• Not every player who breaks through to become an NBA success is a star in college, or a league MVP in Europe or Australia. On the flip side, you always see elite NCAA producers flame out in the pro ranks as the competition gets tougher. Development isn’t linear and that’s important to remember when prospects come from situations with unique contexts that serve to limit their statistical appeal. Whether you have a talented young player who is stuck behind a tenured college player, or a raw but gifted prospect who isn’t given chances to play through the learning curve on teams built to win, the numbers can often disguise who has real NBA potential. Players can control a lot on the floor, but they have extremely limited influence on playing time. That means you can’t just look at stat leaderboards to find the Next Big Thing, especially for fantasy purposes.

    Managing Editor Mike Passador and Dynasty expert Mark Camero offer up some in-depth looks at a handful of prospects who were crowded out in their current situations, which may only serve to hide their effectiveness and fantasy appeal at the next level.

    Alexandre Sarr, F, Perth (NBL)

    Okay Mark, Sarr didn’t play in college. Why is he here? He played for the Perth Wildcats in the NBL, a professional league. On top of that, he was not gifted minutes, only seeing the court for 17.2 minutes per game. If he made a mistake, he was not afforded the leash to play through it. He would be subbed out, as the Wildcats were a team trying to win rather than develop Sarr.

    That said, playing in a professional league allowed Sarr to show what he could do. One aspect of the game where he was allowed to work on his less-than-stellar skills was his shooting, where Sarr took 2.0 threes per game in his 17.2 minutes per game, hitting 29.8% of them. That may not sound impressive, but a decent portion of those were on designed plays. Either the coaching staff doesn’t know what they’re doing, or they thought he was a good enough shooter to be worth investing offensive possessions in even if the stats don’t bear that out. I lean to the latter option, which is why I have faith in his shot being passable long-term.

    In addition, the coaching staff utilized a switching defensive scheme when Sarr was in the game. This played to his defensive strengths, where Sarr displayed his fluidity and mobility in executing a variety of defensive plays. Not every player is given this role and responsibility, so for a professional team to do so for their backup center essentially speaks volumes. This all is what we can glean from Sarr’s limited time in the NBL and should translate early as Sarr continues to flesh out his offensive game while providing defensive value. – MC

    Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

    Kentucky can be dumb confusing with their rotations at times. Dillingham’s minutes suffered as result, seeing the court for only 23.3 minutes per game despite being arguably their best guard. Former head coach John Calipari usually prefers making his young players earn their playing time and likes them to fulfill certain roles. That is something we’ve seen throughout his Kentucky history, just not unique to Dillingham.

    With that caveat, Dillingham’s usage and stats in his limited minutes is what should have you intrigued as fantasy players. In his minutes, Dillingham had a usage of 30.3%, a strong rate for a lead creator. Looking at his per 100 possession stats, he was able to put up 35.3 points and 3.4 threes a game on 47.5% from the field, all tantalizing numbers. Even better was the 29.7% assist rate and the 9.0 assists per 100 possessions. You have to be wary of translating limited minutes to per possession rates, but the point remains that Dillingham has much more creation upside than what his simple per-game stats would have you believe. If Dillingham can play pass his size concerns, he could be the steal of your dynasty rookie drafts. – MC

    Kyshawn George, F, Miami

    George heads into the draft as a potential first-round pick after one season at Miami. The 6’8″ forward started in just over half of his 31 games but didn’t rock the box score in a modest 23.0 minutes per contest, though averages of 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.4 blocks point to his upside as a potential do-it-all forward. While his overall efficiency of .426 leaves lots of room for improvement, George shot a sterling .408 from deep on 4.2 attempts per game. A late growth spurt has turned George into more of a point forward prospect than he was coming up, and obviously a 6’8″ wing with ball-handling capabilities will catch teams’ attention. Add in a reliable outside shot and the raw tools are there to make George a very intriguing prospect.

    Of course, George won’t have the ball in his hands quite as much at the next level, and even if he does he’ll need to iron out some of his decision-making instincts. The natural question will be how a lead guard with a massive size advantage only came through with 2.2 assists per game, even in a limited role. George may not be a featured player once he gets to the NBA, but has a few key skills that could make him a steady connective player; the sort that every team could use to create functional lineups out of a wide variety of combinations. If George can prove to be more than a catch-and-shoot guy and polish up his playmaking just a bit, he’ll be a fun guy to track. Even if he can’t, versatile wings who can hit the longball tend to get their fair share of chances to prove themselves. – MP

    Yves Missi, C, Baylor

    Missi started 32 times in 34 outings as a freshman, but was still relegated to just 22.9 mpg for Baylor. A 7’2″ center with bounce for days and a boundless motor, you can probably guess what kind of production Missi was good for: 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 1.5 blocks per game on .614 shooting. Missi was mostly tasked with punishing the rim, operating as a lethal lob threat and an occasional face-up option thanks to his elite athleticism. That same trait helps him tremendously on defense, as he can hang in space and crash to the rim with ease, meaning Missi should work in a variety of defensive coverages.

    Fantasy-wise, it’s a story we’ve seen many times before. Missi’s stat set isn’t revolutionary but it also doesn’t need a ton of time to deliver legitimate value. A lot will hinge on his landing spot, because Missi could either end up as a long-term starter who will need a few more years to develop the finer points of the game or an immediate rotation option as an energy big who gets to play a little more free at full-tilt. The biggest hurdle will be Missi learning the ropes as an NBA-level team defender, as many of his blocks in college were the result of undisciplined play that NCAA teams just don’t punish the same way the pros do. Sure, block-chasers can be productive when they first hit the scene, but guys without a real understanding of team concepts will not last in featured roles for long. – MP

    Johnny Furphy, F, Kansas

    Furphy stepped up a bit as the Jayhawks were looking to fill the shoes left vacant by Gradey Dick. His freshman season saw Furphy start 19 times in 33 games, posting 9.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.3 3-pointers in 24.1 mpg while shooting a respectable .466 from the field. Most of his shots were created by his teammates but Furphy proved willing and able to knock jumpers down when the opportunities arose, and did well to create opportunities for himself by making smart cuts off the ball. Furphy also impressed with his ability to corral rebounds, establishing himself as more than a spot-up shooter.

    Unfortunately, Furphy doesn’t profile as the kind of player who is lined up for fantasy stardom. His stat set is fairly one-dimensional, but it was largely positive signs seen in his one and only college campaign. A projected lottery selection, whoever gets Furphy can bank on a respectable role player floor with the potential for more impact if he becomes a true knockdown shooter or rounds out his on-ball game. – MP

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