The Alabama Crimson Tide got excellent news on Monday afternoon when four-star prospect Braxton Key committed to the program. Probably the best thing that Key has going for him is his versatility, and now on the wing Alabama has an excellent mixture of talent with unique skills.
At 6-foot-7 and over 200 pounds, Key is an interesting prospect to evaluate. He can play power forward, some on the wing, and is even a kid who you want to play through as a point forward at times. That basically means that Key isn’t someone who fits into the traditional role of a small forward or power forward.
In this age of positionless basketball, that isn’t the problem that it once was when everybody felt the need to have a power forward who played with his back to the basket, and was mostly an interior player. Now most teams, at all levels, like to use a power forward who can stretch the floor and provide spacing.
Because of that being able to defend on the perimeter at the forward position is huge, and Alabama now has Nick King, a transfer from Memphis, and Key. Both will be eligible for the 2016-17 season, and it gives the Crimson Tide an interesting combination at the forward spots.
If you add in five-star 2016 small forward Terrance Ferguson, and now the Crimson Tide have the ability to mix and match on the wing and not only be able to match up with opposing teams, but also create incredible mismatches on their own with the unique skill set of the three.
In Key you have a point forward who isn’t a great athlete but makes plays with the ball, is a capable shooter, and can rebound for his size. King is an excellent athlete with long arms who isn’t super skilled, but can guard bigger players and also is a very good rebounder when properly motivated. Then there is Ferguson who can be an elite defender and elite shooter, but struggles to handle the ball.
When looking at those three, all around 6-foot-7 and all bring something different. Because of that Alabama should be able to isolate a mismatch. Do you put a bigger player on King and allow Key to be able to overpower his defender, and at the same time give Ferguson the ability to shoot over a traditional shooting guard? Or do you put the bigger player on Key and give him the ability to drive past him and at the same time create second chance opportunities for King assuming a smaller wing is on him?
The opportunities are very intriguing for Avery Johnson and his staff. While Key and King aren’t elite talents, when you combine those two together with what Ferguson provides, you can present some difficult matchups for opposing coaches.