Brian Brennan

2020 NBA draft profile: Théo Maledon does a lot of things well, but what's his NBA potential?

2020 NBA draft profile: Théo Maledon does a lot of things well, but what's his NBA potential?

Théo Maledon  

Position: PG
Height: 6-5
Weight: 175
Pro team: ASVEL (France)

The “other” French point guard in the 2020 draft, Maledon may not be quite as highly ranked as his countryman Killian Hayes, but he’s an enticing prospect in his own right.

Maledon held his own in the EuroLeague as an 18-year-old, averaging 7.4 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range That’s very impressive production for a player that age in the second-best league in the world. He’s grown up around basketball, with both parents being former professional players, and his feel for the game stands out when you watch him. His name is pronounced TAY-o MAL-uh-don.

Strengths

Maledon can go left or right on the drive and has a knack for finishing in traffic against bigger defenders. He keeps his head up when he has the ball, allowing him to find open teammates, and is a jet in the open floor. His shot looks smooth, both off the dribble and on the catch. He’s excellent at driving and dishing and making the right decision in those situations. He also has pretty good size for a point guard, with more room to add muscle to his frame.

Weaknesses

He does a lot of things very well, but I’m not sure Maledon has that singular NBA skill that teams would love. He’s a good passer, good shooter and decent on-ball defender, but doesn’t appear elite in any of those areas. 

It’s also hard to know if he can become a big-time scorer in the NBA because he hasn’t shown it yet, averaging under eight points in the French LNB and the EuroLeague. But his lack of playing time has to be factored into any calculations about his future potential. 

In the EuroLeague, Maledon averaged 15.1 points and 6.4 assists per 36 minutes. Those numbers may be more indicative of his NBA potential.

Fit

Maledon is a high-floor, high-ceiling prospect. His production at such a young age proves he can play the game. This season, he led all EuroLeague players age 22 or younger in points and assists per game. And his per-36-minute numbers demonstrate that he could become an impact player down the road.

He’s used to having the ball in his hands, so playing with Ben Simmons would be an adjustment. But Maledon would give the Sixers a young backup point guard with a ton of potential. His shooting ability may allow him to play off the ball as well. And when Simmons posts up, Maledon would give the Sixers another option to run the offense.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

2020 NBA draft: 8 elite college shooters Sixers could target

2020 NBA draft: 8 elite college shooters Sixers could target

It’s not a secret: The Sixers need shooting. But will they be able to find it in the draft? With the remainder of the NBA regular season still in flux due to COVID-19, the draft order has not been finalized. Right now, the Sixers would pick 22nd, thanks to the Markelle Fultz trade that landed them Oklahoma City’s first-round pick this year. But that pick is top-20 protected, so Elton Brand and company may have to sweat it out if more regular-season games are played. An ill-timed Oklahoma City losing streak could cost the Sixers that pick. The Sixers traded away their own 2020 first-round pick in the Tobias Harris deal.

The Sixers also currently have four second-round picks (Nos. 34, 36, 49 and 60). They’ll have a couple chances to get a shooter early in the second round if they don’t see one worth taking in the first round or if the OKC pick doesn’t convey. 

To determine the best shooters in this draft, I searched for players who shot at least 40 percent from the college three-point line and 70 percent from the free throw line. I also looked for players who attempted at least four threes per game.  

After studying video of the draft-eligible players who met the above criteria, I divided them into players who could be first-round targets and second-round targets for the Sixers. 

First-round targets

Aaron Nesmith — 6-6 wing, Vanderbilt (sophomore)
By the numbers this season at Vanderbilt, Nesmith is the best shooter in the draft. He shot 52.2 percent from three-point range on 8.2 attempts per game as a sophomore, an incredible combination of accuracy and volume. But those numbers come with an asterisk. Nesmith’s season was cut short after 14 games due to a foot injury. Almost all those gaudy numbers were put up before SEC play began.

When you watch his clips, though, Nesmith looks the part of an NBA sharpshooter. He has great size and moves without the ball like a young Buddy Hield or JJ Redick. At worst, he’s probably a Joe Harris-type shooter who can play in the rotation for a winning team.

