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NBA Draft Guide, Part 6: Giles, Pasecniks, Adebayo, Ojeleye, Rabb

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Time to talk about five more prospects!

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky Media Day Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NBA Draft is only 8 days away (June 22) and we are back for Part 6 of the Canis Draft Guide to round out the top 30. If you missed any of the previous parts of this series, check those out to get caught up! Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5

All of the height, wingspan, weight, and age data comes from Draft Express. Visit their excellent site all year long for outstanding prospect coverage.

Harry Giles, Duke, C

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Duke Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

AGE: 19.1 (freshman)
HEIGHT: 6'11"
WINGSPAN: 7'3 ¼"
WEIGHT: 222
Current Draft Express Mock: #20

Via Josh Clement:

Basic stats: 26 games, 11.5 minutes, 3.9 points, 57.7 percent from the floor, 3.8 rebounds

Harry Giles is a bit of an enigma, which is strange for a player that has been on the NBA radar for so long. He played at the USA Basketball Camp at age 14. However, he tore his ACL, MCL, and Meniscus in 2013. Following that, he tore his ACL in his right knee in his first game of senior year of high school.

Giles then landed himself at Duke, but playing behind a 5th year senior and unable to really crack the rotation. Yet, he will likely be a first round pick all while playing just over 11 minutes per game and averaging under 4 points and 4 rebounds per game. Giles can excite, but also disappear. No one really has any idea how good, if at all, he will be.

Harry Giles was a highly sought after high school player for a reason. He is big, fast, strong and can run the court with ease. He simply has the look of a player who has no problem moving around the basketball court, which is no easy feat for a 19-year-old who clocks in at 6’10” with a 9’1” standing reach. Giles can be impressive on defense, he is very active on the perimeter and has a greater motor. He has pretty good steal numbers, 1.7 steal percentage, and looks to be a good shot blocker as well with a 5.3 block percentage.

Giles is also a good rim-runner on the pick-and-roll and is very good at getting off the floor for lobs. He has a decent jump-hook that he has shown flashes of, but his primary offense is rolling to the basket or with offensive rebounding. He has the 4th best offensive rebounding rate among the top 100 prospects and the 5th best overall rebounding percentage. In his small sample size, rebounding has certainly been the skill that is most likely to transfer to the NBA.

Before his injuries, Giles was more of an offensive threat, both driving to the basket as well as from mid-range. Right now, he has not shown he can bring that back, but it is very possible as he returns to form that these parts of his game could come back. That’s the tough part about evaluating Giles, as there is very little certainty about how likely it is for him to fully recover from all of his injuries.

Like many of the other “Big” prospects in this draft, Giles does really have the necessary frame for playing center in the NBA, yet he does not have the skillset to be playing power forward. Giles is still slight and gets knocked around a bit, getting moved out of position on the defensive boards. He also has not shown he can create his own shot. Almost all of his offense has come from his teammates or from crashing the boards.

The silky jump hook that comes and goes, well when it goes it really goes. His 50 percent free throw percentage does not assuage any concerns about his lack of shooting ability. Giles has also had major problems with trying to create outside of the paint and really struggles with decision making. Even in the post, he has a 28 percent turnover percentage.

Of course, he is just 19 years old and exhibits many of the same problems as the other big men in the draft. Giles will get caught out of position on defense and struggle to maintain defensive rotations. He also gets called for the most fouls, 7.7 per 40, of any of the top 100 prospects. His youth, and his relative lack of basketball experience due to the missed playing time after injuries, makes it seem like he has a long way to go before he is able to be a ready contributor to any NBA team.

Not to mention, Giles is a player who has always relied on his athleticism. It is why he was so successful in high school and able to compete at such a young age. That is a scary thing when considering his injury history and NBA teams will certainly be putting him through a battery of medical tests.

Wolves Point of View

If a team has a late first round draft pick and can afford to not utilize a player right away, then Harry Giles could be an amazing pick. He certainly could benefit from soaking up playing time in the G-League, where he could compete with players more athletic than those he faced in the NCAA and focus on the fundamentals of playing in a more advanced basketball system.

