Brandon Paul's career at Illinois is difficult to sum up. He was a dynamic scorer for the Illini with the ability to finish at the rim and shoot the three. He made some ridiculous, flat out filthy shots that had no business going into the hoop. He had the ability to take over a game instantly, but he also had long scoring droughts, where his questionable shot selection was even more obvious.
I'll remember Brandon Paul for two moments; the Ohio St game and his buzzer beater in the Big Ten Tournament.
These moments, and his vicious dunk on Trevor Mbakwe, showcase the best of Brandon Paul. He is a pure scorer with the ability to hit from long range and finish at the rim with finesse and power, but these aren't the only traits NBA scouts are concerned with.
- Good jump shot. Can shoot from range and has a quick release.
- Ability to create his own shot. He has the speed and quickness to beat his defender in isolation plays. Has a very strong crossover move to get a good look with a jumper.
- Great athleticism. Plus speed, quickness and jumping.
- Led the Illini in rebounding as a guard his senior year.
- Good size at 6' 4" and has long arms.
- Gets to the foul line frequently.
- Shot selection. Only had one season where he shot above 40% from the field and only shot 32.4% from three. He is a much better shooter than that, and a large part of these numbers come from his questionable decision making on the court.
- Settles for jumpers too often, rather than driving to the rim.
- Defense. He has the size and athleticism to be a good defender, but he has not yet put it all together. Some may speak to his potential to be a good defender, but it's an area I don't see Brandon improving much in at the NBA level. It may sound overly simplistic, but if he was a good defender, he would defend well.
- Turnovers. Had a negative assist to turnover ratio as a Junior and was neutral his senior year with both numbers at 2.7.
Will he be drafted?
In a word, yes. There are negatives to his game, but many of those are fixable with coaching and experience, but some he will always have.
Brandon Paul also received an invite to, and attended the NBA combine. 60 players are invited. 60 players are drafted. Those are some good odds.
In the end, basketball is a sport where the team that scores the most points wins. Brandon Paul can score points better than most players. He is going to be drafted. This again may sound too simple, but sometimes the simple answer is the best.
Where he will be drafted is what is in question. I have seen him projected as a late first all the way to a late second round pick.
Some team could fall in love with his scoring both from the rim and from three, and see him as their future 6th man. If that's the case, it would be hard to argue with using a late first round pick on Brandon.
Another team could see his inconsistency shooting the ball, his defensive struggles and his poor decision making and not want to draft him at all.
It's only takes one team to like Brandon Paul, and I think that team will like him enough to make him an early second round pick, and possibly a very late first rounder.
Brandon is a work in progress as an NBA player, but Illini fans who are questioning wether or not he will get drafted need to take a second look.
The question is not will he be drafted; it's where will he be drafted.