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These Three NBA Hopefuls May Not Have What It Takes

Michael Reaves - Getty Images

These big men on campus will face their toughest tests yet this summer.

It’s hard to tell if some college players will thrive at the next level. Each year, a handful of drafted players fail to make it onto an NBA court. Some, like Terry Rozier, need more time to develop, but eventually get their shot at fame. Others, like 10-year G League vet Andre Ingram, make a career in the lower leagues.

This year is no different. There are the Deandre Aytons, who are (most likely) bound for greatness, and there are the Billy Prestons, who never really played in college and don’t have much of a track record. Meanwhile, players like Kevin Huerter are climbing the board and shaking things up. 

I like to shake things up, so I’m going to focus on players that just don’t seem to have what it takes to play in The Association. Congratulations to Kevin Knox, Grayson Allen, Donte DiVincenzo, Rawle Alkins and Wenyen Gabriel. You’ve made the 2018 “Most Likely to Maybe Fail” list.


Kevin Knox (F) - Kentucky

(15.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG)

For a flaunted top prospect, Knox is missing a lot of skills that he’d need in the NBA. He has athleticism and size at 6-foot-9 with almost a 7-foot wingspan, but he doesn’t have the handling, passing, or post skills equal to the ones he’ll be coming up against. Knox ended the season with a 1.4/2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is not good for an offensive-minded forward. These tweets say it all about Knox’s often-subpar skills:

It’s pretty much impossible to succeed in the NBA as not only a newborn deer, but one that can’t pass or dribble cleanly. One other reason for Knox’s poor assist/turnover ratio is simply his selfishness. If it’s one thing he likes…

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…It’s a nice, juicy, ill-advised and overly contested shot. He might have made some of these shots in college, but he’ll have to learn to pass out of these situations unless he wants to become the most-blocked player in the league. Most scouting reports on Knox mention his terrible court vision; he doesn’t find his teammates when they’re open, and he forces a lot of bad shots. That won’t fly in the NBA, and court vision is something that’s difficult — if not impossible — to teach. His passing showed no improvement as the season went on, and that’s a major red flag for a so-called top prospect.

Aside from his dribbling and passing woes, Knox is missing powerful post moves. Eric Yearian of NBAdraft.net observed that Knox has just one post move. Here it is:


It’s a fine move, maybe even a classic one. But one single post move will be useless against the likes of Stephen Adams and the many other freakishly athletic 7-footers at the next level. His lackluster skillset in the post would be more forgiveable if he were actually an above-average three-point shooter. But alas, he is not. In fact, he may just be the most overrated shooter in the country. At just 34 percent from beyond the arc, Knox does not belong in the same room as Purdue’s Dakota Matthias (47 percent) or Kansas’ Svi Mykhailiuk (over 44 percent), let alone Steph Curry or James Harden.

Over all, I don’t have much confidence in Knox. He has a lot of holes to patch, and that will be difficult to do at the next level, where the talent gap is enormous. A mediocre post game, an inability to pass or dribble with top-level talent, and his inconsistency during the season make him a gamble. He has size and athleticism on his side, but I don’t see a professional right now. Another year of college would have done him wonders.



Grayson Allen (G) - Duke

(15.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG)

Grayson Allen does two things really well: he makes free throws, and forces turnovers. Everything else, he’s competent, even a bit above average. But that won’t make him a good NBA guard. The most concerning things about Allen are his consistency and his attitude. 

Allen is a very streaky scorer. A 37-point season-best performance against Michigan State is far from a two-point performance against Wake Forest in which his only points were a pair of free throws. He shoots the three at a 37 percent clip, which is a solid mark, but he tends to score far fewer points when his deep shots aren’t falling. Relying on his shot to power the rest of his game is not something that will get him far at the next level. He’ll often have to deal with taller, more athletic defenders (he’s just 6-foot-5, small for a shooting guard) who will take away his first option from the outside. That being said, when Allen gets hot, there’s no stopping him. 


As an inconsistent scorer, Allen will have to shore up the other parts of his offensive game. His size puts him at a disadvantage in the key, and he has no post game whatsoever. In the NBA, Allen’s great defense may not even translate well. So, as of now, he’s a one-dimensional player. He may be able to find a niche coming off the bench, hitting a three and racking up a few assists, but he’ll have to put on a few pounds and become more of a surefire scorer before he can be considered for any real playing time. Oh, and his first step definitely needs some work.

Aside from the inconsistencies in his game, Allen’s history of dirty plays makes him a bit less appealing, even though NBA teams and Allen himself claim he’s made progress. There’s a difference between Marcus Smart scrappiness, and Draymond Green dirtiness. Allen has shown he has the latter, on multiple occasions. How many players have a highlight reel for their dirty plays?


It’s just a wild card to account for in his game. His attitude with teammates and opponents can’t be predicted, and although I’d like to believe he’s outgrown his antics, that may not be the case. Allen’s dirty reputation might work out for him, but as he is now, I don’t think he’s good enough to get away with that.

Allen was one of the best players in the NCAA for three solid years (even though he played for Duke). He became a leader and a well-rounded player. But I think it speaks volumes that he wasn’t Duke’s point guard for the majority of his last two seasons there. He’s not quite point guard material, and he’s not quite big enough to be a professional shooting guard unless he can make his shots more consistently. I can’t see Allen panning out in the pros, but he has a knack for surprising people.


Donte DiVincenzo (G) - Villanova

(13.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG)

DiVincenzo shocked the world and dropped 31 in the national championship. He probably didn’t even expect it himself. And that’s his problem — he’s streaky just like Allen is, and he has even less experience. However, Donte has a little more hop, as shown by a pair of vicious dunks against Texas Tech in the Elite 8.


Although DiVincenzo quickly saw fame and rose up draft boards, he probably doesn’t belong on an NBA team, at least not yet. On loaded Villanova teams, he was most often the sixth man. He lacks a starter’s experience, and that’s something he can’t make up for. Another problem with being a sixth man behind Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges is that he rarely got to be top dog on offense. Brunson and Bridges created the momentum, and DiVincenzo had to fit into it. While Brunson and Bridges took 27 and 25 percent of the team’s shots while they were in the game, DiVincenzo took 22. 

Playing behind those two surefire draft picks, DiVincenzo also avoided having to make decisions on offense. With multiple top-20 offensive players (according to KenPom.com), DiVincenzo did not have to be a leader, which puts him at a disadvantage to most of his draft class. 

There’s also a good chance DiVincenzo’s college numbers were inflated because he played with some of the best players in the country. Brunson and Co. fed him perfect passes and opened up easy shots for him all season. Of course he has his own explosiveness and skill, but it doesn’t hurt having the country’s best point guard on the team. 


That ball movement though. 

DiVincenzo’s teammates sure made things easier for him at Villanova. His streakiness combined with his lack of leadership make me nervous about his NBA future. He has the athleticism and shot, he’ll just have to learn to create more on his own. It will be a tough road ahead for the perennial collegiate sixth man.

Edited by Emily Berman.

SQuiz
Who was the number one NBA draft pick in 2017?
Created 6/19/18
  1. Lonzo Ball
  2. Markelle Fultz
  3. Jason Tatum
  4. Frank Ntilikina

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