With the playoff picture becoming clearer for the San Antonio Spurs, it is time to consider that they’ll be picking in the lottery for the first time since 1997. However, this year’s NBA Draft has proven to be quite muddled and there is no clear consensus on where certain prospects fall. That includes this week’s prospect to watch in Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
The 6-foot-9, 232-pound freshman is not a prototypical stand-in for what people deem “upside” in the NBA draft. He doesn’t pop out as an elite athlete or someone who is an absolute knockdown shooter. However, he shows other traits that should have a team salivating over him once the draft nears. He has more of the intangible upside traits you tend to see in older players. Here are some of his more tangible stats to check out:
- 10.6 PPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.0 APG, 9.4 RPG
- 44.5 FG%, 29.6 3P%, 82.1 FT%
- 107 ORtg, 94.6 DRtg
Robinson-Earl is an excellent help side and team defender, even if he is not a great on-ball defender. He is a good decision-maker as well, knowing when to leave his man to go help or just jab at a driver and recover.
One reason he doesn’t pop as an on-ball defender is that he is asked to defend other teams’ big men since he is one of the bigger players on Villanova’s roster. However, his length and speed should help him on the perimeter when he is guarding other power forwards or even small forwards.
While his offensive numbers aren’t mind-blowing, Robinson-Earl is capable of much more at the NBA level. He is a smart player — a byproduct of playing for coach Jay Wright — and moves well off the ball. He gets a lot of buckets by making good cuts and rolling well off screens. He is a strong mid-range shooter but isn’t yet consistent from the arc as he will need to fix his mechanics down the road.
He has shown the ability to stretch the floor out there and once that shot comes along he will have the opportunity to drive by defenders to the rim and create for others.
Being a big who will mostly stick to the ground game, Robinson-Earl will have to be a good finisher at the rim on non-dunks. He does that at the collegiate level well and that should translate to the NBA.
Robinson-Earl may not fall under the traditional tent of what “upside” means, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have plenty of it. Mock drafts can’t really decide on how high or low he goes in this year’s draft, but he would absolutely be a great second-round steal if he falls that far.