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NBA Outlook: Jamel Artis

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the season, I’ve had a dozen or so conversations about why senior forward Jamel Artis isn’t going to be on an NBA roster by the end of this October. Honestly, the fact that he’s atleast a year older than his draft class and already 24 should stop the conversation right there. For the sake of argument, and because this article has to be more than two sentences, let’s dive into why Artis isn’t an NBA caliber player.

Measurements and Position:

Artis is listed at 6’7” on the Pittsburgh Panthers official website, but in reality, he’ll more than likely measure closer to 6’5” in socks. Couple that with his slender frame and it would be impossible for him to play either forward position in the NBA. Even at small forward, his career rebounding rate of 10.1% is low and was an unimpressive 8.2% this past season. Obviously, not every player has to fit a physical profile, but the players that are an exception tend not to be average athletes that lack one truly elite skill?

But he’s a playmaker:

It’s certainly true that Artis can create for himself and for his teammates at the collegiate level. He’s a very good passer, and that ability really shines in mismatch situations. As a senior, he had the highest assist percentage (22.8%) and usage percentage (27.2%) of his career while also bringing his turnover percentage (14.5%) down from his junior year; that’s no small feat.

The main thing you have to ask yourself though is if any NBA team, and I am talking about their second unit, would benefit from having Artis use up a ton of possessions in order to be at his best? The answer is no. The Los Angeles Lakers, the worst team in the Western Conference, have Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. coming off the bench. Clarkson is roughly seven months older than Artis is right now, but is in his third year in the NBA. Nance Jr. is in his second year as a professional and is all of 11 days older. Both are already effective spot-starters and rotation players.

Yes, Artis is a playmaker, but every NBA player has to do other things well to warrant being on the court, especially if you’re going to use a ton of possessions. People like to compare Artis to Jared Dudley, but you can’t discount the fact that Dudley came into the league in 2007 and is also a career 40% three-point guy with a good reputation around the league and works hard. Artis has never connected at a 40% rate from the NCAA three-point line and I think this season spoke to his intangibles in a not so flattering way.

Just use a second round pick on him:

This one gets me the most because it doesn't make sense. I realize we don’t have an NBA team in Pittsburgh, but second round picks carry value. They can be used to facilitate trades, keep overseas players in a situation to develop without taking a salary cap hit, and to grab a player who may have slid out of the first round on a non-guaranteed contract just to kick the tires. Most second round selections don’t turn into Draymond Green or Isiah Thomas, but they can be solid rotation players. Very raw players that didn’t produce in the box score are also candidates to be a second round pick so that I team can evaluate a player in an NBA environment without carrying as much financial risk.

So where does that leave Artis who is at least a year older than this draft class, has ideal measurements for the point guard position, needs a lot of possessions to be effective at the NCAA level and doesn’t guard anyone? I just don’t know if that’s someone I’d classify as one of the best 60 draft eligible players in the world.

Look, Artis was a fine player for Pitt and developed nicely during his tenure here. Don’t mistake my pessimistic outlook about his potential NBA career as a slight against what he accomplished as a Panther. It’s not easy to make an NBA roster, you have to have a lot of things go right for you, and a lot of those things aren’t always in a player’s control. In this case, there are just too many things stacked against Artis coming off a disappointing season, both individually and as a team to warrant serious consideration from an NBA team, in my opinion.

- Stats courtesy of Sports Reference.

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