Olivier-Maxence Prosper 6’8″, 212 lbs. Marquette SF/PF – Junior, Age 20
They call him OMax and he made a sudden ascent in draft conversations after having a superb combine showing, particularly in the five-on-five scrimmage.
Additionally, Olivier-Maxence Prosper was exceptional in his athletic tests, finishing with some of the best times in the lane agility drill, the shuttle run, and the standing vertical leap.
That athleticism plus his 7’1″ wingspan makes him an alluring defensive prospect. In a nutshell, he’s a versatile, active, and agile defender. He’s certainly able to guard multiple positions and switch onto practically anyone, and some think he’ll be able to guard the 1 through the 5 in due time. On-ball, he is relentless while playing with high, active hands and benefitting from quick feet. He’s physical enough to take on some contact too. And off-ball he’s an earnest chaser who is able to get by screens quickly and who has awesome court awareness on that end.
Offensively, he was an efficient finisher, converting 65.2% of his shots at the rim in his Junior year. The Quebec native brings the same activity as an off-ball guy on that end, making decisive and intelligently timed cuts. Similarly, he has shown some ability to attack closeouts with quick attacks, often benefitting from the use of a pump fake. His mobility and athleticism make for great floor running, and he also threw down a lot of contested dunks.
His jump shooting won’t hit the ground running at the next level, but he’s got upside there. From year two to year three he went from hitting 31.7% of his 1.9 three-point attempts to sinking 33.9% of his 3.2 attempts. The shot form is on an upward trajectory and the release point is sufficiently high.
Still, the shooting consistency has to show itself, even as he did better than expected with shooting at the combine. It’s widely understood that he has to continue smoothing out his mechanics and working on hitting shots without being set already.
Also, for whatever he was able to do attacking the rim off the dribble in college, he’ll have some work to do for that to be effective in the NBA. He lacks an explosive first step and can get predictable with his pump fakes and pivots.
Another qualm some seem to note frequently is his secondary rim protection. He rotates well, but despite his length, he blocked just 5 shots this past season.
In all, while it may not be a name often mentioned, Olivier-Maxence Prosper is an excellent option as a defensive prospect with offensive tools. He also plays as hard as anyone and embraces his role, which are not the most teachable traits.
Tristan Vukcevic 7’0″, 223 lbs. KK Partizan (Serbia) C – Age 20
Like the man above him on this list, Tristan Vukcevic continues to rise up many lists after a great showing at the draft combine.
Along with his size, Vukcevic can shoot the mess out of the ball, making the Serbian-Swedish big man an intriguing commodity. In 22 games in the Adriatic League this season, he shot 40% from deep (18 of 45); he’s a career 38.9% shooter in 78 total games overseas. With a smooth form, a high release, and undeniable range, he fits the mold of what a lot of NBA teams yearn for.
Similarly, he showed in his combine scrimmage that he can pull up from mid-range and sink those shots, demonstrating excellent touch on all of his jumpers. He operates well and showcases skill from both the high and low post.
He is also a fluid athlete that moves well for his size and has some nice hands. As the son of a former professional player in Europe, he also possesses a good feel for the game.
Scouts note that he is a very average rebounder relative to his size and position. Physicality wise, there are some questions. On offense, he does not finish through contact all that well and has a tendency to settle on fadeaway shots as a result. He can also struggle defensively against stronger bigs that can take advantage of his lack of girth.
Sticking with the defense, that is the area he needs the most work in. He does not protect the rim well as a prospective center, but the most concerning thing is his propensity to commit fouls, which is even worse considering he’s not a physical force. In his 22 Adriatic League games this year, he committed 5.3 fouls per 36 minutes, so that is in dire need of coaching and refinement.
With all of that, it may take some time for him to be effective as a center in the NBA.
Vukcevic has had his name on some radars for a few years now, so some think he’ll have a chance to come over to the NBA right away, especially with his shooting range being translatable. However, it seems more likely—and perhaps even more beneficial—if he’s stashed away for a little longer to develop further. But his ceiling could be very high.
Kobe Brown 6’8″, 252 lbs. Missouri PF – Senior, Age 23
After being a four-year starter, Kobe Brown’s age may keep him out of the first round, but his well-rounded skillset should make him one of the higher-value second-round options.
On offense, Brown does a little bit of everything. For one, he converted 62.3% of his attempts at the rim due to his physicality, strength, and patience. Even with his frame, he has some quickness to get by some larger big’s, so he is a mismatch threat in a variety of ways.
The finishing makes him a good roll man, and he even has pick-and-pop potential. Brown’s shooting form is quick and he hit 44.3% of all catch-and-shoot looks this past season. One of the biggest favors he did for his draft stock was come out of nowhere and hit 45.5% of his three’s on 3.3 attempts per game in his last season at Mizzou.
Perhaps his most impressive tool is his passing. Kobe Brown is an excellent processor who makes quick decisions, averaging 2.5 assists in each of his last two seasons. He is a valuable part of a nexus of creation, often chucking the ball up the floor to leak out’s. He also hits outlets and is known as a connector who executes passes to cutters and kick outs swiftly. Brown will even create off the dribble as well.
