With the 46th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected Purdue big man A.J. Hammons.
What exactly will the 7-foot center bring to the NBA?
Any Purdue or Big Ten fan can tell you that Hammons demanded attention in the post during his time at West Lafayette. His height and 250-pound frame certainly intrigued a number of teams that were looking for a big man. The big question now becomes whether he can still be a dominant force in the NBA which has turned into a 3-point competition for a majority of the league.
Only a few true centers even play in the NBA today as most teams have gone to smaller, quicker lineups. To make a name for himself and demand playing time, Hammons will have to keep dominating in the post and commanding double teams. Once he gets those double teams, he needs to improve his passing out of the post; in his career at Purdue, Hammons averaged just 0.8 assists a game.
With his physical frame, you would think Hammons also dominated the boards, however, he averaged just 7 rebounds over his four years. If he can build up some endurance and give himself more time on the court, he could see closer to double digit rebounds (his per 40 number would have been 11.6 boards over his four years).
What he lacks as far as rebounding he makes up for in blocked shots. Hammons averaged 2.6 blocks at Purdue (4.3 per 40 minutes). He may be able to find the floor just to protect the basket against teams that tend to drive the lane. If his offensive game takes a bit to adjust or just simply is not elite, he will be able to be a bench player that forces teams to shoot from the outside.
What makes Hammons such an intriguing pick is the fact that he was able to knock down six 3-pointers last season. I know that number does not scream stretch 5 or remind you of a NBA big man that can shoot the 3 with success, but it does leave him some hope as far as developing into a decent outside shooter. If the Mavericks decide to let Hammons develop a year in the D-League, he could work on his perimeter shooting and maybe improve his chances at becoming a force in the NBA.
While Hammons game certainly has its strengths and weaknesses, he does make for an intriguing prospect with his size alone. The big man turns 24 already in August, meaning he might not have as much time to develop and stick on a roster as the typical draftee does. It seems as though his career will depend on the next year or so of development, making Hammons' career easy to follow and one to monitor.