probe the middle and fire out passes to shooters, which has included some really high-level skip passes. Take this pair for example. First, he gets all the way into the teeth of the defense, drawing a crowd of defenders before he rifles a mid-air, one-handed pass to the corner.
Next, he comes off the pick and immediately recognizes his man in the corner and whips the live-dribble pass to him, leading to an extra pass and a wide open triple. The really encouraging part of this play is how he times it exceptionally, waiting for the perfect moment when the pass recipient's man zones off him.
Bane’s floor-reading and playmaking capability aren’t limited to just pick-and-roll play, however, he is adept at creating for others in isolation or open play. The 21-year-old just knows where his teammates are and generates enough scoring gravity to draw defenders out of their defensive shell and leave his teammates open. This trio of dimes against Oklahoma State is a great depiction of the value Bane provides as a drive-and-kick passer.
If Bane can continue to grow as a complimentary playmaker to couple with his pick-and-roll scoring ability, he could really make waves as an NBA combo guard.
- Defensive Versatility
He isn’t going to throw the shackles on his opponent, but Desmond Bane is the definition of a solid defender. With his meatball body radiating strength, he doesn’t struggle or excel guarding players one-on-one, meaning he is good enough to help a defense from tanking. He finished the season with a +1.63 defensive player impact plus/minus (D-PIPM), not an outstanding number, but still above some of the more lauded defensive prospects like Isaac Okoro and James Wiseman.
While he isn’t a known defensive playmaker, he does show encouraging signs as a team defender. Outside of his outlier strength for a small guard, Bane is fairly limited physically. However, he combines his high IQ and motor with great communication and switchability to really help a team’s defense.
In the NBA, Bane should be comfortable guarding slower point guards, both wing positions and even some perimeter-oriented small-ball power forwards. That ability to operate in a switch-heavy scheme should do him wonders when he is asked to guard the more superior athletes in the big leagues.
Here is a good example of how comfortable Bane is at handling a litany of defensive tasks.
Matched up on fellow draft prospect Jahmi’us Ramsey, Bane’s strong frame and a quick dip of his inside shoulder allow him to beat the original screen and stay on Ramsey’s hip — forcing the Red Raider to give up the ball. From there, you see him tell multiple teammates where to be and what to do, all while staying in Ramsey’s shadow. When the ball does come back to Ramsey at the top of the arc, Bane hounds him and forces a sloppy hand-off, before seamlessly switching on to the new ball-handler and contesting the shot perfectly.
Not every one of Bane’s defensive possessions are as pleasing as that one, but it’s rare to find him doing anything wrong (save for the occasional gamble or over-help). Expect him to be a solid-yet-unspectacular defender at the next level.
- Getting to the rim
Bane isn’t the worst finisher when he does manage to get to the rack, hitting 55 percent of his shots from inside the restricted area, but actually getting there is a problem for him. Even with his brick-like body buoying him, the former Horned Frog doesn’t possess enough burst to consistently get all the way inside. With his sweet shooting stroke, he is often content to pull-up, which is the more inefficient shot selection even for players have have silky jumpers.
The place where his struggles show up most is his free throw rate, which hit a career-low in 2019-20 and is fairly concerning for a player who projects as a scoring gunner. Bane attempted 436 field goals and shot just 57 free throws last season — over the last 20 years, only 20 college players have attempted over 430 field goals and less than 60 free throws. None of them had any success in the NBA, if they even got there at all.
Unfortunately, going up a level to world class athletes and rim protectors make Bane’s prospects as a rim attacker even more dire. Luckily for him, he has a burner from behind the arc.
- Size and Age
It really isn’t something he can avoid or work on, but Bane’s age, height and wingspan are certainly factors that work against him. He is still relatively young for a senior at 21-years-old, but he still doesn’t possess some of the perceived upside that an 18 or 19-year-old has. He is also further along in his development, which is likely some of the reason he was so dominant compared to some freshman or sophomores.
Perhaps even more concerning is his negative wingspan. In the last five draft combines, Ty Jerome and Melo Trimble are the only players under 6-foot-6 to register a wingspan that were shorter than their height (in shoes). Jerome was well below average in his 2019-20 rookie season and Trimble never featured in an NBA game.
If he wants to become a genuine rotation player, Bane will need to buck that trend. Luckily for him, Bane possesses far more scoring potential and defensive IQ, which gives him as good a shot as any to squeeze the most out of his size.
Fit With Minnesota
With Malik Beasley, Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie, Jake Layman and Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota is fairly stocked on the wing, but, apart from Beasley (restricted free agent) and Okogie, none of those players are surefire rotation players. In that sense, it’s worth taking a punt on Bane as a second rounder. If he proves to be a better fit than some of his counterparts or the injury bug strikes again, he can slot into the rotation comfortably.
On the court, Bane fits extremely well. His high-volume, high-efficiency shooting is a perfect match with Ryan Saunders’ offensive philosophy. As a combo guard, he has genuine sixth man potential who can come off the pine and light up the scoring column while still getting his teammates involved in an effective manner. Minnesota’s bench finished 30th in 3-point percentage and 14th in scoring, so they should be looking to shore up their bench with some shooting and Bane could be that guy at a bargain basement price.
Defensively, he might not solve all of the Wolves’ glaring issues, but he certainly won’t add to them. That’s all you can ask for out of an undersized second round draft pick. If he is available at 33, Minnesota would be wise to reach for Bane.