Jamaal Franklin could make a nice addition to the Atlanta Hawks roster.

Atlanta Hawks 2013 Draft Prospects: Jamaal Franklin

In just a matter of weeks the Atlanta Hawks begin forming their 2013-2014 roster at the NBA Draft, in which the Hawks have four picks (17, 18, 47, 50). Assuming GM Danny Ferry does not intend to trade any of these selections, Atlanta has a shot to choose four players that will likely be part of next season’s team. And, with currently only three players under contract, one could cover his eyes and point at a position of need. So, what will Danny Ferry look to address when the draft rolls around on June 27? Will he focus on post players? Perimeter players? A little of both? No one knows for sure. But, it’s fun to speculate. ESPN’s Chad Ford recently did just that when he reveled his latest mock draft (insider).

Ford has the Hawks using the No. 18 pick to select Jamaal Franklin, a 6’5″ guard out of San Diego State University, who has seen his stock skyrocket since the college basketball season ended in April.

Franklin is leaving SDSU after three years of exceptional play under Aztec coach Steve Fisher. He was the Mountain West Conference’s player of the year for the 2011-2012 season. He was also recognized by the Associated Press as Honorable All-American each of the past two seasons. Franklin’s three years at SDSU look like this, according to his ESPN Player Profile:

  • 2010-2011:  8.1 minutes, 2.9 ppg, 1.9 rebs, 0.5 assists
  • 2011-2012:  30.3 minutes, 17.4 ppg, 7.9 rebs, 1.5 assists (conference player of the year)
  • 2012-2013:  33.1 munutes, 17 ppg, 9.5 rebs, 3.3 assists

San Diego State qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Jamaal’s three seasons. The Aztec team his freshman year (2010-2011) was arguably the school’s finest when they finished 34-3, earning the #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They made it as far as the Sweet Sixteen, before getting bounced by Connecticut.  That Aztec team was loaded with seniors (including Kawhi Leonard, who is currently playing in the NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs), so Jamaal saw little action. He did burst onto the scene that year, however, in a February game against Utah. Forced to play because of injuries, Jamaal finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists in 17-minutes of action.

Aztec fans saw for the first time that they had a special player on their hands in Jamaal Franklin.

Playing as the reigning Mountain West player of the year this season, Franklin did not disappoint. He led the Aztecs to a 23-11 season, a #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and was terrific in both of San Diego State’s tournament games:

  • vs #10 Oklahoma (W, 70-55) — 37 minutes, 21 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
  • vs #15 FGCU (L, 81-71) — 36 minutes, 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists

It was shortly after this past college basketball season ended that Jamaal announced his intentions to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA Draft.

While Aztec fans cried over this, NBA GM’s drooled.

Here is Jamaal Franklin’s scouting video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uac5RqNT5iU

As this video shows, Jamaal plays the game hard. His effort is not something that anyone doubts. He also plays the game above the rim, so his game (athletically, at least) should translate well in the NBA. If you don’t feel like sitting through the entire video, here are some of the highlights:

  • 1:43 — Jamaal does some showtime here! While on the break, he throws the ball of the backboard to himself, catches it, and throws down a nice dunk. (I think I’m going to watch that again!)
  • 3:06 — Gets into the lane for a tough shot, which he makes and draws the foul. This was against Arizona, the #3 team in the nation at the time.
  • 5:47 — Outstanding post moves for a basket against FGCU in the 2nd round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
  • 6:43 — Jamaal shows off one of the strongest areas of his game: the mid-range jumper.
  • 7:36+ — Several examples of how hard Jamaal Franklin plays. This portion of the video is simply loaded with steals created from Jamaal Franklin effort!
  • 8:40 — Does a great job going over a screen and staying with his man. Later in the video, Jamaal’s defensive footwork is questioned. Hard to question his footwork on that play, though.
  • 9:58 — Jamaal is just relentless here. He runs down a break and gets a tremendous block.

The bad:

  • 13:12 — Example of poor shot selection. He gets the ball while the Aztec’s are on the move in transition. Instead of waiting for his teammates to cross half court and set the offense, he forces (and misses) a 3-point shot with over 30-seconds still on the shot clock.
  • 15:27 — Franklin has to prove he can drive while dribbling with his left hand. He goes left here, against FGCU, and is quickly relieved of the ball.
  • 16:33 — Again, from the game against #3 Arizona, Jamaal does not move his feet well defensively and allows his man a clear path to the basket.
  • 16:58 — Too aggressive on defense at times. He overplays a pass and allows his man to get open for a wide open 3-point shot.

At the end of the scouting video, the question is raised about Jamaal’s ability to adjust to a new role in the NBA. He was asked to do a lot these past two seasons at San Diego State. On offense, he controlled the ball on nearly every possession and took most of the team’s shots. No NBA team is going to ask him to do these things.  He will be playing off the ball more. I think this will help with his questionable shot selection. Franklin is not going to have the feeling of needing to carry the NBA team on which he is drafted. When he does shoot, most of the shots will be quality looks.

Also, I don’t see his defensive footwork as an issue. I love his defense actually. How could you not? He plays with great effort and makes many positive defensive plays. He has a long reach too. At the NBA Draft Combine, Jamaal was measured to have a 6’11.25″ wingspan. That will cause many problems for NBA shooters.

Other than getting his measurements taken, Franklin was not an active participant at the NBA Draft Combine. He was actually in a walking boot, recovering from a high ankle sprain. He did interview with teams. He also gave this interview with Draft Express:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ySFhaVYF8Y

Full discloser, after researching Jamaal Franklin for this post, I have become a fan. I would love for him to be drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. His effort is going to be his greatest strength. Add in his long wingspan and he has the makings of an outstanding defensive player. The questions about his offense (shot selection and 3-point shooting) can be improved upon. There are many examples of players who entered the NBA as poor shooters but put the work in to make great growths in their shooting abilities — look no further than Jeff Teague!

If you’re like me and are hoping that Franklin is selected by the Hawks, watch out for Dallas. The Mavericks have the 13th pick, four spots ahead of the Hawks. Jamaal was scheduled to work out for the Mavs on June 3.

I can only assume they will be impressed. I just hope they’re not too impressed!

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