Outside of the Seattle area, there was little fanfare when Marquese Chriss committed to Washington. After a strong freshman season for the Huskies, Chriss has plenty of people singing his praises as he prepares to take his game to the next level.
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Chriss burst onto the scene at Washington, averaging 13.7 points (53.0 percent shooting), 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game during his lone collegiate season. He flashed the inside-outside game of the ideal stretch four while also mixing in the nightly highlight dunk.
Despite not being able to lift Washington into the NCAA Tournament with teammate and fellow first-round prospect Dejounte Murray, Chriss did more than enough to boost his own profile. Still just 18 years old with boundless athleticism and a smooth shooting stroke, Chriss has perhaps the most upside of any player in the entire 2016 NBA draft.
Simply put, Chriss is an athletic freak. To have his size and still be able to jump through the roof is rare. Chriss couples that bounce to his game with the speed and footwork of a guard to completely fluster other big men. Once he gets that first step, look out.
That's not to say Chriss is limited to the paint. Actually, the thing that really has pro scouts drooling over the Sacramento native is his outside shooting. Chriss has a confident and silky jump shot. He connected on 35.0 percent (21 of 60) of his three-pointers last season for Washington. With the game trending more toward small ball and teams desperately searching for the next stretch four, Chriss' ability to consistently knock down jumpers is what has propelled him up draft boards.
The holes in Chriss' game are pretty glaring. His rebounding needs a lot of work. Sure, he grabbed over five boards a night. But for a player of his stature and with such physical gifts, that's simply not good enough. Chriss routinely tried to just leap his way to rebounds instead of boxing out. That won't work in the NBA where every guy can jump and already has a strength advantage.
The other major knock on Chriss is his inexplicable foul rate. Known to routinely fall for pump fakes, he was in foul trouble on a nightly basis, which limited the Huskie to 24.9 minutes per game. Chriss committed 4.1 fouls per game last season and fouled out a whopping 15 times in 34 games, including six in a row during a stretch in January.
How he'd fit with the Sixers
If last season's Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel combination proved anything, it was the fact that the Sixers could certainly use a big man that can shoot from the perimeter. However, with the current logjam in the frontcourt it would be hard to see Chriss being an option unless the Sixers pull off a trade to ship out one of their current big men and acquire another high first-round pick in the process.
I'll go with Marcus Morris on this one. Not to be confused with always-combustible twin brother Markieff, Marcus Morris has shown all-around progress virtually every season in the league. Like Morris, Chriss will likely never be a dominant force on the boards, but his ability to attack the rim and rain threes with the potential of getting even better will be hard for any team to pass up.
Mid- to late-lottery. The amount of potential for a skilled player who won't turn 19 until July 2 is definitely enticing. DraftExpress.com has Chriss going No. 3 to Boston in its latest mock draft. However, somewhere in the 7-14 range seems like a safer bet.