In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 33 picks.
The second installment of the series will take a look at Villanova big man Omari Spellman.
The first collegiate season on the court for Villanova big man Omari Spellman was a successful one. He redshirted his first year on campus to finish the requirements to become academically qualified. But that time also gave him an opportunity to work on his body. His weight was up and down while in high school as he dealt with injuries and transitions between different schools and basketball programs.
He helped the Wildcats secure their second national championship in the last three years. He started every game and was the fourth leading scorer on what was the best offensive team when adjusted for efficiency per kenpom.com.
The modern NBA values big men that can shoot the basketball and Spellman can definitely do that. He converted 43.3 percent of his three point attempts and 70 percent of his free throw attempts. He is smooth in the pick and roll mostly operating on the perimeter. He does not, though, necessarily have the vertical skills to make him a lob threat on the roll.
Spellman is also valuable as a spot-up shooter. If the big man is chased off of the perimeter as a shooter, he does not possess much of a skill set to attack with dribble penetration. But he has demonstrated solid decision making and has shown that he is willing to give the ball up and trust it will get back to him if the play dictates.
The 20-year-old mostly profiles as a low usage big man than can create space in the half court offense by spreading the floor off of the ball. But he is effective enough in dribble handoff (DHO) action and in the pick and pop that he offers a solid amount of versatility on offense.
He also demonstrated that he can play within a system and makes the right reads and decisions. Jay Wright’s offensive scheme relies upon five players that are willing to move consistently and move the ball effectively. En route to winning the Big East rookie of the year honors, he easily earned the trust of his head coach.
Spellman was clearly an effective defensive player at the collegiate level. He has excellent length (7’2 wingspan) and has enough lateral mobility to handle himself on the perimeter. He averaged 2.1 blocks and 11.4 rebounds per 40 minutes. But there are serious questions as to whether and how much those skills will translate to the NBA level.
He does not have above-average vertical skills. He used his basketball IQ and excellent timing to find opportunities to amass blocked shots and rebounds.
Spellman is a smart and proactive defender. But he will need to continue to work hard to further develop his strength and athleticism for him to have what it takes to become a solid defender as a professional.
It’s unclear how much it would factor into Atlanta’s evaluation of him (one that likely only centers on either the No. 30 or No. 33 pick) but Spellman would be a wonderful fit next to John Collins on offense while he might be a questionable fit on the defensive end.
Collins is elite offensively working near the rim and the spacing that Spellman offers could work as an excellent complement. But they would need help rebounding the ball even on the defensive end of the court. And if Spellman’s rim protection skills don’t translate it would leave a massive workload for Collins.
Spellman has reserved the right to return to Villanova if evaluations suggest he might be better served to wait one more year to fully committing to the NBA draft.
Should Spellman elect to stay in the 2018 NBA draft, he would need to be reasonably confident he could land with a team that offers stability in the front office and the coaching staff and one that has a proven record of player development. Otherwise, one more collegiate season with one of the nation’s best programs might be in his best interest.