Team: San Diego State
Position: Shooting guard
Expected draft position: 15-25
|2012 - Jamaal Franklin||32||33.1||5.2||12.5||41.1||1.3||4.6||27.2||5.3||6.8||78.1||1.8||7.8||9.5||3.3||3.4||1.6||0.8||2.6||16.9|
College career: After playing multiple sports in high school, Jamaal Franklin arrived at San Diego State as an unheralded recruit who was more of an athlete than a basketball player. After coming off the bench as a freshman, Franklin played his way into the spotlight during his second year, winning the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year award.
Projected to play the wing at the pro level, Franklin swung between the forward positions at the NCAA level and showed the ability to defend almost anyone on the court, regardless of position. While he never flashed particularly advanced ball-handling or shooting abilities, Franklin was a terror on the glass who managed to put up points at a decent clip thanks to his ability to get to the line and make his freebies.
After further polishing his game as a junior and continuing to improve his body, Franklin declared for the NBA draft and is expected to be taken at some point in the mid- to late-first round.
Offense: Despite his impressive physical gifts, Franklin struggled to score efficiently or effectively create shots for others. While his assist rate rose dramatically in his final year, so did his turnovers. He's also a poor shooter off the dribble and had trouble dealing with physical paint players. Then again, he was under 200 pounds for most of his college career and regularly tried to check power forwards, so it kind of goes with the territory.
Franklin does two things at an elite level: get to the line and sink his free throws. Franklin made 79 percent and 80 percent of his free throws over the last two years, a testament to his touch and hand eye coordination. While not much of a three point shooter or mid-range player last year, it's very possible that he'll be able to expand his range over the next few years and should become a quality three-point shooter from the corners.
Franklin is also excellent at getting to the free throw line. He has a rare combination of instincts and explosiveness and averaged almost one free throw attempt per two point field goal attempt last year. He'd probably have the ball in his hands a lot less playing on a pro team, especially one with a ball dominant point guard, but this ability to get to the line via pump fakes and attacking mismatches could be a huge bonus to a second unit.
Defense: Possessed of an elite motor and an impressive wingspan, Franklin could eventually become a lockdown defender. Even though he averaged 1.9 steals per pace-adjusted 40 minutes last season, his block and steal numbers might underrate his potential due to how much of an offensive burden he was forced to shoulder. Even though he doesn't have elite lateral quickness, he should be able to keep the majority of NBA wings in front of him.
Even if his defense is more good than great, Franklin could be worth keeping around due to his rebounding. Remember Othyus Jeffers? Imagine if he was two inches taller and had competed in the high jump in high school. Franklin averaged double-digit rebounds per pace adjusted 40 minutes during both of his seasons playing major minutes, an incredible total for a player who projects to be a wing at the next level. Obviously, he's going to play farther from the basket as a pro, but it's very easy to see him averaging six or seven boards per 40 minutes in the NBA.
Pro potential/Wizards fit: At first glance, Franklin would appear to be a terrible fit for the Wizards. He's not a proven perimeter player and lacks the three-point stroke necessary to spread the floor.
Here, me out though. Compared to the typical America college prospect, Franklin is inexperienced. Nonetheless, he's been a very effective player who has made dramatic improvements to his game and physique each year. While his shooting mechanics aren't good, they're salvageable. Guys who make 80 percent of their free throws at the collegiate level, especially when they're taking a lot of them, tend to eventually develop a decent jump shot. I'd be willing to bet that Franklin, based on his demonstrated work ethic and plenty of historical precedents, will eventually be capable of knocking down a corner three and using his athleticism and length to guard both wing positions while crashing the board like a mad man.
Remember his teammate at San Diego State, Kawhi Leonard? He wasn't much of a three point shooter in college, either, but was able to remake himself into one once he began to play more off the ball in the NBA.
Choosing Franklin in the top five of the draft would be preposterous. Picking him up in the late lottery would raise eyebrows but might be worth it. And if you can get him in the late-first or early-second round, he'd be nothing short of a steal.