NBA draft profile: Gonzaga F Domantas Sabonis


Domantas Sabonis

Position: Forward

Height: 6-11

Weight: 240

School: Gonzaga

Domantas Sabonis is among the most NBA-ready big men in this year's draft. He's been around the league since an early age - his father Arvydas was a standout for the Trail Blazers for seven seasons in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While his father starred overseas before coming to the NBA in his early 30s, the younger Sabonis will enter the NBA as a 20-year-old ready to contribute immediately. 

Sabonis demonstrated significant improvement during his two seasons at Gonzaga. After averaging 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds as a freshman, he upped his production to 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds during his sophomore year. Sabonis is very efficient on the offensive end, converting 63 percent of his field goal attempts in his two college seasons. 

He ended his collegiate career on a high note, playing very well in the NCAA Tournament this past spring. He dominated Utah's Jakob Poeltl - projected as a top 10 pick in the 2016 Draft - in a 23-point Gonzaga win in the second round. Sabonis had 19 points and 10 rebounds and held Poeltl to just five points and four rebounds. That performance cemented Sabonis' status as an elite NBA prospect and undoubtedly moved him up several teams' draft boards.

Sabonis is reportedly working out for only four teams leading up to the draft: the Jazz, Celtics, Suns, and Raptors. This would indicate Sabonis thinks he's likely to be selected in the middle of the first round.

Like his father, Sabonis is a gifted offensive player. But Domantas is a completely different player than Arvydas. Domantas is a much more athletic and explosive post player, while his father was more skilled around the basket and was an exceptional passer. While Domantas isn't an elite passer, he's shown the ability to find the open man out of a double team. 

The younger Sabonis is also a plus rebounder, actively attacking the glass on both ends of the floor. He averaged just under 12 rebounds in a little more than 31 minutes per game as a sophomore. He's also a very good foul shooter, knocking down 77 percent of his free throw attempts last season.  

Sabonis has average athleticism but is far from an elite athlete. His footwork and lateral movement need improvement. This could especially hurt him on the defensive end as he learns to guard the pick and roll. 

Sabonis also must become more confident in his 15-18 foot jumper. He did the bulk of his damage in college close to the basket. As a NBA power forward, he'll be required to shoot from the perimeter with regularity. 

How he'd fit with the 76ers
Not particularly well. With the much-anticipated return of Joel Embiid and the expected arrival of Dario Saric, the 76ers have a logjam in their frontcourt. Add Embiid and Saric to Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and likely No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, and the 76ers will have five forwards 6-10 or taller in their rotation. 

The moral of the story: Sabonis plays a position that isn't an area of need for the 76ers right now. He isn't an option with the No. 1 pick and it's unlikely he'll be on the board when the 76ers are making the 24th pick. Odds are slim that Sabonis will be wearing a 76ers uniform next year.

NBA comparison
There have been comparisons to both Marc and Pau Gasol, but I don't think Sabonis ever reaches those heights in the NBA. Arvydas Sabonis is an easy but flawed comparison. As mentioned above, Domantas has a completely different skill set than his father. So I'll settle on Luis Scola, who has averaged 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in nine NBA seasons with the Rockets, Suns, Pacers and Raptors.  

Draft projection
Sabonis will be selected in the middle of the first round. There's a chance he sneaks into the back end of the lottery, with the Jazz being a likely landing spot with the 12th pick. I'd be surprised if Sabonis goes any lower than 18th to the Pistons.

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