With the 22nd Pick of the NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers Select... Solomon Alabi from Florida State
The TrueHoop Network’s mock draft will be released on our individual sites. Picks are predictions, not our preferences.
The first thing you notice about Solomon Alabi as an NBA prospect is that he’s 7’1” with a 7’5” wingspan and a 9’5” standing reach. Alabi is tall, he’s long, and he anchored one of the best defenses in college basketball last season. Additionally, Alabi is described as a high motor, high IQ player by David Thorpe who compared Alabi to Joakim Noah because of Alabi’s high energy level and competitiveness. ESPN INsider Chad Ford raved about Alabi’s intelligence stating:
If IQ really mattered in the NBA, Alabi would be the No. 1 pick in the draft; the guy is unbelievably smart. He probably should’ve been a physicist. I’m just not sure how being brilliant translates to success in the paint.
Offensively, Alabi rates well as a jump shooter in the midrange and as a finisher, though he wasn’t very good with his back to the basket in college, shooting a poor 37.3% in post-up situations.
Unfortunately, Alabi did not do very well in the athletic testing portion of the combine. He tested as the slowest player in the agility drills and although he has that excellent standing reach, he would likely lose a jump ball to 6’4” John Wall who’s max vertical reach was 11’8.5” to Alabi’s 11’7”. This lack of explosiveness was probably a contributing factor to Alabi’s “pedestrian” rebounding rate.
Realistically though, with the 22nd pick, the Trail Blazers are somewhat unlikely to get a world beater. If Alabi could jump out of the gym and was a force on the low block, he’d be in the conversation for the first or second pick, not the twenty-second pick. By this stage, most of the 6’5”+ wings have been taken and I don’t see any of the combo guards in this crop as an upgrade over Jerryd Bayless. Portland may as well go for size.
Even with his athletic limitations, Alabi wouldn’t be a bad pick. Alabi would be the Blazers’ third or fourth string center and (barring injury) would not see a lot of time on the court. Portland has the luxury of taking a flyer on a raw player and Alabi has a great work ethic and has shown improvement year-to-year. Alabi may not be an impact player right away, but with his motor and hard-working personality, I think he can definitely be a rotation player down the road, and if he never improves? Well, there are worse things to have on the end of your bench than a 7’1” energy guy with high character and a mid-range jump shot. As an added bonus, if Portland is ever accused of lacking depth at the five… well we’d have the perfect Alabi.