The Timberwolves are not that team, but some team will be. It will certainly be interesting to watch the progress of Harry Giles, as the potential is there, but there is also a very real question of substance, regardless of injuries.

Anzejs Pasecniks, Gran Canaria, C

IG: anzejspasecniks

AGE: 21.5 (international)
HEIGHT: 7'2"
WINGSPAN: -
WEIGHT: 229
Current Draft Express Mock: #22

Via Dane Moore: @NikolaPekovic

Oh. My. God. Look at how high Anzejs Pasecniks release point is.

On that play, the guy closing out, Karlo Zganec, is 6’9” and is nowhere near able to contest the shot. Yes, it’s a slow close out but I think this play is an indicator of just how massive Anzejs Pasecniks is. Well, massive may not be the right word. The 7’2” Pasecniks is a mere 229 pounds according to draftexpress.com and 215 of those pounds may be bones. The, now, 21-year-old Latvian has added some mass since that U18 European Championship in 2013 is still on a frail frame for a late first round prospect.

The biggest, in size and status, Latvian prospect since Kristaps Porzingis will likely draw many comparisons to the Knicks star, but Pasecniks should not be counted on being anywhere near the immediate impact of Porzingis.

Kristaps entered the NBA and was immediately a shooting threat, shot blocker, and put-back dunker who played with a tenacious attitude. Pasecniks really has only one of those skills nailed down at this point. That is, his tenacity. Yeah, not the one you were hoping for. While not phobic of shooting jumpers, stretchiness is not yet a strong part of his game. Neither is shot blocking, despite a wingspan that seemingly goes on forever.

Dunking is kind of an attribute. I’ll save you five minutes of your time, and give you the spark notes version of Pasecniks’s DraftExpress video. He rolls and dives to the rim for dunks. Sometimes he looks like DeAndre Jordan if you split Jordan in half, like down the middle. That was a skinny joke.

In going down the YouTube rabbit hole of Pasecniks, I can tell you my biggest takeaway is that these guys—string bean shaped seven-footers from Europe—have never been more groomed for the modern NBA then they are these days. Pasecniks is but another example of a center who has not only been practicing, but getting the opportunity to implement the skill set we hope to see from big men when they enter the NBA. Years ago, 7’2” centers would have been pegged as back-to-the-basket scorers and shot blockers, but that’s not really Pasecniks. Instead, he has a fluid stroke on his jumper, good footwork on the pick and roll, and lateral mobility to switch on to a guard on the perimeter.

These prospects know the archetype of center the NBA desires and have been molded in this way. Pasecniks is another example of this. Two years ago we didn’t know how to pronounce Kristaps Porzingis either, but Pasecniks could similarly make a name for himself in the league as a massive individual who plays hard and knows what the NBA wants out of their new-age centers.

Bam Adebayo, Kentucky, C

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

AGE: 19.9 (freshman)
HEIGHT: 6’10”
WINGSPAN: 7'3”
WEIGHT: 250
Current Draft Express Mock: #24

Via Drew Mahowald @DrewMahowald:

The latest wave of Kentucky one-and-done alums includes Bam Adebayo, a freakishly athletic 6’10” center. In his freshman season under coach John Calipari, Adebayo recorded per-40 averages of 17.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Those numbers were good enough for All-SEC Second Team.

Adebayo boasts a long, muscular frame and a standing vertical leap of 33.5” that show his terrific athleticism. While he might be shorter than the average NBA center, he packs a more powerful punch than the average NBA center.

On the offensive end, Adebayo is extremely raw but has shown some potential. He scored a majority of his field goals at the rim — converting 66 percent is his attempts from around the basket. Additionally, most of his scoring was derived from his physical skills, whether it be as an alley-oop finisher on the pick-and-roll or as a runner in transition.

