The San Antonio Spurs will be in the market for energetic bigs this off-season. They could enlist the services of Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele to add a punch to their frontcourt.
The San Antonio Spurs will enter the 2019 NBA Draft with two first-round draft picks. With Rudy Gay’s impeding free agency, the goal by the end of the night should be to have secured one and maybe even two forward/center-type players to bolster their relatively shallow frontcourt. Even if the Spurs re-sign the veteran, they should be on the lookout for young and talented bigs, and Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele fits that bill.
The nephew of NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, Kabengele definitely got a handful of those elite basketball genes as he’s developed into one of the more underrated bigs in the country during his two seasons at Florida State.
A native of Burlington, Ontario, Kabengele made significant strides under the tutelage of head coach Leonard Hamilton, becoming the heartbeat of the Seminole offense while also catapulting his name into first-round consideration in this years’ upcoming draft.
NBA Draft Comparison video that didn't make it onto the combine telecast: Mfiondu Kabengele and Wendell Carter Jr. While Kabengele isn't the same caliber of prospect, he could play a similar role at the NBA level given his rim protection and floor spacing at 6'10, 250+ lbs. pic.twitter.com/0TlfbbaYj3
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 30, 2019
The 6’10” forward led Florida State in points, increasing his scoring average from 7.2 to 13.2 from his freshman to sophomore season. Kabengele also led the squad with 1.5 blocks per game and was second on the team with 5.9 rebounds a night.
Per 40 minutes, Kabengele posted an impressive 24.5 points per game, which ranked third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, just behind Duke’s Zion Williamson (30.1) and R.J. Barrett (25.7).
What’s most impressive about Kabengele’s production is that it all came off the bench and with just roughly 21 minutes worth of court time. Through 71 games at Florida State, Kabengele did not start a single one, which earned him ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors during the 2018-19 season.
Kabengele’s ability to come into a game and make an immediate impact in an efficient manner, connecting on 50.2 percent of his shots and 36.9 percent of his three-pointers, projects well to the next level where he’ll most likely start with a bench role. Offensively, the 6’10” forward is an athletic freak. He can bound up and down the court in a few short strides and either throw down a thunderous alley-oop or pin a basketball to the glass on a chase-down block.
#FSU's Mfiondu Kabengele, who has risen to the 23rd spot in our updated top-100 rankings on @espn, averaged 22.3 PTS, 11.4 REBS, 2.6 BLKS+ 1.1 STLS per-40 minutes while shooting 37.4% on threes in 71 appearances over two seasons with the #Seminoles pic.twitter.com/4HYCNTDWGv
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) May 30, 2019
While he doesn’t shoot the three-pointer at a high frequency, Kabengele is a capable threat from long-range given his size. The sophomore feasted in the post, bullying smaller defenders in the paint or overpowering larger opponents and finishing through contact around the rim.
Defensively, Kabengele’s long 6’10” frame and 7’3″ wingspan allowed him to be an exemplary rim protector, tallying 2.8 blocks per 40 minutes, as well as a vacuum for rebounds on both the offensive and defensive glass in college.
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Kabengele’s two-way skill set projects very well at the next level and fits in with the needs of the Spurs. The roster could benefit greatly from the services of another bouncy and dynamic athlete like Kabengele, who can provide a jolt of energy on a nightly basis.
With his proficiency as an outside shooter, Kabengele could play, and even start alongside the Spurs’ current bigs with LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl. But because of his efficacy as a spark plug off the bench during his collegiate career, Coach Gregg Popovich could elect to continue that trend. With his assortment of skills and energetic style of play, Kabengele could fill the sixth man role that a player like Domantas Sabonis has thrived in during his tenure with the Indiana Pacers.
If Kabengele can continue to connect on three-pointers at a high clip he is going to be an extremely dangerous player to guard. Further, with his shot-blocking and rebounding prowess, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to contribute defensively while he matures as a pro. With two picks in the first round of the draft this year, the Spurs have the chance to add two new key contributors to their squad.
While I don’t believe San Antonio would reach for Kabengele with their 19th pick, if the former Seminole were still available 10 picks later then I believe the Spurs would have a tough time passing on him.