Who Is Robert Franks?

April 28, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Washington State’s 6-7 senior forward, Robert Franks play in a couple of basketball games.  He is a potential second round prospect that can shoot the basketball, and he has put up solid numbers this season, as he has averaged 21.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while making 40% of his threes according to RealGM.  I wanted to watch him play to gauge his skill set, and to project if he can make it to the NBA and what his role would be if he would be able to do so.  I wanted to know more about him and what he could bring to the table, as his team did not make the NCAA Tournament, nor was Franks at the Portsmouth Invitational this year.

I was unable to see him play this season however, and none were available online from that time span, so I decided to watch him play from last year.  Unfortunately because of this, I was also not able to see C.J. Elleby play as a result.  So I decided to watch two games from last season, as Franks’ team played against San Diego State on November 26th, 2017, with thanks to YouTube via American sports, and he also played against Arizona State on February 4th, 2018, also with thanks to YouTube via American sports.  Here are my thoughts on Robert Franks’ skills, and where he could fit in as a prospect for the NBA.

Robert Franks is a good shooter that can calmly knock down three-point shots to space the floor for his team.  He generally excels at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also was able to make one off of a pick and pop play.  He also flashed the ability to make long-range jumpers off the dribble, as he was able to use a step back move to knock down from beyond the arc, and he can make threes when given ample time to get his shot off.  He does seem to have a fairly slow release however, and he can tend to miss shots when he gets sped up or when he attempts to take pull-up threes a frequent basis.

He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Franks will move off the ball to get open for shots, and he did a good job at scoring on rolls, cuts, as well as in transition.  Franks will slip screens and roll to the rim to get open in the paint, and he also can dribble in to get scores and free throws around the basket.  He also was able to draw free throws on a put back after using a stepthrough move once, and he also has good hands to catch long passes.  However, he also can struggle to score in traffic, as his lack of elite physical tools can make it tough for him to finish plays at the rim when contested.

Franks also showed a decent ability to score in the post as well as off of drives to the basket.  He has good strength to back down his man, and he can score on jump hooks and drop step moves.  He also can go left to drive to the hoop, and he can score on strong moves, as he can especially take advantage when he is able to accelerate to the rim.  However, he can struggle to get all the way to the rim at times, which can lead him to take some tough shots that may lead to misses.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Franks is a patient player that does a good job of recognizing open teammates and getting them the basketball, and he also can pass off the dribble and out of the post to set up scoring chances for them.  He also will set screens, and he can pop or roll off of them to get the basketball.  He was a bit turnover prone at times, as he would occasionally play too carelessly every once in a while.

In addition, he may need to improve his ability to rebound the basketball.  On the plus side, Franks is a fundamentally sound area rebounder that will box out his man, and he also can get some defensive boards quickly due to possessing adequate anticipation skills.  However, he does not possess great size or physical tools, and sometimes he may not be in great rebounding position, which can lead him to allow opponents to grab offensive rebounds in his area, and he can sometimes end up committing fouls or allowing opponents to score on put backs.

He also will likely need to improve his position defense.  For the positives, Franks will compete defensively, and he is also an adequate help defender.  He will rotate to block and contest shots off of drives to force misses, and he also will play passing lanes and heap on loose balls to help his team get steals and deflections.  However, he does not move very well laterally as he especially can have trouble guarding opponents out on the perimeter, and he will tend to struggle to guard quicker players off the dribble.  Also, he may not always give great effort, as he may not always run hard back on defense, which can lead his team to allow scores in transition.  There may be a fairly good chance Frank may never develop into being an elite defender in the NBA, but if he can consistently give solid effort on the defensive end, he could end up being a decent defensive player if he can pour more of his focus on that side of the ball.

In general, Robert Franks showed some interesting skills when watching him play last season against San Diego State and Arizona State.  Ideally, there would have been a full game online available that he played in this season to evaluate his skills, but I was not able to find one, so I decided to make do by watching these two games from last year to get a sense of his abilities, and go from there.  

Against San Diego State, Franks shot the ball well, and he also showed off some low post scoring skills and ability to score off the dribble, but he struggled with his rebounding, defense, and his effort level seemed to be lagging at times.  When he played against Arizona State, Franks struggled with his three-point shot, but he excelled as a scorer from inside the arc, mostly on hustle plays, and he generally seemed to play with a better motor, and he also seemed to be dialed in as he was able to show some solid passing, rebounding, and defensive skills at times.

Franks’ prospects to make it to and/or succeed at the NBA may largely hinge on his jump shot, and if he can continue to shoot the ball well at that level.  Most likely, he may be a moderate floor, fairly low ceiling prospect that could develop into a rotation player in the NBA under favorable circumstances.  For the time being, he may project to go anywhere from the mid-second round range to possibly winding up undrafted. 

His three-point shot will likely be his bread and butter throughout his career, and in a favorable scenario, he could perhaps develop into being a shooting combo forward for an NBA team off the bench.  If he can improve as a rebounder and position defender, that would be an added bonus, but his ability to knock down shots could determine if he can succeed at higher levels.  If he can, he could end up being a solid role player in the league, as he may end up being an Anthony Tolliver type in the association.