By: Jalon Dixon, Staff Writer
With the fate of the 2019 – 2020 season still hanging in the balance, basketball fans and scouts are already starting to look ahead as the 2020 NBA draft slowly approaches. Senior guard Brian Fobbs and senior forwards Dennis Tunstall and Nayke Sanders, also known as the Terrific Trio, are eligible to declare for this year’s draft. After evaluating the landscape of the NBA along with the skill set of these three dynamic seniors, here are their potential fits if they were to rise to the pro level.
First, let’s start off with the dynamic combo-guard in Fobbs who asserted himself as the Tigers’ primary scoring option in just two years with Towson. Fobbs’ skillset practically makes him a match made in heaven in New York with the Knicks. Listed at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Fobbs has the measurables and potential to thrive as a dynamic bench scorer at the next level. While averaging 16.3 points per game this season, Fobbs consistently displayed his high-level scoring ability by scoring 20 or more points in 10 of 33 games played including a career-high 33 points against UMBC.
Fobbs is a traditionally a slasher with great above the rim finishing ability while also thriving in the mid-range game. Along with his above average inside game, Fobbs has the ability to stretch the floor as a career 37% three-point shooter. This pairs him well alongside guard RJ Barrett when playing with the starting unit, but he also has the scoring tenacity to go on significant single-man scoring runs off the bench.
The Knicks have three picks in this year’s draft, including two in the first round. New York would currently hold the sixth pick before the lottery. It is expected that in a guard heavy draft, the Knickerbockers will look to tackle their backcourt needs early. A few prospects that have been projected to New York are Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Lamelo Ball out of the National Basketball League, Killian Hayes from France or New York native Cole Anthony.
Nonetheless, the Knicks have a very questionable backcourt situation as their current trio of guards Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. have all had a subpar 2019 – 2020 season thus far to say the least. Only Payton averaged 10 or more points when the season was suspended. Fobbs to the Knicks seems like the perfect marriage. Plus, what is better than to bring the Rochester native back home to the Big Apple.
Next there is the big man down low being power forward in Tunstall who could step in day one as a significant contributor for the Houston Rockets. Houston does not have any picks in this year’s draft, but they have a glaring hole in the front court that needs to be addressed which makes Tunstall a perfect potential pickup as an undrafted free agent.
Although the small ball system implemented by head coach Mike D’Antoni was thriving on the back of the dynamic backcourt of guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden, it is hard to picture the Rockets making a significant run with 6-foot-5 forward P.J. Tucker playing Center for close to 35 minutes per game. By trading away their only traditional Center in Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks, that leaves Houston with an aging 37-year-old Tyson Chandler and Isaiah Hartenstein who only played in 23 games this season.
Under these circumstances, a 6-foot-9 Tunstall could instantly step in as a true small ball center with the ability to fill the role as a two-way presence in the paint. Although he may not be an offensive force scoring wise, averaging 4.4 points this season, Tunstall sets aggressive screens and can thrive in the pick and roll with Westbrook or Harden as a rim runner to fill that Capela role. With that, what truly makes Tunstall valuable is his defensive presence as this season he recorded 41 blocks and 31 steals, showing his active hands and the capability to be a defensive enforcer on this team.
Lastly is Sanders who could fit right into the culture and system of the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland currently holds the 14th pick before the lottery and also has a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Some players that have been mocked to them include Washington forward Jaden McDaniels or Isaac Okoro out of Auburn. In all honesty, as a team that only struggled due to the accumulation of significant injuries across the roster to players like center Jusuf Nurkic, forward Rodney Hood and even guard Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers are looking for guys to plug in that have the capability to contribute in limited minutes. Lillard missed nearly a month with a groin injury and Hood tore his ACL early in the season. Nurkic did not play this season due to a leg injury suffered in last year’s playoffs.
Standing at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, Sanders is an aggressive big body that can be your prototypical “buckets and boards” guy off the bench. Sanders would be joining a solid frontcourt rotation of Nurkic, power forward Zach Collins, and potentially center Hassan Whiteside if they are able to sign him in free agency this offseason. This could give Portland 48 minutes of strength and length down low while the star-studded backcourt of Lillard and guard CJ McCollum continue to dominate as offensive juggernauts.
All three members of the Terrific Trio have the measurables and ability to be solid contributors on an NBA roster. On behalf of Towson University basketball fans all over, I wish them well as they look ahead to the next chapter of their basketball journeys. Hopefully we will be able to see them on the big stage of the NBA in the foreseeable future.