By Titus Falodun
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If NBA executives are truly about bottomline as they look to get the biggest bang for their buck this upcoming draft, then they should look no further than the Main Line.
The Villanova Wildcats will be richly represented on Thursday night, as Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson and Omari Spellman are all projected to be drafted.
But each player presents something distinctively different that will benefit any team in the league.
So, without further ado, here’s a quick breakdown of what each of these guys can bring to the hardwood.
What He Brings: Bridges is the prototypical wingman you need any day of the week, because he will come to your defense no matter what and he will help you score when things may seem out of your range. His uncanny defensive awareness and high-level shooting from deep (shot 43.5 percent from beyond in 2018) make him the ideal 3-and-D player, in the vain of Dennis Scott during his time with the Orlando Magic or Andre Iguodala, who is currently with the Golden State Warriors. Bridges’ size and frame (6-foot-7 and 210 pounds) make him an instant contributor at the NBA level.
What He’s Missing: Detractors point out Bridges lack of putting the ball on the floor during his time at Villanova but when you’re playing alongside, arguably, the best point guard and team player in the NCAA in Jalen Brunson, what’s the need for isolation basketball? In addition, critics have questioned him staying at Villanova for four years before coming out, in a day and age when great prospects are developing earlier and earlier. But Bridges told Isiah Thomas in a sit down interview on NBA TV that he was just not ready to come out any earlier. Furthermore, he said staying in college benefited him both as a ball player and a growing man. What’s not to like about that kind of perspective? Oh yeah, by the way, he won two national titles during his stay. And he earned the Julius Erving Award for best small forward in college, he made the Big East first team and All American third team after starting all 40 regular season games for Villanova, on his way to averaging 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2018.
Best Role And Team Fit: The best role for Bridges is small forward and you can easily slot him in your eight-man rotation, as he can run the fastbreak, guard multiple positions and shoot his shot. The best team fit is the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 10 as he can add to their developing, talented young core and immediately help them get closer to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond. Plus, he’s from Philadelphia. So, allow it.
What He Brings: DiVincenzo had a coming out party for the nation to witness when he dropped 31 points off the bench to lead the Wildcats to a dominating win against the Michigan Wolverines in the national title game. So, the man dubbed “The Michael Jordan of Delaware” has that microwave offense and limelight-poised nature so many teams would cherish. DiVincenzo has athleticism too. At 6-foot-5, he could be this year’s Donovan Mitchell. Seems like a reach but there is something about DiVincenzo that always sees him rise to the top, despite being overlooked. The man is a scorer, with all the tools necessary to be a problem on the next level.
What He’s Missing: The biggest knock on DiVincenzo is his sample size. Unlike his other teammates, who has an extensive body of work, DiVincenzo has arrived on scene as quick and unexpected as a lightning strike. However, should he be penalized for peaking at the right time?
Best Role And Team Fit: The best role for DiVincenzo is to be a Lou Williams coming off the bench. In time, he will develop into a stud. The best team for him is Milwaukee (17th pick) or San Antonio (18th pick).
What He Brings: Brunson is the son of a pro. Villanova Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jay Wright has called him the most poised person he’s ever been around at Villanova. And he is the most polished player in this year’s draft. Brunson brings a Motown Chauncey Billups control and understanding to the game. He is not rushed to pass or shoot but he can do both in a very consistent manner. Drafting Brunson will be like adding a seasoned and savvy coach on the floor.
What He’s Missing: Nothing.
Best Role And Team Fit: The best role for Brunson is running the point. He will have an Andre Miller- and Jameer Nelson-like longevity at the position (hopefully less stops). He would be an excellent pick for Golden State at No. 28.
What He Brings: Spellman is the wildcard at 6-foot-9, 256 pounds. He is the player who can be this draft’s Draymond Green. Yeah, you read that last sentence correctly. He shoots; he scores; he blocks shots; he crashes the board and he will take on whatever challenge is in front of him. Spellman is even more refined with his game than Green when he was coming out of Michigan State. Spellman is the “positionless” player that is representative of this Golden State era of basketball, an era in which your big man can dribble, shoot and pass, as well as do all the hard hat and lunch pail stuff.
What He’s Missing: Spellman needs to condition his body for the NBA grind, improve on his basketball IQ and he should be OK.
Best Role And Team Fit: The best role for Spellman is anywhere, depending on your lineup. He is that fluid. The Boston Celtics (27th pick) or Brooklyn Nets (29th pick) need to keep an eye on this guy.
All in all, the aforementioned Wildcats may all just find themselves drafted in the first round, a great feat for Wright and his program.