Credit: Arizona State Athletics

Zylan Cheatham Draft Profile

Breaking down the NBA potential of Zylan Cheatham

Senior 6’8″ 220 SF/PF Arizona St. DOB: 11/17/95
12.1 ppg 10.3 rpg 3.2 apg FG: 53.4% 3 PT: 44%

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Recruiting Profile

Wingspan: 7’0.5″

Vertical Leap: 41.5″

NBA Comparison: Jerami Grant/Jeff Green

Strengths: Rebounding, High Motor, Athleticism, Length

Weaknesses: Limited Offensive Production, Position Fit, Outside Shooting

Cheatham started his career at San Diego State where he did not put up big numbers but he showed that he had the potential to make an impact at a high level while averaging 9.1 points and 6.3 rebounds as a sophomore. After making a basketball decision to head back to his home state of Arizona where he would be able play more as a hybrid forward versus mainly playing down low at San Diego State. On the same note, he did not have a chance to showcase much of his skill outside of the paint when he was in San Diego, but those attributes were on display much more doing his one season at ASU. Cheatham was a high level rebounder, averaging 10.3 per game as a senior showing that he could pull down boards against the increased competition. The strong rebounding numbers were somewhat due to his athleticism, but it was also that he plays with a high motor outworking other players on the floor. As mentioned before he is a high level athlete, possessing a vertical leap that would instantly make him one of the better athletes on a roster. There were plenty of highlight dunks and put backs, which is a skill that translates well to the professional game with the increased spacing. Having a wingspan over seven feet and his athleticism has teams intrigued with his defensive potential going forward, and with Cheatham being able to guard multiple positions, his defense will be a major factor into whether or not he sticks as a pro. 

While there were signs of his versatile game, Cheatham did not put up big numbers at either San Deigo State or Arizona State which is concerning when you consider his age. With that said he did show off some impressive versatility being able to play down low, create open shots, and spot up. All of these skills will be needed if he is going to make it as a professional, and with more usage he projects to be able to do those at the next level. Cheatham did not shoot many three pointers in his college career but his 11 for 25 (44%) as a senior gives teams hope that he has much more in his game than he has been able to showcase as a collegiate. Due to the fact that he did do most of his work down low in college there are questions with how he will adapt to playing from the wing as a professional, however his tape from the film suggests that should not be a problem. His shooting mechanics could use some fine tuning, but it looks solid coming off of his hand and it is a fluid motion. In fast break situations Cheatham is very hard to stay in front of end to end, and with his athleticism he has the ability to finish above the rim making the case that he will immediately be productive in open court scenarios at the next level. Only time will tell if he was underutilized to a degree in his college years, or if he will struggle to be consistent outside of the paint, but if he can do so he has a chance to make it in the league.  

These two plays show his ability to throw dunk a highlight dunk:

Cheatham is projected to go undrafted by most analysts, while there is a possibility he is selected in the later parts of the second round. His ceiling as a professional is a solid back up forward, providing strong defense and play making abilities while receiving significant minutes. The worst case scenario for Cheatham is that he is unable to be effective enough on the offensive end to find a role on a roster, leading him to play overseas or in the G League.  

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