Walker Kessler, the 2022 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, blocked nearly five shots per game for the Tigers in 2021-22. A serviceable contributor while at UNC, the former five-star recruit reached new heights in his lone year at Auburn.
UPDATE: In an unrelated move, Kessler was traded to the Utah Jazz along with four first round picks between 2023 and 2029, Patrick Beverly, Leandro Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley on July 1, 2022.
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.
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
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.
Despite missing the majority of his freshman campaign due to injury, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland has a solid chance of hearing his name called in the 2019 NBA Draft’s Top 10 picks later this month. The former Brentwood Academy (TN.) and McDonald’s All-American provides deft ballhandling skills at the point guard spot. Prior to his time at Vandy, he earned his stripes playing against the likes of players such as Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton and 2019 UNC signee Cole Anthony in the AAU circuit. In his five games as a Commodore, Garland averaged 16.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 2.6 APG. His father, Winston, spent seven seasons in the NBA after starring at Missouri State.