Scouting Report by Josh Riddell. Video Analysis by Ryan Thomson
Not the most highly touted recruit coming out of high school, Jaron Blossomgame committed to Clemson over offers from Wichita State, VCU, Mercer, and Tennessee Tech. Blossomgame has since developed into one of the top players in the ACC after redshirting his freshman season due to a compound fracture in his leg suffered during his senior season of high school. After being named the Most Improved Player in the ACC as a junior, he earned [url=ACC All-Conference 3rd Team honors as a senior by averaging 20.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per 40 minutes.
Blossomgame is the second oldest player in our top 100, and will turn 24 prior to the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. While his advanced age may have given him a physical advantage over younger players in college games, he has the look of a prototypical NBA combo forward and should have little problem competing athletically against NBA players. Measured at 6'7.25 with a 6'10 wingspan at the 2016 NBA Draft Combine, Blossomgame has the tools to play either the small forward position or small ball power forward in the right situation.
While Blossomgame has shown flashes of skill in several facets of his offensive game throughout his collegiate career, he yet to demonstrate what he can hang his hat on against NBA defenders. He isn't a high level shot-creator from the perimeter, being primarily a straight line driver who wasn't asked to do much in isolation or pick and roll situations. He's also not a prolific passer on the move as he recorded just 1.8 assists per 40 minutes per 40 minutes last season, one of the lowest marks among small forwards in our top 100. Considering his advanced age and what we've seen from him in college thus far, its difficult to project Blossomgame emerging as a high-level shot creator in the NBA level.
That wouldn't be too much of an issue if Blossomgame were a consistent outside shooter. As a junior, he converted 44% of his three point attempts, on a relatively small sample size of three attempts per game. He came back down to earth as a senior in a major way, hitting 25.5%, and has been a below average shooter throughout his collegiate career, finishing with 31.5% mark from beyond the arc in four years. Studying his form, it's clear he needs to make some adjustments to his mechanics to extend his range out to the NBA 3-point line. His shot is not always consistent coming out of his hand as he has a tendency to spray the ball left or right. He also has a slow release from in front of his face which could make it more difficult to get shots off against hard closeouts. He made just 21% of his catch and shoot jumpers last year, a discouraging mark, and also saw his free throw percentage fall from 78 to 71%.
With that said, Blossomgame finds ways to contribute off the ball and has some intriguing versatility he can build on at the NBA level. He runs hard in transition and is a smart cutter off the ball which has led to some easy finishes at the rim. He is quick off the ground and strong around the basket as shown by his 62.7% finishing rate on his attempts at the basket last season according to Synergy Sports Technology. He will contribute on the offensive glass if needed (2.1 offensive rebounds per 40) and doesn't try to do too much with the ball in his hands (only [url=1.9 turnovers per 40 minutes).He will likely need to prove he can make spot-up jumpers consistently, as it is becoming harder to hide without a perimeter game, but he can help his team in other ways without a high usage rate, and the right NBA team could likely incorporate him into an offense off the bench, especially at the power forward spot.
In order for Blossomgame to complement his offensive skill set, he'll need to develop into a stronger defender to be a two way contributor and carve out consistent minutes at the next level. He has certainly showed some potential as a versatile defender who can switch onto multiple positions and guard both the perimeter and around the basket, but has some strides to make before he can have a positive impact defensively at the next level and round out his overall skill set.
While he definitely has the size and athleticism to be a capable defender, his fundamentals and attention to detail have been lacking at times. He is too upright on the perimeter, which has hurt his lateral quickness when guarding the ball, and defenders faced little resistance on penetration. Off the ball, his attention waned at times and he wasn't always in the right position to slow his man or help his teammates.
It's unlikely that NBA teams will tolerate the lapses Blossomgame demonstrated at times defensively for Clemson, and in a smaller offensive role, he'll definitely need to have his motor turned on each possession. Rather than get up and pressure the ball to make life difficult for his opponent, he too often chose to sag off his man which led to easy shots. He has shown some defensive engagement and activity at times with his 5.2 defensive rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes but he will need to be more consistent with his defensive intensity to be a dependable defender who can hopefully guard anywhere from 1-4 on switches.
Blossomgame's stock was at an all-time high in the summer after outstanding showings at the Nike Academy and Adidas Nations, where he shot the ball well, played excellent defense, and was very effective in transition and finishing around the basket. His senior season didn't go exactly as planned, with his 3-point percentage falling off in a major way and his all-around game not improving as much as hoped to compensate for that.
Leading up to the draft, scouts will be looking for Blossomgame to display NBA ready skills against other draft caliber wings and forwards in workouts to generate more excitement about his pro prospects. While his upside may be somewhat limited by being one of the oldest prospects in the draft, it's not difficult to envision Blossomgame as a role player at the next level with some subtle improvements to his skill set.
In a draft class lauded for its guards, three exceptionally talented, and wildly different, forward prospects sit in the top six of our mock draft, each taking a very different path to the top, and demonstrating wildly contrasting strengths and weaknesses. So who is the best prospect among the three?