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 post breaks down California big man Ivan Rabb.
The stock of Ivan Rabb has really slipped since he was viewed as a potential top ten prospect. Many felt he would have been a pretty strong lock to land in lottery had he made him self available in last year’s draft. Instead, Rabb believed in himself and returned to Cal for his sophomore season, but things did not go as planned. One can understand why a prospect with such pedigree would believe he could turn himself into a top 5 draft prospect, but he is now further from that than he has ever been.
Rabb profiles as a frontcourt player in this draft class that doesn’t quite have the size of some prospects but that could offer a little more in the skills department. He seems to have good hands and is pretty secure with the basketball. But he regressed from shooting 61.5% on 2-point shots as a freshman to 49.0% as a sophomore. As a free throw shooter, he shot an almost identical percentage across his two seasons never quite reaching the 70 percent threshold.
Rabb’s mobility is his best asset, he runs the floor well and is good for his size in transition. In the half-court offense he looks comfortable for the most part operating in the pick and roll. But once he receives the ball he is not very consistent at doing anything productive with it. He is not as bad of a passer as some of his peers in this class but he is not overly impressive in that area either.
The most curious part of his offensive game, to me, is that he is a right handed shooter and a left handed finisher. You might recall that Ben Simmons fits this profile as well and there were a million questions about his potential development as a shooter last summer. This hasn’t drawn as much attention to Rabb because he is not a potential number one overall pick. It might explain to some degree why he has not developed as a shooter. But it also probably leaves as many questions regarding whether or not he will be able to develop offensively.
The system he played in at Cal was not ideal in terms of profiling the stronger parts of his game; they played at a very slow pace. And since they were also not the most talented offensive team, they tried to play through Rabb quite a bit in the half court. But he possesses neither a face-up game nor a back-to-the-basket game that set him up for success. Given his mobility and his motor, he is at his best when he is moving.
Cal was a very strong defensive team and Rabb certainly deserves a good share of credit for that. But there are questions about how much of his defensive game will translate at the next level. He is very strong on the defensive glass, but has never demonstrated much ability as a rim protector at any level. And there is just little if any track record of players developing as a rim protector in the NBA if they have never shown it before.
He is a very good team defender and is an excellent help defender. He is extremely proactive in his positioning and is persistently looking for ways to help his team. And I can’t recall a player that impressed me more at a young age at knowing how to shade exactly the right amount as an off the ball defender as to influence the play by significantly cutting off passing lanes while staying connected to his assignment.
He does not move as effectively as you would expect as an on ball defender given his impressive overall mobility. If he is not going to provide any rim protection that is something that will have to be improved for him to play at the next level despite how impressive he is as a team defender.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
The most recent mock at DraftExpress.com has the Hawks taking Rabb with the No. 31 overall selection. That would seem to be related to his basketball IQ, motor, team-mindedness and his work ethic. If the Hawks could develop him as a shooter it could pretty significantly increase his overall value proposition as a prospect.
His attitude and his ability to fight through adversity are a great foundation for his mental approach to the game. But the Hawks have fallen pretty far behind the rest of the league offensively, so my view is that they would have to have pretty strong confidence that they could develop him as an offensive player as to even invest in him as a second round pick.
By all accounts, Rabb is an incredibly likable young player. Everyone in his circle has nothing but good things to say about him and seems to be rooting for him to realize his potential. And he carries himself very well. But at this point he looks like a prospect that has profound gaps in his game on both ends of the court. He is still young enough to project some advancement, but he is not starting from an ideal point in terms of his current overall skill set.