Tuesday, 29 January 2019 11:18

Muscle still get Lottery-pick talent in the Draft

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2015, the Detroit Muscle entered the 2024 draft just hoping to find an OBWL-ready backup with their mid-first round pick, as has been their strategy in the past two drafts.  For instance, the Muscle selected SF Ismael Arias early in the 2nd round in the 2022 draft and saw his contribute solid minutes for the team that season (4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg in 12 mpg over 68 games).  Last year, the Muscle had the #25 pick and selected SF Noah Schlosser, who likewise contributed quality minutes off the bench as a rookie (2.7 ppg in 7.9 mpg over 29 games).  But the Muscle war room watched in shock as the 7th rated player on their board fell out of the top-10 and then out of the Lottery altogether.  And so instead of using the #14 pick to grab a player who could instantly fill a role with the team in 2024, the Muscle opted for a player with a ton of upside potential--19-year-old PF Nathan Roche from Alabama.    

"Nathan is one of the strongest basketball players I've seen in my entire career," stated Head Scout Manuel Allen.  Roche was a High School All-American who was named Mr. Basketball (Georgia) and was ranked as the #9 prospect in the nation when he signed his letter of intent with Alabama.  Roche was good enough to start all 33 games with the Tide, but his actual production demonstrated that his game needs some polish.  As a freshman, he averaged 8.8 ppg (42.1% fpg, 67.6 ftp), 6.1 rpg, and 1.3 bpg in 25.9 minutes per game.  But somebody with Roche's raw talent is simply too good to ignore.  Roche projects as an above-average offensive player with excellent post skills and a good enough jump shot and three-point range to keep opposing defenders honest and above-average offensive rebounding ability.  Roche is no slouch on the other end of the court, projected as an above-average defender in the paint with average rebounding, and ability to generate some steals, and near-elite shot blocking ability.  But one anonymous scout from lottery team pointed out that Roche plays so hard on both ends of the floor that they questioned whether he had the stamina to play big minutes in the OBWL.  

Roche will be one of 9 players on the likely Muscle roster who are 25 years old or younger.  This list includes starters PG Xander Remington (#2 overall in 2020), SF Quintin Bergqust (#17 overall in 2021), and PF Van Lefevre (#2 overall in 2021).  Also key backups PF Chris Spitz (#9 overall in 2021) and SG Mark Olivas (#8 overall in 2023).  C John Weatherford (#7 overall in 2022) had a great training camp last year and is expected to compete with free-agent signees Brian Westerman and Donald Williams for minutes at center following a successful campaign in the D-League in 2023.  Schlosser and PG Oscar Genovese (2nd round pick in 2023; 3.0 ppg and 1.3 apg in 7.7 mpg over 26 games in 2023) round out the young talent on the Muscle payroll.

 

 

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