The 2017 NBA Draft is one month away and the Portland Trail Blazers possess three first round picks (15, 20, 26). It is time to take a closer look at prospective players and how they could benefit the Trail Blazers, starting today with UCLA center Ike Anigbogu.
Ike Anigbogu (EE-kay ah-nee-BOH-goo)
- Height: 6’10”
- Weight: 252
- Wingspan: 7’6.25”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: C
- College: UCLA
- Age: 18
- Projected draft range: 15-35
- PPG: 4.7 | Per 40: 14.5
- RPG: 4.0 | Per 40: 12.4
- APG: 0.2 | Per 40: 0.6
- BLK: 1.2 | Per 40: 3.7
- STL: 0.2 | Per 40: 0.5
Whomever selects Anigbogu will do so for his potential on the defensive end. He is physically imposing, difficult to move, and has an incredibly long reach. He is capable of affecting shots around the basket as well as corralling rebounds from even the most errant missed shots. Always active on the glass, Anigbogu can salvage a broken play or finish strong when given the ball by design. He is a popular target for lobs and moves well in transition for a player his size. At just 18 years old, he is raw but moldable.
Despite impressive physical tools, Anigbogu is quite limited on offense. He is not a threat to score from mid-range or beyond, and his touch at the rim leaves something to be desired. Right now, he is an energy player in the best and worst senses of the term. Like many inexperienced bigs, he is foul and turnover prone, which, among other shortcomings, will likely relegate him to a bench role early on. It should also be noted that he had right knee surgery to repair a minor meniscus tear, although he is now fully recovered.
Anigbogu missed the start of the Bruins’ season, recovering from the aforementioned knee surgery, but grew into the team’s best defender upon return. Playing just 13.0 minutes per game off the bench (hence the paltry per game statistics) he was a physically dominant rim protector for the second unit, in part due to his surprising speed. The Bruins reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, finishing the season with a 31-5 record—third-best in the Pac-12.
Anigbogu’s bag of tricks is fairly shallow at this point, but that is not entirely unexpected. The lack of offensive diversity could make him easier to defend than his stature suggests, so he’ll have to butter his bread as a rim-runner until he develops more than jump hooks and turnarounds in the halfcourt offense. Fortunately, he won’t be an offensive focal point most of the time, and he can still be effective in the pick-and-roll. The most important part of his rookie campaign will take place behind the scenes, learning from his teammates and coaching staff. He is an investment—not an instant contributor. That said, if he can keep fouling to a minimum, he is sure to be helpful on the glass and around the rim for short stretches. Some players go on to have successful careers by honing their game rather than expanding it, like DeAndre Jordan or Bismack Biyombo, both of whom had near identical pre-draft measurements to Anigbogu.
With the Trail Blazers specifically, Anigbogu could serve as a big body to bring off the bench behind Jusuf Nurkic and help keep the defense together (in time). He has more weight to throw around than Ed Davis, and longer arms than anyone on the roster by a wide margin. Since Festus Ezeli is reportedly not returning next season, the Trail Blazers would do well to get deeper at center, even if unfinished products are discomforting.
Do you want Anigbogu in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? Which player would you like us to analyze next? Tell us in the comments below.