PROJECTED DRAFT RANGE: Poeltl is projected to come off the board within the top 10 picks, with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranking him No. 8 overall while Chad Ford of ESPN.com slots him tenth and has the big man penciled in as the top available center in this year’s draft. His biggest draft competition is likely to be Marquette freshman big man Henry Ellenson, whose offensive skills and higher upside could trump Poeltl’s abilities in the eyes of scouts.
RISE/FALL: The premium that the league places on athletic big men who can protect the rim makes it difficult to envision Poeltl dropping out of the top 10 on draft night. Poeltl had a legitimate shot at being a lottery pick in 2015, so it would certainly be a shock to see him tumble out of the top 14 picks this season. The significant increase in Poeltl’s productivity from his freshman campaign at Utah to this season’s numbers certainly bode well for his future and illustrate that the best is still to come from the 20-year-old. Poeltl’s predraft workouts will be vital in determining where he lands come June. If the Austrian shows scouts that he can regularly connect on his midrange shots and demonstrate solid footwork in the post while on offense, he could creep into the top seven selections, though it may take a team reaching for fit for him to come off the board that high.
I don’t see Poeltl landing outside the lottery unless he appears to be severely overmatched physically during his workouts, assuming he even agrees to compete against other players instead of limiting himself strictly to individual showcases. His medical assessments will also play a part, given that teams are especially wary of big men who have lower body issues. Poeltl has no reported medical or physical problems, but NBA medical exams have been known to turn up previously undiagnosed maladies, so some level of uncertainty always exists in this area.
FIT: There aren’t many teams that couldn’t benefit from adding a player with Poeltl’s skills and potential. The Bucks immediately come to mind as a prime destination, since he’d be a solid fit alongside Greg Monroe, provided Milwaukee doesn’t trade Monroe this summer. Orlando could also use some interior help, though the Magic are looking to add veteran depth and may well end up trading their first-rounder. The Bulls are also a strong possibility with the futures of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah unresolved, and Poeltl’s athleticism would blend well with coach Fred Hoiberg‘s system.
FINAL TAKE: There will always be work in the NBA for skilled big men, so Poeltl shouldn’t have to wait too long on draft night to hear his name called. His intriguing size, rebounding ability, shot-blocking acumen and coordination in the pick-and-roll should make him a serviceable player for seasons to come. Still, Poeltl will need to add strength and improve his post arsenal if he hopes to become more than simply a rotation player in the NBA.
(For Part One of Jakob Poeltl’s prospect profile, click here.)