Position Preview: Bigs
Looking Up at Some of the Best Big Men in the Draft
With time running out before the 2017 NBA Draft, Cavs.com breaks down some of the intriguing bigs who will come off the board at varying points on Thursday night.
The NBA is constantly evolving and although it’s become a point guard’s league with wing players still at a premium, there’s always a need for the big nasties to do their work in the trenches.
From raw freshmen still growing into their bodies to big earthmovers already prepared to throw their weight around at the next level, here’s a look at some of the interesting centers and power forwards in this year’s Draft.
Ike Anigbogu – UCLA – Fr. – 6-10, 252
One of the youngest players in the Draft, the fascination with Anigbogu – who put up modest numbers at UCLA as a freshman (4.7 points, 4.0 boards, 1.2 blocks mostly off the bench) – is with his impressive physical attributes: he’s 6-10 with a 7-6 wingspan, a mature 252 pounds with a strong, explosive lower body; was overshadowed by fellow freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf; runs the floor exceptionally well; has a quick second jump and the frame to absorb contact; won’t turn 19 until October; doesn’t have great hands; doesn’t take possessions off; finds a way to contribute offensively – setting screens, crashing boards – without having a polished game on that end; shot just 54 percent from the line; will likely make his biggest impact at the next level on the defensive side; strong post defender – has size and strength to hold his ground and length and athleticism to challenge shots; needs to improve on the defensive glass; still raw, but at just 18 years of age with an NBA body, is a project some team(s) won’t be able to resist
Tony Bradley – North Carolina – Fr. – 6-11, 250
Freshman with the National Champions this past season, Bradley entered the Draft despite a limited role with UNC; showed flashes throughout the season to be considered a first rounder despite limited role – 15 minutes per game; excellent size and length – just under 7-0 with a 7-5 wingpsan and 9.5 standing reach; not an overwhelming athlete – lacks explosiveness; greatest strength is non-stop motor; coachable and tough-minded; has to improve as a rim-protector; doesn’t try to do too much; strong finisher in the paint; must develop more post moves; outstanding on the offensive glass; high hoops IQ for his age; should be able to split time at center and power forward; has the chance to develop into a consistent jump-shooter at the next level; has impressed teams with his skill level during workouts – with a smooth shooting touch and range out to 18 feet; will be a project at the NBA level, but with some work and in the right situation, could develop into a consistent two-way player
Isaiah Hartenstein – Germany – Intl. – 7-0, 250
Intriguing international big man who can play either power forward or center; nice size for either position – 7-0 with a 7-2 wingspan and a 250-pound frame that can still add muscle; fluid athlete who can play above the rim; won’t turn 20 until May; lefty; very emotional player – which has worked for and against him; lacks consistency on jumper – will need to tweak mechanics at NBA level; outstanding passer with excellent court-vision; nice variety of offensive tools in his arsenal; lacks experience against upper-level competition; active on the offensive and defensive glass; has the ability and temperament to mix it up on offensive end; plays with toughness; work in progress on defensive end – tends to be foul-prone, gets lost in space; offensively, has great first step, can blow by defenders; still a project, Hartenstein has the potential to sneak into Thursday night’s First Round
Ivan Rabb – California – So. – 6-10, 220
Disappointing end to his two-year career with Cal, but Rabb still projects as a possible late first rounder based in many ways on physical profile – measuring in at 6-10 with a 7-2 wingspan; mobile big man, good feet; played in a poor offensive system – with the second-slowest tempo in the Pac-12 last season; underrated basketball IQ; will need to get stronger, tougher and more assertive on the offensive end; somewhat of a tweener; perimeter game offensively is still evolving; not afraid to defend out on the perimeter; excellent rebounder – posted 19 double-digit rebounding games as a sophomore with Cal; excellent fundamentals on the glass, always finds a body before going for the ball; not a strong rim-protector; big target in the post with very good, soft hands and long arms; crafty in the mid-range game; lacks perimeter skills; struggles to create any sort of offense for himself; until he develops his offensive game, will hang his hat on his outstanding rebounding skills at the pro level
Caleb Swanigan – Purdue – So. – 6-9, 250
Overcame a mountain of adversity – weight issues, homelessness and the death of his father – to reach this point; returned to school for sophomore season and led Purdue to first Big Ten title in seven years; high basketball IQ, great understanding of the game; high character guy; one of the more physically-imposing figures in college hoops last year – measuring 6-9, 250 with an excellent 7-3 wingspan; weighed 350 pounds as an 8th grader and over 300 through high school before working on his body at Purdue; big, soft hands; would be better suited for a team that prefers halfcourt sets; not a tremendous athlete – lacks burst and explosiveness but has improved on lateral quickness and overall mobility; undersized for a pure big man; has drawn comparisons to Zach Randolph; mature, composed player – rarely gets rattled; won’t be one of the league’s more athletic centers, but should be able to bang with bigs as a rookie