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NBA Draft Profile: Anžejs Pasečņiks

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The 7’2” Latvian center has climbed into first-round projections. Is he a good selection for the Trail Blazers?

David MacKay

Eight days remain until the 2017 NBA Draft and the Portland Trail Blazers must decide who to draft with pick nos. 15, 20, and 26. Is Latvian center Anžejs Pasečņiks the right selection?

Anžejs Pasečņiks

(Pronunciation guide)

  • Height: 7’2”
  • Weight: 229
  • Wingspan: Unknown – Rumored at 7’6”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Position: C
  • Age: 21
  • Projected draft range: 22-24

2016-17 Statistics (Club)

  • PPG: 8.0 | Per 40: 19.5
  • RPG: 3.2 | Per 40: 7.8
  • APG: 0.3 | Per 40: 0.7
  • BLK: 0.7 | Per 40: 1.7
  • STL: 0.3 | Per 40: 0.7

Strengths

Pasečņiks does a lot of things well on the offensive side of the ball that you like to see in a player his size. He has soft touch around the basket with either hand, he is light on his feet, and he seems to be extending his range to fit the coveted NBA stretch-5 mold. Although on the weaker end of the spectrum, he has gained nine pounds since January and should become more forceful inside as he adds mass. Pasečņiks is already a popular lob target due to his good hands and elite length, but his finesse with the ball is what really stands out, specifically in the low post. Right now, his defensive upside is based on potential rather than aptitude, though his combination of speed and length suggest competence as a rim protector in time.

Weaknesses

Unlike Bam Adebayo, profiled on Tuesday, Pasečņiks is quite the opposite of a power player. He is routinely outmuscled by stronger bigs and tends to get moved off his spot or shy away from contact. This also plays into his surprisingly anemic rebounding—that and the expected lack of leaping ability that usually accompanies a gangly, 7’2” frame. You don’t especially like to see Pasečņiks defending the pick-and-roll either, which is probably the biggest knock on his game since most offenses are predicated on forcing switches. He gets caught on a swivel and needs to learn how to be effective and not a liability.

2016-17 Season

In his second year with Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spanish club), Pasečņiks improved his efficacy across the board, not only bolstering overall production in increased minutes, but boosting his percentages as well. On scouting radars since 2013, this growth bodes well for a move to the NBA, where former U18 European Championships teammate Kristaps Porzingis has made a name for himself.

Overall Assessment

Pasečņiks is, by all accounts, a late bloomer, so the weaknesses he exhibits should become less pronounced as he fills out and gains experience. That said, he has some work to do before his playstyle is a good overall fit for the roles he is likely to receive. A player of his stature that doesn’t rebound well or finish through contact is going to need time and training before being considered a viable option for the long-term. His touch is remarkable, though, and there is enough talent there to warrant interest—especially in the pick-and-roll. For as concerning as his pick-and-roll defense is, his pick-and-roll execution is something to get excited about. It has been fascinating to watch his name appear higher and higher in mock drafts as he makes the pre-draft workout rounds.

Overall Fit

Portland could bring Pasečņiks in as a backup to Jusuf Nurkic, but he is also a reasonable draft-and-stash option if they want to wait and figure out how to handle a potential contract extension for Nurkic first. Either way, Pasečņiks is an intriguing option. His career trajectory was often linked to Porzingis in their early years, before Porzingis blew up, and the two—while different—are not entirely dissimilar. He could be available at 26 if the Brooklyn Nets do not select him at 22 first, but if the Trail Blazers have real interest after working him out last week, the safest bet may be to use pick No. 20.


Do you want Pasečņiks in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? Which player would you like us to analyze next? Tell us in the comments below.