Starting out a hidden secret, Andrew Nicholson is your prototypical stretch four who's become somewhat of a household name in this year’s college basketball circles and an intriguing pick at 29.
Nicholson presents average athletic ability for a 6'9 power forward. He has above average speed, decent lateral quickness, average hops, and a large wing-span. While note an elite athlete, he runs the floor well for a big man and has good hands to catch the ball on the move.
At 6’9 and 220lbs, he is slightly undersized for the position and is strictly a stretch four. While he tries hard, at 220lbs, he struggles defending physical players and tends to fade to the perimeter giving up his post game against them. Defending the post will be difficult for Andrew as he does not have the leg base to keep them from getting good position.
Despite rebounding generally translating to the next level and posting solid rebounding numbers at the college level, I have my concerns about him at the pro level. He hustles and stays after it on the glass, but he also tends to get shoved around, a problem which will be exacerbated against even bigger players.
While doing research, it was hard to find any incidents, Andrew was involved with. His personality seems to be laid-back, but hard-working. From videos, he seems to be mild-mannered and very intelligent.
Basketball IQ and want it factor
Andrew is a very skilled offensive player. As a stretch four, he does a nice job finding his spots on the floor depending on the matchup. However, while doing so, he showed very little in terms of passing to the right outlet (is that because his team was not real skilled offensively or because he is a black-hole?). He does battle to get low-post position when the opportunity arises.
While slender, Andrew was an above average rebounder. This portrays that he is able to find the right seams and play with the right effort level to hit the glass. With his long-arms and solid vertical, I feel he should have been more of a factor protecting the rim.
Defensively, Nicholson really struggled in terms of playing the low-post and hedging screens. Though he has solid lateral quickness, at times he seemed somewhat disinterested in putting in maximum effort.
Nicholson seems like a bright player based on his interviews and success as a student at St. Bonaventure. He seems to understand his limitations and where to picks his spots offensively. Overall, Andrew possesses above average basketball IQ and can deliver on offense while somewhat of a defensive liability.
While undersized, Nicholson has great footwork down low and can finish with either hand. In this sense, he reminds me a little of Taj in the post with quality footwork and wiry strength. However, Nicholson has great up-and-under moves, a jump hook, and a turn-around jumper. While highly skilled, he has to battle for position which will become a struggle in the pros where he may get pushed around due to his size.
Nicholson can take his game to the perimeter though, and his calling card at the next level is likely as a stretch four. He was always a solid mid-range shooter, but this year added a three point shot to his game in which he knocked down at 43%. For Andrew to make it to the next level, he needs to continue to establish his identity as a pick-and-pop player where he can shoot or shot fake into a dribble drive pull up jumper.
Overall, he has a nice offensive package and displayed clutch ability at pivotal times at the college level.
Overall, Andrew reminds me of a prospect similar to Justin Harper of last year’s draft, slightly less athletic, but a little more skilled and with a little higher basketball IQ. I think he can have a long career if he catches on the right team can use him as a niche player in a stretch four role. He will need to focus his game around honing his mid-range game and 3-point shot while improving his defensive flaws and playing with a higher motor. If he hits his peak, he reminds me of a prime Tim Thomas.
How does he fit with the Bulls?
Nicholson fits very well and if the Bulls keep pick 29 as Chicago could use some more offensive minded big men and a stretch four to play along side Derrick Rose in the long run.
Stating all this, I have higher priorities if I am drafting for the Bulls. While he could be useful for Chicago, there have been whispers that Nikola Mirotic will be coming next year (not this year). If we keep Taj, taking Andrew would be a very short-term solution and I doubt Thibs would play him enough to justify that. Without being a defensive-type player, I don’t see Thibs playing him much in one year.
If sticking at pick 29, I would rather draft a player such as a John Jenkins, Darius Miller, Doron Lamb, or such. To me, these type of players fit needs and I feel will have a longer lasting impact. I am not opposed to drafting Nicholson and do feel he will make a living in the NBA for a while.
He compares to Craig Brackens, but seems to possess a little better basketball IQ and a better three point shot. I think his game will translate, but he might take a couple of years. I personally would not draft him at pick 29 if others are available as I question his overall toughness. Usually, I like two types of players in toughness and talent. For this Bulls team in general, I think we needs some feistiness and while sometimes he battles for position in the post, he also drifts away sometimes when being pushed all game.