With the sport of basketball on a permanent pause with the world dealing with the constant thread of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of fans that are quarantined in their house are looking ahead to the 2020 NBA Draft. From pondering how guards Killian Hayes and LaMelo Ball can fit in future NBA backcourts or if Dayton standout Obi Toppin can make an immediate impact with whichever team drafts him. Debate and speculation around that trifecta and many more prospects will be circulating until whenever the NBA Draft occurs.
While NBA Draft speculation will persist for the next few months, discussion surrounding some under-the-radar prospects will remain in the background in the wider scope of conversation. A few weeks ago, we tried to shine a lot on some of those players by analyzing four mid-major prospects that fans could be seeing in the G League during the 2020-21 season. Besides maybe William and Mary forward Nathan Knight, none of those players are expected to be one of the sixty players selected.
To go further down the rabbit hold of potential hidden gems, let’s take a journey to Bethany, Oklahoma to take a look at former Southern Nazarene guard Jhonathan Dunn. Although he’s unknown to most, the 6’5 guard stood out as a superstar within the Great American Conference (GAC).
That claim was most evident during his senior year where he put up 25.3 points, 6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.6 steals on 52% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc on 7.5 attempts per game. Dunn’s efficiency allowed him to maintain a stellar 66% True Shooting Percentage.
His fantastic production as a senior led to him being named as the GAC’s Player of the Year, which was the second time that he won that award. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t only accolade that Dunn acquired during his college career as he won the following awards: 2018, 2019, 2020 GAC All-First Team, 2017 GAC Freshman of the Year, 2018 and 2019 GAC All-Tournament Team, and NABC All-District Central First Team in 2020. The guard continually getting those awards was due to consistent offensive excellence as he averaged 18.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with a 60% True Shooting Percentage during his four-year college career.
Dunn’s tremendous success on that end was due to how automatic he was as a shooter during his final year with the team. That outstanding 46% three-point shooting percentage didn’t come by accident as his hours of hard work in the gym quickly becomes evident when you actually watch him play. From how quick he is in catch-and-shoot to his effortless approach to working around screens and launching pull-up jumpers. An example of that second trait is seen in the clip below where he maneuvers around an off-ball screen, uses a 1-2 step to get to his spot, and nails a jumper from well beyond the three-point line.
That same approach is seen when he’s working inside the three-point line as a mid-range shooter. As is the case with his work beyond the arc, the Southern Nazarene alum has success as a catch-and-shoot threat and working around screens. The one difference with his work inside the three-point line is how the 6’4 guard is comfortable with using his handles to get to a particular spot from mid-range and launch right-handed jumpers.
The one area that the guard wasn’t the best at during his run with Southern Nazarene was as an on-ball driver. Dunn regularly struggled with being able to drive past defenders that were playing him tight. Those struggles remained whether he tried to use slick dribble moves or a first step. Even if he was able to drive past the perimeter, he regularly struggled to have the explosiveness needed to go from the perimeter to the rim. An example of that is seen in the clip below where he tries to drive right but gets stopped at the top of the key which leads to him dishing it off to the point guard.
While he struggles to make on-ball drives to the rim, the young guard does a great job with making off-ball cuts. From the moment that the team’s motion offense leaves the paint open and his defender may be ball watching, Dunn is quick with recognizing when to make the journey to the rim. Once he receives the pass, the 6’4 guard shows some athleticism as he can finish with one-handed slams or acrobatic layups.
His collective strengths and weaknesses on the offensive end combined with his strong play as a passer makes me think that Dunn can be a solid role player in the G League. A lot of that comes from how fantastic he is as an off-ball threat that can easily get hot as a perimeter or mid-range shooter. In a league that’s reliant on pace and space, there’s no question that he has the tools to immediately step in and be a threat for a team that runs a motion offense or utilizes a lot of off-ball screens or sets. Opposing guards will always have to stick with the Southern Nazarene alum as he’s also a threat to cut to the paint.
While his issues as an on-ball driver will need to be rectified before we can talk about him being a candidate for a two-way deal, the Southern Nazarene alum has the skills to be in the rotation of most G League teams. So despite his current unknown nature, Jhonathan Dunn definitely stands as a diamond in the rough that G League fans should know before the 2020-21 season begins.