Tag Archives: Michigan State basketball

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Jalen Smith 6’10 225 F- Maryland

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Three-point shooter. Has NBA size. Consistent presence. Doesn’t force bad shots. Scores most of his points via open threes and layups. Smith was first in the Big Ten and third in the nation with 21 double-doubles in his sophomore year (recorded five in 2019). Strong rebounder. Smith recorded eight offensive rebounds in Maryland’s 2019 NCAA Tournament victory over Belmont. 

Weaknesses: He can be overpowered in the post due to his thin base. Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman used his weight against him and spinned off of him for an easy bucket (MSU ‘20). Not strong enough to guard NBA centers but can he guard power forwards? Lateral movement is a question mark. Needs to expand his offensive skills beyond shooting and dunking. Smith didn’t get much of a chance to show his ability to put the ball on the floor and it ranks as a question mark.

Other Notes: Attended Mt. Saint Joseph (Md.).Won the Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland twice and played in the 2018 McDonald’s All-American GameFirst team All-Big Ten (2020), Big Ten All-Defensive Team (2020), Big Ten All-Freshman Team (2019)  • 2018-2019 (33 games, 33 sts): 11.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 49% FG, 66% FT, 27% 3-PT, 0.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG  • 2019-2020 (31 games, 31 sts): 15.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 54% FG, 75% FT, 37% 3-PT, 0.7 SPG, 2.4 BPG • Career:  13.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 52% FG, 71% FT, 32% 3-PT, 0.6 SPG, 1.8 BPG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Jalen Smith’s offensive game fits well for the NBA’s new trend of drive and kick basketball. The former Terrapin has excellent length and can finish at the rim. Look for him to compete for a bench spot on a playoff team as he seems like a fit in the bottom of the first round.  His ability to improve his on-ball defense and round out his offensive repertoire will determine his NBA future.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Xavier Tillman 6’8 245 PF/C-Michigan State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Shed more than 20 pounds from his freshman season. Played both the PF and center positions in school. Excellent passer out of the short roll and in 4-on-3 offensive situations. Defensively, he can guard wings and big men in the post (vs. Luka Garza, Iowa ‘20). Improved year after year in minutes played, blocks per game, rebounds and points per game.  

Weaknesses: Will miss layups and dunks on occasion (Wisconsin ‘20). Scouts will question how well he can finish at the rim at the next level.  Undersized for the power forward and center position at the next level. Can he overcome his physical limitations? Shot just 27.3% from three- point range during his three-year career in East Lansing. Saw his free throw percentage dip from 73% in his sophomore season to 66% as a junior. 

Other Notes:

  • Attended Forest Hills Central High School for his freshman year and for his last three years attended Grand Rapids Christian High School
  • Mother, Tanya, was a four-year letterwinner in women’s basketball at the University of Michigan and finished her career as the school’s all-time leading rebounder
  • Named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2019
  • Michigan State’s all-time leader in blocked shots
  • 2017-2018 (35 games, 0 sts): 2.8 PPG, 65% FG, 66% FT, 2.6 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.7 BPG
  • 2018-2019 (39 games, 14 sts):  10 PPG, 60% FG, 73% FT, 7.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.7 BPG
  • 2019-2020 (31 games, 31 sts): 13.7 PPG, 55% FG, 67% FT, 10.3 RPG, 3 APG, 2.1 BPG
  • Career:  8.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.6 AST, 58% FG, 69% FT, 1.5 BPG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): College basketball fans could see why former Spartan and current Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green allowed Xavier Tillman to wear his now retired number 23 Michigan State jersey.  Both players contain high basketball IQs and compete with intensity on both ends of the floor.

The maturity served the Grand Rapids native well, as he was usually tasked with quarterbacking the defense and handling the opposition’s toughest frontcourt player. Look for Tillman to be a contributor for a playoff team in the mid-to-late first round. His toughness and conditioning will remind hoops enthusiasts of Udonis Haslem and Tillman’s makeup would pair well in Miami under the leadership of Pat Riley. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Tre Jones 6’3 185 PG-Duke

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): The ACC Player of the Year put together a solid sophomore campaign that was spearheaded by his defense. Big game player. Jones took it to fellow 2020 NBA Draft point guard prospects: Devon Dotson (Kansas), Cassius Winston (MSU), Cole Anthony (UNC) as he led his team to a 4-0 record vs. the trio. Against the three, Jones averaged 21 points and had a near 3:1 assist-to- turnover ratio. Jones offensively does his best work out of the Blue Devils “horns” set, where he operates with two players up top and two in the corner. He is capable of making the right read in the pick and roll as well as pulling up in the midrange (UCF ‘19, 1st Half ). Defensively, his length bothers opposing guards (averaged just under two steals per game for his career). Jones’ feet and arms are always in motion, which leads to deflections.

Weaknesses: Jones saw his three-point shooting percentage improve from 26% to 36%, was his sophomore numbers indicative of his outside shooting long term or a fluke? Jones is best when setting others up, look at his work a season ago with three lottery picks. If he joins a team with subpar talent does he have the ability to make other players around him better? Jones has good length for the position but it remains to be seen how he handles the more physical NBA point guards with his lean frame.

Other Notes:

  • Attended Apple Valley High School (Mn.) and was a consensus five-star recruit. He was also named Minnesota’ Mr. Basketball
  • He has two older brothers that played college basketball: Tyus and Jadee. Tyus also attended Duke, and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.  Jadee played at Furman University.
  • 2020 ACC Player of the Year recipient as well as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2018-2019 (36 games, 36 sts): 9.4 PPG, 41% FG, 26% 3-PT, 76% FT, 3.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.9 SPG
  • 2019-2020 (29 games, 29 sts): 16.2 PPG, 42% FG, 36% 3-PT, 77% FT, 4.2 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.8 SPG
  • Career stats: 12.4 PPG, 42% FG, 31% 3-PT, 77% FT, 1.8 SPG, 4 RPG, 5.8 APG,

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Jones played a lot of basketball during his two years at Duke. Despite being just a sophomore, he is one of the more experienced players in the draft. DraftNasty projects Jones being most successful with a team where he can create for others that has talented wings and big men. Look for an organization like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers to target the former Duke point guard at the bottom of the first round.