Since 2016, seven different former Villanova Wildcat players have cracked NBA rosters, joining Kyle Lowry, who has been in the league since 2006. With the season in hiatus, let’s rank these eight players, and how they project for the future.
Back-end Rotation Players:
8. Omari Spellman, Minnesota Timberwolves
2019-20: 49 games, 7.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 43.1 FG%
Of the eight players on this list, Omari Spellman is the only one who left after his freshman year of college. Spellman was a starter and key member of the 2017-18 Wildcats team that went on to win a national championship. Despite questions around his NBA readines and weight, the Atlanta Hawks selected Spellman with the 30th pick in the 2018 draft.
By the numbers, Spellman should be good enough to rank above Ryan Arcidiacono. In the offseason 2019, Spellman had gotten traded from Atlanta to Golden State, where he put in solid numbers in 18.1 minutes of action. However, once Spellman was traded to Minnesota, he was sent down to the G League and hasn’t been called up yet.
Spellman’s future in the NBA is unclear, but the Timberwolves don’t seem to be committed to the second-year power forward. It’s possible Spellman may be playing for his fourth team in three years at the start of next season.
7. Ryan Arcidiacono, Chicago Bulls
2019-20: 58 games, 4.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, 39.1 3PT%
A four year player at Villanova, and team captain all four years, Ryan Arcidiacono remains one of the most iconic players in the school’s history. Never the best player on the court, Arcidiacono always played with a ton of heart and scrappiness. After going undrafted and spending a full season in the G League, Arcidiacono broke into the NBA with Chicago midway through the 2017-18 season.
Arcidiacono’s best season was the 2018-19 campaign, where he put up 6.7 ppg and 3.3 apg while starting 32 of 81 games in 24.2 mpg. While far from elite, Arcidiacono is an above-average defender, with a 0.1 career DBPM. However, with the Bulls acquiring new guards in Tomas Satoransky and Coby White, Arcidiacono’s playing time has decreased a bit this year, and his lackluster numbers have shown that.
Arcidiacono is signed through at least next season with a 3M team option before the start of the 2021-22 season. The former Villanova star should be in line to play a similar role as a backup guard with Chicago next season.
Solid Rotational Players:
6. Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks
2019-20: 57 games 8.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, 46.6 FG%
Brunson was one of the best players in college basketball during the 2017-18 NCAAB season. After carrying the Wildcats to an NCAA championship, Brunson earned Player of the Year honors. Despite that, he fell to the second round in the 2018 draft, finally being selected 33rd overall in that draft.
Backing up Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson had a very solid rookie campaign. In total, he averaged 9.3 ppg and 3.2 apg on 46.7% from the field for an underwhelming Mavericks’ squad. Brunson saw a minor decrease in minutes this season, however, with the Mavericks going out and acquiring Delon Wright, adding to a crowded backcourt.
After the season was suspended, Brunson opted to undergo surgery on his shoulder, after he suffered an injury on February 22. With Brunson signed through the 2021-22 season, he should remain in Dallas for the near future and back up Luka Doncic.
5. Eric Paschall, Golden State Warriors
2019-20: 60 games, 14.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 49.7 FG%
A transfer from Fordham University after his freshman year, Eric Paschall had an excellent three-year career at Villanova. After playing a pivotal role on the 2017-18 NCAA championship team, Paschall averaged 16.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg as a senior. The only rookie on this list, Paschall was selected 41st overall by Golden State in the 2019 draft.
With the Warriors going through a lost season, Paschall was able to take full advantage of his opportunity to play. Early on, Paschall’s name was mentioned in some Rookie of the Year talks after he put up 18.1 ppg and 5.8 rpg in November. Despite falling off a bit, Paschall still looks like he could be the steal of the 2019 draft.
Despite his solid play, Paschall still has two key weaknesses. One is shooting ability in the Warriors’ heavily three-point orientated system. Paschall shot just 28.7% from deep this season and has an ugly hitch in his shot. Defensively, Paschall was well below-average as well, carrying a -2.0 DBPM this season. If he can improve those two areas, he’ll have a bright future in the NBA.
4. Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans
2019-20: 57 games, 10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.0 spg
Josh Hart’s college career shows why Jay Wright is such a great basketball coach. After playing just 21.4 mpg and putting up 7.8 ppg as a freshman, Wright helped develop him into an elite scorer at the college level. By his senior year, Hart averaged 18.7 ppg, while shooting 40.4% from deep. Buying into the Villanova system is what Wright preaches, and that was shown in Hart’s college career.
