The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder hasn’t hit the ground running like his Blue Devil counterpart Williamson. He’s averaging just 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, though with the occasional uptick. Little tallied 23 points versus Virginia Tech back in January.
He gets the national spotlight to prove himself tonight. His Tar Heels are looking for the season sweep against Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals (9 p.m. EST, ESPN).
Despite the sporadic production, he still finds himself high up on NBA Draft boards. Let’s take a dive into his prognostications, as well as mock drafts and big boards.
Nassir Little Draft Projections & Mock Draft
Jeremy Woo of SI.com lists him as the No. 6 overall prospect on his most recent mock draft. He calls him a better player than he’s looked this season, pinning his struggles on struggling to adjust to Roy Williams’ scheme on offense.
He has not established much of a rhythm playing behind Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson, but more concerningly has had a rough time finding quality shots within the flow of the offense, often falling back on pull-up jumpers and relying on transition buckets and interior scraps for his points. This is due in part to an average handle and associated lack of shiftiness. He has also been playing a bit of catch-up defensively in terms of scheme. Little is still a terrific, powerful athlete and a better jump shooter than the numbers indicate, and wings with his body type and positive makeup are still appealing projects.
Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype shows in his aggregate mock draft that Little is a consensus lottery pick at No. 8 overall.
Our own Jon Adams has Little going No. 5 to the Atlanta Hawks in his most recent mock draft.
On the North Carolina side, Nassir Little continues to be an intriguing prospect. Unlike his Duke rivals, Little has not gotten as much opportunity to shine.
Little is only averaging a little over 18 minutes per game. Little has shined at times over the season including 23 points and six rebounds against Virginia Tech. Little’s athleticism, scoring ability and the potential to be an elite defender will still push him up draft boards.
Nassir Little NBA Draft Big Board Rankings
Aran Smith’s NBA Draft Net has him as the No. 9 player in his top-100 prospects list.
ESPN’s Draft Board has him as the No. 3 small forward and No. 11 player overall, praising his defense while knocking his “developing” handles.
– Elite physical profile for a modern combo forward. Explosive leaper off two feet. Long strides to the rim.
– Hard-nosed defender who can check up to four positions, allowing him to play some small-ball 4. Plays with energy. Will affect the game on the offensive and defensive glass. Late-rising prospect known for his toughness and intangibles.
– Improved perimeter shooter with great elevation on his jumper. Shot 38 percent from 3 in 60 games, according to Krossover data. Good footwork creating space with step-backs. Physical straight-line driver.
– Limited feel for the game. Not an instinctive decision-maker.
– Handle still developing. Better offensively as a small-ball power forward than a wing. Finesse around the rim still improving. Wants to load off two feet. Does he have enough offensive skill to warrant a No. 1 selection?
– Still a streaky shooter, especially when contested
His struggles this season may do two things. Either he stays to improve his stroke and handles to enter the league with a fuller complement of skills, or he bolts early to avoid a program that where he’s had trouble acclimating.
Tonight against Duke, as well as March Madness, is a great way to prove to the nation and scouts that he’s ready to go now.
by – heavy.com