When he does get the ball down low, Adebayo generally won’t give it up. Instead, he’ll use pump fakes and go up strong. Adebayo attempted 6.2 free throws per game last season, connecting on 65 percent of his attempts.

Adebayo’s passing ability left much to be desired. His assist percentage was just 4.7 percent, which compares unfavorably to his 13.9 percent turnover rate. His court vision is limited and he often sees open teammates and passing lanes late.

Adebayo’s role in Kentucky’s offense last season was similar to DeAndre Jordan’s with the Clippers. His typical possession included setting a high screen, rolling to the basket and either receiving a pass on the roll or positioning himself for offensive rebounds — of which Adebayo recorded 4.1 per 40 minutes as a freshman, pitting him among the best in the draft class.

He is extremely dependent on others to create scoring opportunities for him. His ability to create his own shot is raw at best, mostly using his strength and vertical acceleration to muscle shots up instead of finesse post moves. When he did attempt a finesse move, it was usually a jump hook over his left shoulder — which he found some success with, but it also became predictable. If he can develop those finesse moves and turn them into weapons, his potential on offense will skyrocket.

Defensively, Adebayo’s game offers some versatility but it also has holes. Despite standing 6’10”, he can switch onto opposing guards and match up well with them on the perimeter if needed. As with many prospects, staying engaged consistently on the defensive end is an issue with Adebayo. When he is engaged, he has the knowledge and awareness to execute rotations and pick-and-roll defense.

Adebayo has ranked outside the Top 30 for most NBA Draft experts because of his lackluster defensive rebounding. There really aren’t any doubts about Adebayo’s dominance on the offensive glass. But, strangely, he only notched 6.5 rebounds per 100 possessions last season, which is fourth-fewest among the Draft Express Top 100 centers. He’s relatively lazy when it comes to boxing out, which forces him to rely on his athleticism to elevate higher than everyone else for the rebound. This tactic will have a much lower success rate in the NBA.

Adebayo is a low-floor, high-ceiling prospect that is expected to be available high in the second round. His athleticism is not in doubt. His career arc will be determined by the development of his fundamental skills, both offensively and defensively.

Wolves Point of View

Tom Thibodeau’s loves defensive-minded athletic freaks, that’s pretty much worldwide knowledge by now. Adebayo fits the “athletic freak” box on Thibodeau’s wish list, but the defensive minded part remains a question mark.

With the right coaching, it certainly appears a player of Adebayo’s physique could eventually become a force on the interior. Thibodeau drafted Kris Dunn a year ago, who checked both of the aforementioned boxes for Thibodeau. If Thibs is searching for a developmental project to bring along over the next few years, Adebayo might be his guy.

Semi Ojeleye, SMU, SF/PF

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-SMU vs USC Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

AGE: 22.5 (junior)
HEIGHT: 6'7"
WINGSPAN: 6'9 ¾"
WEIGHT: 235
Current Draft Express Mock: #29

Via John Meyer @thedailywolf:

Semi Ojeleye is a physically imposing forward who carried SMU to a 30-5 record this past season. At age 22, coming out of college as a junior, he is one of the older prospects that could go in the first round. He looks to be more of a finished product with limited upside, though that’s not to say Ojeleye doesn’t make for a good pick. One of the reasons he’s someone to keep an eye on around pick 25 is due to his 3-point shooting, athleticism, and NBA ready body (he is built like a rock). He doesn’t need to spend years in the weight room just to endure the physicality at the forward position.

It’s easy to see him playing in an NBA game tomorrow night (if it wasn’t the offseason, duh) and not being overwhelmed with the size and speed of the game, which is why I think some of the better teams in the league drafting later in the first (or potentially trading up early in the second) are going to be interested in adding his services. Ojeleye should be able to offer something off the bench in a rotation fairly quickly in his career due to his developed frame and shooting ability (42.4% from 3 per 40 pace adjusted and 78.5% from the free throw line on 8.0 attempts per 40 pa). He also scored 24.3 points and grabbed 8.8 rebounds (per 40 pa) in his third college season after transferring from Duke.

