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NBA Draft 2016: Layman, Bentil, and Maker as Clippers Targets

Two NCAA forwards, and one unique prospect, make up today's grouping.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, we're going to be looking at a ton of possible selections.  Today, we'll look at two NCAA forwards as well as the unique prospect that is Thon Maker.  Please note that analysis of these players is largely secondhand after reading and watching scout video from a variety of sources (mainly those listed in the tables), and then compiling and summarizing.

Jake Layman

Source Draft Express Mock Draft Express Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Mock
Ranking 49 49 Not 1st Round 38 Not 1st Round Not 1st Round

Layman projects as an NBA combo forward.  He played mostly SF during his senior year in college, but he played as a stretch 4 as a junior and his size and shooting ability project to being a potential small-ball 4 in the NBA as well.  A four-year player for Maryland, he finished off his senior year with averages of 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, shooting 40% from three-point range.  At the combine, he measured in at 6'9.25" in shoes with a matching wingspan and a 39.5" vertical.

DraftExpress credits him with pairing shooting ability with athleticism, calling him "one of the more explosive leapers you'll find".  O'Connor suggests that he doesn't have a ton of upside to be more than an effective role player, but with pick 33 that would be more than enough.  While offensively Layman doesn't do much but shoot, his defense might be his best attribute.  Both DraftExpress and O'Connor tout him as a multiple-position defender at the NBA level.  Unfortunately, both raise the same concerns regarding inconsistency and a passive nature on both ends of the floor.  If he can put it all together, he might be able to contribute right away.  But, if he struggles to aggressively go earn a role for himself, he could have trouble sticking in the league.

Ben Bentil

Source Draft Express Mock Draft Express Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Mock
Ranking 45 45 Not 1st Round Not Top 45 Not 1st Round Not 1st Round

Bentil was about as dominant as you can ask a Big East sophomore to be last year, averaging 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds while extending his range beyond the arc, connecting on a not-great-but-promising 33%.  He measures at 6'8.25" in shoes with a 7'1.5" wingspan, which is really solid for a modern power forward who can space the floor.  Unfortunately, he still has a lot of polishing to do if he's going to have any perimeter game in the NBA beyond catching and shooting.  I've seen projections that he could be viewed as a combo forward long-term, but he's clearly not that right now.  Furthermore, he really lacks the vision, passing, and handling to make him a Draymond Green-esque 3/4/5 type of player.

Since he's just a sophomore, Bentil had the option of returning to school, but after a relatively strong combine, he decided to stay in the draft and work out for teams.  There's no telling where he'll be picked, but as of now he's looking like a safe second rounder.  I wouldn't consider him a strong option for the Clippers at 25/33 at this point in time, but as workouts evolve his stock could rise into the early second round.

Thon Maker

Source Draft Express Mock Draft Express Big Board Bodner USAT Mock Kevin O'Connor Big Board Kevin O'Connor Mock Mock
Ranking 40 40 Not 1st Round 33 Not 1st Round 22

If fans were in charge of drafting, Maker might be a lottery pick.  At the combine, he measured at just under 7' barefoot with a 7'3" wingspan.  He's famous for YouTube mixtape that portray him as a bigger Kevin Durant, but once you get close-up he's a really long-term project.  It's almost as though the pieces are there, and those pieces are tantalizing, but he's definitely not ready to contribute immediately as the first prep-to-pro prospect of his generation.  He'll need to bulk up and improve pretty much every aspect of his game to get to an NBA level.

He has a shot, but it's not a pure stroke and it'll need work.  Similarly, he'll have to learn to better use his length defensively to protect the rim and contain pick-and-rolls.  O'Connor notes two contrasting qualities: Maker has a high motor and a strong work ethic, but plays and talks as though he thinks he's better than he really is.  The same shows in DraftExpress' interview with him--he's sure that he's ready to be a pro, and when it became an option he didn't consider college, but at the same time he said he plans to live about 5 minutes from his NBA practice facility and spend tons of time there working on his game.  Can the two be reconciled, or will he struggle to maintain his work ethic if his game suffers in practice against NBA-caliber players?

Ultimately, I understand why people are so enchanted with what Maker can be, but YouTube has caused some fans to think that he is that already.  He wants to be an NBA player, and he will be one, but his long-term career might have been better served by a year or two in college, becoming the star that everyone thinks he can be.  He'll be in the conversation at both 25 and 33, but for the Clippers' purposes I think a safer pick would be more advisable.