My look at some of the underpublicized seniors in this year’s draft continues with a trip to the America East Conference – Vermont’s Marqus Blakely. Blakely (6’5, 225 – 17.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg) may be the smallest power player I have ever seen. He dominated the conference the last 3 seasons almost exclusively in the lane. Let’s examine if there is NBA potential behind the stats.
The Good- Blakely plays much bigger than 6’5 and uses his body well. On offense he has great touch around the rim, very good footwork, and does a great job clearing space around him. He works hard going after offensive rebounds and has a good knack for how missed shots will come off the rim. Defensively, he does a great job forcing players out of the lane and always seems to clear space for rebounds. He is an active defender around the basket and is a good shot blocker for his size. Speaking of rebounding, his fundamentals are sound – boxes out well, grabs ball with two hands and keeps the ball up. All-around, he has a solid basketball IQ and his decision-making has improved through his time in Vermont.
The Not-So-Good- Size, Size, Size. Unfortunately, he plays a power forward’s game in a shooting guard’s body. He has almost no offense outside of 8-10 feet and he doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to play on the perimeter. Defensively, he is not quick enough to guard comparatively sized players and not big enough to play with NBA-sized power forwards. In his college career, he spent most of his time like the biggest kid on the school yard, forcing his will on the other teams. He does a good job drawing fouls, though he needs to improve his foul shooting. Finally, he doesn’t run the court particularly well and he needs to improve his foot speed.
The Verdict- While there is a lot to like about Blakely, I just don’t think he has the size it takes to play his style of game in the NBA. If he can improve his ball-handling skills and foot speed enough that he can play out on the perimeter, then his toughness and rebounding skills can be a valuable asset. If he was to go play in Europe, I think he would be a very effective player.
Come back tomorrow, when I will rate the platers in the draft by their particular skills, and more of the countdown to the Draft with more NBA Team Needs.