The NBA Draft is taking place tomorrow evening in Brooklyn's Barclays Center and we ND fans are likely to hear the names of our two most recent senior leaders called out as they embark on their NBA careers. To get OFD ready for the draft, I've come out of hiding to give a quick profile for Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. Also watch for CW's Draft Viewing Guide tomorrow!
The format for these two pieces will be simple - I've shamelessly adapted the Q&A I was asked to participate in on hawks.com (you can find that piece here). Let's get right to it.
What does Pat do well?
I don't know if you heard last month, but Pat proved to the NBA world what we here at OFD knew all along; that he is an elite athlete, full stop. With a max vertical of 44", Pat recorded the second highest vertical in NBA Draft Combine history and his agility and sprint times were among the top of this year's class as well. In addition to his explosive athelticism, Pat has a very consistent and reliable shot from the outside (shot 42% from beyond the arc this season), and tremendous rebounding ability - especially for his size (led the Irish with 7.4 rebounds per game).
Here are some of Pat's highlights from the Draft Combine last month (and you gotta love Fran Frischilla's tongue in cheek "White athleticism" commentary at the top of the video)
How does his game translate to the NBA?
Pat is ready to be a 3-and-D wing player in the NBA. There are concerns that Pat could struggle to adjust on the defensive end because he had to be more of a power player on defense the past few years as he defended opposing big men but people forget that Pat got on the floor early in his ND career because of his ability to defend the opposing team's best wing player. There may be a bit of an adjustment but his lateral agility shown above makes me think he'll be able to keep up.
What can he do to improve?
Because he's always played along side ball dominant guards (Ben Hansbrough, Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant, Demetrius Jackson), Pat's never had to be a ball handler and thus there isn't much tape of him creating off the dribble and getting his own shot. He's going to have to prove that he can be a respectable ball handler in the NBA given that he's likely going to be a SG/SF at this level whereas he played PF most of his last two years at ND. Additionally, while Pat improved his 3 point shot every year at ND (he shot 34%, 37%, 38%, 42%) his shooting motion can be a bit choppy at times. That said, I have little doubt that he'll be able to shoot 40% from the NBA 3 within a season or two.
What style of play suits his game best?
Given the popular trend of pace and space in the modern NBA, Pat will be able to find a spot on most NBA rosters as every team - even grit-and-grind teams like Memphis and Cleveland (at least the NBA playoffs version) - showed that multiple 3-and-D guys are needed on every team. If the ball finds Pat's hands as a result of multiple ball screens and passes off of movement - like it did at ND - all the better. There are a lot of teams who run that type of system in the NBA, and a lot of them happen to be contenders too.
To which current or past NBA player would you compare him?
First of all, he's not Kyle Korver or JJ Redick, so let's make that abundantly clear (both Korver and Redick are better shooters and they move off screens much more naturally than Pat does at this stage, also they aren't the athlete that Pat is). At this stage, the closest current NBA comp I see for Pat is Courtney Lee who was a late 1st round pick for Orlando and has had a very solid career thus as a two way player.
Oh and how about this video for old time's sake?
What do you think fellow OFDers? Where do you think/want Pat to end up? Let us know below!