Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
In all of the years coach mike Krzzyzewski has been at Duke, there have only been a handful a players that have warranted having the offense run through them. You can add Plumlee’s name to that list.
Last season, Plumlee’s older brother, Miles, was drafted in the first round by Indiana, largely based on his athleticism. Mason is just as impressive of an athlete as Miles but has produced throughout his Duke career, including averaging a double-double as a senior.
Plumlee’s offensive répertoire consists of putbacks and post-ups with the occasional mid-range jumper. Scouts are impressed by Plumlee’s energy on the court and believe he will be no worse then a rotation big in the NBA. Defensively, Plumlee is an above-average shot-blocker and has the explosiveness to be a quality defender in the post.
There is no question that Plumlee’s best NBA skill is his ability to rebound. He has averaged over 9.5 rebounds per game since his sophomore season. Based on his strong first half of the season, Plumlee is a clear lottery pick.
Rudy Gobert, C, Cholet
Prior to the season, Gobert was touted as potential top-five pick. With a freakish 7-9 wingspan and athleticism, Gobert burst onto the draft season last year. So far in France, Gobert’s season has underwhelmed NBA talent evaluators, who had hoped to see more progress on offense.
Gobert is not physically ready to play in the NBA on a nightly basis as he must add bulk. In spite of a ridiculous 70 percent shooting. Gobert is still very raw, especially in the post.
It is from a defense and rebounding standpoint that Gobert is most appealing to NBA teams as players with his length and athleticism can block and alter many shots. As Gobert adds strength, it is easy to imagine his becoming an even better rebounder.
As is the case with many international post prospects, Gobert needs time. Barring a strong pre-draft period, he is likely a mid-first round pick who could sneak into the back of the lottery.
Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
I have no question that Adams will eventually improve on offense because of his work ethic and motor, but the million-dollar question NBA GMs have is when will the light bulb go on for the Kiwi.
Based on Adams’ size and explosiveness, he is an excellent shot-blocker and does not shy away from contact. Based on his rebounding rate, Adams is very good on the boards and will only get better as he gets stronger.
Far from a certainty to leave the Panthers, Adams could be selected in the mid to late first round.
Jeff Withey, C, Duke
Withey is not the flashiest center prospect on either end of the court but is one of the most balanced and reliable players in the country. He has followed up his first season as a starter with career bests across the board.
Withey is arguably the top defensive center in the country, blocking nearly 4.5 shots per game. From an offensive perspective, he is never going to be a player who commands touches but can be effective around the basket and on put-backs.
As a solid rebounder in addition to his shot-blocking ability, Withey can be an adequate starter or rotation big in the NBA for many years. It would be surprising not to hear Withey’s name called sometime in the first round.