2. Jalen Brunson, Villanova
If Brunson gets taken in the first round, it will be at the tail end of it. A smart, strong and efficient floor general, Brunson already plays like a veteran and should project as a solid backup point guard early on in his career, if not immediately. The junior is remarkably efficient, averaging over 19 points with a 64.3 true shooting percentage, and spearheads much of what Villanova does on offense. Watch the Wildcats execute their offense for long enough, and Brunson’s decision-making jumps to the forefront. He hands out 4.6 assists per game, a respectable mark, but his role as a facilitator stems well beyond that.
Brunson isn’t a fantastic athlete, but he isn’t a bad one either, and he’s strong and shifty enough to create space despite lacking blow-by speed. When he gets that separation, he almost always makes the correct read based on how the defense reacts and he does a great job at staying a step ahead of opponents at all times. Defensively, he manages to stay in front of the ball and prevent direct-line penetration into the paint and operates well within a team structure.
Fit and location will likely be major determinants of Brunson’s NBA productivity, at least early on. He’s the sort of solidifying, steadying weight that complements other above-average players nicely. Group him with incompetent role players, and his usefulness probably diminishes. Players like Malcolm Brogdon and Fred VanVleet have demonstrated in recent years the merit in snaring an experienced guard to stabilize second units without having to overspend on a veteran in free agency. Brunson could very easily become that type of contributor next season.