Defensively he plays with energy, keeping his hands high and active. Demonstrated by his help rotations and ability to anticipate what’s to come in passing lanes, the IQ on that end is high. Brown’s also strong enough to battle with big’s and has some quickness to guard some smaller players; he never backs down from a challenge and his 7’1″ wingspan certainly helps.
But there are worthy concerns regarding just how versatile a defender he’ll be in the NBA as well as his shooting.
The extent of his defensive versatility isn’t crystal clear since Brown’s lateral quickness is far from elite and his reaction times are lacking at times, hurting the likelihood he’d be effective taking on most guards. To make up for that, he’ll rely on his strength almost out of desperation, picking up a fair amount of fouls.
Back to the other side of the ball, again, the shooting efficiency surge came out of nowhere; Brown shot just 23.7% from beyond the arc in his first three years of college. That leads some to infer his range is not a sure thing.
His head coach Dennis Gates insisted Brown’s range was always there, spending the year urging him to never hesitate to shoot and threatening to take him off the floor if he did. That lent a lot to the confidence Brown continues to show from that distance.
The ability to hurt teams from the outside will be key in deciding how his career goes in the NBA, but still, with his varied set of skills, Kobe Brown is sure to offer NBA teams a thing or two, maybe more.
Julian Strawther 6’7″, 209 lbs. Gonzaga SF – Junior, Age 21
Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther has offensive tools that could fit well with most NBA teams, particularly Sacramento.
Throughout his three years in school, he sunk 38.4% of his three’s, and in this most recent season, he hit his 5.3 attempts per game at a 40.8% clip. The ball leaves his fingertips in a flash and he can square his body up in the blink of an eye. As a stationary catch-and-shoot guy, he was efficient. He also shoots effectively spotting up off of movement, either off of screens—particularly pin down’s—or retreating to the perimeter where a passing big like Drew Timme could find him. He also demonstrated a clutch factor with his shots.
Adam Spinella expressed that Strawther has “good ghost pick-and-pop upside” that would nicely “pair with a star guard.”
Freeing himself up as a ghost screener, he can of course hit the jumper, but he likes to drive off that play and utilize his smooth touch on his runners, which is a shot he hit at a 56.2% clip on a fairly high volume (2.4 per game). That weapon is always at his disposal, especially with his shooting prowess that draws hard closeouts that he can attack.
He’s also an adept rebounder, averaging 6.2 this past season from the wing position.
But Strawther is deficient on the defensive end. There, he applies adequate effort, but he’s simply lacking versatility, strength, and lateral quickness. Explosive NBA guards will torch him and bigger wings will be able to bully him. And he lacks some discipline, often getting caught in the air and committing fouls.
Off-ball, he’s not much better. He has a good sense of when to help his teammates, but his awareness is not as dynamic as he’ll frequently lose his man. He also does not put himself in the best positioning, which creates open lanes that he does not possess the recovery speed to make up for. He also sticks to screens like flypaper while not reliably taking the best routes to the ball/his man.
The quickness issue also prevents him from attacking off the dribble; so combined with his struggles with fighting through contact, he does not put pressure on the rim.
Obviously, his defense needs a ton of work, but he could fit in well with one of the NBA’s most potent scoring offense after having played with a good passing big like Timme and with the prospect of playing off “a star guard” in De’Aaron Fox.
Bobi Klintman 6’10”, 225 lbs. Wake Forest SF/PF – Freshman, Age 20
A native of Sweden, Bobi Klintman has 3-and-D upside with awesome traits that appear to give NBA teams a lot to play with.
On defense, his ceiling could make him a versatile and disruptive defender at the next level. As it stands now, he’s already got a decent mix of quickness and strength, though both could be better (and likely project to). He moves his feet well and his length allows him to contests shots with positive results. There were moments both at Wake Forest and as a member of Sweden’s under-20 team where he flashed one-on-one brilliance. His length and size play a big part in his upside on that end, and Spinella posits he may still be growing.
On offense, he projects to be an effective three-point shooter. In one year at Wake Forest, he shot 36.8% from deep on 2.3 attempts per game. Klintman’s form is pretty smooth with a high release, though he’s really only dangerous when already set because his lower half does not snap into position as swiftly, but the upside is undeniably there. He’s streaky, but when he’s hot, he’s scorching. And he has good awareness of relocating and finding open spots.
He also runs the floor well with a knack for grabbing the rebound and pushing it himself. On the U20 Swedish team, he averaged 5.1 assists per game, most of which came as an initiator in transition. But he also kicks it out and dumps it off with noticeable success.
He has strengths on both ends, but the areas in need of improvement can be found on both ends as well.
The defensive consistency needs to be shored up. Both on and off-ball he needs to refine his instincts. Plus, his quickness will not yet stop explosive NBA drivers at this stage in his development. And the same can be said of his strength as bigs are able to beat him in the post.
And offensively, he does not finish well, converting less than 45% of his looks at the rim. His faulty strength, subpar burst, and underwhelming leaping ability explains a bulk of the reason why. Plus, while he has soft touch, he’s got no pull up game as his shooting mechanics in those scenarios need some improvement.
He’s far from a finished product, but Bobi Klintman has an excellent baseline of skills that can, at the very least, develop into those of a useful rotational player.