Thoughts on Last Night’s Kansas-Indiana Game

November 12, 2016

by Alan Lu

The main game I was able to catch was the Kansas-Indiana game from last night.  Here are my observations on the main prospects that were involved.

Indiana’s sophomore center Thomas Bryant is a legitimate first round prospect.  He may be one of the most skilled big men in the 2017 NBA Draft.  He showed a deft ability to shoot the basketball, and he can really knock down threes from beyond the arc.  

He handles the ball well, is a very athletic specimen that finished plenty of plays around the basketball, and he rebounded well.  But he did struggle defensively at times, as his team struggled to contain penetration of the opposing Kansas guards, and he also ended up fouling out, albeit on a questionable call when he may have thrown an inadvertent elbow on a roll to the rim against Kansas’ senior forward Landen Lucas.  Overall though, Thomas Bryant turned in a strong performance and he looks to be a prime contender to be a lottery pick for the upcoming draft.

Kansas’ junior swingman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had a solid game from a scouting perspective.  He excelled at knocking down jumpers from long range, and he also excelled at attacking the rim to score off the dribble as well as in transition.  Late in the game, he managed to throw down an impressive dunk on the break.  If he keeps playing well, he could be a first round pick in 2017.

The guards from both teams had a strong night.  Kansas’ senior guard Frank Mason was perhaps the most impressive among them, as he recorded nearly a triple-double, and he used his deft speed to get past defenders routinely to go all the way to the hoop to garner the bulk of his scores.

Devonte’ Graham showed versatile scoring skills, and he also did a good job of facilitating for his team before he fouled out.  Indiana’s trio of guards in James Blackmon Jr.Curtis Jones, and Robert Johnson all shot the ball well, as they were able to make one tough acrobatic shot after another to propel Indiana to victory.

Kansas’ sophomore forward Carlton Bragg was quite impressive last night, especially from the early going.  He was very efficient from the field, as he used off-ball movement to score off of cuts and in transition, and he also flashed some low post skills.  He showcased great athleticism and finishing ability in the loss to Indiana.   If he can improve his jump shot and stay away from foul trouble, he could solidify a spot in the first round for sure.

Indiana’s sophomore forward OG Anunoby played fairly well.  He made plenty of spot up threes, and he really helped space the floor for his team.  He also displayed very good defense, as he showcased great athleticism and timing to get blocks and steals in this game.  But he will need to improve his ball handling, as he struggled to create his own shot off the dribble, and he lost it a few times to commit turnovers.   I don’t think this game will hurt or help his draft stock that much, as he looks to be a solid mid first round prospect at the moment.

Kansas’ big men Landen Lucas and Udoka Azubuike played fairly well.  They excelled at scoring in the post, as they did a good job of finishing plays around the basket to get their team points in the paint.  Lucas struggled to catch the basketball at times and later fouled out, but he and Azubuike both kept the Jayhawks in the game by making solid plays.

It was a relatively disappointing game for Kansas’ freshman forward Josh Jackson.  He did do some things well, though.  For the positives, he showed off solid playmaking skills, as he passed the ball well, and he was unselfish, perhaps to a fault.  

Jackson also showed a willingness to get after it on the boards, and he really helped his team get some rebounds.  Plus, he also showed some defensive skills, as he would get a steal or block at times, and he would also show flashes of his scoring ability by making a three and a late game put back dunk.

But he couldn’t really get going offensively for most of the game, and he did not seem to be wholly involved in the team’s half-court sets.  He struggled with his jump shot and with foul trouble for a good portion of the game.   Jackson’s athleticism, unselfishness, and flashes of potential on both ends of the floor make him a highly coveted prospect, but 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting with 6 rebounds is hardly groundbreaking, as NBA scouts and teams may expect more for someone that is rated as a potential top 3 pick.

All in all, it was a very close game, and the Kansas-Indiana game was very entertaining to watch.  It went to overtime, and Indiana managed to win in a 103-99 thriller where only one team could win this game.

Other Notes:

Arizona’s freshman combo guard Kobi Simmons played well in a 65-63 win over Michigan State.  He scored 18 points, made 2 threes, and drew 10 free throws in this victory.  Definitely, he is a sleeper prospect to keep an eye on that could move swiftly up draft boards.

Michigan State’s freshman swingman Miles Bridges did not disappoint in his debut, as he scored 21 points and 7 rebounds in a loss to Arizona.   A high flyer that can attack the rim, he had a few highlight worthy reels including one that was described by ESPN as “George Gervin-esque.”  He did struggle to make outside shots, but in all, he appears to be a strong candidate to be a lottery pick in 2017.

UCLA’s freshman duo Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf both had terrific first games in the Bruins’ opening day win over Pacific.  Ball had nearly a triple double (19 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists), as he punctuated his performance with a big time dunk in this game, while T.J. Leaf also had an equally impressive stat line by scoring 22 points, as he made 2 threes, and also notched 15 rebounds, and 4 assists last night.   Not to go unnoticed, UCLA’s senior guard Bryce Alford also scored 30 points, and surely, his shooting and scoring skills could get him long looks from NBA teams as the season progresses.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of last night was Wagner’s 67-58 upset win over Connecticut.  The Huskies only had two players that scored in double digits, and it seemed clear that they may not have much offensive firepower in last night’s game.   It’s still early in the season, but hats off to Wagner for their performance yesterday.