Louisville basketball: Comparing the class of 2020 to past Cardinals

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SOUTH BEND, IN – JANUARY 16: Ray Spalding #13 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball in the second half of a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion on January 16, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. Louisville won 82-78 in double overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

JJ Traynor – PF/C

6’10, 195 pounds

Player comparison: Ray Spalding

An in-state stretch forward who can knock down the outside shot and put the ball on the floor from the wing with a body that needs some work before it’s college basketball ready but looks like one day could hold an NBA frame? Sounds a lot like former Cardinal Ray Spalding.

Though there are a plenty of differences in each player’s games, this comparison was perhaps the easiest on the list to make. When Cards fans see JJ Traynor for the first time, there’s no doubt the Spalding comparisons will be there. Both players have the height of a big man, but possess frames that it is tough to put a lot of weight on.

There are some a lot of similarities in Traynor and Spalding’s games. Both players have a solid jump shot for their size and skillset, both are capable scorers around the rim and from mid-range, and both have the frame and athleticism to be a menace on the defensive end.

However, Traynor seems to play more like a modern four than Spalding, who was serviceable in instances as a five-man.

Traynor showcases the ability to put the ball on the floor and come to a stop for a pull-up jumper time and time again and with that ability will likely develop into a dangerous mismatch for four’s. Traynor is adept at getting the defender in the air and creating contact both in the midrange and going to the basket.

It’s interesting to watch how advanced Traynor’s skillset is given his size. He moves up the floor like a wing and uses his length to his advantage on every possession. Even as he moves to the college level, work has it that he is growing into his frame even after his senior year. Traynor was listed at 6’8 with a 7’2 wing span as of May of 2019, but many have speculated that he is much closer to 7 feet tall.

If the Cards can add a little muscle to Traynor’s frame, a guy around seven feet tall who can put the ball on the floor and finish consistently through contact is a serious weapon to have.

Traynor is going to be raw during his freshman season, but as he gets acclimated in Mack’s system, just like Spalding, he could be a valuable asset as early as 2020-21.

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