|Soph.||6’11” 233||Center||Arkansas||20 Yrs. Old|
|16.9 ppg||8.7 rpg||2 bpg||FG:66%||FT:59.1%|
Strengths: Athleticism/Rim Protector/Transition Game
Weaknesses: Shooting/Face Up Game/Back to the basket moves
Gafford is a pogo stick big man who can jump as well as any center in the draft class. His production as a sophomore was solid at almost 17 points per game, and nearly 9 rebounds, being primarily used as an alley-opp/transition and put back type of offensive player. His shooting is a concern at less than 60% from the free throw line, but it’s not the worst percentage you will see an NBA center have, and there is always the possibility Gafford can become a more efficient free throw shooter. His movement and agility for someone his size is elite to go with his ability to blocks, and you have a Willie Cauley-Stein type of big entering the league. His ability to shot blocks, run the floor in transition, and finish at the rim was on full display in this game against Vanderbilt during his freshman season.
His game has not begun to evolve from an offensive standpoint, with the center not attempting a three in his two seasons at Arkansas, and not showing much outside of put backs, and transition baskets. On the defensive side of the ball he has the potential to be a starter level rim protector who has the agility necessary to switch on pick and roles when needed to guard a smaller player. Body wise, the sophomore appears the have a build that will add muscle allowing him to deal with some of the old school tougher inside players, but before that bulk is added he could struggle with stronger big men in the league.
Some view Gafford as a potential lottery pick, while we currently have him going #25 in our latest mock draft. If a team feels that need a center who can protect the rim, run the floor and catch lobs than he could go earlier than that depending on how the lottery and playoffs end up. With other big’s like Bol Bol, Naz Reid and Bruno Fernando having more to their game, and showing the ability to shoot the ball in addition to the usual big man skills, teams looking for skilled centers will look in other directions. Players like Jaxson Hayes, providing he enters the draft will be the competition for Gafford. He should be viewed as a somewhat safe pick considering you know what you are getting with Gafford, and any improvement will be viewed as a bonus. Ultimately he projects as potential starter in the NBA as his ceiling after some acclamation time, with his floor being a player that comes off the bench and gives you solid defense and an offensive spark.