As a testament to both Eric Musselman’s NBA background, and the talent on the Wolf Pack roster, Nevada held its inaugural pro day on Thursday afternoon. Nearly 30 NBA scouts were on hand to watch combine-esque measurements, live drills and five scrimmages — all of which were broadcasted internationally on Stadium Sports and Facebook.
Although preseason practices like these should be taken with a grain of salt, here are a few takeaways from the event:
1. How versatile is this Nevada team?
Look no further than the measurables. The average mid-major team has either one, maybe two athletes on its roster that are visibly more athletic than the rest of their teammates. Of course, Nevada isn’t a normal mid-major program. Nevertheless, the leaderboard measurables still need to be addressed:
Measurements/testing was done ahead of today's pro day. Leaders in each group. pic.twitter.com/mTsYtXqIXp— Chris Murray (@MurrayNSN) September 27, 2018
Seven different players are mentioned in the above tweet. This might not seem like a big deal, but the diversity of names on this leaderboard speaks to the depth of this team. Want quick guards? Caleb Martin and Jazz Johnson could beat defenders off the bounce and lead the Pack in transition. Need interior size to compete with athletic frontcourts like San Diego State? Both Trey Porter and Tre’Shawn Thurman have seven-feet wingspans.
2. Who will be the starting five?
For college basketball fans, the most intriguing part of Nevada’s pro day was getting hints at Nevada’s starting lineup. Juggling a crowded roster will be one of the biggest question marks for the Wolf Pack, but the scrimmages provided several clues about Nevada’s starting five.
The first scrimmage was dubbed the “ones versus twos,” which pitted the Martins, Jordan Caroline, Jordan Brown and Trey Porter against Jazz Johnson, Corey Henson, Nisre Zouzoua, Tre’Shawn Thurman and freshman Vince Lee. Given the Martins and Caroline anchored the Pack last season, it’s safe to say their team will likely be the starters.
Again, basing a starting lineup off five pro day scrimmages is a bit silly. Chances are, we won’t know the starting lineup until Nevada plays BYU on opening night (and even then, it’ll be subject to change). But for the sake of preseason content, this writer believes Nevada’s starting five will be Martin-Martin-Caroline-Brown-Porter.
This hypothetical lineup makes a lot of sense on paper. Cody Martin was the primary point guard after Lindsey Drew tore his Achilles in February, Caroline’s natural position is the three and one of the reasons why Brown chose Nevada because he wanted minutes at power forward.
With these five, Nevada would have tremendous versatility on switches, especially with Caroline and Brown. The former has spent his college career playing as a 6’7 center, whereas the latter has great mobility for a 6’11 forward. It goes without saying the 6’6 Martin twins are more athletic than most, if not all teams in college basketball.
3. What do we know about Nevada’s point guard situation?
Senior guard Lindsey Drew did not participate in pro day, as he is still recovering from a torn Achilles sustained in February. On the bright side, the Wolf Pack’s veteran distributor wasn’t wearing a boot or a brace, and was walking without a hitch on the sidelines. Although his timetable is still up in the air, the Wolf Pack have plenty of players capable of running the point.
Musselman said Cody Martin would play most of his minutes at point in one of the pro day interviews, which puts him atop the depth chart if Drew is sidelined. Judging by the number of point guard sets run in the scrimmages, the backups will likely be Portland transfer Jazz Johnson and Wagner transfer Corey Henson. Of course, the near-positionless versatility of this Nevada team won’t pigeonhole any of these guards; both Johnson and Henson can play off the ball as well.
4. Which players stood out?
Aside from the usual suspects (i.e. the Martins and Jordan Caroline), Jordan Brown, Jazz Johnson and Trey Porter made a lasting impression.
Jordan Brown’s five-star talent is apparent. He moves well on the court for his size, he has a knack for passing out of the post and he even hit a few threes. Given the number of scorers on this roster, Brown’s passing ability could be his most valuable asset this season. This isn’t to say he’s a non-scorer — Brown’s 12 points was tied for the most points in the scrimmages — but there’s only so many touches to go around with such a loaded roster. All in all, Brown might not get as many touches at Nevada as he would have if he went to Cal or Arizona, but he’ll be a more well-rounded player because of it.
Brown’s fellow forward Trey Porter also made a lasting impression because of his aforementioned measurables and his post play. Porter is all limbs and all energy. He probably wasn’t fully utilized at Old Dominion, so it’ll be interesting to see how he can shine in a starting role.
Speaking of players that weren’t properly utilized on their former teams, Portland transfer Jazz Johnson He probably won’t be a starter this season, but the Wolf Pack will need his energy and three-point shooting off the bench. Johnson was everywhere. Generously listed at 6’0, Johnson drew charges against Caroline, held his own while switching onto Porter, and hit several threes in transition. Built like a running back but boasting the Wolf Pack’s best jumpers, it wouldn’t be surprising if he became a fan favorite this season.