Thursday, June 4, 2020

2018 NBA Draft - Underrated Centers

Mitchell Robinson
photo courtesy of
Brendan O'Hern/WKU Herald

1. Mitchell Robinson - 7'1", 225lbs - C - 1998 - [Western Kentucky] Chalmette HS (LA)
25.7pts, 12.6reb, 6bl (at Chalmette HS)

Given Robinson's measurables and talent, it is hard to understand why people are so lukewarm about him. Yes, his road to the NBA has been a winding one in which we never saw him play a college basketball game. Robinson stands 7'1" tall and has the ability to run and jump like an athletic wing player, but with rebounding and shot blocking talent of a valued rim protector. This really does feel like DeAndre Jordan all over again. Jordan showed an abundance of ability and athleticism in his single season at Texas A&M. The assumption was that it would take some time for Jordan to blossom into a meaningful post presence in the NBA, but that the wait would be worth it, yet he slipped to the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. There is every reason to believe Robinson is going to be player with a similar style and impact as Jordan, yet may be another to slip to the second round in 2018.

Omari Spellman
photo courtesy of Villnova Athletics

2. Omari Spellman - 6'9", 255lbs - C/PF - Freshman - Villanova
10.9pts, 8.0reb, .8ast, .7st, 1.5bl - 47.6% FG, 43.3% 3PT, 70.0% FT

In just a single season at Villanova, Spellman was able to show off a number of skills and traits that should lead to success at the pro level. First, he filled a valuable role for his team as a freshman that led to winning the NCAA Championship. Spellman is an aggressive rebounder and shot blocker inside, but also exhibits fantastic touch on his shot. His 3-point range makes him a legitimate threat from the high post position. Spellman made 43% of his 3-point shots, and took a lot of them (150) for a post player. Even at the NBA level, if you have a post player this offensively talented, often he is a liability on the defensive end. That is not the case with Spellman, who has great footwork and is very strong on the low block. Spellman was so effective this season because he kept his weight down; presumbably scouts are concerned whether he will continue to be as diligent with his conditioning.

Reggie Lynch
photo courtesy of
University of Minnesota Athletics

3. Reggie Lynch - 6'10", 260lbs - C - Senior - Minnesota, Illinois State
10.1pts, 8.0reb, 1.3ast, .7st, 4.1bl - 58.4% FG, 0.0% 3PT, 71.7% FT

Lynch was the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year for Minnesota in 2017, and for good reason. He terrorized opponents with his ability to put a body on post players to keep them off balance, turn away shots at an amazing rate (over 4 per game as a senior!), and clear the paint to grab rebounds. His offensive game is limited to close-range shots, but he has exhibited nice touch with a baby hook shot around the basket. Lynch was suspended amid assault charges and ended up leaving the team, so some NBA teams may not spend time on a player that projects as a defensive specialist if he has baggage. However, there is no doubt that Lynch could have some success defending NBA post players based on his production against top Big Ten talent.

Jock Landale
photo courtesy of
St. Mary's Athletics

4. Jock Landale - 6'11", 255lbs - C - Senior - St. Mary's (Australia)
21.1pts, 10.2reb, 2.0ast, .4st, 1.0bl - 64.0% FG, 30.0% 3PT, 74.6% FT

The Australian native has made huge improvements during his tenure at St. Mary's and became WCC Player of the Year in 2017-18. He is a versatile post player that can play rugged and tough as a rebounder or shot blocker, yet also dazzle with his array of offensive moves inside to get easy baskets. Landale has a great mid-range game and shoots a high percentage from the field. He hasn't really been a 3-point threat in college, but he is a good enough shooter to potentially add that to his game as a pro. Landale is the type of prospect that, 20 years ago, would have been drafted for certain. Today less value is placed on size and more on 3-point shooting, which makes him a bit of an enigma for the NBA, even though he is a very solid and skilled player.

Akolda Manyang
photo courtesy of
August Miller/UVU Marketing

5. Akolda Manyang - 7'0", 240lbs - C - Senior - Utah Valley, Oklahoma, Indian Hills CC (Sudan)
13.1pts, 8.1reb, .8ast, .4st, 2.3bl - 63.0% FG, 0.0% 3PT, 69.7% FT

Manyang found new life in Utah Valley after being dismissed from the team in Oklahoma after his second assault charge. His athleticism and 7'6" wingspan make him an ideal fit as a rim protector in the NBA. Manyang can run the floor for dunks and easy transition baskets, while his footwork and timing make him an elite shot blocker. His size and strength make him a force to push opponents around on both ends of the court and rebound the basketball with ease. While he has offensive limitations to his game, Manyang has the ability to defend quality post players and is still improving his game.

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