The Trail Blazers’ memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today we look at Florida State Seminoles power forward Mfiondu Kabengele.
- Height: 6’10”
- Weight: 255
- Wingspan: 7’3”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: PF
- Age: 21
- Projected Draft Range: 24-38
- PTS: 13.2 | Per 40: 24.5
- REB: 5.9 | Per 40: 11
- BLK: 1.5 | Per 40: 2.8
- FL: 2.6 | Per 40: 4.8
- FG%: 50.2
- 3P%: 36.7
- FT%: 76.1
Kabengele is an excellent rim protector. Given that the Burlington, Canada native is the nephew of Dikembe Mutombo, that is not surprising. What might be a bit surprising is that the big man is an adept shooter—including from distance. Kabengele only attempted two three-pointers a game this season, but proved to be a reliable catch-and-shoot target when the situation presented itself. He also shot an extremely respectable 76 percent from the foul line this season, up from 66 percent his freshman year at FSU.
In addition to his shot-blocking prowess, the redshirt-sophomore is a relentless rebounder, particularly on the offensive end. He plays with an infectious energy, and what he lacks in athletic explosion, he makes up for with effort. That is not to say that he isn’t athletic—but he doesn’t possess the kind of top-level athleticism that jumps off the screen.
As is typical in young post players, Kabengele is quite foul prone. He averaged 2.6 fouls over 21.6 minutes per game last season. That’s not “Greg Oden Summer League” bad, but it’s not great, especially considering the fact that Portland is already dealing with Zach Collins’ whistle-drawing development. For reference, Collins averaged 2.7 fouls over 17.3 minutes a game in his lone season at Gonzaga.
Offensively, Kabangele hasn’t proven to be a solid passer (averaging less than half an assist per game in his two seasons at Florida State), and is not great with the ball in his hands. While he has shown an ability to get to the rim at times, it’s not a strength of his game, and it is unlikely that it will become a positive for him at the next level. As long as he understands his limitations in this area, it shouldn’t be a huge issue.
Kabengele was the 2018-19 ACC Sixth Man of the Year. Playing against the likes of Duke (twice), Virginia (twice), North Carolina and Gonzaga helped him prepare for playing against big-time competition. Perhaps his finest performance of the regular season came against then-number one Duke on January 12th. He put up 24 points with 10 rebounds and three blocks in the prime-time contest, and garnered high praise from Coach K in the process.
His draft stock was helped immensely by his strong output in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He scored over 20 points against both Vermont and Murray State, and held his own against an outstanding Gonzaga squad that featured numerous frontcourt draft prospects. He struggled shooting (4-11 from the field) against the Bulldogs, but grabbed seven boards and had two blocks in the Sweet 16 loss.
Kabengele is a prototypical high-motor, “energy” guy, probably best suited for a bench role in the NBA (he didn’t start a single game over his Seminoles career). Attacking the glass and protecting the rim are his calling cards. He’s a solid defender, including in pick-and-roll coverage, who is also capable of knocking down a three at the offensive end. He’s probably not a huge scoring threat at this point, but is far from an offensive liability.
Kabengele would appear to fit quite well with the current Blazers group. He’s bigger than Al-Farouq Aminu (a pending free agent), but would probably benefit from working with a veteran (much like Collins with Ed Davis). He’s not a guy who can completely replace Chief (at least not yet), but he’s seasoned enough that he should be able to contribute off the bench from the get-go, if needed. As it stands, he should be available at No. 25.
Do you want to see Kabengele in a Blazers jersey next season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!