With the current eligibility rules to enter the NBA being one year after completely high school, many players aren’t fully ready for rigors of the league. Many organizations choose to focus on the development of young players and give them very little opportunities of seeing an NBA court. With the improving G-League and increasing development staff, teams have the ability to work with talented youngsters and allow them to grow into the NBA.
It’s becoming increasingly common for teams to take project players in the draft. These players usually don’t have lots of basketball skills but have tons of potential because of their athleticism and size. While some players can’t ever acclimate to the NBA level, nurturing young stars can allow them to have great careers as well. Some of the current players who were once considered projects are: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Thon Maker, Serge Ibaka, Paul George, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.
Here is a list of the current project bigs who you could see dominate the next couple of years:
Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings
Harry Giles has been recovering from a torn ACL last season at Duke where he was slightly disappointing averaging 3.9 points a game and only 10 minutes of action. While he is a raw prospect for the Kings, everyone from the players to owners they all can agree on one thing: Giles is a beast.
Many people forget that Giles was the No. 1 player in the nation out of high school only 2 years ago. This was the same year as Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and his Kings’ teammate, De’Aaron Fox. He stands at 6’11 with a 7’0 wingspan and has the ability to shoot, pass and moves very fast for someone his size. The Kings smartly traded down from their No. 10 pick to get pick’s No. 15 and No. 20. They were able to take Justin Jackson and Giles with their acquired picks. While the Kings have had some struggles in the past with their draft, the trio of picks this summer looks to guide the franchise in a new direction.
Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers
Zubac, who was the last pick in this year’s draft has failed to see the court on numerous occasions. He’s routinely playing in G-league games to get experience. However, The Croatian standing at 7’1 finally got some time at the NBA level and had a breakout game. In 20 minutes, Zubac had 19 points on 8 of 8 shooting. Yes you read that correctly, he did not miss a shot. Zubac also added in 11 rebounds for the purple and gold.
Don’t be surprised to see Zubac get an increase in usage following the all-star break. Hopefully Luke Walton will get Lonzo and Zubac on the court together more, as they formed a dynamic duo in the Summer League.
Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
Poeltl is also a foreign-born big man, however Poeltl played 2 years at Utah before declaring for the draft. Poeltl was dominant in college, winning Pac-12 Player of the Year his sophomore campaign.
However, because of the talent on the Raptors there was no chance of Poeltl playing his rookie season. He has finally started to log more minutes coming off the deepest bench in the league. He’s seventh in the league in field goal percentage(65%) and averages 2.4 blocks a game per 36 minutes. Poeltl is still young and a raw big, but is likely a good enough player to start on bad teams.
Jonathon Isaac, Orlando Magic
The Magic have tried to get Isaac on the court when he’s healthy. However, he is a young raw prospect and he’s been hurt quite a lot this season. Isaac was the sixth pick in the draft this season and he was terrific at Florida State. However, he’s struggled a bit when he’s seen the NBA court. John Hammond(their GM) saw visions of the Greek Freak (who Hammond drafted) on the court. Nonetheless, Isaac has struggled to stay on the court.
Isaac’s defense and versatility are what got him drafted so early. Similar to Anthony Davis, Isaac had a late growth spurt that allows him to be as quick as smaller player. It’s fair to say the rookie is growing into his body. If he can stay on the court and develop a better offensive game, he could be a real problem on the court for his opponents.
Feature image by: NBA.com
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