Devin Vassell — 6-7 wing, Florida State (sophomore)
Vassell shot over 41 percent from three-point range in both seasons at Florida State, a good sign that his shooting touch is for real. He attempted 5.5 threes per game this season, so the volume was there as well. He’s a smooth offensive player who can dribble into jumpers or catch and shoot. I’ve seen him described as a “3-and-D” guy, but I think he could be a pure two-guard if a team wanted to use him that way. He has a solid mid-range game and shot 53 percent from the floor as a sophomore. He’s also a good on-ball defender and off-ball defender who forced a lot of deflections for the Seminoles. Vassell reminds me of Robert Covington with more ability to create off the dribble. 

Tyrell Terry — 6-2 guard, Stanford (freshman)
Terry played well enough in his freshman season in Palo Alto to justify him declaring for the draft. A scoring point guard, Terry posted impressive shooting numbers across the board, shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range on 4.9 attempts per game and 89.1 percent from the free throw line.

The most impressive part of Terry’s game is that he can shoot in any type of situation. He can pull up off the dribble, he can catch and shoot coming off curls and screens or pull up from 30 feet. That shooting ability could make him a big-time riser on draft night. However, his lack of size could lead to Terry being available to the Sixers as a potential Landry Shamet replacement.

Saddiq Bey — 6-8 wing, Villanova (sophomore)
After shooting 37.4 percent from three-point range on 3.6 attempts per game as a freshman, Bey improved those numbers a ton as a sophomore, shooting 45.1 percent on 5.6 attempts per game. Those numbers can’t be overlooked. Bey was one of the best long-range shooters in the country this season, regardless of position. He also shot 77 percent from the free throw line. At 6-foot-8, Bey has great size to play the small forward spot in the NBA or even be a small-ball power forward with his outside shooting ability.

Second-round targets

Desmond Bane — 6-6 wing, TCU (senior)
Bane was a consistent shooter throughout his years at TCU, shooting 42.5 percent or better from three-point range as a sophomore, junior and senior. He shot 44.2 percent on 6.5 attempts as a senior, so the volume was there as well.

One thing I like about Bane is he knows how to use the threat of his jumper to set up his drive. He also filled up the stat sheet outside of his scoring, averaging 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a senior. He’s extremely strong at 215 pounds and when guys bounce off him, he can use that space to step back and make shots. He’d be an intriguing second-round pick, but I could see him sneaking into the end of the first round.

Immanuel Quickley — 6-3 wing, Kentucky (sophomore)
Quickley has one of the strangest statistical profiles you’ll ever see. He made just 40.9 percent of his two-point field goals as a sophomore at Kentucky but shot 42.8 percent from three-point range and 92 percent from the free throw line. Those gaps were even more pronounced in SEC play, when Quickley shot 39 percent on twos and 48 percent on threes. 

So, how do you explain those numbers? Well, two things: First, Quickley was clearly not a great finisher in the lane. Secondly, he was wide open on a lot of those three-point attempts. Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans were able to drive into the lane in Kentucky’s offense, collapsing the defense and leading to open shots for Quickley. To his credit, he made a ton of those shots this season. He also set the Kentucky record for free throw percentage, lending more credence to the idea that he could become an elite shooter. The fact that he’s a 6-foot-3 off guard and not much of a playmaker could make him available in the second round.

Payton Pritchard — 6-2 guard, Oregon (senior)
If the Sixers don’t take a point guard in the first round, perhaps Pritchard could be that guy in the second round. He was a consensus First Team All-American as a senior at Oregon, averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 41 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the foul line. His lack of size and NBA athleticism could make Pritchard a second-round pick, but he’d give the Sixers another potential long-range shooter off the bench.

