Jamaal Franklin isn't great at anything on a basketball court.
But he's really good at a lot of things.
The question is how much better could the San Diego State shooting guard become at just one or two of those things?
That might be what the Thunder is asking as it evaluates Franklin as a potential selection in the upcoming NBA Draft.
In the meantime, there's something that might separate Franklin from much of the pack. It's a trait that could get him on the floor while his game catches up.
It's his competitiveness.
“I've coached for over 40 years,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “I've never had a guy with the spirit, with the commitment, with the will to win more so than him.”
Fisher made those remarks immediately following the Aztecs' season-ending loss to Florida Gulf Coast. He spent the last three years sharing similar sentiments about his star. Now, Franklin is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Kawhi Leonard and become the next player to enjoy a successful NBA career after playing for Fisher.
For now, though, Franklin's game is all about his intangibles.
“Jamaal does what every coach expects but doesn't always get,” Fisher said earlier this season. “He gives you maximum effort every second he's out there. It's not 100 percent what you want, but you're not going to ever fault him for effort. And I think that permeates through the whole team.”
In college, Franklin had to do it all. He was responsible for the bulk of the scoring load and frequently was assigned to defend power forwards due to the Aztecs employing four-guard lineups. He ultimately averaged 16.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals, leading the team in all four categories. But as the team's focal point, Franklin's efficiency suffered. He shot just 41.3 percent and averaged 3.4 turnovers.
Franklin's willingness to take on more responsibility ironically led to concerns about how he would adapt to a lesser role in the NBA. Decision-makers want to know if Franklin can adjust to being a role player or if he thrived in college simply because he was a high-usage player who had the ultimate green light.
“He is a guy that when you say you can't do this, he works that much harder to prove that he can,” Fisher said. “And I think that's the will that he brings.”
Franklin said his drive stems from his youth.
He didn't attend a high school basketball power. He wasn't a McDonald's All-American. The only college programs that offered him a scholarship were San Diego State and Long Beach State.
“I always had to work for what I want. I couldn't have anything,” Franklin told the website draftexpress.com at the draft combine. “A lot of guys here had stuff laid out on the table for them coming from big schools and big high schools.
“I came from a little high school, and I didn't come from a big college. The best thing about me is I always got to go out there and earn it and grab what I want to get. And that's why I got a chip on my shoulder and I always want to win and I never want to lose.”
Birthdate: July 21, 1991
Hometown: Hawthorne, Calif.
School: San Diego State
2012-13 stats: 16.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.7 bpg, .404 FG, .790 FT
Strengths: Loves to compete. Super aggressive offensively. Attacks relentlessly. Versatile. Hustles on defense. Near 7-foot wingspan. Rebounds well on both ends.
Weaknesses: Streaky perimeter shooter. Takes questionable shots. Plays out of control at times, which leads to turnovers. Might be a “tweener,” meaning he has no true position in the NBA. Struggles using his left hand.
How he could help the Thunder: Has potential to develop into a defensive stopper due to his size and length. With more development, his perimeter shooting has the potential to turn into a weapon as well.
Projections: No. 18 (espn.com, hoopsworld.com,); No. 21 (draftexpress.com, si.com); No. 30 (hoopshype.com, nbadraft.net).
Quotable: “Jamaal should watch film of Bruce Bowen and try to emulate his career path, which was being a defensive specialist. If he does that, I think he can get a lot of minutes and ultimately be a rotational player, which means about fifth, sixth man. If not, worse case scenario, seventh.” — Former Memphis Grizzlies scout Tony Barone Jr.