Hackett's Draft Prep Part 6: Centres

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

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Continuing our look at draft prospects. Most info from Draftexpress.

Robert Upshaw, 28, C
Cliff Alexander, 29, PF/C
Dakari Johnson, 31, C

Robert Upshaw, C, 21 years old, 30th in DX Top 100
Measurements: 7'0", 258 lbs, 7'6" wingspan, no max vert data
Scouting report:
Athleticism: Terrific length and mobility for a C. Not a freakish jumper, but solid, and is quick up and down the floor. Very strong.
Offence: Tremendous finisher close to the basket, hitting 75% of his attempts at the rim - gets up quick and high, hard for anyone to bother him close in. Post game is not great - can back down almost anyone, but he's got one move (main hand hook shot) and zero counters or off-hand moves. Also seems physically incapable of passing the ball, generating 1 assist for every 53 minutes of court time. Also completely useless if he's more than 3 feet from the rim - no jumper, 43% free throw shooter (which is a shame since he gets to the line a lot).
Defence: Incredible rim protector. Opposing teams shot only 38% in the lane with him on the court - 50% when he sat. He blocks 7 shots per 40 - by far the best in college basketball. His defence needs work outside the paint, as even with his decent quickness, he tends to get a little lost and confused about where to be on perimeter coverages, though that could improve with experience. Very good post defender as well - tends to give ground a bit when being backed down, but not for lack of strength - he lets opponents get close, as he can contest the shot effectively with his length. Tremendous rebounder, one of the top nation wide overall rebounders. And doesn't do it with energy or motor like many rebounders - he is just huge, long and strong and opponents just can't get to rebounds with him around.
Other: One red flag is that he was kicked off of two different college teams in the past few years. There seems to be an attitude issue or other off-court issues, as when on the court he's led his teams to top defences and great records (both of which dropped off dramatically once he was dismissed).

Cliff Alexander, PF/C, 19 years old, 46th in DX Top 100
Measurements: 6'9", 239 lbs, 7'4" wingspan, no max vert data
Scouting report:
Athleticism: Very mobile for a C, if quite short. Very strong. Doesn't get off the floor well.
Offence: Almost a non-existent offensive game. Scores predominantly off of offensive rebounds or cuts into the paint. Is a decent option in the PnR, sets hard screens and can finish well if he gets close enough to the basket. Improved his FT% to 67%, a not-terrible number, and has shown flashes of a mid-range game, but with no consistency yet, though his form is very good so there is potential there. Very good offensive rebounder. Weak post game - he bullied players in high school, but struggled against bigger college players, which does not bode well for the NBA. His fundamentals, footwork and post moves are all sub par, leading to terrible percentages in the post, and a lot of turnovers. Another terrible passer, generating an assist for every 41 minutes played.
Defence: Performs well here due to his strength and defensive instincts, blocking shots in the paint and using his mobility well on the perimeter. But overall his fundamentals are very poor and could be exploited by NBA offences, as he gets lost a lot and has trouble in PnR coverage. Commits a lot of fouls and bites on fakes.
Other: Another guy with a limited sample, as he was ruled ineligible midway through the season, though for him there aren't the character questions - it was one of those ridiculous NCAA rules, his mother took out a loan against his potential earnings in the NBA, which apparently is not allowed. Should be noted he was considered one of the top players in the country coming out of high school.

Dakari Johnson, C, 19 years old, 47th in DX Top 100
Measurements: 7'0", 265 lbs, 7'2" wingspan, 25" max vert
Scouting report:
Athleticism: Slow-footed big. Compared to Aaron Gray. Very strong, but can't get off the ground much. Body fat seems a little high (has grown from 10% to 15% over the past year).
Offence: Not much of a scouting report on him. Just the basics: very little usage (4 shots per game). Poor percentage for a C (50%). Poor but not terrible FT shooter (63%). OK offensive rebounder.
Defence: Not a huge presence - although again his low minutes play a role here (16 MPG). Only 3 defensive rebounds and a block per game, which is OK, considering his minutes, but not standout by any stretch.
Other: Yeah, no scouting report on DX, not much data due to his limited minutes, and frankly as soon as I read the name Aaron Gray I had zero interest.

Yeesh. Not much of a crop here. Upshaw seems the only one worth even looking at, and he's a huge risk with all the off-court stuff, let alone his complete inability to make a jump shot or free throw. I'll keep him as a candidate, but he'll be at the bottom of the list for me. Especially when you consider we have a C prospect on the roster, and a very young starting C already, unless a C prospect is a can't miss (say, the guys at the top of the draft), hard to justify bringing another in.