Cassius Winston — 6-1 guard, Michigan State (senior)
Another decorated college point guard, Winston doesn’t get the credit he deserves as an outstanding shooter. He was a career 43 percent three-point shooter and 84 percent free throw shooter at Michigan State. He’s certainly not an elite athlete, but you could do a lot worse than Winston for a player who can run your second unit and make some shots. I could see players like Winston and Pritchard appealing to winning teams at the bottom of the first round, but either or both could slip into the early second round.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

2020 NBA Draft profile: What should NBA teams make of Cole Anthony's rocky freshman season?

2020 NBA Draft profile: What should NBA teams make of Cole Anthony's rocky freshman season?

Cole Anthony

Position: PG
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190
School: North Carolina

The MVP of the 2019 McDonald’s All-American Game and the son of longtime NBA point guard Greg Anthony, Cole Anthony was supposed to be the next great point guard at North Carolina. But his lone season in Chapel Hill went off the rails in a hurry. A Murphy’s Law cocktail of a torn meniscus that caused him to miss 11 games, questionable shot selection and a glaring lack of perimeter talent around him resulted in the Anthony-led Tar Heels struggling to a 14-19 record. NBA front offices now have to determine if the red flags that emerged at UNC will ultimately matter for Anthony as a professional. Anthony did show toughness and leadership when the chips were down, returning from meniscus surgery late in the season when he could have easily shut it down to prepare for the draft.

Strengths

Anthony has a strong body and showed the ability to finish through contact in the lane. He’s a natural scorer, averaging 18.5 points this season despite facing constant double teams. He’s a good enough three-point shooter (34.8 percent on 6.4 attempts per game) that he can make defenses pay when they don’t honor his shot in pick-and-roll situations. 

He’s also an excellent rebounder for a point guard, averaging 5.7 per game, and had three point-rebound double-doubles in his 22 games at UNC. That rebounding ability gives Anthony the potential to become a one-man fast break once he gets the ball in his hands.

Anthony did show flashes of dominance in his freshman season, including a three-game run late in the season when he averaged 24 points on 59 percent shooting. He understood that his team needed him to score and did his best to deliver in some tough circumstances.

Weaknesses

Anthony displayed some questionable decision-making with the ball in his hands at UNC, not a great sign for a lead guard. He averaged 3.9 assists and 3.5 turnovers per game, which is obviously not the assist-to-turnover ratio you expect to see from an elite NBA point guard prospect. He also shot just 38 percent from the floor, a sign that he was often settling for contested jumpers and trying to drive into too much traffic in the paint.

Some of those struggles can be attributed to UNC’s terrible spacing — and it was truly terrible. Anthony generally shared the floor with multiple post players who clogged the lane and had a lack of perimeter shooting around him. He may thrive when surrounded by more talented teammates, better spacing and fewer double teams. But Anthony often made the wrong decisions when leading a fast break, which led to failures to convert on easy transition opportunities. That’s an issue that can’t be attributed to his teammates.

I’m also not sure Anthony has an elite NBA skill. He’s certainly not an elite playmaker. He’s a good athlete, but not a jaw-dropping one, and he’s not one of the best shooters in the draft. Though he was a decent on-ball defender, he doesn't project to be a major difference-maker on that end of the floor.

Fit

I’m fascinated to see how NBA teams view Anthony’s 22-game sample at UNC. Do they believe he’s still the top-tier prospect he was thought to be coming out of high school, or was he exposed against better competition in college? I think back to a player like Jaylen Brown, who struggled mightily at times in his freshman season at Cal. Danny Ainge and the Celtics largely ignored Brown’s struggles in his college season, believing in their own scouting of Brown as a high school player. The Celtics have been rewarded for that choice. We’ll see if any team drafting in the lottery has a similar conviction about Anthony’s talent.

This is an extremely deep point guard draft, with players like LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes all potentially above Anthony in the pecking order. There’s also a next wave including Theo Maledon, Devon Dotson, Tyrell Terry and others. If Anthony starts to slide on draft night, it’s possible he could still be on the board when the Sixers pick. The Sixers could also potentially trade up to get him in the teens. He’d be an interesting pick for the Sixers, who could gamble on his talent and pedigree without suffering too much if Anthony doesn’t pan out. 

At worst, Anthony should be able to play a backup combo guard role in the NBA thanks to his overall skill set. He could run the show while Ben Simmons takes a rest or handle the ball up top when Simmons goes into the paint. Despite the ugly assist-to-turnover ratio at UNC, he’s a more natural ball handler than Josh Richardson and has more two-way potential than Raul Neto or Trey Burke. The Sixers would be a nice landing spot where he could learn the NBA game without the pressure of having to be a major contributor right away.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers