PROJECTED DRAFT RANGE: Labissiere is projected to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round, with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranking him No. 10 overall while Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him No. 16. Ford also ranks Labissiere as the second-best center, sandwiched between Jakob Poeltl and Diamond Stone. Ante Zizic is another center who should be picked in the middle of the first round and thus is another name Labissiere will compete with.
RISE/FALL: Labissiere was once thought of as a top-5 pick, but that was before the season and those days are long gone. It is not a lock that teams would even pick Labissiere in the first round, Ford recently said, per Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald Leader. Labissiere is likely viewed by many teams as too raw to select early on in the draft because of his lackluster season. There is a decent chance he would have benefited from another year at Kentucky, but there was a seemingly equal chance of his stock falling further, too. That’s why, from an economic standpoint, Labissiere made the right call. His draft position may depend more on how he does in workouts for teams and how he comes across in interviews, especially when asked about his struggles at Kentucky.
FIT: The team that will draft Labissiere won’t expect him to contribute right away. They can’t. He failed to be a steady contributor during his lone college season, so he is definitely a work in progress. At the same time, he has the potential to be one of the league’s top big men down the road because his of his offensive skills and shot-blocking prowess. The Blazers would benefit from Labissiere’s presence, but he would be a better fit on a team that would be more inclined to allow him time to develop in the D-League. As Ford suggests, the Celtics would seem like the best fit for Labissiere because Boston can afford to take a gamble with multiple picks in the draft. The franchise has also strategically used the D-League as a development tool, often moving young players down to the affiliate multiple times throughout the week for more playing time.
FINAL TAKE: Centers who have sound midrange scoring ability have a place in the NBA. At the same time, big men who don’t rebound well do not. It’s hard to tell where Labissiere will end up, but his intriguing size and raw talent should help him get selected in the first round. From there, Labissiere must continue to add strength and become tougher on the glass. Labissiere lived in Haiti, was declared ineligible by two high schools before attending a prep school and experienced a rocky college season, so he has battled adversity. I see Labissiere drafted toward the end of the first round and then spending most of next season in the D-League.
(For Part One of Skal Labissiere’s prospect profile, click here.)