The Portland Trail Blazers have selected Purdue Boilermakers F/C Caleb Swanigan with the 26th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. The selection of the 6’9” Sophomore comes on the heels of a trade that gave Portland another big man, 7-footer Zach Collins from Gonzaga. Swanigan averaged 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game with Purdue this season.
Swanigan, a stout 247 pound post player, will bolster Portland’s frontcourt. Using his impressive frame, he was able to bruise his way to Big Ten Player of the Year honors this year. While his height is a little below average at 6’9”, he makes up for it with a lengthy 7’3” wingspan.
Swanigan has an NBA body and has produced at a high level in his two seasons in college. He possesses a solid shooting stroke for a player his size. His 78.1 free throw percentage during his sophomore season suggests that his outside shot has a chance to develop at the next level. He has the ability to create opportunities for his teammates by using his size on screens, making him a legitimate threat if he can adjust to the speed of the NBA.
Portland has well documented struggles when it comes to covering pick-and-rolls on the perimeter. Swanigan will not provide immediate help in that department. While he is able to hold his position in the paint, he struggles to defend in space on defense, making him a liability when facing teams with proven outside threats.
Investing in a high-production college player at this stage of the draft is usually wise. Swanigan has a high floor, which could translate to useful production as early as his rookie season. If he is able to adjust to coach Terry Stotts’ scheme in his first year, it will give President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey a fall-back option if Noah Vonleh’s contract negations get complicated next summer or if Collins doesn’t work out.
Swanigan Profile from SBNation Video
The breakdown from SBNation’s Purdue Boilermaker’s site Hammer and Rails