Cool Names, Long Arms: Nassir & Matisse
6’6”, 224-pounds, 7’1.25” wingspan, 38.5” max vertical, turned 19 in February, ranked 17th by Bug:
Nassir Little came into his freshman season at UNC with a ton of hype as one of the best players in his class and expectations were high that Little would come in and shine on his way to the NBA with Chapel Hill being just a one-year pitstop. Things didn’t quite go according to plan for the 6-6, 225-pound freshman as he only saw 18mpg, averaging a pedestrian 9.8-points and 4.6-rebounds. To be fair, Little had some good upperclassmen in front of him, but he just never seemed to feel comfortable in his bench role.
Underwhelming college season aside, Little has a great combination of size and athleticism that NBA front offices crave in young wing prospects. Little is a great finisher that can play above the rim and has the body to finish in traffic or get to the free throw line. In addition to his sturdy frame, he has a huge 7-2 wingspan which will allow coaches to deploy him at multiple positions on the defensive end. Offensively, he’s more of a straight-line slasher at this point without much wiggle to his handle. I think the key to him developing on offense will be improving his handle to free himself up for shots and drives to the rim.
The outside shot is still a work in progress (26.9% on 52 attempts), but the 77% from the charity stripe leaves hope for that area of his game.
If Little makes his way into the lottery, it will be based off the reputation he built in high school and individual workouts. He just didn’t show enough at UNC for me to take him that high, but a team like Brooklyn could use a young, athletic wing. Brooklyn also has a strong track record for developing young players recently, which is exactly what a raw talent like Little needs. Look for him to go anywhere from the late lottery to the early 20s come draft day.
6’5”, 195-pounds, 7’0” wingspan, unknown max vertical, turned 22 in March, ranked 19th by Bug:
Matisse Thybulle is one of the few college seniors that have a good chance to be drafted in the first round this year. Thybulle was a 4-year starter at Washington and stayed consistent on the offensive side of the ball. The shooting numbers dipped a bit in his senior season, but he more than made up for it on the defensive end. Thybulle uses his hawk-like, 7-foot wingspan to raise holy hell on the defensive side, racking up steals and blocks at historic levels.
Defensively, he’s an absolute monster, averaging a ridiculous 3.5-steals and 2.3-blocks-per-game. In Washington’s zone defense, Thybulle was allowed to roam the court using his instincts to wreak havoc everywhere.
His career 9-points-per-game aren’t impressive, but I think there is some untapped potential on the offensive end. He has a good looking shooting stroke from the outside and shot over 36% his first three seasons at Washington. He dropped to 30% from three as a senior, but the mechanics are there (85% FT) for him to be a respectable 3-point shooter at the next level. My favorite skill of Thybulle’s is that he always plays hard (playing hard is a skill). He’s the type of player that knows exactly what his limitations are and plays to his strengths. He won’t wow you with above the rim highlight reels (Ed’s note: he may wow you!), but he is an exceptional athlete who will be able to keep up just fine with NBA wings.
The limitations on Thybulle’s offensive upside will give some teams reason for pause. After 4 years in college, he didn’t see much progression in his offensive game. He’s not a guy that is going to create offense for himself and others, so his best fit offensively is going to be as a 3-and-D wing that spots up in the corners and knocks down threes while playing excellent defense. Another concern teams will have is the zone defense which he thrived in. Will his defensive genius in a man-to-man setting? I love OKC at 21 as a landing spot for Thybulle. With Andre Roberson’s injury status up in the air, Thybulle would be the perfect fit to fill that role if Roberson struggles to return or to become an apprentice under the multifaceted defensive stalwart if he is healthy.