With news that the Pelicans are looking to trade into the NBA Draft to grab a small forward or center plenty of questions have been raised about the plan of the front office. Out of all of them though the most important seems to be which player, or players, have caught the eye of the front office enough to cause them to try to work themselves back into a pick. Instead of trying to guess exactly the player, Pelican Debrief has decided to just break down 18 small forwards and centers leading up to draft day (two reports will be posted daily) so that Pelicans fans will be ready no matter where or when the team trades into the draft and selects a player.
The other day we had a scouting report of young Swiss big man Clint Capela, the newest international big man prospect that seems to be set up to get drafted in the first round just a few days from now. While Capela has grabbed most of the headlines as the mid to late first round big man project there is another young, international prospect that will have plenty of NBA GM’s salivating over, 22-year-old Walter Tavares.
Wingspan: Reportedly 7’9”
Standing Reach: N/A
Max Vertical: N/A
Stats (from ACB League in Spain): 35 games, 21.2 mpg, 6 ppg, 58.5 FG%, 72.2 FT%, 6.8 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.5 bpg
Projected Draft Position: Late first to mid-second round
Tavares is a massive, massive individual and first and foremost that is what has people excited about him. Combining with the size is deceptive athleticism that makes him more than just a stiff. He isn’t a crazy athlete but he has shown the ability to get up and down the floor in transition, set screens and roll off them quickly and efficiently and most importantly get to where he needs to be on the defensive end of the floor at the right time.
Tavares uses that athleticism to do the things that every NBA team is looking for out of their bigs, protect the rim and rebound. H was the third best shot blocker per minute in the ACB league last season and also pulled in his fair share of rebounds in the amount of time he played, especially for someone who blocked so many shots.
The final thing that Tavares has going for him is his upside especially since he has only been playing basketball since 2010. For a player who has been around the game for just a short amount of time Tavares’ play in one of the best non-NBA leagues in the world is incredibly encouraging. There isn’t any guarantee that Tavares will reach that potential obviously but any time a team can draft a player with the size Tavares has that doesn’t have bad habits some other more experience players will there is going to be a lot of hope about what he can become.
As we just saw this week with Joel Embiid Tavares’ size is potentially going to be an issue going forward because of the stress it puts on the body. It wouldn’t exactly be surprising down the line to see Tavares with some type of lower body injury as the pounding that running and jumping would take one a 7’3” body is immense. There is a chance that nothing ever happens to Tavares but as we have seen with guys like Embiid, Greg Oden, and Andrew Bynum sometimes a massive body just isn’t meant for big time athletics.
On the court the biggest weakness Tavares has is his general rawness that really shows up on offense and in some of his defensive fundamentals. Tavares rarely shot anywhere besides right in front of the rim this season, so you aren’t getting him for anything other than dunking passes and offensive rebounds at the moment. His free throw stroke is solid so there is potential for more there but it seems most likely that he won’t ever be a real offensive threat. On defense Tavares tends to chase blocks a bit and can move himself out of position. That led to him picking up a bit too many fouls this year but is also something that is fixable with time and experience.
Projected Role: At the start Tavares will be a third big who specializes in shot blocking and rebounding. In fact he may not even be able to play meaningful minutes for a year or two at the start of his NBA career if he comes over immediately. If all breaks well though he projects as an elite rebounder and rim protector.
Information for this report was found at DraftExpress. For more on Tavares as well as his DX profile and scouting report video you can go here.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans