The 2020-21 regular season is in the books for the Trail Blazers and the 2021 NBA Draft is quickly approaching. For the first time since 2016, the Blazers are set to enter draft night without a selection. However, that doesn’t mean that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will sit on the sidelines during the process.
Today’s profile looks at four-year Michigan forward Isaiah Livers. During his time in the Big Ten, Livers emerged as one of the most consistent players in the entire conference.
- Height: 6’7”
- WT: 232
- Wingspan: 6’9”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: F
- Age: 22
- Projected draft range: 45-60
- PTS: 13.1 | Per 40: 16.6
- REB: 6.0 | Per 40: 7.6
- AST: 2.0 | Per 40: 2.5
- FG%: 45.7
- 3P%: 43.1
- FT%: 87.0
Livers’ foundation as a prospect is built upon his consistent outside shooting. Thanks to his ability to knock down catch-and-shoot opportunities, Livers is an effective floor spacer. In the corner, he thrives as a safety valve and quick decision maker. Livers’ range should translate with ease to the NBA. When he isn’t in the corner, he has shown that he is comfortable shooting beyond the college three-point line. Armed with a fluid shot form, Livers should continue to convert opportunities against NBA-level defenders.
Livers utilizes steady footwork to stay in front of his assignment on defense. In one-on-one matchups, he does not waste movements. Livers is an expert at cutting off easy angles to the rim. If an opponent gets by Livers, he does not give up on the play. Even when beat, Livers is a threat to regain his position or record a chase-down block at the rim.
Offensively, Livers struggles to create his own opportunities. He is at his best in catch-and-shoot situations on the perimeter. When his game ventures outside of that framework, his efficiency significantly decreases. Livers is a predictable right-handed driver and he struggles to get past defenders with above-average quickness. At the rim, Livers is a pedestrian finisher. He often needs a clear runway to elevate for high-flying finishes. Defensively, his lateral quickness will be put to the test in pick-and-roll coverage.
Livers completed his four-year run at Michigan with career-high averages in multiple areas. From distance, he established himself as a high-volume floor spacer. He recorded three or more three-pointers in 11 outings last season. Thanks to his outside shooting, his true shooting percentage clocked in at 60.6 percent, good for the seventh-best mark in the Big Ten. Livers claimed a spot on the All-Big Ten Second Team in year-end voting. Unfortunately, Livers’ postseason was cut short after he suffered an injury in the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
Consistent floor spacing is always in demand, especially when teams can acquire it at a discount. When it comes to second-round options, Livers in a short-list of proven prospects. Due to his age and average athleticism, there are questions about his long-term upside. That said, he possesses skills that traditionally translate to the NBA. Defensively, Livers is in an awkward spot. He might be too slow to guard explosive small forwards and too small to guard NBA post players. Due to his superb footwork and positioning, those physical concerns might be overblown.
Livers presents the Blazers with a low-risk avenue to improve floor spacing and fundamentals in the frontcourt. Given Livers’ extended college stint at a high level, he could be ready for spot minutes early in his professional career. Defensively, Jusuf Nurkic’s presence should hit a familiar note with the former Wolverines forward. At Michigan, Livers thrived at directing opponents into massive shot blockers. On offense, Livers is a proven floor spacer and a willing ball mover. Livers is far from a big swing, but he is a low-cost option with reliable skills. The Blazers could do much worse when they look to fill out the end of their bench.