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NBA draft: Jean Montero has three-level scoring potential with shades of Fred VanVleet's mentality

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Jean Montero was a bit of an unknown within draft circles but has burst onto the scene with some standout performances at the Nike Hoop Summit and NBA Draft combine. Listen to the full episode on the best options for Toronto at No. 33 on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed, or watch on YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: How about we go to Jean Montero? He's another guy that you have on this.

COREY TULABA: Yeah, so he probably-- like, out of the list of guys that I gave you, he's pretty clearly the outlier, you know, because I think-- and I even wrote about this at noceilingsnba.com earlier this year. Like, I wrote a piece called "What Would Masai Do?" Because as you kind of touched on, the trend with you the Raptors, with the Clippers, with the Celtics it's like you need these big, wingy players that are switchable up and down a lineup, and bring that versatility where they're almost positionless right?

AMIT MANN: Yes.

COREY TULABA: But Masai also, it seems like, has a thing for another kind of archetype, maybe a little bit less so. But he has Fred VanVleet, who is a shorter guard, who's feisty defensively, and could create his own shot. I think he saw similar things in Malachi Flynn, who I was really high on in that draft. You know, I've heard he maybe-- I don't know if it was his dad said some weird things.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, Eric's been very busy on Facebook. Not on Twitter. He's not on IG. He's been very busy on Facebook making some comments. Yeah, I'll stop-- I'll end it there.

COREY TULABA: But the fact is he represents a similar archetype, like a kind of a guy who can create his own shot, playing the pick and roll, and was good defensively as a prospect. And I see a lot of that with Jean Montero as well. This is a guy who was projected to be a lottery pick coming into the year.

Now, those rankings mean very little. There's just a few of those guys left standing actually still ranked in the lottery. But he does have that pedigree, you know. He played professionally overseas. He has real experience.

I think one of the reasons he dropped is he was, you know, the main guy in this Overtime Elite experiment, which really is an experiment. It's year one, and it's hard to kind of compare the talent that he was playing against versus what these guys in college are doing or what the guys in the G League are doing. Because unlike the G League, which last year had its first year, you could see, they were playing against pros in an NBA offense, right? Like, there was no kind of-- there was a clear vision of what they could bring to an NBA team because you were seeing it.

With the Overtime Elite, it was much more murky, because it was very much so like an AAU up and down setting. It was very rarely this structured, organized, can this guy run a team. It was more raw talent. And I thought that Montero, when you really watched the games-- on mute, by the way, because, you know, I wasn't a fan of the announcing.

But I'm a little bit older. I'm not the target audience for that. When I watched the games, he really flashed a lot of the things that I think successful NBA guards show.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

COREY TULABA: So, you know, one I think that people don't talk about his defense enough. I thought he was really feisty. He had unbelievably quick hands.

Like, he really cares on that end and showed it, especially on the ball. Off the ball, you know, he played the passing lanes well. But positioning, again, the style wasn't very conducive to breaking that down.

And then offensively, while the percentages were not the best to me, it's like-- not to say I throw out that context completely. But because of the nature of how it was up and down, very loose, fluid, you know, he's taking shots he's just not going to take at the next level. And you know, I look at it similarly to, like, when LaMelo was playing in the NBL.

Like, he had no structure. He was firing up shots that were insane. It was almost like deep behind-- it was almost like a turnover half the time, you know, probably-- or mo-- 75% of the time, because it was just a shot nobody is going to be able to hit that often. And I think that Jean was a little bit more controlled than LaMelo in the NBL. But he still would shoot deep behind me, the 3 point line, trying to show off his range.

But I like that he got to experiment. I like that he got to push his boundaries, and see what he was capable and what he wasn't capable of. I see a lot-- like, I see shades of guys like Fred VanVleet, maybe shades of Darius Garland. But I also see shades of, like, Roddy Beaubois on the down side, you know, Mavericks legend. So I think, though, when you're looking at where the Raptors are picking, I think it's a great value pick if that's kind of the direction that Masai wanted to go, because this is a guy who has the pedigree, you know, and just went to a situation that maybe hurt his value a little bit, which means that it's a good opportunity for another team to come kind of, you know, steal a guy.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, this is the bigger question that I'm struggling with Masai, and the approach of the Raptors in this draft is that they could go five different ways with it. And there's no clear direction. They already have a lot of these six, eight guys and they have some waiting in the wings too.

They got Justin Champagnie. They got Dalano Banton, who isn't a 6' 8", but he's certainly a 6' 7" point guard who could probably fit the mold. It's like, what is their plan with this draft?

And I don't really know, right? They could decide, you know, that we're going to get more guard depth. They could decide that we want a center, which we'll get to in a second. They could decide that, just because of the premium of these 6' 8" guys, like, why not bring in more?

Like, just get as many as we can, because we know that eventually, the league is going to have a whole bunch of them. They're going to come from overseas. They're going to come from different leagues, just because teams need these lengthy, lanky defenders.

And so for the Raptors now, it's like how much do they prioritize a player like him, because he's turning 19. He still has room to grow. He's 6' 2" right now.

But, I mean, by the time he's 22, maybe he's 6' 5". I don't know. It's possible.

COREY TULABA: It's possible.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, and how quickly do they want this player that they get in this draft to help the team next season? Because you could see probably him spending a season with the 905. It would be a great experience for him. And then a couple of years down the road, maybe he's a stable backup point guard, point guard, whatever happens with the team.

I don't know. It's really hard to tell what the Raptors. That's what's so intriguing about this pick.

But in the end, just looking at the highlights of Jean Montero, he's already got real potential as a three-level scorer. And that is a hard thing to say about any player coming into the draft, is that they got a real shot to be a legit three-level scorer. There are players in the NBA now who are not three-level scorers, and are probably never going to be. And they are also point guards.

But he's got a real shot to do that. And his IQ, his passing ability, he's like a true floor general. And the ball handling is great.

His shot has some work-- that needs some work there. But that's OK. Every guy needs some work on their shot, unless they're like--

COREY TULABA: Sure.

AMIT MANN: [INAUDIBLE] like a Matt Thomas. Shout out to Matt Thomas back in the day.

COREY TULABA: Bulls legend.

AMIT MANN: Absolutely, and Raptors legend.

COREY TULABA: --Raptors legend.

AMIT MANN: Utah Jazz legend.

[LAUGHTER]

Yeah, but you definitely see it. In that game against Team USA and the Nike Hoop Summit game, I looked at this a few months ago, 23 points, three assists, one rebound, two steals. Loves the spotlight. That was the reason--

COREY TULABA: Four 3's.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, four 3's, right? And the shot looked pretty good, and he was managing the game. He did a great job.

And that's, like, a high leverage situation for him personally. And he succeeded. That kind of mentality is hard to find.

And defensively, you just got to trust that he indeed does want to play defense. That is half the battle. Do you want to play defense? And if you do, if you want to get into players, that's going to help yourself get some notches with the Raptors-- coaching staff Nick Nurse, Masai. And they're definitely looking out for that. Yeah.

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