Over the next couple of days I’ll be breaking down the scouting report for guys entering the NBA Draft. We’ll avoid guys like Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram since we know who they are. If there’s someone specific you want let me know @barstoolreags. All video clips are courtesy of Synergy and/or YouTube. There will be a lot of analytical stats, so yeah I know, nerd.
Today we’ll look at:
Henry Ellenson – Marquette
6’101, 245 lbs, 19 years old
Projected: No. 10 (DraftExpress) No. 16 (NBADraft)
Compared to: Brian Cardinal/Brian Scalabrine (NBA Draft)
Background: Henry Ellenson was one of the top-rated recruits in the country a year ago, deciding to play with his brother and stay home for Marquette. As you can see on his projections on mock drafts, it’s really up in the air on where he can go. He’s a big guy that can stretch the floor and will be compared to any white guy that is somewhat unathletic and can shoot that ever played in the NBA. He’s already 19 and averaged 17.0 ppg and 9.7 rpg last year as a freshman.
Strengths: Yesterday we talked about Marquese Chriss and his athleticism. Henry Ellenson is not that. What he is though is a polished, versatile offensive threat that can beat you anywhere on the floor. Plenty of times last year at Marquette we saw Ellenson get a defensive rebound and take off down the floor, handling the ball like a guard. In fact he graded out as excellent per Synergy on transition offense, because he has range past the arc and a solid post game. Watch this play against Wisconsin, a solid defensive team. Ellenson grabs the defensive rebound, takes one dribble to set himself up then explodes down the court. He gets into the opposite paint in 6 total dribbles and showcases a runner that at 6’10” is tough to stop, even by NBA standards.
When he’s in transition, he prefers to get to the lane, using his size and a crossover dribble more times than not. However, another strength that has NBA scouts loving his game, is his ability to run the floor and catch. He has soft hands, which helps since he’s not the most athletic guy in the world. He’s not going to outrun people like Chriss can, but he has a long stride and knows where to run – think of a tight end in this situation. Look here against Xavier, he runs a directly straight line to the rim, puts one hand out to catch the ball and immediately shields himself from the defender by going opposite side of the rim. In the NBA if you can’t dunk on someone, you need to be smart. Henry Ellenson is very smart.
Now what really has NBA scouts excited about Ellenson’s game is his ability to stretch the floor. As we’ve heard time and time again, a guy 6’10”ish that can step out and play the stretch four position, is extremely valuable. Ellenson actually didn’t shoot the ball extremely well last season and graded as just as an average player with .832 points per possessions in spot up plays. But, watch the video here against Ben Bentil – a borderline 1st round pick. As the ball gets into the lane, Ellenson takes a couple steps out to about 15 feet, where he shot 38% off of catch-and-shoot unguarded situations. He catches the ball – and what I love about his game – is he has the same routine each time. He gets his elbow in and underneath his body, taps a toe for rhythm and has a solid follow through, despite falling away.
Weaknesses: As I mentioned his biggest weakness is his lack of athleticism. We’ve seen this hurt people in the NBA, trying to beat guys the same size of them but much quicker. Ellenson, will struggle defensively as that’s his biggest weakness right now. According to Synergy, Ellenson was a below average defender in pick-and-roll situations, something he’ll see a lot of at the next level. He gave up points on over 36% of the time in that situation. Watch this clip against Georgetown, where he doesn’t only get beat, he gets lost. First, he hedges way too much allowing an easy slip for his man. As a big in this scheme, he needs to get outside of the pick, forcing the opposing guard to take a wide turn and quickly bounce back, allowing his teammate to cut in front of him. Here he comes out flat, his shoulders turned too much, allowing the opposing guard to stay tight on the screen. Then, with his teammate recovering and forcing the ball toward traffic, Ellenson needs to drop back, but instead is 2 seconds late and then trips over his feet – another major concern is his footwork. His opponent takes a jab step inside and two steps out, forcing Ellenson to jerk his head and look around, giving up an easy 15 footer.
Draft Stock: His draft stock is obviously all over the place and luckily he hasn’t been killed in workouts so far. However, he hasn’t exactly been a huge winner either. For Greenie and #CelticsTwitter out there, he’s projected to fall to them at No. 16 and I think that would be a massive steal considering how polished his offensive game is already. He fits what Stevens wants to do in running the floor, especially with his ability to handle the ball and get into the paint with his size. He’d be a good stretch four for Boston.
Projection: I’m higher on Ellenson than most, because of his offensive ability. I’m a sucker for guys that can stretch the floor while also having a legit post game. He scored on .901 points per possession while posting up, giving him a very good grade. He has the ability to turn over both shoulders while in the paint, however he’s much better turning over his left – shooting 25% better on similar shot attempts going over his left.
Everyone will want to compare him to a white guy, because, well, he’s a white guy. The Scalabrine and Cardinal comparison is lazy as is calling him Kevin Love. To me he has a lot of Paul Milsap in his game, a plodding four who can stretch the floor. He’s not a great defender, but with 7’2” length, he has the ability to protect the rim if he adds explosiveness and continues to cut weight in the NBA. He’s down about 25 pounds in the last couple of years and if he cuts another 15 he may turn into a decent shot blocker.
Ellenson will likely not see a ton of time – if any – in the D-League, but will be an end of the rotation guy his first year. A team like Boston, New Orleans or Toronto would be a great fit for him where he can play the stretch four position, with guards who like to get into the lane. He needs to work on his pick-and-roll offense, as he’s average at best in that right now. The way the NBA is going, Ellenson has a ton of value, similar to Chriss.