San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin is a name that has been linked with the Hawks over the last couple of weeks while the draft process has been picking up. Being picked by the franchise in Draft Express, Sports Illustrated, and Chad Ford’s mock drafts, there is justifiable reason to believe that Franklin could be putting on the blue and red hat on draft night. However, coming from a small-conference west coast school like San Diego State, many don’t know how Franklin may fit with Atlanta’s rebuilding dynamic, let alone if this is potentially a smart selection.
Measurements: Franklin has pretty solid height for a shooting guard at 6′ 5.25″, while boasting a remarkable 6′ 11.25″ wingspan. That kind of pervasive wingspan could aid Franklin if he is found playing marginal minutes at the small forward position, which could also be very helpful to Atlanta if they have a similar roster architecture to last season. His weight could potentially be disturbing at the pro level for the time being, as weighing in at 191 pounds could mean that bigger wing players may have the ability to push Franklin around with relative ease. He was injured at the combine, however, so that could have potentially interfered with him not showing up at his playing weight of 205. Even then, Jamaal would still be slightly thinner than the ideal size. He will, like most players, be expected to bulk up by whichever team takes him.
Numbers: The first numbers that strike the eye out of the stats is the field goal percentages. Franklin shot 41.1% and 27.2% for field goal percentage and three point percentage respectively, so the question that is typically asked first is this: is he an inefficient offensive player? Despite how true those numbers may be, Franklin also shot 78% from the line on 6.8 attempts per game. Because of this success at attacking the basket, he still boasted a true-shooting percentage of 53.6%, which would be good enough for the league average in the NBA. Franklin also owns in his 29.9% career usage percentage. This mark is the third highest of all time in the Mountain West Conference’s history, which shows how heavily the total team offense has relied on him the last couple years. Jamaal shouldered the load for the offense, and his numbers suffered efficiency wise. Furthermore, Franklin was the leader on the glass for the Aztecs with 9.5 rebounds per game. This is even more compelling support to the idea he did the heavy lifting for the team in all dimensions of a basketball game.
Also to note – as often as same school comparisons may seem lazy – one would find some interesting parallels when scanning over Franklin’s numbers compared to San Diego State alum Kawhi Leonard. The two played very similar roles at the school, and even feature similar weaknesses as college prospects being reviewed for the draft. Here are some tables comparing the two number-wise:
Notice that Franklin actually shot better from long range than Kawhi did. Of course, Leonard is now an above average shooter from the three in the NBA, meaning that this is a skill that Franklin can improve on as well. Because of Franklin’s ability to get to the line (it’s why his TS% is higher), nearly all of his numbers are better. Now this doesn’t mean that Franklin is a better prospect than Kawhi was; Leonard has a daunting 7’4″ wingspan. It does, however, mean that when the two were in similar positions in college, Franklin won the production battle.
Offensive Style: For the strengths that Jamaal has on this end of the floor, there is a trade-off to some parts of his game he needs to work on. In college, he normally was playing while having the ball in his hands, which most likely would transpose to him being resourceful to a team being a secondary creator for others in the pros. The real strong point in his offensive game is with his ability to finish while attacking the rim. With his amount of athleticism and length, combined with his knack to get to the free throw line, Jamaal should be a capable option scoring around the hoop in the NBA. As for jump shots, Franklin is an inconsistent option there at best. The form in college looked terrible, and the numerical results reflected that. In spite of this, there are simmering murmurs that he is currently hitting outside shots at a much higher rate in pre-draft shooting workouts. Jamaal evens stated “I think I’m really going to shock teams with how well I shoot the ball,” after a particular workout in Las Vegas. With the work ethic he supposedly has, and already growing confidence, there is a real belief that Franklin can develop a reliable jumper in the pros. Also with the style in which he played in San Diego State, he settled for tougher shots early in the shot clock far too much. Logically, one can deduce that Franklin was forced into these situations with the lack of help around him, so this is potentially an issue that can be rectified in the NBA as he adjusts to having better teammates to work with.
Defensive Style: There is a bit of an unknown quality with Jamaal as a defender with what he has done at SDSU. Since he sometimes was guarding even power forwards – on top of just playing out of position a lot of the time in general – the current information doesn’t offer much in judging his abilities guarding wing players. However, with the length, athleticism, and motor Franklin has exhibited to this point would make one think he could very easily bloom into a defensive stopper at the next level. The potential is there for Franklin to be great on this end, it just needs to translate.
Fit with the Hawks: Franklin can fit rhythmically within the Hawks’ current roster with his skill set. With the kind of players that could be possibly on the roster next season at the wing and point guard positions, Jamaal could realistically fit on the floor with virtually all of the roster. Korver, Teague, Williams, and Jenkins can all share the floor with Franklin without compromising spacing, and having him play small forward would work in some situations. The Hawks with Franklin have the flexibility to go between lineups of Mack-Jenkins-Franklin, Teague-Williams-Franklin, and Teague-Franklin-Korver, and Jamaal wouldn’t be found astray throughout the shifting process. So with the way the draft may flow, it genuinely appears that it would be tough to find a better fit – or really talent for that matter – by the time the Hawks are selecting.