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NBA Draft 2017 Prospect Breakdown: Bam Adebayo

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He is very physically gifted but how much skill will he develop?

Kentucky v North Carolina Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In advance of the 2017 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down a wide variety of players that could be available for the Atlanta Hawks at either No. 19 or No. 31. The series will stretch throughout the month of June and today’s breakdown revolves around Kentucky center Bam Adebayo.

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Bam Adebayo entered his collegiate career as one of the highest rated big men in his class. But heading into the 2017 NBA draft, he is at risk of falling out of the first round. His physical profile looks like he was developed in an NBA lab of sorts, one might want a bit more length but he is incredibly mobile for a guy that will likely eventually play at more than 250 pounds. If he were even an average decision maker he would probably be a top ten overall pick. So he is going to have to convince a team that he is going to be able to develop a higher IQ game if he wants them to invest a first round pick on him.

Offensive Profile

Adebayo’s most valuable skill on the offensive end of the court is his screening. He is willing and capable setting screens on and off of the ball. Teammates will appreciate the effort he puts into getting a defender separated from them. He also possesses very good speed and he is a natural and fluid runner for a player of his size (which is less common than you might think).

Adebayo is also a beast at times on the offensive glass. He averaged 4.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes. He should be able to contribute offensive production on the glass at the next level if he can just play with a more consistent level of engagement. He stands out among his peers in this draft class in that he is very comfortable playing with physicality. He was a top five player as measured by free throw rate and only 20 players in the NCAA took more free throw attempts then he did last season. He was a 65.3% shooter at the line, which is acceptable for a 19-year old.

He has a decent but not versatile back to the basket game. He is not a guy you are just going to dump the ball to him in the low post. But in pick and roll action if he gets switched onto the smaller defender, he identifies it pretty quickly and establishes position with solid depth. But if he is not allowed to roll all the way to rim in the high screen and roll action, he really doesn’t have anything to work with. He is enormously mistake prone with the ball outside of a few feet from the basket. He does not know how to deal with traps and double teams, which will be a significant obstacle to playing time early in his NBA career.

Adebayo’s shooting mechanics look workable for now. And since he does not have elite length he is going to have to develop some kind of mid-range game to be able to produce at the next level. He looks like a player that should be able to develop a face up game, he is supremely quick for his size and should be able to develop the ability to get separation from his defender. But he has a very long way to go in that area of his offensive skill set.

Defensive Profile

The team that drafts Adebayo will do so because they value his defensive versatility. He has not demonstrated the ability to operate as a defensive anchor, but he is confident and effective switching 1 through 5 in the half court. He is not phased by even the most skilled offensive wing players. He moves well in all directions and should be a good on ball defender on day one as a professional.

He is an average at best both as a rim protector and a defensive rebounder, but he has the raw skills to achieve more development in those areas. He is not a good help defender apart from being pretty solid closing out on shooters when the defensive rotation is obvious.

He should offer much more defensive value than he does right now given his physical profile. But teams will need to assess how much development is possible and how quickly that development might be able to be accomplished in the area of defensive IQ.

Fit for the Atlanta Hawks

Unless the Hawks think his mental approach to the game is going to be able to be easily addressed, I don’t see much of a fit. The Hawks don’t run a very sophisticated defensive scheme, but they expect their players to be able to play as a unit and stay connected. Adebayo gets lost in traffic far too often.

Also, if they think that Adebayo will be able to develop a modest mid-range game and/or a good enough shot from the corner 3 point line, that make the fit seem a little more probable. But at this point I am going to be surprised if they take him even at the No. 31 spot. He is just not skilled enough and has too far to go as a decision maker.

Summary

Adebayo might be a very good NBA player some day, but I don’t see him having value while he is on his rookie contract. And there are other big men in this draft class that are far more ready to contribute on defense (Ike Anigbogo) or have much more upside (Jarrett Allen, Justin Patton). He is going to need to land with an organization that can basically re-engineer his game to get the most out of his impressive physical profile.