With the 2015 NBA Draft fast approaching, we're look at some of the players who may be available for the Portland Trail Blazers at the number 23 selection. Up today is Robert Upshaw.
A terrifying shot blocking presence, Upshaw is a 7'0, 258 pound center. Capable of blocking or altering virtually every shot that comes in his area code, he is a powerful interior presence. Not much offense from further than six feet from the rim, but has the size and strength to perform catch-and-dunk plays close to the hoop. Cleans the offensive glass with authority. Led the NCAA in shot blocking at 4.5 per game at the University of Washington before being dismissed from the team for "violation of team rules". This was his second ejection from a school in two years, following his dismissal from Fresno State his freshman year.
1) Defense. Can affect every shot taken in the lane with either hand. Solid rebounder who skies for defensive boards and fights off smaller players for opportunities. Has a 7'4 wingspan on top of his height, creating a living tree in the center of the lane and making cutting players miserable. Opposing teams shot 38% from two when he was on the court last season, 49% when he was not.
2) Strong near the offensive rim. Fights for every offensive rebound and finished 75% of his shots from around the rim last season. Not a great post-up player, but has the size and fundamentals to quickly improve at the NBA level.
1) Maturity. He is only 21 years old, but two dismissals from two schools in two years is a highly troubling sign. Scouts have questioned his work ethic and desire for the game. The comparison has been made to DeMarcus Cousins and his concerns before the draft, but Upshaw also lacks Cousins complete offensive game.
2) Shooting. He shot an abysmal 43% from the free throw line last season, and has no offense to speak of whatsoever from further than eight feet. If his right-handed hook shot is taken away from him in the post, he is entirely lost.
3) Offensive setup. He is not a fast player, though has surprising quickness. Tends to lumber slowly down the court. In a faster paced NBA, this is an issue that will have to be addressed. Cannot pass effectively, especially out of the post. When dribbling he is a turnover waiting to happen.
Floor and Ceiling:
His ceiling is Ben Wallace, an offensive zero that will average 13 rebounds and 3 blocks per game and constantly be talked about in the Defensive Player of the Year award race.
His floor... is every player that dropped out of the league after two or three years from off the court issues or work ethic problems. Those two dismissals are telling a story that most teams do not want to read, especially when Upshaw is not a world-class player, simply a terrific defensive player.