(First posted at RealGM)
Differently than Poeltl, there are very few concerns over Sabonis’ toughness.
He’s proven able to get physical boxing out bigger players to protect the defensive glass, collecting 29.3% of opponents’ misses last season – according to our stats database.
He’s also well-coordinated for someone his size, able to move fluidly in space.
His six-foot-10 wingspan is below average in the context of his six-foot-10 height and he can’t play above the rim as a shot blocker, blocking just 43 shots in his 74 appearances at Gonzaga, but figures to add value in pick-and-roll defense via switch-ability. Sabonis is agile enough to exchange into smaller players; able to keep pace on straight line drives and containing dribble penetration through contact.
But other than rebounding (he collected 13% of Gonzaga’s misses in his college career), there’s a lot of doubt over how Sabonis can make an impact in a half-court offense.
He was a pretty good post scorer in college but mostly based on bullying opponents, which is unlikely carry to the pro level, lacking the sort of dynamism that would command him post touches in that league.
Sabonis has good hands to catch the ball on the move and nice touch on non-dunk finishes but can’t play above the rim as a constant target for lobs against a set defense, meaning he’ll probably be just a so-so scorer in the pick-and-roll.
He’ll probably need to develop into a skilled big to make a significant contribution, which is not off the ball as he’s proven able to go from the top of the key to the rim off the dribble when he catches the opponent napping, exhibited nifty passing skills from time to time and flashed the ability to hit open catch-and-shoots from the outside.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara