Credit: Wisconsin Athletics

Ethan Happ Draft Profile

Breaking down the NBA potential of Ethan Happ

Senior 6’10” 237 Center Wisconsin 22 Yrs. Old
17.3 ppg 10.1 rpg 4.5 apg FG: 53% FT: 46.6%

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Recruiting Profile

NBA Comparison: TJ Leaf

Strengths: Inside Scoring, Passing, Rebounding

Weaknesses: Athleticism, Shooting

Happ redshirted in his freshman season where he got to watch Wisconsin finish as the national runner up losing in the championship game. In his redshirt freshman season he started all 35 games for the Badgers, and that trend continued throughout his career with Happ starting every game during his 4 seasons in Madison. On the offensive end, he is a crafty scorer with a variety of inside moves that allow him to finish around the basket. He can put the ball on the floor and then make a play, or catch an interior pass before making a move to the basket. He averaged over 17 points per game as a junior and a senior, which is no small feat playing in the Big Ten conference against some tough opponents. How is ability to score the ball inside translates to the next level is a crap shoot, with most scouts thinking that he will have a tough time to replicate his success in college. An impressive aspect of his game is the ability to set up teammates, averaging 4.5 assists as a senior making him one of the best passing big men in the college game. Rebounding the ball is a strength of his averaging 8 boards a game as a junior, and 10.1 as a senior. His basketball IQ and strong blocking out allows him to grab rebounds against much more athletic players, and that is something that he will need to use going forward. 

Being a below average athlete will make guarding power forwards and centers at the professional level very difficult, but as a college player Happ was effective on the defensive end being able to block shots and get steals a decent rate. The main concern surrounding Happ is his ability, or lack thereof, to shoot the basketball. If he were a more effective shooter than the athleticism issues could be overlooked, however there have not been enough signs to make teams believe he can extend his game. Many scouts use free throw shooting as a barometer for evaluating a players shooting ability, which is not a good sign for how they view the seniors shot at improving his shooting. As a junior Happy shot free throws at 55%, and then as a senior he went down to 46.6%, making him a liability on the floor if he is to get fouled which can happen often if you are feeding him in the post. If there is a chance that Happ can make an impact as a pro he will need to extend his game to at least be a consistent mid range jumper, as well as improving from the free throw line. Despite the questions about how his game will translate, Happ put up big numbers in his junior and senior seasons making him worthy of draft consideration. 

Here is a big shot he hit after driving to the basket:

Happ showed in the 3×3 tournament that there is a chance he can extend his game:

The projections for Happ as a draft pick go from late second round to undrafted. While it is possible that he gets selected in the late second round, it seems to be a more likely scenario that he does not get drafted. The fact that he has not showcased much skill outside of the paint with being undersized for a center, if he is selected a team will be taking a flyer that he can extend his game. His ceiling as professional is a back up center that can come in and score points inside, possibly giving a team solid minutes when needed. The worst case scenario for Happ would be that he is not drafted, and struggles to impress teams while playing in the G League or overseas, missing out on an opportunity to prove himself at the highest level. 

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