Before releasing a new product, starting a business or making an investment, it’s good to take a step back and take a look at it more closely. A SWOT Analysis is a good tool to review the new venture. PBA rookies are a similar venture. So why not put them under the same microscope?
Although he only played a season in the UAAP and only a game in the PBA D-League before the pandemic happened, it doesn’t diminish Jamie Malonzo’s value as a heralded pick entering this year’s PBA Draft.
In just one season in the UAAP, Malonzo displayed remarkable athleticism, having the ability to will his way to the rack whenever he pleased. He was also able to use this effectively on the other end of the floor, as he would often swat an enemy missile or two whenever someone was brave enough to foray into the Green Archers’ territory.
And just like any true wing, Malonzo’s offense isn’t limited to flying towards the cup but also with a touch of deft shooting from the outside whether it’s from downtown or just within the arc. His averages of 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game made him the clear standout out among the troika of Fil-foreigner recruits for La Salle in Season 82. Although his team may have fallen short of its title aspirations, Malonzo’s one and done run was dominant enough to earn him a Mythical Five spot in the process.
Next up for him was the PBA D-League in which he opened with an impressive 23-point, 11-rebound, 6-steal, 4-assist masterpiece for the Marinerong Pilipino’s debut win in the 2020 Aspirants’ Cup. That, however, proved to be Malonzo’s last game in the amateurs as COVID-19 put an end to his D-League run.
Still, even with Malonzo’s somehow limited exposure to Philippine basketball, he still sat very high in most draft boards, and was touted to be one of the the top pick entering the PBA draft.
As mentioned earlier, Malonzo is the complete package as a swingman is concerned. He has the athleticism, speed and hops. On offense, he is a proven scorer, able to blow by defenders for a bucket or draining that jump shot with ease. On the defensive side, his jumping ability enables him to snag caroms and chase down opponents to thwart their attempts. His lateral quickness also allows him to defend perimeter players of all positions and sizes, as well as disrupt passing lanes and intercept errant passes in the process.
There aren’t many weak links in Malonzo’s game. Perhaps the closest thing to it happened during his first few games in the country, as he was adjusting to the physicality and roughness of Philippine basketball through the UAAP. There were times that he got outmuscled and out-hustled by smaller yet bulkier and heftier guys underneath the basket, given that he was one of the team’s taller players and had to be positioned in the paint.
Yet, it seems that he has adjusted as evident in his D-League stint. But the PBA is a different animal, and Malonzo will be facing veterans that have done battle in the trenches for some time already. He’ll probably be needing to bulk and strengthen his body even more to handle the rigors of the League.
Chosen as the No. 2 overall selection, Malonzo joins a NorthPort crew relatively stacked in the wingmen department, with Kevin Ferrer, Sean Manganti, Jonathan Grey, Clint Doliguez plus newcomer Jerrick Balanza in the roster in which he can observe and learn from, seek guidance and tips if necessary, as he navigates his way through his first year in the PBA.
Yet, with his potential and talent level considered as above average for most rookies entering the league, it could very well be that Malonzo immediately be included in Pido Jarencio’s gameplan given that he can play both wing positions with ease. He can also be inserted to man the frontline given his size and athleticism that can cause matchup problems among opposing bigs. This is a welcome sight for a Batang Pier side that is relatively thin in the interior, and may open up the possibility of Malonzo becoming an athletic stretch 4 in the process.
Given the logjam at his position, Malonzo may have to earn his playing time especially when pitted with the likes of Ferrer, who is ahead of him in terms of championship experience, and Grey, who is considered one of the veterans in the squad given his career with Batang Pier. Spending time on the bench may affect his growth and development as a professional, but it might still be possible that Malonzo gets to play side by side with his more tenured teammates later on given his upside as a high draft pick.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that he can serve as a valuable trading chip down the road, but should Malonzo makes some serious noise and carve his niche earlier on, it could turn things around and the veteran Batang Pier wings may be the ones to be shipped to another squad for some key pieces to surround the dynamic Fil-Am swingman.