Monday, January 18, 2016

Dwayne Bacon

Dwayne Bacon hasn't gotten a ton of publicity when it comes to the draft. He was a McDonald's All-American and a five-star recruit who is leading Florida State in scoring as a freshman, but he hasn't been put in the same category as guys like Jamal Murray, Malik Newman and Jaylen Brown. No one has been talking about him as a one-and-done guy and while I'm pretty sure he would be better off if he came back to school you could say the same thing about all those guys.

Let's compare Bacon's stats (No. 26 in the DX 2017 mock) with Brown's (No. 5 in 2016) and see if we can tell the difference:

Bacon: 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists (on 2.2 turnovers), 1.1 steals and 0.1 blocks a game on 48% shooting, 30.3% from 3 (on 3.3 3PA's)

Brown: 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists (on 3.1 turnovers), 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks a game on 47.9% shooting, 28.8% from 3 (on 4.1 3PA's)

Bacon is an elite athlete with plus size and speed

At 6'7 220 with a 6'8 wingspan, Bacon is a plus athlete who flies around the floor and moves like a guy whose 6'3 or 6'4. He's smooth and powerful and he has jet engines for legs. He's basically unguardable in transition - watch how easy he gets to the rim:

He's just as much a problem going the other way. If Bacon is back in transition, there isn't a lot of available lanes to the basket. He's an elite athlete and there's just no room to attack him:

Watch how easy it is for Bacon to get to the rim. There's almost no way to stay in front of him and cover him 1-on-1 at the NCAA level:

Even when he gets into traffic, he's still big and strong enough to generate contact and draw fouls:

If Bacon ever becomes a consistent shooter ... 

The big concern with Bacon is his inconsistent outside shot and the way you want to guard him is to play off him as much as possible and let him hoist away from the perimeter:

However, it's not like his shot is broken. He has shown he can smoothly catch-and-shoot from the perimeter and if he can ever get up to 35% (he's at 30% at the moment), there's going to be no stopping him:

Where it gets weird to me is that Brown has all the same concerns (and his shot looks far worse) yet he's still considered a lottery pick while Bacon is on the fringes of the draft conversation.

Bacon's skill level continues to improve

An easy knock on a 6'7+ plus athlete who rumbles around the floor is his skill level and feel for the game and those certainly aren't the strengths of Bacon's game at the moment. There are a lot of times where he puts his head down and expects his athleticism to bail him out and it's one reason why his scoring averages and efficiency have gone down in ACC play.

But while Bacon doesn't always make the right play, he is learning. He has the skill-set to where he can read the defense and find the open man. Watch him thread the pocket pass to his big man in the pick-and-roll:

It's not always pretty but Bacon can make the right play off the dribble. If he does this more often, he can take FSU to the next level:

Bacon could be an elite 3 or small-ball 4

Not having a ton of publicity coming into college is probably the best for Bacon's ultimate development because there's still a ton he needs to work on. The good news is the tools are there - he just needs to refine his shooting, decision-making and defense. That may sound like a lot but it's not all that unusual for a big-time freshman whose still learning the game. If Bacon puts it all together in his sophomore season in Tallahassee, he could play his way into the lottery. The way the league is going, there's no type of player more valuable than a 6'7+ power wing.

You can see how valuable a guard with the size and speed to defend forwards can be at FSU. They may have found something in their win over UVa on Sunday, when they played Bacon at the 4 to open up the floor for 2 more NBA prospects - Malik Beasley and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Leonard Hamilton recruits size and speed at every position and worries about floor spacing and offensive execution later and the result is generally a team full of athletic monsters that doesn't always fit together. Playing Bacon at the 4 and going with pure 4-out basketball next to one of their Goliath C's (they start a 7'3 senior and bring a 7'4 freshman off the bench and their best big man is an uber-athletic 7'1 290 freak of nature whose probably going to have to take a medical redshirt) could be the key that unlocks their whole team.


  1. I think the reason Bacon has less draft pub is because he is a 20 year old freshman already but I agree I think he is just about as good as Jaylon Brown.

    1. Good catch. I should have double-checked that. I don't think the age is a big deal because he's still only 20 but it does mean he's probably not going to want to stay in school past his sophomore season.