Pangos Takeout: Marquese Chriss

LONG BEACH, Calif. — When Chriss takes the court, it's easy to take his contributions for granted. His size and body type accurately predict his playing style, and for that reason his game lends itself to superficial assessments.

I'll admit right off the top that I'm a big Marquese Chriss fan. If you and I sat beside each other and watched him play, I'd probably like his game better than you would.

That's a key caveat to remember when reading this story, because it's possible or even likely that others may not have been quite as impressed with his play last night. Chriss does a lot of things easily, so easily that his production sometimes gets undervalued due to what appears to be ease of opportunity.

Because he's so athletic and possesses outstanding straight-up leaping ability — by far the best kind of leaping ability to have — he throws down dunks inside that appear to be uncontested but in reality simply don't give defenders an opportunity to contest. Chriss seems to understand how easily effective he can be at close-range, too, because he frequently goes out of his way to cock the ball back or dunk it too hard, resulting in an abnormally high number of misses.

But that's a problem that's easily correctable and will subside, anyway, once he steps up to the Pac-12 level. For Washington, Chriss' strong frame and overflowing hops should enable him to become a multi-year starter for the Huskies. We rank him No. 70 in the class and that's definitely too low, to be corrected in June. Even remembering that I'm a charter member of the fan club, there's no way 69 better prospects inhabit the Class of 2015.

He's far from complete. Chriss looks his worst when he steps away from the bucket and hoists medium-range (or longer) jump shots. He'll need to knock those down eventually, but he airballed one last night and missed another by a wide margin. He isn't yet anywhere close to being a stretch four-man.

He does make some nice passes, however, and his sure hands suggest that may be able to develop more complete scoring skills over the next few years. Even during the transition phase, however, he'll be an elite finisher and with just a little fine-tuning a reliable back-to-the-basket scorer as well. He's clearly one of the best natural talents in Long Beach this weekend.


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