Why drafting Kobe Bufkin would give Spurs perfect running mate for Wembanyama

Kobe Bufkin - Michigan v Illinois
Kobe Bufkin - Michigan v Illinois / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Areas for improvement


While Bufkin takes contact surprisingly well around the rim given his stature, I would argue his overall strength is his most glaring weakness at this point. His lack of strength shows itself most frequently on defense, where he tends to die on screens unless he takes unusual angles or purposefully avoids contact with the screen-setter.

More generally speaking, though, for a player that isn't the twitchiest or springiest athlete, adding strength will be key for him in continuing to be an effective finisher around the rim, becoming a more switchable perimeter defender in isolation situations, and becoming a more effective pick-and-roll defender.

Drawing fouls

For a player that got to the rim and finished as much as Bufkin did, he didn't draw many fouls and shot only 2.6 free throws per game. While I wouldn't say that this is an issue that could negatively affect his on-court presence in the same way that his lack of strength could initially, adding the ability to get to the free-throw line on a consistent basis could dramatically open up other parts of his game on offense over time.

Were Bufkin to add this to his game as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has, for example, the threat of his at-rim finishing could only be amplified at the next level, making defenders more hesitant to draw contact near the bucket and more willing to give him space on the perimeter. While Bufkin's three-point shooting could stand to be a bit more consistent, getting to the free-throw line should be the most important goal for Bufkin to open up his three-level scoring potential.

Shot selection

Bufkin is already a bit better at creating space than he's usually given credit for, but even so, his lack of consistent separation did lead to some problems, mostly coming in the form of tough, contested jump shots. His consistency and willingness left a bit to be desired at times, and in combination with his still-limited abilities as an isolation scorer, he certainly took his fair share of bad shots.

Depending on where Bufkin lands in the draft, he likely won't be taking on a primary offensive role any time soon, and that's okay. The more time he's given to further develop his ball-handling, his outside jump shot, and his body, this issue may begin to disappear on its own.