Featured Story, Men's Basketball

Reevaluating Olivier Hanlan’s NBA Draft Stock

Olivier Hanlan was projected as a sure second-round pick before the 2013-14 season, with the potential to play his way into the first round by improving his defense, playmaking, and getting Boston College into tourney contention. The BC point guard struck out on all three of those things and chose to come back to Chestnut Hill for one more season rather than risk going unselected in 2014 NBA Draft.

Hanlan’s stock is not nearly as good going into this year. He’ll be 22 on draft night. Combine that with what many experts considered a disappointing regression or stagnation last year and it’s led to him being left off many draft boards—even as a second-rounder. He’s fallen out of DraftExpress’ top-100 prospect list despite making it last season, and he’s slid from the No. 6 prospect in the ACC last year to the No. 20 prospect this year.

He’s fighting an uphill battle, but just because he’s dropped off the radar a bit doesn’t mean that Hanlan can’t work his way into at least the second round over the course of the year. Here’s a breakdown of his stock before the season tips off in two week.

On-Court Strengths & Weaknesses

Hanlan’s biggest asset is his scoring ability, especially because it should translate well to the NBA. He has a good handle, a great jumper that works both from mid-range and from distance, and an attractive ability to get to the rim and finish. He knows how to attack off the pick-and-roll, quickly bursting past the screener and into space for either a pull-up or a lane to the basket.

His defense has been below average in two years at BC. He can get beat off the dribble by smaller, quicker guards and overpowered by bigger ones. Off the ball he can also lose track of his man or his help responsibilities. These are all things that new head coach Jim Christian will harp on, and in preseason practices it looks like Hanlan has embraced that increased defensive focus.

Pro teams could be scared off by his unproven ability to create for his teammates. Hanlan’s assist rate jumped from 16 percent his freshman year to 20 percent his sophomore year, the 19th best mark in the ACC, per KenPom.com. His 3.3 pace-adjusted assists per 40 minutes were low for NCAA point guards last year, per DraftExpress.com.

Hanlan’s weaknesses keep him from being a team’s answer as a starting point guard, but there’s no reason he can’t establish himself as a reliable backup who can score for second units. Although his ceiling could be higher than that role, it’s his best chance to catch on with a team considering his age and his fallen stock.

Competition And Team Needs

DraftExpress has 12 point guards listed in its two-round 2015 mock draft. There are the guys like Emmanuel Mudiay, who will spend the year balling in China, and Duke’s Tyus Jones—complete point guards sure to go in the first round unless something crazy happens. North Carolina’s Marcus Paige is another older guy who scouts are higher on, and Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison is basically a bigger, much more proven version of Hanlan’s best-case scenario come June. They’ll all be off the board before teams start giving Hanlan a look.

Then there are guys like Utah’s Delon Wright, West Virginia’s Juwan Staten, and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell. All three will be 22 or older before the draft, like Hanlan, and are also scoring point guards. This is his real competition. If Hanlan can up his scoring, show more efficiency from the field, and become an above-average defender, then he can play his way into the conversation with those players.

A decent amount of playoff or borderline-playoff teams could be looking for an option at backup point guard in the 2015 Draft. The Rockets, Nets, Grizzlies, Raptors, Bulls, Thunder, Blazers, Clippers, Hornets, and Wizards are all in play. They’ll have other needs and will likely target veterans in free agency, but second round picks don’t get guaranteed contracts. One of them could like Hanlan’s game enough to take a chance and let him prove himself in camp. Also, as a worst-case scenario for Hanlan, the 76ers will put pretty much anyone on their roster.

Only six players 22 or older were drafted in the first round last year. One of them broke NCAA scoring records (Doug McDermott), one was an NCAA champion reportedly hand-picked by LeBron James (Shabazz Napier), two were established stars on NCAA Tournament teams (Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary), and one negotiated his way out of a guaranteed contract (Josh Huestis). C.J. Wilcox, who went No. 28 to the Clippers, was the only one to crack the first round without starring on a successful team. History says it’ll be difficult for Hanlan to join that club, even if he has a resurgent year, but if he plays up to his potential he should join the second-round debate this spring.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

October 30, 2014