Michigan State Basketball: Ranking the Spartans with the Most NBA Potential
The lack of NBA-level stars pouring from Michigan State can be viewed through two lenses:
1. Spartans coach Tom Izzo isn't recruiting enough next-level talent, therefore putting himself out of position to coach future pros.
2. It'd be nice to see more, but Izzo remains in contention on a yearly basis with the most "collegey" of college players.
Six Final Fours, a title...you know the rest. With or without NBAers in waiting, Spartans basketball will survive and flourish while under Izzo's control. What's there to really gripe about?
But for the sake of scaling talent, this slideshow will take a look at Michigan State's expected 2014-15 roster and rank the potential professional-level talent.
5. Javon Bess?
Naming a No. 5 guy is difficult. There are too many variables when gauging potential, and with the exception of one or two, there aren't many Spartans on this year's team who could be confidently tagged as NBA-level talent.
With that being said, Javon Bess could be one of those three-year types for Izzo and possibly get a shot at pro ball. At 6'5" and 185 pounds, he flew under the radar during the 2014 process; he was the class' No. 37-ranked small forward and barely cracked the top 150 (148), per 247Sports.
He's believed to be far better than some have suggested:
Bess has a splash of Durrell Summers in him, and Summers had enough talent to eventually play in the Association. He made it to the D-League, so Bess in turn earns a spot on this list.
4. Denzel Valentine
When on, Denzel Valentine does just about everything well; and in some cases, he does a few things extremely well at just the right time. No question here, Valentine is an obvious candidate for team MVP this season.
The 6'5", 225-pound junior is incredibly versatile and coachable. Based on that, an NBA team could be interested in acquiring him (as an undrafted free agent, maybe?) in 2016, especially if they're looking for smart wingers who understand how to follow a team concept.
Valentine is one of the most unselfish players of the Izzo era. That's a fact.
3. Matt Costello
Note: The accompanying video shows Costello at his finest.
Still developing, Matt Costello has yet to become a truly consistent college athlete, let alone a potential pro. But again, the keyword is "potential." Size-wise, he could interest a pro team: He's 6'9", 240 pounds and is mean, scrappy and rough—he likes to get physical.
Now a junior, the former Michigan Mr. Basketball has two years to refine his skill set to a professional level. When looking at his tenacity and fearless attitude, it's easy to see Costello continuing on some level past college.
2. Kenny Kaminski
Forwards who can shoot the long ball are always valuable NBA commodities. At 6'8" and 225 pounds, Kenny Kaminski has lights-out tendencies packaged in an ideal frame.
His issue is consistency. As a redshirt frosh in 2013-14, Kaminski shot a team-high .494 from three-point range. Granted, he averaged 2.5 attempts per game, but nearly 50 percent from deep is impressive.
Kaminski's touch has been raved about for three years (the two that he's been in East Lansing and the year before he arrived). If he comes together, he could be an attractive option for an NBA franchise.
Sure, he has the redshirt and the old injury to his shooting shoulder, but it's impossible to deny his upside. The overall tools are there; it's just a matter of a team taking a chance on him.
1. Branden Dawson
Of course, the No.1 potential NBA talent on Izzo's roster is Branden Dawson. He almost left in 2014, and now that he's a senior he's projected as the No. 31 pick of 2015, per Draft Express.
The accompanying video shows a dunk against Boise State during the 2012-13 season. Honestly, it may not even be his best dunk as a Spartan, but watch how effortless his elevation appears to be. He barely jumps yet throws down a powerful windmill.
Of course, he's had many, many more highlight slams and has the strength, athleticism and size to be an NBA winger for years to come. He just doesn't have the jump shot, despite flurries of reports from this past year suggesting that he had found one.
At 6'6" and 225 pounds, Dawson is built to wreck rims in big arenas. He would make the NBA Slam Dunk Contest watchable. On top of that, a pro team would also get a great scorer. Although he's streaky, he's dangerous and is capable of putting 20 on the board on any given night.
It's a wonder that he wasn't two-and-done. His prep billing certainly suggested as much, but that's how the story goes for Dawson, who's not yet "there" and was wise to return for his final year at Michigan State:
Branden Dawson has only had one offseason in East Lansing. He hopes another will have him NBA ready http://t.co/tVOb2H8ONX— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) April 16, 2014
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81