Julian Champagnie And Aminu Mohammed
A couple of players that somehow went undrafted in a community mock draft.
I participated in a community mock draft and was shocked at the undrafted free agents available. One of the great things about twitter is finding people within community, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the NBA Draft community for a while.
Participating in mock drafts is a good exercise on having a random sample of “general managers” drafting players and getting a gauge for who would be available at certain draft picks. Perhaps my favorite part about this is, when the NBA draft does happen, there are curveballs thrown in like Josh Primo at #12 or Santi Aldama at #30. When picks like this do happen, it pushes other good players that I like, further down.
Last year, it was Jericho Sims at #58, Austin Reaves undrafted, Joel Ayayi undrafted, Sharife Cooper at #48, Kessler Edwards at #44, Jared Butler at #40, Herbert Jones at #35, and Jaden Springer at #28. Fortunately, Reaves was the guy that had good size at his position, a physical player, and arguably the best motor of the players on this list, so he appeared to be the most NBA ready.
This is how the community mock draft turned out:
So, no trades were involved, and so far this year, I’ve focused on 2nd round players that I felt would go undrafted.
Well, some of them did, while others were a few surprises.
The guys I “picked up” on behalf of LAL were Julian Champagnie and Keon Ellis.
I would also add a few more names that went undrafted, but would love two-way contracts offered to them in Aminu Mohammed and Julian Strawther.
Who is Julian Champagnie?
Julian Champagnie is a 6’6,25” (w/o shoes) wing with a 6’10” wingspan and 8’11” standing reach. That standing reach is comparable to modern power forwards and at the higher end for modern wings.
I have been keeping an eye on him for the past two seasons and noticed his game changed subtly. But, what he does best is hit a ton of contested shots.
This is what two and a half minutes of that looks like:
Notice, that there are a lot of shot makes with a defender usually in front of him. Now, he doesn’t have the outlier athleticism of other wing players on offense, but the standing reach and fairly quick release allows him to shoot against tough close outs, or even in small shooting windows from a standstill after creating space with a jab step.
His role early on would just to be a catch-and-shoot player along the perimeter while taking advantage of off-ball cuts when defenses overplay. While he’s had a down year in terms of shooting accuracy, there’s no denying that he’s able to hit tough shots, which matters a lot at the next level, especially for guys that will likely get role-playing shots. If there was an nba.com level stat for NCAA players of “shot makes with defenders 0’-2’ distance (very tight),” he would be up there.
While I haven’t had the strongest feel for his game, especially with my interest in guys that can manipulate defenses, I am rather impressed with how he defends. Defense is awareness first, feet second, chest third, hands last. Going in that order keeps foul trouble down. Lead with the chest? Foul. Reach in and miss the ball? Foul. Being in the right position for either is the most important part, and Champagnie does this well.
Starting at the 4:11 mark, watch how he defends. Reaves defends in a similar way, and that allows him to draw charges, wall off guys on drives, and contest shots. Champagnie does this and has the 8’11” standing reach to extend on shot contests and close outs.
His technique is what’ll get him playing time, even if he’ll get rookie-level defensive calls.
His athleticism doesn’t show on offense. He’s not a typical run-jump athlete, where it would show with burst on drives or verticality at the rim. He’s a defensive athlete, where lateral quickness, post base, and quick hands are tremendous defensive tools to have. It may even surprise you that he has a 3.1% Steal Rate and 3.5% Block Rate last season, and 2.7% Steal Rate and 3.5% Block Rate through three years at St. John’s. Throughout the video, you’ll find him defending point of attack, some wings, and even occasional bigs in the post, and he’s able to hold position really well while still being able to affect the shot or strip the basketball at waist level. There’s some defensive versatility here, and while I’m not a “draft by need” guy, his defensive tools and technique are what the Lakers need at the wing position.
Who is Aminu Mohammed?
One of the things I’ve noticed with the South Bay Lakers is, they find ways to acquire high motor defensive players with just enough ancillary offensive skill to make the league? Alex Caruso is the player that may stand out the most, but we shouldn’t forget about Gary Payton II and David Nwaba.
It wasn’t just that they were high motor players though. It was their ability to be physical along the perimeter and the painted area just the same. I mean, could Laker fans ever forget Alex Caruso boxing out Giannis Antetokounmpo?
Aminu Mohammed is a player that looks like the same archetype of player.
People will look at his shooting profile, and not be impressed. But after watching him, it’s actually a bit surprising that the accuracy isn’t there. Can Caruso shoot? He’s not especially high-level. How about Payton II or Nwaba? Not really. These guys draw their gravity with activity and movement.
He plays like a big that happens to have 3-point range. He’s found often in the dunker spot, or at the elbow in zone defenses, where he seeks out contact against opponents, and is a solid decision-maker in short roll situations.
Mohammed getting multiple reps in the soft spot of a zone defense:
Do I have concerns? Of course. The right shoulder lean-in with a slight left-side hip twist on the 3-point shots is concerning. He’s also a two-footed jumper like a traditional big, rather than a stride one-foot leaper like other typical guards and wings.
Mohammed does things that guards don’t typically do. He has a .448 free throw rate, a 13.6% rebounding rate, a 2.9% steal rate, 2% block rate, and a low foul rate. His comfort in using his physicality as a 19 year old player is what is rare, so switching from wings to bigs defensively is less of a problem. Despite his physical play, he averages 3.2 fouls per-40 minutes of play, while accruing 10 rebounds and 2 steals in that playing time.
Chances are, he won’t be happy with a two-way contract, but if he stays in the draft, I’d love to see the South Bay Lakers give him a shot.
The community draft was a fun exercise and gave a glimpse into players that slip down in the draft. If this was the actual draft result and the Lakers signed Julian Champagnie, Keon Ellis, and Julian Strawther on two-year contracts while Aminu Mohammed gets picked up on a two-way deal with the South Bay Lakers, I would be ecstatic.
This basically gives the Lakers:
A contested shot-making wing with defensive versatility (Julian Champagnie)
A 3-point shooting guard/wing with a high motor at the point of attack (Keon Ellis)
A three-level shooting guard/wing (Julian Strawther)
A physical, high motor guard/wing (Aminu Mohammed)
This current draft class is stacked with wings, especially from the mid-1st round to the mid-2nd round. This community mock draft had late-1st to early-2nd ranked players (Julian Champagnie, Keon Ellis, and Julian Strawther) slip out of the draft. It just so happens that the Lakers can fulfill some of their roster needs to where the talent is in this draft too.
Hopefully, that’s what they do this offseason.
Glad to see you were the one picking in this mock draft. Really trust the evaluation of who you would choose. Would love if we get our pick of these wings: even if we could just get two wings!
We so need them! 🤞🏽Here’s hoping the Lakers see that need, as well, and address it. Frank’s infamous comment before the Clippers game on “Backstage: Lakers” that we “have enough wings” continues to haunt me.
At no point in the season, did we ever have “enough wings.” 😒