The Philadelphia 76ers need cheap talent more than ever. They have to make the 2020 NBA Draft count to strengthen their roster loaded with massive contracts, and there are a few things they should be looking for. Perimeter creation and point guard play probably top the list, but three-point shooting is still something the Sixers need more of. This is where someone like TCU’s Desmond Bane is worth considering.
The 21-year-old, 6’6”, 215-pound two guard spent four years in college and finished 2019-20 with averages of 16.6 points (with a 57.3 True Shooting Percentage), 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists (2.3 turnovers) and 1.5 steals per game, making the All-Big 12 1st team. His shooting numbers are what pop the most, as he shot an exceptional 44.2 percent from three on 4.9 attempts per game over the last three years. In 2019-20, he upped his volume to 6.5 attempts a night, hitting 44.2 percent.
The Sixers have some more three-point firepower at their disposal now. Shake Milton has emerged as a confident, quick-trigger shooter who can fire a bit off the dribble, and Furkan Korkmaz was the team’s leader in three-point makes this season with his own quick release and ability off movement. But the Sixers could still use more high-level shooting and guys they can run off screens or use off the bounce (Philly ranked dead last in made pull-up threes per game this season at a measly 1.6).
Bane is one of the best shooters in this draft class. As good as he is simply spotting up, it’s how well-rounded he is in all other areas that stands out. And why his slightly weird release doesn’t concern me when he’s so comfortable (and efficient) with any shot from deep. Whether he’s running off screens or relocating around the perimeter, Bane has range that extends well beyond the arc and he’s comfortable firing on the move. His knack for finding space is also demonstrated by the first shot in the clip below, as he darts along the baseline, flares to the wing to send his defender on a wider angle, and cuts back into the corner:
Even though Bane isn’t a lead guard, he’s a quality shooter off the dribble. He took on more responsibility in 2019-20 and improved his pick-and-roll play. He’s comfortable dribbling off high screens to step into quick pull-ups and side-step threes, and pulling up from a few steps behind the arc. And even without much speed to easily create separation all over the floor, he has clean footwork and can generate enough space for effective step-backs.
Bane shouldn’t just be relegated to the label of “shooter”. He’s a genuinely good passer as well, and part of his development as a pick-and-roll player is better playmaking. Whether he’s patiently waiting to hit a cutter at the right moment, dumping off a pass to a rolling big man, or driving and kicking out to shooters, he’s an accurate passer with sharp vision and awareness to find teammates around the floor.
Bane has some fairly advanced skip passes in his arsenal as well. Plenty of secondary guards can’t make impressive reads to the weak-side corner like those included in the clip below. His awareness, timing and accuracy on these kinds of passes often stand out.
Bane is a smart cutter when need be, too. If defenses are top-locking against him (denying passes and cuts for him to get the ball in space at the three-point line), he knows how to make them pay.
Take the play below. As his defender gets aggressive at the arc and denies the pass, Bane cuts the opposite direction to the basket, draws the attention of the defense, and fires a pass to the weak-side corner to set up an open three:
Bane’s main weaknesses on offense comes from limited burst. He isn’t very explosive and may have some difficulty getting inside against quicker defenders in the NBA. This hurts Bane’s ability to get to the rim, resulting in more contested finishes and a low free throw rate. He averaged just 1.9 free throw attempts per game for his college career (making 80.4 percent), including 1.8 in 2019-20.
Besides having elite shooting and intelligent passing to lean on, though, another way Bane makes up for his underwhelming explosiveness somewhat is with good touch on drives. He can use his powerful frame to fight through contact, and he’s capable of dropping in soft layups and floaters (and more difficult shots high off glass) when attacking closeouts or finding driving lanes to the rim.
Again, some finishes are just tougher than you’d like, as he doesn’t always have the acceleration and top-end speed to get past his man to begin with. That said, the Sixers wouldn’t need to ask Bane to do too much as a creator. With a reasonable dose of pick-and-rolls to tap into his pull-up shooting and playmaking as a secondary ball handler, Bane won’t need to be driving endlessly.
Some of Bane’s athletic limitations can crop up at the other end of the floor. Defensively, his limited speed, lateral quickness and change of direction can hurt him against more twitchy, athletic guards. He also has a short wingspan of 6’5”.
However, Bane still has several defensive qualities. For starters, he has a high motor and he’s incredibly strong, which helps him stay competitive on the ball by getting his body into opponents. He puts all of that to use throughout the first possession in the clip below, as he shifts around a couple of screens, applies pressure on the ball, and finishes by contesting a jumper:
Bane’s IQ is probably the best thing he has to offer on defense, though. He generally rotates on time, and has good instincts and high awareness. The Sixers would be able to count on him being in the right spots, and they have plenty of defensive talent to use quicker guards (like Matisse Thybulle, Josh Richardson, and Ben Simmons) on top assignments at the point of attack.
The following possession demonstrates Bane’s sharp instincts and help defense. Texas Tech run a pick-and-roll and TCU hedge hard on the ball handler. RJ Nembhard (No. 22) is pulled to the wing to prevent an open three, and the lane is left clear. Bane recognizes this instantly, waits in position, and perfectly times his jump into the lane to break up the pass to the roll man:
The next play shows Bane’s instincts and offense coming together. He sees his assignment running baseline and Baylor guard Jared Butler (No. 12) looking for the cut. Bane wisely drops back with his arms spread wide to get into the right position for a steal, then tears away in transition to drill a step-back three:
Even with his on-ball limitations, Bane can be a solid defender overall with his IQ and consistent effort.
The general consensus on Bane doesn’t seem to be too high. Some mock drafts don’t include him or have him placed well into the second round (for example, this mock by The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has Bane going 57th). But even with the limits of his athleticism and length, there’s still plenty to like about Bane. I’d argue he’s quite underrated.
If perimeter creation is the Sixers’ priority with their first-round pick from OKC, Bane’s skillset may be a good option later in the draft (the Sixers are well armed with second-round picks, including the 34th, 36th and 49th selections). Philly needs shooting, and Bane’s talent off the dribble and playmaking is advanced enough to make him much more than just a complementary spot-up player standing around the arc. These areas of his game are NBA-ready. Along with his IQ and feel, Bane could help address some big areas of need for the Sixers.