Brian Bowen II intriguing but flawed prospect on Pacers draft board

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Brian Bowen II poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Brian Bowen II poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers worked out Brian Bowen II last week. Will Bowen’s professional experience entice the Pacers to draft him?

Brian Bowen II was one of the biggest recruits in the nation back in 2017. He committed to the University of Louisville before the FBI scandal and transferred to South Carolina. After being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Bowen sat out the 2017-18 season. He tested the NBA waters after that season but decided to play his 2018-19 season in Australia. He is back in the NBA Draft this season but with a different result in mind. The Indiana Pacers have shown preliminary interest in Bowen.

Coming out of La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana, Brian Bowen was highly touted. He was a top-15 recruit with a five-star rating across all recruiting circuits.

He was a McDonald’s All-American and was invited to the Jordan Brand Classic, where he won the MVP. There was never a doubt that Bowen was a star. Bowen wound up playing in Australia for the Sydney Kings last season to gain experience playing against professionals.

At the 2019 NBA Combine, Bowen measured 6’7.5” and 200 pounds. His wingspan measured in at 6’10”, confirming that he has good length for the NBA.

He played in two scrimmages at the NBA Combine, scoring 20 points with 10 rebounds and one assist. Bowen shot just 33 percent (6/18) in those two games. He did not stand out by any means in the games.

The good: Bowen has the tools to succeed

Brian Bowen II was a popular recruit coming out. He has always been expected to be a star on the court. He has a sweet stroke that allows him to knock down shots with relative ease. I like him best off the ball as a slashing forward that can find space behind the defense.

Bowen has a knack for getting open without the ball, rather than needing to create by himself. That holds value, especially on a roster like Indiana’s. The guards are primary ball-handlers who need off-ball creators to ease the load.

His length makes Bowen an even more considerable prospect. The huge wingspan is crucial on the wing, allowing him to guard the perimeter and inside. He flashed defensive potential last year in Australia.

He can protect the rim pretty well for a wing. His two-way potential is very exciting, especially for a second-round pick.

But Bowen is just that, a second-round talent. His flashes are great but they are too few in number. Playing overseas limited Bowen’s exposure and he missed out on a ton of playing time. While he played against professionals, he lost experience in general. He only played 15.3 minutes per game for the Sydney Kings.

The bad: Lack of success against professional talent

In his limited time in Australia, Brian Bowen II failed to light it up. He started exactly zero games for the Sydney Kings. Out of his 30 appearances, Bowen scored in double figures just seven times. His best game came back on November 24th as he finished with 15 points, five rebounds, and one assist.

More from 8 Points, 9 Seconds

The NBL in Australia is not on the same level as the NBA, and Bowen failed to impress. His final numbers were as follows: 6.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.6 assists. He shot the ball fairly well, boasting .447/.340/.762 shooting splits. However, he only hoisted 4.7 shots per game and struggled to finish at the rim.

While Bowen does a great job of getting open for himself, he struggles at finishing through contact. That may be attributed to his small frame, weighing in at just 200 points. His length can only carry him so far. He will have to bulk up in order to finish in traffic and be a good on-ball defender at the next level.

Whether Bowen attacked the basket or shot with a hand in his face, he struggled to hit contested shots. Shots in the NBA are not going to be wide open. Bowen has to improve his ability to score tough buckets.

Australia was not kind to Bowen in many ways. Aside from his struggles to finish and make a large impact, he didn’t contribute to the offense. He only averaged 0.6 assists but turned it over 0.8 times per game. He was destructive to the offense at times.

Bowen has remained somewhat in the spotlight since leaving the University of Louisville. However, his professional experience did him no favors. If anything, it exposed the flaws in his game.

We have seen a handful of players spend time overseas before returning to the United States in recent years. The difference is that the guys before Bowen were better and/or younger in their time abroad. For instance, Emmanuel Mudiay spent a year in China. He averaged 18.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists.

Final verdict

Brian Bowen II has the tools to be successful in the NBA. He has a good jumper with extended range on the wing. His length will give him two-way potential, and the Indiana Pacers need that on the wing. But Bowen was sub par in Australia’s NBL last season. His game was exposed against professionals, and the NBA will be an even tougher road. His inability to finish at the rim or on contested shots worry me.

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Even at pick 50, I do not like the idea of the Pacers taking Brian Bowen II. I would rather take a flier on a proven player from the NCAA or a small-school sleeper.