Jake Layman entered the NBA draft discussion last year as a much-improved junior at Maryland. He's now a key cog in a lineup gunning for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Only, for Layman, the addition of three established veterans (transfers Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon plus prized freshman Diamond Stone) to the rotation has naturally led to a reduced role.
He's had a tougher time standing out individually despite the team's success, given the fewer shots and playmaking opportunities available to him.
And it just might make him one of the more slept-on prospects in the country.
Layman has obvious limitations, but it's not crazy to think his role-player potential could draw NBA interest.
|Jake Layman 2015-16 Numbers|
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The numbers aren't particularly kind to Layman. His 13.8 points per 40 minutes would likely be one of the lowest averages of any top-50 prospect. He's also having an average year from behind the arc, shooting 35 percent.
Meanwhile, Layman's 5.5 rebounds and one assist are also relatively underwhelming averages for a non-scorer.
He is averaging a block and 1.1 steals per game, which highlights versatility and defensive playmaking ability.
At 6'9", 220 pounds, Layman has good size and athleticism for a wing and enough to play small-ball 4 in the pros.
His shooting numbers aren't great, but Layman has averaged at least 1.3 threes per game in three straight seasons. Despite the unconvincing percentage, he has a clean-looking stroke (80.9 percent from the free-throw line) and projects as a promising spot-up threat.
Otherwise, Layman picks up buckets in line drives or cuts to the basket.
When given the opportunity to post up smaller players, he's a threat to shake free with his back to the hoop and make unorthodox scoops and fall-aways.
Overall, his shot selection is disciplined inside the arc, where he's converting at a strong 59 percent clip.
Defensively, he's improved over the years. Over the last two, he's flashed the ability to close out on wings, quickly recover and challenge shots around the perimeter. Depending on matchups, Layman may be capable of guarding both forward positions.
Layman will ultimately need his jumper to become a consistent weapon, and through four seasons at Maryland, it hasn't. He's shot below 38 percent from deep in each year.
He also shows limited shot-creating or mid-range scoring ability. Unless a lane opens up or he's set up for an uncontested three, Layman doesn't pose much of a threat to the defense.
It's also fair to question how well he'll hold up defensively, particularly around the basket, where his lack of strength goes exposed.
It's possible Layman's jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none reputation works against him in the NBA.
Like Dekker did for Wisconsin, Layman does a little bit of everything for Maryland.
Both players are capable from three, but they're not considered deadly. And neither is a threatening one-on-one player.
However, they convert field goals within the flow of their team's offense. Both Dekker and Layman rely on ball- and player-movement for their shots. And coaches can play them at multiple spots.
Green and Layman share similar physical tools, athleticism and positions. They're combo forwards built to complement what's around them.
Coming out of college, Green shot 35.9 percent from deep and 53.1 percent inside the arc through three years at Georgetown. Layman's career numbers at Maryland: 35 percent from three and 52 percent on twos.
Now on his fourth team, Green would hold more NBA value if he'd ever become a reliable shooter (career 33.9 percent from three). Layman will ultimately be looking at the same challenge.
Best-case scenario, he gets drafted somewhere in the 20s and lands on a veteran team with an opening at backup forward.
“He’s right there,” coach Mark Turgeon told the Washington Times' Anthony Gulizia. “In the right situation, the right coach and right system, he’s an NBA player and we’re hoping that’s all going to work out for him.”
At his best last year, he was drawing comparisons to Chandler Parsons, whose senior numbers at Florida were awfully similar to Layman's now. Parsons' ceiling looks like a stretch, but if it works out for Layman, he'll likely be shooting, passing and driving in a stretch role at the 3 or 4.
A worst-case outcome for Layman envisions him in the D-League or overseas. He's not a lock to make an NBA roster without any specialities.
Layman may get some decent offers from European teams who value his size and athleticism.
While scouts put varying degrees of importance on a player's performance in the NCAA tournament, with the eyes of the nation on March Madness, playing well or poorly in the most critical games of the season can certainly sway one's opinions. Some players, like the Connecticut Huskies' Shabazz Napier, have used the tournament as a springboard to rise up draft boards in recent years.
With Maryland expected to compete for a spot in this year's Final Four, Layman should have a shot at some redemption following a quiet regular season. It's a good chance to sell his role player potential by providing stability and high-percentage complementary offense to a winner.
Last year, we saw Dekker—a similar player whose regular season was somewhat disappointing—raise his stock with a big NCAA tournament and run to the national title game. These are footsteps to follow in for Layman, who'll want to catch fire from deep, showcase his above-the-rim bounce and consistently produce in a supporting role this March.
Layman isn't strong enough in any one area. Unless he shoots it lights-out in workouts and convinces a team his jumper is better than the numbers suggest, he probably ends up going in the second round.
To make a roster, he'll need a role that allows him to play to his strengths as a spot-up target, ball mover and opportunistic finisher. But based on the odds, it would be surprising to see Layman playing NBA minutes next season.