(First posted at RealGM)
The consensus among draftniks on Poeltl gets worse by the day as we get within hours of the draft.
The biggest skepticisms regard his toughness and whether his ability to create shots from the post will translate at the next level. The beating he took from Domantas Sabonis in the tournament game is almost legendary at this point. And while Poeltl has fluid footwork, decent touch on his right-handed hook, drew a lot of fouls against players who couldn’t match his size and appealing passing skills with his back to the basket, he didn’t show to be the sort of dynamic scorer that figures to demand post touches in a pro offense – lacking power moves and a jump-shot to face-up or fade-away at this point of his development.
If Poeltl isn’t a post player, it’s hard to figure how he’s gonna make a meaningful contribution on offense. He is a pretty good passer from the elbows and the foul line area but has only sporadically flashed the ability to take outside shots and just recently started making free throws close to an average rate.
Poeltl is well coordinated, has soft hands to catch the ball on the move and getting off the ground isn’t a chore for him but he can’t play above the rim as a constant threat for lobs against a set defense, which figures to make him only a so-so scorer out of the pick-and-roll.
He is also unlikely to become an impact player on the offensive glass. He looks to establish inside position and he is a tough body to boxout because of his size, but doesn’t play with the sort of energy that generates second chance opportunities in volume and lacks length to rebound outside of his area.
But Poeltl is still expected to be drafted in the lottery – aside from the fact this is a very weak class at the top – because of his potential on defense.
Larry Krystkowiak became more and more comfortable over time having him consistently switch on ball screens and Poeltl proved himself up to the task. He not only managed to stay in front of less athletic and less adept ball-handlers like Matt Jones, Luke Kennard, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp but also potential NBA-caliber dribble penetrators like Fred VanVleet, Tyrone Wallace and Jaylen Brown.
But while his mobility is intriguing with regards to the flexibility he can provide, Poeltl is still a more effective defender protecting the lane. He is not an explosive player whose mere presence as a shot blocking threat scares dribble drivers but he is an obstacle for opponents to deal with close to the basket. Aside from being big, Poeltl reads well occasions when his help-defense is essential, though his shot blocking percentages were unimpressive in Pac 12 play the last two seasons.
Perhaps more impressively for someone who contests drives and has a big frame that invites contact – making him vulnerable to foul trouble, Poeltl averaged just three personal fouls per 40 minutes.
He is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and opponents have a tough time pushing him out of the way due to the nature of his size – collecting 22.1% of opponents’ misses last season, according to our stats database.
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