Playing under coaching legend Tom Izzo can be a standout point on your basketball resume and is an asset that is often noticed by coaches and scouts. For four seasons at MSU, forward Branden Dawson had the opportunity to soak up every bit of knowledge from a coach that boasts a 494-199 all-time record. The New Orleans Pelicans, owners of this year’s No. 56 pick, saw just that in Dawson and selected him and was then traded to the Clippers for cash considerations. Dawson joins former MSU Spartan teammates Adreian Payne and Draymond Green in the NBA.
During his senior season at MSU that was ended at the hands of freshman Jahlil Okafor and the Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four, Dawson put up per game averages of 11.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals in 30 minutes. The rugged Indiana native saw his efforts rewarded as he was honored as both a Second-Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Defensive player.
Dawson’s size at -6 and is moderately undersized for the small forward position, but he makes up for it with elite level athleticism, boasting outstanding speed, vertical and strength, even by NBA standards. At times throughout his college career, Dawson played power forward and due to his strength and physical prowess had success in defending the position despite his height. He’s going to need to transition his game to the from the inside to the perimeter, which may be initially be a tough evolution due to his non-existent 3-point shooting ability.
Graphic via msuspartans
His tremendous athleticism was a factor that led to his astonishing 9.1 rebounds last year’s campaign. While it’s unlikely that he can replicate these rebounding statistics in the NBA, his insane athleticism will help him transition his game in different ways. One area where this will help him have an impact right away is with his rugged defensive ability and tenacity. Dawson trademark grit and competitiveness are on the top of any coach’s wish list. Given his frame and physical tools, it’s no surprise that he was able to guard multiple positions in college. Though he probably won’t be able to bring his versatility of guarding positions 1 through 4 at the NBA level, he should be an adequate perimeter defender entering the league.
Dawson is coming into an ideal with the stacked Clippers’ roster, as he won’t immediately be expected to contribute given his draft position and age. This will likely ease the pressure for a young prospect coming into the league hoping to tweak his game to suit the pro level. Learning behind the likes of playoff tested stars like Chris Paul, J.J. Reddick, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford will also be a big influence on the former Spartan.
Graphic via mlive.com