Top NBA Prospects in the ACC, Part Ten: Prospects #26-31October 16, 2015
Taking on a larger scoring role after the departure of K.J. McDaniels, Jaron Blossomgame had a breakout sophomore season for the Clemson Tigers. He nearly doubled his point output, averaging 17.5 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted while taking a major step forward in his efficiency, raising his true shooting percentage from 45% to 56%.
Blossomgame had to redshirt his freshman year due to a broken leg suffered in his senior season of high school. He just turned 22 and is one of the oldest players in the junior class and the same age as many seniors.
He looks like a prototypical NBA small forward for the most part, measured at 6'7” with an impressive wingspan. He has long strides that help him get down the floor quickly and has great explosiveness around the rim. One area that will concern NBA teams is his skinny frame, especially at his age. He has the potential to add lower and upper body strength to increase his overall strength but will need to do so quickly, otherwise scouts will wonder if it will ever happen.
Blossomgame's strength offensively is his ability to convert shots in the paint. His overall two point field goal percentage was 53.7% while his conversion rate around the rim was an impressive 61.7% according to Synergy Sports. He uses his athletic tools to finish around the rim by elevating above the defense to get a clean look.
Most of his attempts in the paint are generated by straight line dribble drives. Although he doesn't have great handle, he has a nice burst with his first step that allows him to get into the lane. He can then explode to the rim and finish or if a defender is in his way, he has developed nice touch on a runner over the help. He doesn't shy away from contact, shooting 6.2 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted, second among ACC small forwards
He isn't much of a passer on his drives, creating only 1.3 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He has a tendency to put his head down on drives, failing to see the open court. This will hurt him at the next level and he'll need to work on his vision to find open teammates when the defense collapses and takes away his driving lane.
He also contributes as an offensive rebounder, pulling down 3.3 per 40 minutes pace adjusted. His athleticism is a big key to his success here as well, as he uses his agility and leaping ability to sky above the rim and chase down rebounds outside his area. He also has great hands
He's struggled as a shooter in his two collegiate seasons, connecting on 25% of his three point attempts. His form isn't totally broken, so there is some potential there for him to develop as an outside shooter but it will take some time to develop a consistent stroke. His release point is inconsistent and he often hesitates right before his shooting motion, which throws off his timing. With his ability to attack closeouts, becoming a more consistent shooter will round out his skill-set and make him more attractive as a perimeter player to NBA teams.
Defensively, Blossomgame's athleticism hasn't translated to on-court success in locking down his defender. For a player of his length and quickness, he averages a paltry 0.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He doesn't look interested in playing defense, failing to close out on shooters or even get a hand up in the shooter's face.
He doesn't put in the effort to move his feet when guarding the ball and gets beat off the dribble easily. He then has a tendency to give up on the play, not working hard to recover. He has the tools to be a plus defender but will need to raise his intensity level to begin to contribute at the next level.
The one area Blossomgame helps defensively is rebounding, as he doesn't shy away from attacking the glass. His 7.6 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted continues to demonstrate his athleticism. To become a more complete defensive player, he'll have to do more than just focus on his rebounding and learn to play within the scheme of a team defense.
After leading the Tigers in scoring and rebounding last season, he'll be asked to shoulder a similar load this year. Another strong season will keep him on NBA radars and if he can improve his shooting and play with a little more effort defensively, he'll become a more serious draft prospect.
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