Throughout the rest of the NBA season, WFNY will do a column every other week or so featuring some of the best talents in college basketball. It’s not that the Cleveland Cavaliers are tanking (at least not yet), but at this point, it’s clear that they will have one of the top picks in the 2019 NBA Draft unless something drastic changes. Throughout each Tank Watch, we will focus on either a specific draft prospect or multiple prospects if they so happen to be on the same college team.
His rival on Tobacco Road will get much of the attention and deservedly so, but North Carolina freshman Nassir Little’s talent shouldn’t go unnoticed, even if he is the fourth-fiddle among the freshmen in the area.
Averaging just 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game may not be eye-opening necessarily, but it’s his potential that forces many to think of all the things he can possibly do at the next level. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward has already shown off some of the things that he is best at, including being an aggressive scorer. He’s shooting 55.4 percent from the field.
One of his biggest problems right now is that Roy Williams is playing just 20 minutes per game right now. While only playing half the game, the freshman is making the most of his opportunities. I would assume as the season goes on, he will see an increased role and receive more playing time, which will only give him more opportunities to improve on both ends of the floor. He’s too good to not get more opportunities going forward.
Also, with an increased role, he will grow more comfortable offensively. Right now, while he’s a good passer and can find open teammates, Little seems a little hesitant in the half court offense. Whether it’s creating off the dribble, trying to cut down on turnovers, improving even more as a passer, or something else, the forward still has plenty of room to grow.
He’s not only solid offensively, but with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and 8-foot-9 standing reach, the two-way forward is versatile defensively as well. He can explode quickly off the ground, allowing him to grab rebounds and block shots, all while being a force in the middle as well. He loves big-time assignments defensively and his quick feet along him to stay with quicker players and his size allows him to stay. If nothing else, his instincts and quickness make up for anything else.
Little’s biggest problem seems to be his three-point shooting or lack thereof. Shooting 2.4 shots from beyond the arc per game this season, the freshman is making them at just a 29.4 percent clip. He must improve on that going forward, especially if he wants to jump any of the Duke freshman trio in the draft.
With that said, while he’s not much of a three-point shooter, Little realizes a mismatch when he sees one. If a smaller player starts guarding him, the true freshman will immediately go down into the post and take advantage of the short
Whether it’s his motor, potential, size, versatility, or the fact that he is a two-way player, Little is getting plenty of attention. He would get more if it weren’t for the Duke trio, but then again, many players across college basketball are getting less attention than they deserve because of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. The Blue Devils deserve it, but as a Cavs fan, it’s important to take notice of other players as well.