Although college hoops season ends in April, by February full-time pro scouts know several of the names Adam Silver will call at June’s NBA draft. After debriefing a veteran NBA scout this month, Breitbart Sports learned that 2016 could mark the first year the commissioner calls three Massachusetts residents since adopting its current two-round format.
The pro scout explains the asterisks each overcame this offseason and the commonality boosting their stock.
“One of the things I’ve learned, every year, three or four guys take a major step. They go from way in the back of the pack to out in front of the pack. [Wayne] Selden is one of those guys,” the veteran NBA scout tells Breitbart Sports.
Former Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC) teammates Wayne Selden, Georges Niang, and Jake Layman all find their names in NBA draft discussion, while Selden sees his stock rise faster than any other player in college hoops.
Considered a one-and-done coming out of high school, Roxbury, Massachusetts-native Selden projected as a career D-leaguer following his freshmen and sophomore seasons at Kansas. In spite of a body ready for both pro football and basketball at 18, Selden never impressed the NBA check writers because he missed open shots. After connecting on 43 percent of his field goals as a freshman, Selden shot a dismal 38 percent from the floor as a sophomore. Although his three-point shooting numbers increased last season, the slight jump kept the former Tilton School star in Lawrence, Kansas, for his junior year.
“The kid dedicated himself this summer and worked and worked and worked. He’s shooting the lights out now,” the veteran NBA scout tells Breitbart Sports.
Already connecting on more three pointers in 2016 than he did throughout each of his first two campaigns, Selden ranks third in the Big 12 in three-point field-goal percentage (47%) and second in three pointers made (53). As a 6’5” guard, Selden also boasts college highs in both rebounding and assists while playing for the 7th-ranked Jayhawks.
“He’s now the best three-point shooter on arguably the best team in the country. It took him two years to start to figure it out, but he’s elevated himself,” the veteran NBA scout tells Breitbart Sports. “He’s having a great year and is now in the first round discussion.”
Selden’s former BABC and Tilton school teammate Georges Niang stands a few games from eclipsing the 2,000-point plateau, yet many draft insiders consider Niang an outsider. However, the veteran NBA scout sees second-round value in the Methuen, Massachusetts, forward, who showcases career bests in points (19), field goal percentage (.528) and rebounding (6.3).
“He’s the captain of the looks-bad-plays-good team,” says the NBA scout.
Like Selden, Niang’s name enters the draft debate because of three-point shooting, hitting roughly forty percent of his trifectas in three of his four seasons at Iowa State. But his name leaves boardroom debates as an afterthought because of his body type. Once weighing 255 as a dribble and stretch four man, Niang never struck NBA general managers as the wall poster of a serious NBA draft early entry candidate. Now a senior, he plays at a much trimmer 230 after losing 25 pounds during four seasons in Ames, Iowa. While his I.Q. and passing (3.1 APG) never warranted doubt, weight loss clearly serves as the source of Georges Niang’s NBA draft gain.
“He got the weight off and he’s not heavy now. But so many of these guys have muscles on their muscles. That’s not him. But he knows how to play with a skillset different from other forwards. There are 30 teams, so I think there’s a place for him,” the veteran NBA scout tells Breitbart Sports.
While mock drafts list Niang on standby and Selden out of the first round, one year ago Breitbart’s NBA draft source forecast the draft accurately. Last season the veteran NBA scout predicated Arlington, Massachusetts’ Patrick Connaughton “a pick in the 40s in the second round.” Four months later, when Brooklyn (later traded to Portland) selected the Notre Dame everyman at 41, the news suggested that the talent evaluator knows something online pundits do not.
In addition to covering the Big 12, the veteran NBA scout watches the Big Ten conference live every week, giving him a dossier of information on Wrentham, Massachusetts’ homebody Jake Layman during his career at Maryland.
“He’s a different guy. Like, he’s grown up. Before he was just another boy with a good body, who didn’t know how to play. Now he’s a man who knows how to play,” the veteran NBA scout explains to Breitbart Sports.
At 6’9” and 220 pounds, Layman shoots in the mid thirties from three and rebounds at multiple positions. A ball screen and pop asset, Layman gives NBA offenses a perimeter threat making defenses slow to rotate off the corners. As so many NBA team presidents swoon over analytics sheets and general managers move and shake for “small ball” lineups in homage to Golden State, Layman could function as some franchises’ ideal stretch forward or rebounding wing. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express currently lists Layman as an early second-round pick.
“He’s a lights out shooter for his position,” the scout points out. “There’s not that many of those at his size.”
With NBA teams exclusively playing gap-heavy help defense, floor spacing differentiates winning and losing franchises. When you cannot shoot in the NBA, nobody covers you. When nobody covers you, you do not play very long. The Timberwolves, Lakers, and Nets sport three of the four worst records in the NBA and round out the bottom of the league’s field-goal percentage behind the three-point arc. Conversely, Golden State and San Antonio hold the best records in the NBA and lead the pros in three-point and overall field-goal percentage offense.
“When a guy shoots and makes it, it changes everything,” the scout tells Breitbart Sports.
If Wayne Selden, Georges Niang, and Jake Layman keep shooting and making, they will become the first Bay State trio selected in the same NBA draft since the advent of the two-round format.
Follow Sean Flynn on Twitter @Coachsflynn