As part of our draft coverage, we are profiling wings and big men the Celtics might be interested in with the 19th pick. Next up is Solomon Alabi, a center from Florida State. We made these profiles using our own personal knowledge of the prospects combined with research from numerous sites, including NBADraft.net and Draft Express.
Draft Express projection: 19th pick (to the Celtics) NBADraft.net: (33rd pick)
At 7’1″ and armed with a 7’5″ wingspan and impressive mobility for a man his size, it’s Alabi’s physical profile that intrigues NBA decision-makers. His year-to-year improvements (ppg averages: 3.9 as a freshman, 8.4 as a sophomore, 11.7 as a junior) also point to a player who has yet to reach his full potential.
Mostly because of his physical tools, Alabi is a capable defender who could potentially become a defensive anchor in the NBA. His long arms allow him to block shots and alter many more, and his solid leaping ability furthers his potential to become a very valuable defender down the road. Despite all his physical ability, Alabi tends to make mental lapses and also lacks the lateral quickness to do any sort of defending on the perimeter. As noted by Draft Express, while Alabi’s “sheer size is definitely an asset, he does have a number of bad habits. Alabi tends to gamble on occasion, trying to steal entry passes and yielding easy baskets when he can’t come up with a steal. His propensity to lunge at the ball makes it hard for him to recover to his man as well.
“Alabi will surely struggle against perimeter oriented big men who can take him outside and attack him off the dribble, as he lacks the agility and lateral quickness to move his feet very effectively outside the paint, looking very upright in his stance. Having Alabi camp out in the paint in a zone is one way his team can overcome this issue, but unfortunately the defensive three second rule does not allow this tactic in the NBA.”
Additionally, Alabi will need to add extra bulk and strength to bang with the NBA’s true centers. With only 237 pounds packed on that 7’1″ frame, Alabi would have a lot of trouble matching the physicality of the league’s best centers.
Offensively, Alabi is a work in progress. While he occasionally knocks down mid-range jumpers and sometimes shows talented post moves and impressive touch, his offensive repertoire is far from complete. Most troubling is that Alabi seems to lack the coordination to make smooth, crisp moves. His movements are far from free-flowing, and a lot of his moves look rather mechanical.
Whatever team does draft Alabi, whether it be the Celtics or anybody else, will be drafting based on potential rather than production. At this stage in his career, Alabi doesn’t have the skills or strength to be a factor. Down the road, that could be different, but Alabi reminds me of a player who was drafted last year: Hasheem Thabeet. Two inches shorter than Thabeet, just as weak and neither as productive nor as athletic, Alabi would seem to be a poor man’s Thabeet. After Thabeet’s showing last year, that’s one hell of a miserable label.