The Lakers selected Hart with the 30th pick in the 2017 draft, where he played two seasons before going to New Orleans as part of the Anthony Davis trade. As the Pelicans’ sixth man, he was having a solid season, providing two-way abilityboff the bench for New Orleans. In addition to scoring, Hart’s rebound numbers have improved leaps and bounds in year three.
Josh Hart is signed through 2020-21 and will make 3.4M with New Orleans next season. It will be interesting to see if he can take the next step forward in his game next season. At 24, Hart has a relatively high ceiling of being an above-average starter, but he has to become a more consistent scorer.
3. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
2019-20: 62 games, 8.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.4 spg
After a solid three year career at Villanova, Mikal Bridges profiled as one of the best three and D players in the 2018 draft. Philadelphia took the local kid but immediately shipped him out to Phoenix in exchange for Zhaire Smith.
Bridges often gets overlooked since he was taken one pick before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. However, Bridges has quietly been a solid two-way player for Phoenix in his two seasons. His long length contributes to his stellar 1.5 DBPM, which makes him a very underrated asset. As a rookie, Bridges was 12th in the NBA in steals, averaging 1.2 spg.
For Bridges to take the next step, he has to improve as a scorer. Bridges projected to be a knock-down three-point shooter but has shot just 34.1% from deep these past two seasons. Developing a more reliable three-point shot will go a long way for Bridges, who may project to be the Suns’ starting small forward of the near future.
2. Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks
2019-20: 59 games, 9.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.4 spg
Donte DiVincenzo is another product of the Jay Wright system, even more so than Josh Hart. As a freshman on the 2015-16 National Championship team, DiVincenzo battled a foot injury and lack of playing time, putting up just 1.7 ppg that year. By his junior year, when Villanova won their second championship, Divincenzo was a key contributor off the bench, scoring 13.4 ppg.
However, where DiVincenzo burst onto the scene was during the 2017-18 national championship when he carried his team, scoring 30 points off the bench in a blowout win. This performance opened the eyes of many scouts, as DiVincenzo was selected 17th overall by Milwaukee in 2018.
In full honesty, DiVincenzo was never someone I saw becoming a key contributor to an NBA team. Throughout recent history, several players such as Malachi Richardson, and Trey Burke have not lived up to the hype after big tournament performances. However, DiVincenzo has well outperformed my expectations and been an enormous piece of a Milwaukee Bucks team that possessed the best record in the NBA.
DiVincenzo’s play goes well beyond the stat sheet, as he plays elite defense, and does all the little things that don’t show up on a box score. With his 2.7 incredible DBPM, DiVincenzo has been the best defensive shooting guard in the NBA this season, per basketball reference. That number places him fifth in the NBA, ahead of players such as Kawhi Leonard, Ben Simmons, and Bam Adebayo.
In case you didn’t realize how great of a defender DiVincenzo was, those defensive metrics are pretty eye-popping. At age 23, the Big Ragu should only keep getting better and will play a significant role for the Bucks in the future.
All Star Level:
1. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
2019-20: 52 games, 19.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 7.7 apg, 1.3 spg
And finally, the number one spot, which without a doubt goes to Kyle Lowry. He is also an outlier on this list for many reasons. Besides being the only all-star, Lowry is the only player on this list who wasn’t a member of a national championship team at Villanova.
Lowry played two seasons for the Wildcats: 2004-05, and 2005-06, with Jay Wright as his coach. In college, he was much more a defensive stalwart over a scorer, as he averaged 2.3 spg his sophomore year. After failing to make it past the elite-eight in either year, Lowry declared for the 2006 draft, where Memphis selected him 23rd overall.
However, it wasn’t until his seventh, age 27, season that Lowry took a significant step forward in his game. After being a backup in Memphis, and league-average starter in Houston, Lowry’s big move for his career was going to Toronto. Since joining the team before the 2013-14 season, Lowry has made the all-star team in six of seven seasons.
Lowry may be the only current NBA player from Villanova not to have won a national championship. However, it’s certainly worth noting that he’s the only player on the list to win an NBA Finals. At age 32, Lowry won his first ring with Toronto last season, beating the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Before the hiatus, the Raptors were looking strong, with hopes of repeating as champions in 2020. At age 33, Lowry will hit free agency at the end of next season, and it will be interesting to see if he can win another ring in his career.
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