Ojeleye will likely shift between both forward spots at the next level, but he will enter the league as more of a small-ball four than anything else. That’s where the doubt begins to creep in. He is undersized and larger forwards should be able to score over the top of him fairly easily. The question is whether or not he can defend the other fours across the league well enough to play minutes there. That’s what I’m most skeptical about. NBA teams will want to see him play the three, and that’s where he is probably going to either sink or swim as a prospect. If he can’t play the three, it seems unlikely that he will be an effective player. I suppose this is the drawback we always see with tweeners. With more teams going small these days, that certainly helps his stock rise because he does profile more as a four at this point—someone that can be a versatile defender and 3-point shooter/floor spacer—but for someone branded as a 3-&-D combo forward, his steals + blocks (0.5 + 0.5 P40PA) leave a lot to be desired.

His 1.8 to 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio also doesn’t inspire much confidence that he can create for his teammates, meaning his struggles at the small forward position may be more glaring if he is asked to do any creating whatsoever. If he’s drafted to stand in the corner, hit threes, and be a physical on-ball defender that can also create his own shot and get on the glass, that seems like an achievable role.

He is one of the more intriguing prospects that should get drafted in the late first or early second round due to his ability to switch in the pick-and-roll defensively, hit threes, get buckets, and play above the rim.

Some of his additional strengths include:

  • Great in the pick-and-pop
  • Can move bodies in the lane and easily gain position
  • Strong enough to compete against fours
  • Absorbs contact around the rim/finishes through contact

Another thing that is working in his favor: Ojeleye tested out quite well at the NBA combine. He appears to be a freak athlete and that may help him compensate for his tweener status. According to Julian Applebome of Draft Express, he had a 40.5 Max Vertical Leap (tied for fifth best). Then there’s this:

Perhaps the more significant numbers for him were the 10.58 seconds he posted in the lane agility testing and 3.16 seconds he posted in the three-quarter court sprint which rank third and eighth best overall respectively. Ojeleye weighed in at strong 241 pounds yesterday which he has proved is not too high of a number to compromise his athletic ability. He's a highly unique physical specimen, ranking in the 95th percentile or better in those three categories in our extensive database.

Ojeleye also said he aspires to be Jae Crowder at the next level (at his pro day) for whatever that’s worth. All in all, I would strongly consider him anywhere after pick 25. Any organization looking for a potential strong and physical three-point shooting combo forward that can possibly help a little bit sooner than most rookies should have a reasonable amount of interest in bringing him in the fold.

Wolves Point of View

I’ll keep this short and sweet: Ojeleye seems like the type of player Thibs would like, but acquiring him will require a trade of some sort come draft day (which makes it unlikely that he ends up in Minnesota).

Ivan Rabb, Cal, PF/C

NCAA Basketball: California at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

AGE: 20.4 (sophomore)
HEIGHT: 6'10"
WINGSPAN: 7'1 ½"
WEIGHT: 215
Current Draft Express Mock: #29

Via Kyle Theige @kyletheige:

With a name like Ivan Rabb, you would *think* the 6’10” prospect from Oakland, California would be a natural replacement for the soon-to-be-retired Nikola Pekovic. However, at a mere 220 pounds (Per weighed in at a frightening 307 pounds during the 2015-2016 season), the comparisons between the two players starts and stops at their unique names.

A sophomore from the University of California, Rabb was originally projected to be a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft alongside his Golden Bear teammate Jaylen Brown, but Rabb returned to Cal for his sophomore season in an attempt to polish his game and extend his range.

The number one strength of Rabb’s game currently is his ability to rebound. During his second season at Cal, Rabb grabbed 12.8 rebounds per 40 minutes, slightly up from his 11.9 mark during his freshman season. Displaying great timing, awareness, and an eagerness to attack the glass amongst a crowd, Rabb led the Pac-12 during the 2016-2017 in rebounding and posted double-digit rebound performances in 19 of the 31 games he played. While his offensive game is still a major work in progress (more about that in a minute), his natural ability to attack the glass on both ends is a skill that translates immediately to the next level.

