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Michigan State Basketball: Could Grant Nelson be a transfer target?

Could Tom Izzo take a look at this big man?

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Michigan State basketball
© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Grant Nelson from North Dakota State has entered the portal. Would Michigan State basketball consider bringing in the viral big man?

Having a highlight reel of spin moves, euro-steps, and 3-pointers while being the tallest player on the court requires a unique combination of size and skill. Size and skill that will get you noticed when you enter the transfer portal. North Dakota State’s Grant Nelson’s tape is full of this, which should have many programs (maybe Michigan State basketball?) interested in the junior’s services next season.

Averaging 17.9 points and nine rebounds per game is no easy task in and of itself. Nelson does this, but in an even more impressive fashion.

Grant Nelson measures at 6-foot-11, but his play is more reminiscent of a point guard. Nelson is able to bring the ball up the court with confidence, and is quick to make a move toward the basket. His ball handling is extremely impressive for his size and allows him to not only get to the basket, but finish with little difficulty. If a smaller forward is locked in on Grant, he is able to use his height to take advantage. When up against a traditional big man away from the basket, Grant dips into his point guard bag and is able to take advantage of the less coordinated big men.

With that being said, there are a few aspects Nelson would need to improve on if the Spartans were to pursue the transfer big man. His 3-point attempts have increased each season, but his three point shooting percentage has decreased exponentially each year, now cashing in on just 27 percent from deep.

Moreover, Nelson’s 6-foot-11 frame would need to be addressed if he were to compete against Big Ten centers. Sitting around just 220 pounds, the junior’s frame has similarities to Marcus Bingham Jr. during his time at MSU. His lack of muscle would limit him taking control downlow.

Ideally, as North Dakota State often did, Nelson would play a stretch four position with a more imposing running mate down low. This would allow Nelson to move away from the basket, utilizing his ball handling skills and opening up the paint for his teammates.

Nelson’s gameplay is similar to that of an incoming recruit for Izzo and Co.

Now, would Tom Izzo consider targeting Nelson to add to next year’s title-contending roster? Normally, I would say that while he may not due to his personal views on the portal, he ought to. Nelson’s offensive ability would offset Mady Sissoko’s lack of scoring in a perfect marriage of sorts. However, with Xavier Booker coming in, I don’t think Izzo would welcome the logjam that would be created.

In ironic fashion, Nelson is quite possibly the type of player many believe Booker can become; a ball-handling big man who can move away from the basket, but may struggle pushing Big Ten-caliber forwards/centers around in the paint. Add the similarities of Nelson and incoming Booker to the fact that Izzo isn’t fond of the transfer portal, and I think it’s quite unlikely we will see Grant Nelson in East Lansing next season.

But, if you want to see what I think Xavier Booker can become, take a look at Nelson’s highlights from this last season. It’s difficult to matchup against a 6-foot-11 point guard.

Writer and contributor for Spartan Shadows. Tyler Dutton, a graduate of Michigan State, is a college and professional basketball specialist with over four years of experience writing on both the Spartans and Pistons.

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