Drafted by: Milwaukee Bucks, No. 36 overall
School: Louisiana State
Height/Weight: 6'9", 257 lbs
Age: 21 years old
Projected NBA Position: Power Forward/Center
Pro Comparison: Udonis Haslem/Poor-man's Paul Millsap
Twitter Handle: @OBryant_The3rd
After three years of imposing his will on SEC opponents, LSU's Johnny O'Bryant III now looks to mix things up in the NBA.
The Tigers' anchor drew attention from pro scouts and executives by dominating the paint as a rebounder, defender and interior scorer.
While he doesn't get all of his production via power, he certainly plays through contact proficiently and is well-suited to handle the physical nature of the NBA.
If he can clean up and expand his game a little more, he should be able to fill a role and stick in the league. His game won't be predicated on advanced skills, nor will he get by on sheer strength, so he'll have to learn how to blend the two and contribute consistently.
|Statistics at LSU|
Based on his height, you wouldn't think O'Bryant is a candidate to play in the NBA paint. He's 6'7.25" in socks and 6'8.5" in shoes.
The good news is that he possesses a 7'2.25" wingspan and a rock-solid 257-pound physique. He's strong and long enough to defend, rebound and score over most power forwards.
From a speed and agility standpoint, O'Bryant is in the middle of the road. He doesn't have a great burst laterally or on drives to the basket, but he can leap to 35.5", which is pretty good for someone nearing 260 pounds.
He's not going to blow by people off the bounce, and he'll also have some trouble guarding quicker 4s, but he should have enough juice and strength to compete with the vast majority of his adversaries.
Rebounding Effort and Talent
It's not perfectly clear how much of O'Bryant's offensive game will translate to the NBA, or whether he'll be able to defend the league's top scorers.
But you can bet he'll make his presence felt on the boards. He averaged 11.4 rebounds per 40 minutes during his LSU career, per Sports-Reference.com, as he seldom missed a chance to box out when he saw a shot go up.
With his awareness and a willingness to use his wide base to battle for position, he'll emerge as one of the better rebounders from the 2014 class.
O'Bryant probably won't get enough playing time to put up gaudy numbers, but his per-minute numbers should be solid. He'll be one of the best two-way rebounders among the younger generation.
By "inside-out," we're not calling O'Bryant a stretch 4 by any means. Three-pointers won't likely be a part of his repertoire.
However, he'll be able to sprinkle in a few mid-range jumpers to go along with his low-post exploits.
He can catch it in the mid-post and square up for a face-up drive or shot, or he can play with his back to the basket. Either way, he can finish with power or finesse. NBADraft.net scout Richard Harris got a good look at O'Bryant this year, and he broke down the youngster's solid skills:
A versatile interior scorer, O’Bryant improved his scoring average and shooting percentage in each of his three seasons at LSU... (He) can score off the drive, in the post, or from midrange with his jumper. Uses a variety of impressive spin moves in the post, can make hook shots and layups with either hand, and has a midrange fade-away that is difficult to defend. The range on his jump shot extends past 22 feet, though he is far more reliable inside 15 feet.
Will he be able to use all of his college moves effectively in the NBA? Maybe not, but he'll enhance his NBA-caliber moves and keep improving as a jump-shooter. That bodes well for his role-player candidacy.
Defensive Strength and Potential
Don't expect O'Bryant to shine defensively. He didn't block too many shots in college, and he's not going to be the swiftest container in the NBA.
However, his demeanor, effort and strength will put him in a good position to be an overachieving stopper, similar to Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat.
He has good hands and a willingness to play within a team concept. He's the type of player who can be molded into a key cog in the middle of the floor, even if he's been undisciplined at times while checking top-tier college opponents.
When his fundamentals catch up with his physique, he'll be a good (but not great) defender.
Sloppy play plagued O'Bryant on the offensive end throughout his college career, as he was often too ambitious while trying to create amid a throng of foes. He averaged no fewer than 4.2 turnovers per 40 minutes in each of his three seasons, per Sports-Reference.com, which is an embarrassingly bad mark.
Whether it's a forced shot in a crowd or an errant, sloppy pass, he makes coaches nervous when he tries to do too much in the paint. He was listed as the most turnover-prone player in DraftExpress.com's top 100 back in March, something that hurt his draft stock all spring.
He needs to play within his role and learn to read the defense steadier against NBA defenses.
The other main concern entering his rookie year is the aforementioned defensive discipline. O'Bryant committed 4.2 fouls per 40 minutes as a junior, and if he doesn't improve his footwork and situational awareness, he's going to have more trouble in the NBA.
O'Bryant won't be much more than a peripheral piece off the bench, utilized to give his squad an intermittent jolt in the paint.
Projecting numbers isn't too fruitful, as his game won't really be based on scoring production or minutes played. The efficiency metrics will be important, of course, but most of all, the coaching staff will look to see if he's able to give the team more possessions, convert high-percentage opportunities and give the team energy. He should accomplish all three at a modest rate.
He will develop as an offensive weapon. While he won't be dynamic, he'll certainly be able to convert his post-ups with a more polished set of moves, and his jump shot shows a lot of promise.
As long as he can keep things relatively clean on the defensive end, he could grow into a key role player off the bench, rather than just a back-of-the-rotation energy guy.
O'Bryant's ceiling looks a lot like a stronger version of Udonis Haslem, maybe with a better offensive game. In fact, NBA.com's Chris Dortch says that O'Bryant's game reminds him of Paul Millsap. The LSU star would be thrilled to implement a poor-man's version of Millsap's inside-out style.
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