Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
- Larry David
NBA MOCK DRAFT PICK No. 7
JAKOB POELTL, SOPHOMORE, UTAH
7’1” • 240 lbs. • 7’1” WINGSPAN
Jakob Poeltl (pronounced ya-kob per-del) is a 7’1 sophomore center who plays for the University of Utah Utes, via Vienna, Austria. He’s notable for having been considered a lottery pick his freshman year, but opting to stay in college to improve his stock for this season, which he has done an impressive job of thus far.
Poeltl leads the NCAA in PER at 36.2, proving he’s a truly efficient player because of his ability to get to the line (averaging 10 foul shots per 40 minutes). His freshman season, he struggled majorly on free-throws, shooting an abysmal .444 percent, but his offseason drastically improved his statistics as he’s currently averaging .691 from the line.
From last season, he’s also doubled his points per game average from 9.1 points his freshman year to 18.1 points per game this year. Seeing such massive improvements over one offseason is impressive, not even including the fact that Utah lost PG Delon Wright who played the pick-and-roll with Poeltl and set up many of his scoring opportunities in 2014-2015.
Though not an elite rebounder with a TRB of about 17.9% over his two seasons in college, his sheer size gets him boards, and he’s currently top-50 in the NCAA in rebounds per game at 9.0 per contest. Though his TRB% dipped between his first and second seasons, his RPG improved from 6.8 RPG his freshman season.
A big asset to Poeltl’s game is his passing. His assist average is about 14.2% this season, up from last season’s pedestrian 6.6%. With that, his turnover percentage actually dipped from 18.2% to 12.5%, which is impressive because of his increased role in the offensive sets that Utah runs this season.
While Poeltl is effective in his offensive role, his problems come with the fact that he doesn’t have a super diverse skill set. Outside of a few feet from the basket, he’s very limited in what he can do. He has virtually no jump shot, and doesn’t have a particularly effective back-to-the-basket game yet either, though it has improved much from last season. He’s managed to score against smaller big men using up-and-under techniques as were on display in his game against Temple earlier this season.
The problem with this is that Poeltl is not going to be bigger and stronger than everybody he plays, which this season, he has been. Utah has the 109th toughest schedule in 2015-2016, and Poeltl has yet to play against a truly formidable post player–he hasn’t played against a single big man on any draft boards in the top 60 picks. The Pac-12 is fairly weak this year with only Arizona, Oregon and Utah as truly competitive teams on a national scale, so this has boosted Poeltl’s numbers, which are admittedly very impressive.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that much of his competition has been beneath him in terms of playing against tough, physical 5s, it’s not as easy to write him into a specific role in the NBA as of right now. What I can say is that he’s proven to be a guy who can improve massively in a short amount of time, as well as a player who can adapt to changes on the fly (referencing in particular the loss of Delon Wright).
Because of his newfound solidity at the line, he will at least be efficient on the offensive end if for no other reason than drawing fouls and getting the occasional putback. He has a limited bust-ability about him, which is obviously a very attractive quality to have as a potential top-10 pick.