Every single year around this time there’s a prospect that differs from the pack. Now there are two different ways that this happens: Either he is just better than everybody else or he plays a different style than the rest of the people at his given position.
San Diego State SG Jamaal Franklin fits into that second category because he’s a player who plays completely different from the rest of the players at his position. Franklin differentiates himself from the group because he doesn’t really hang around the perimeter like most shooting guards. Instead he crashes the boards with players who are much bigger and taller than him.
Last season, Franklin pulled down 9.4 rebounds per 40 minutes which is crazy when you think of the fact that’s more than frontcourt prospects like Jeff Withey, Alex Len, Kelly Olynyk and Anthony Bennett. A majority of those (7.8 per 40) came on the defensive end which is huge because it allowed his team to quickly take control on offense. Things start to get a little fishy on the offensive side of the ball because he’s still very raw and inefficient. Franklin does a good job hiding those inefficiencies because he’s the basketball equivalent of the Energizer Bunny, i.e., he never stops working. He combines a great motor with solid athleticism, giving him the option to penetrate his way to the basket for an easy score or get to free throw line at a high rate (averaged 8.2 FTA’s per 40 minutes).
Franklin’s intrigue kind of wears thin when you bring up his abilities as a perimeter player. The big stat that immediately jumps out at you when you look at Franklin is his 28% shooting percentage from behind the three point line. While that may be due to the fact that he carried a huge portion of the team’s offense (30% usage percentage), it’s still troubling to see a player struggle that badly at such a crucial skill-set like perimeter shooting. With that said, Franklin could flourish in an offense where he can do a majority of his work off the ball or when he’s working in a solid pick and roll offense with an agile front-court player like John Henson or Ersan Ilyasova.
Offensive issues aside, Franklin can defend. The reason this intrigues me as a Bucks fan is because of the simple fact that team hasn’t had a solid perimeter defender outside of a role player like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Jamaal is actually similar to Mbah a Moute because they’re both versatile defenders who can guard both wing and post players.
Franklin brings his athleticism and tenacity to the defensive side of the ball where he shows natural ability as both an on and off-ball defender. Sure he can get a little bit top over aggressive at times (which allows him to be beat off the dribble at times) but that could change if he is matched up with a great help-side defender like Larry Sanders.
Jamaal Franklin might be a bit of a reach at #15 but he could instantly come in and help this Bucks team because of his standout abilities as a defender and rebounder. While his work as a perimeter scorer may be troubling on a Bucks team has holes all over the backcourt, he could still be a useful piece on a team that could soon be in the process of making a whole new puzzle.