In addition to rebounding, the core skill that many people want to know about Rabb (myself included) is his ability to score. As someone who follows Pac-12 basketball on the west coast, I had the ability to see Rabb play a handful of times in person and was teased at times by his offensive production and overall physical appearance.

While his production clearly slumped from his first season at Cal to his second season (FG% dipped from 61.5% to 48.4%, blocks per 40 dropped from 1.7 to 1.2, and points per 40 fell slightly from 17.5 to 17.2, all despite an increase of 5 more minutes a game), both Rabb and his coaches acknowledged that Rabb used his sophomore season as a chance to experiment with his game in hopes of bolstering his draft stock in 2017.

For example, Rabb took only two 3PA’s during his freshman year, hitting one of two. In his sophomore season, Rabb upped this number to twenty attempts, connecting on eight of them. Overall, 9/22 (41%) is indeed an extremely small sample size (for reference, Lauri Markkanen shot 42% on 163 3PA’s during this past season at Arizona), but it’s clear that Rabb knows he has to extend his range to have a shot of making it in the NBA.

Additionally, Rabb demonstrated the agility and quickness to be a very successful roller out of the P&R as well as a rim runner in transition, despite playing on a team that finished second to last in the Pac-12 in assists (Cal’s guards struggled mightily all season to make plays and facilitate easy offense for their bigs). Without much ability currently to put the ball on the floor and create for himself, Rabb will need a little luck in terms of getting drafted by a team with sound guard play if he wants to unlock his true ability as a finisher.

As stated previously, Rabb is truly a raw prospect, and with that comes a laundry list of weaknesses. For one, Rabb currently lacks the necessary ball skill to create from the perimeter. Pair that with his limited sample size from beyond the arc, and Rabb’s present-day game translates more as a modern day C rather than a PF due to his inconsistency as a floor spacer.

If Rabb can’t stretch the floor, then he’s going to be forced to develop his low-post and face-up game closer to the basket. The problem with that is Rabb’s awfully thin frame, which showed itself on the college stage against stronger and more athletic players. For example, according to Julian Applebome from Draft Express, Rabb’s FG% during the 2016-2017 season was 10% lower against teams over .500. If Rabb can’t be relied on to consistently score from outside, and is (currently) too small to get buckets closer to the basket, how exactly will the 66% free-throw shooter from Cal contribute on the offensive end?

The other major red flag going against Rabb’s draft stock is his rather limited defensive upside. As mentioned above, at 6’10” (in shoes), Rabb is a tad too small to match up with most NBA centers and not quite skilled enough for modern day NBA power forwards. Rabb’s BLK% dipped from 4.1 to 3.3 from his freshman to sophomore year, and his STL% remained low from 1.1 to 1.3.

While Rabb’s intention to experiment with his offensive toolkit can possibly explain why his production on that end dipped from year one to year two, there’s no real excuse for why Rabb’s defensive numbers dipped as well. As a springy leaper with an exciting wingspan (drink!), Rabb should have used another year in college to expand his defensive game against younger and smaller freshman in the Pac-12. His inability to do so, combined with his current status as a “project” on offense, makes Rabb a rather daunting prospect despite his physical frame.

Wolves Point of View

As a projected late first rounder, Rabb will really only be on the Wolves radar if they decide to trade back from #7 or decide to flip an asset for the opportunity at selecting twice in the first round. While Rabb possesses some of the physical tools that make up an intriguing prospect, his current lack of offensive skill matched with his dwarfed projections as a defensive presence make him a major boom-or-bust candidate. On a team desperately searching to snap its long playoff drought, taking on a project like Rabb seems counter intuitive (unless of course it’s in the 2nd round, in which then Ivan Rabb may become the greatest Iowa Wolf in franchise history).