Player: Patric Young.
Expected Draft Position: Mid second round
College career: Patric Young was a three-year starter at Florida. His Gators have been to three Elite Eights and a Final Four in his senior season, and he's led a top-10 defense two years in a row. He was touted as a one-and-done prospect as an All-American, but four years later, he left school as a three-time SEC scholar athlete of the year.
Few, if any, can boast that type of resume. Take one look at Young and you'd think he's a linebacker playing the wrong sport. But he's embodied everything that's great about Billy Donovan's program at Florida.
He's mature beyond his years, but you would never have guessed it after his freshman season. Donovan didn't take kindly to Young's disdain for coming off the bench. He was a McDonalds All-American and a top-20 recruit, and in any other program, would have received the lion's share of minutes from Day 1. But he was quickly put in his place with Donovan telling him "if you don't change, you might as well transfer."
Young had to earn that starting job, and it didn't come until his sophomore year. By then, this was a perimeter oriented team that had just struck gold with the fourth ranked high school prospect, Bradley Beal. Florida already had one of the best backcourts in the nation, and Erik Murphy was in line for starters' minutes as Donovan's stretch-4. For Young, this meant a lot of time cleaning up defensive mistakes while making the most out of the little chances he got on offense.
With some of that offensive talent out of the picture for Young's final two seasons, he shined. He may never have developed the way he could have as a primary option on offense, but maybe Donovan was on to something. Joakim Noah functioned in that same manner by staying true to his skill-set, and the rewards significantly outweighed whatever production was lost. Young may not have Noah's two National Championships, but he gained invaluable experience through those tournament runs.
Offense: Young won't fill up the stat sheet, but filled his role in Billy Donovan's ball screen offense beautifully. He's a vicious screen-setter, a powerful force rolling down the lane to suck in defenders and attacks the offensive glass better than most big men. He snagged over four offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, sixth among prospects according to Draft Express.
And he's mastered the art of setting screens. Florida's system is far from the intricate ones you see around college basketball. It has structure and a certain set of parameters to abide by, but Donovan has always had his players on the fast track to the NBA because his offense so closely resembles the ones you see at the next level.
This meant a lot of early offense jam-packed with pick and rolls and motion in half court sets. Young often set multiple screens in a single possession, and he's brilliant in the way he sets up the ball handlers' defender. He'll set quick drag screens in transition and roll, but it won't be a roll straight to the rim. Instead, he'll pin his man on his back in order to duck in for a post up opportunity down low.
And that says more about his style of play than what his coach was preaching. Young doesn't play above the rim, and Florida prefers to get him in favorable match ups with the floor spaced. He can face up and use his quick first step to his advantage, but a lot of it is negated because he's such a poor shooter. So instead, he plays with his back to the basket, where he can manufacture space through sheer strength, giving him enough room to toss in those baby hooks over either shoulder.
And that's the essence of his offense. He can pick out shooters or find cutters out of post ups, but you have to wonder how many of those opportunities he'll get in the NBA as a high-energy big receiving spot minutes.
Defense: Young's an intriguing defensive prospect because of two things: his strength and the fact that the center position is so watered down now. He's just 6'9", but his brute strength makes him a menacing post defender. He uses his lower body extremely well to fend off players from backing him down and to gain rebounding position. He loved coming over from the opposite side to trap players along the baseline, and rarely did he get caught straying too far from his man.
And he can hedge and recover in pick and roll situations. He slides his feet well against ball handlers, and does a good job of retreating to his man and contesting shots on the perimeter.
But there is one problem: he's not a rim protector. What he does well, he does on the ground. He doesn't get off the ground quickly enough to alter shots and he has a penchant for falling for shot fakes. When players do drive on him, he does a good job of staying vertical, but at the college level it sure seemed like he got the Dwight Howard treatment by getting called for ticky tack fouls as smaller guards bounced off him.
NBA potential/Wizards fit: I've gone back and forth with Young. I love what he can do on the defensive end, but can you really hide him on offense? He had the benefit of playing for one of the game's most innovative coaches, and often with three or four legitimate floor spacers with him on the floor at all times. He could get by with those short rolls and into the high post area with ease because perimeter defenders just couldn't sink into the paint.
Many NBA teams won't offer the same spacing. The game may be more wide open, but defenses are a lot smarter at taking away the paint. Unless he's able to improve as a shooter, I don't see him cracking many rotations. The pick and roll is a giant part of any offense, and he doesn't provide the requisite big man skills. He opens himself up well for pocket passes, but he has small hands and often fumbles away passes. He won't get by with simply powering his way through one-on-one match ups down low.