Season Stats: 16.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 2.4 TOPG on 66/0/59
Height/Weight: 6’10 ½ / 238
Wingspan/ standing reach: 7’2/ 9’2
Hand size: 9.25
College/ country: Arkansas
Tools: Shot blocking, athleticism, rebounding
- Explosive athlete
- Excellent rebounder
- Dynamic in the pick & roll
- Elite in transition for a center- runs the floor well
- Great recovery ability
- Strong on closeouts
- Can sometimes chase blocks instead of going for simple closeout
- Discipline & motor are inconsistent
- Must add muscle
- Often lax on box outs
- Subpar perimeter defender
Overall: Gafford’s draft stock has likely fallen as a sophomore from where it was a year ago after his freshman season. Gafford is an explosive big that thrives in the P&R offensively, and can be active on the glass and serve as a rim protector. Gafford shot more jump shots as the season progressed, and also worked on his faceup game and free throw shooting.
The area that Gafford will immediately impress in is athleticism. He runs the floor incredibly well for a center, he’s explosive in the open floor, and he plays above the rim. He’s aggressive in using his athleticism, and rarely backs down from bigger players. If Gafford can add more muscle to his frame, he will be making a large impact on both ends of the floor in years to come. With his long arms, Gafford has room to fill in his large frame. Gafford should automatically be an effective rebounder and rim runner in the NBA, but discipline will determine if he’s going to make the step to be a great defender. His only projected physical defensive shortcoming is that he is slow on the perimeter against the drive. He can close out strong on jump shots, but is a liability on the drive against smaller, quicker players.
NBA Comparison: Floor: Nerlens Noel; ceiling: Atlanta Dwight Howard
Projected draft range: 10-25
Fit With Mavericks: The Mavericks need a rim running center, and ideally one that can space the floor to the free throw line. Gafford checks those boxes, but the question mark for his fit in Dallas lies in his motor. With his motor being reported as a flaw in his sophomore year, combined with a lack of defensive discipline at times, those two areas could be concerning under Carlisle. Mental toughness will be significant for reaching his upside, as his first few years in the league could be a big learning curve. Continuing to improve his jump shot and expanding range beyond the free throw line, eliminating his habit of overcommitting on defense, and his half court impact will all be important for Gafford’s development.