Draft Notebook: Malaki Branham, MarJon Beauchamp, and Nikola Jovic

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Draft Notebook: Malaki Branham, MarJon Beauchamp, and Nikola Jovic

Chicago Bulls

After earning their first winning campaign since 2017, the Chicago Bulls are in line to select with the No. 18 pick in the NBA Draft on June 23rd.

With that in mind, I thought I would share my draft notes on several players who could be available in the late teens on draft night. Keep an eye out for a few of these posts as we inch closer to the big night!

Previous prospects covered:

– E.J. Liddell, Jalen Williams, Ochai Agbaji

Tari Eason, Blake Wesley, Walker Kessler

Malaki Branham

Position: Wing
Age: 19
Height: 6’5″
School: Ohio State

The Good

  • A surprisingly mature and polished player considering he was an unexpected one-and-done talent. Flashed his maturity through shot selection and offensive efficiency, shooting 49.8% from the field and 41.6% from downtown.
  • While he only shot 2.6 attempts per game for the Buckeyes, his potential from behind the arc is a major part of the appeal. Sank catch-and-shoot looks from NBA range.
  • Not the most athletically jaw-dropping athlete, but he has a good first step and nice downhill acceleration. Also, a assertive player with good body control around the rim. Doesn’t shy away from contact.
  • A patient scorer who has upside as a secondary ball-handler. He could also become a frequent visitor of the free-throw line.
  • His length and hustle should shine through at times on the defensive end.

The Not So Good

  • Again, not the most athletically flashy player. He could have trouble creating his shot against more sizable and experienced defenders.
  • Likewise, he might have trouble staying in front of stronger NBA wings on the defensive end. Perhaps his length will help make up for some mistakes.
  • While Branham should, theoretically, be able to play on and off the ball at the next level, I do worry about how big of an impact he’ll be able to make with the ball out of his hands on a more consistent basis. The lack of explosiveness doesn’t make him a huge cutting threat.

The Comparison

One of the best versions of Branham seems to be a cross between Will Barton on the Nuggets and Khris Middleton on the Bucks. Like Middleton, I can envision him being a little bit more present at the free-throw line, as well as involved with some of the playmaking. But I don’t see a world where his shot-creation or efficiency ever reaches Middleton’s level, which makes me think Barton’s current hot-and-cold role could be a bit more in Branham’s ballpark.

MarJon Beauchamp

Position: Wing
Age: 21
Height: 6’6″
School: G-League Ignite

The Good

  • One of the most intriguing body builds in the draft. An excellent combination of size, length, and motor. He’s constantly looking for a way to impact the game, especially on the defensive end where he could become an elite player.
  • A pest who is always moving off the ball and looking to fill gaps. Can already see him becoming a powerful cutter.
  • Fits in with a team looking to get out and run. Loves to break out in transition off turnovers. A lob threat in the fastbreak and also along the baseline in halfcourt situations. His raw athleticism can catch you by surprise.
  • Will provide any team that drafts him with another active presence on the glass. Averaged 7.3 rebounds per game with the G-League Ignite playing against more traditional NBA size.
  • He’s a plug-and-play kind of guy. For the Chicago Bulls, it’s not hard to see the front office falling in love with his positional versatility and defensive instincts. As far as instant contributors go, he appears to be one of the most obvious in the draft.

The Not So Good

  • It’s hard not to love Beauchamp, but he does have one glaring problem: Shooting the basketball. While he isn’t a complete inefficient scorer (strong finisher at the rim who shot 57.1 percent from the field), he lacks a reliable jumper. Shot just 24.2 percent from behind the arc this season. His shooting motion is just so inconsistent.
  • NBA defenses will be able to sag off Beauchamp due to his poor 3-point shot, giving him even fewer opportunities to attack the rim.
  • Didn’t offer much in terms of getting to the free-throw line, which is a bit of a bummer considering his size/burst.
  • Has yet to demonstrate much of a secondary-playmaking skill on the offensive end. Not sure if he’ll help his teammates generate much offense.

The Comparison

MarJon Beauchamp truly feels like a bigger and younger Javonte Green. Both play an irritant style of basketball that any team can benefit from. Beauchamp should also be far more impactful on the defensive end than he is on offense, so much so that he may disappear at times.

With that said, I do think Beauchamp has a higher offensive ceiling than Green. He is an awesome finisher who should find more consistent production as a cutter, and he could become a driving threat if he tightens his handles.

Matisse Thybulle also feels like a decent comparison.

Nikola Jovic

Position: PF/C
Age: 19
Height: 6’11″
School: KK Mega Basket

The Good

  • Extremely rare ball-handling skills for a player his size. Jovic is also a shockingly fluid athlete who can contort his body and finish tough shots around the rim (which he can create thanks to that special ball-handling).
  • A good-looking jump shot that he can nail over defenders thanks to his size.
  • Someone who plays with a lot of energy and likes to find where he can fit in. Unselfish passer who can make live-dribble reads and help keep the ball moving. His playmaking upside is legit.
  • A grab-and-go kind of talent. Wants to get the offense down the floor in a hurry, which would fit in wonderfully in this Bulls’ offense.
  • Can shuffle his feet well on the defensive end. Good shot blocker and can close out strong on shooters. He’s a locked-in player on both sides of the ball. Sees the game well in real-time.

The Not So Good

  • Will need to add strength to become a truly viable pro. While he isn’t afraid of contact around the rim, it’s hard to envision him holding up well against current NBA size.
  • Speaking of which, whether or not he has much of a polished post-game is unclear. Teams will surely want him to clock minutes at center, so adding more back-to-the-basket play could be key.
  • As smart as Jovic is, he’s still such a young player. It’s going to take some time for him to come into his own at the next level, and it’s hard to see a world where he is contributing to a winning team at the moment.
  • A good shooting stroke but it has yet to lead to efficient shot-making behind the arc.

The Comparison

I see a lot of Franz Wagner in Jovic (aka, the player the Orlando Magic drafted with the Chicago Bulls pick in 2021). While Jovic isn’t nearly as NBA-ready as Wagner proved to be coming into the league, both share a surprisingly comfortable ability to handle the basketball and create offense for their size. Not to mention, they are both high-IQ talents. Jovic is bigger than Wagner, though, which could lead to more of a role for him in the rim-protecting department.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.