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Stiffs NBA Draft prospect watch: Ike Anigbogu

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The less heralded UCLA prospect still could be a great addition

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Cincinnati v UCLA Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Denver Stiffs will be covering the top prospects for the Denver Nuggets in the 2017 NBA Draft in our Stiffs Prospect Watch series. Check back daily for video, stats, and of top first round prospects.

Ike Anigbogu - UCLA

Stats

Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Field Goal % Three point % Free throw %
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Field Goal % Three point % Free throw %
10.0 5.9 0.4 0.5 1.8 1.5 65.2% 47.6% 74.3%

Strengths

Size

Without a doubt Anigbogu’s biggest asset coming into the draft is his size. He’s 6’10” but has a wingspan that measures over 7’6”. Unlike many lengthy bigs coming out of college, Anigbogu doesn’t still need to fill out his frame (though some Hessification can never hurt). Ike weighed in at 252 lbs at the combine. Compare that to Jonathan Jeanne, the only player to have a longer wingspan, who weighed in at just over 207 lbs at the combine. In terms of NBA ready bodies, there’s no one better suited than Anigbogu.

Hustle

Anigbogu is also the youngest player in the draft so his skills are still raw. However, at UCLA when playing next to more polished players like Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf, Anigbogu was able to make up for his lack in polish by being the rim running, glass cleaning big that every great team needs. He consistently gets out on the break to make himself available for easy finishes down the middle of the court and he also was a solid offensive rebounder, grabbing 1.4 boards on the offensive glass in just 13 minutes of play.

Weaknesses

Offensive Versatility

Anigbogu is raw, there’s no doubt about it and that shows up very obviously on the offensive end. He currently has no jump shot to speak of and given he didn’t attempt a single three his freshman year, it seems unlikely he’ll ever develop much range outside of the paint. The problem is his post game is also very under developed. Anigbogu doesn’t have the footwork or mechanics right now to be able to get off his shot with regularity in the post. His offensive game is very Kenneth Faried in his rookie year, pretty much limited to finishing lobs and putbacks.

Touch/hands

Again, he’s really raw. For a guy with as great of size and length as he has, Anigbogu has yet to figure out how to finish around the rim unless there’s a wide open dunk available. He misses too many bunnies and he struggles when the defensive crowds him and applies pressure in the post. He’s an effective screener, but he needs to work on his hands to be a truly great pick and roll player. Currently Ike is the type of guy that needs to be hit square in the chest with every pass. It’s very apparent that he hasn’t got to a point where everything just comes naturally to him, and you can almost see his mind processing a pick and roll as it’s happening which will lead to him fumbling passes as he rolls to the basket.

Fit with Nuggets

Anigbogu’s fit depends on the same question that nearly all bigs in this draft do: can he play next to Nikola Jokic? That’s tough to answer with a guy as raw as Ike but if he can be developed slowly and correctly, something the Nuggets are in a position to do, then he profiles as a tremendous fit. He’s got the length and quickness to guard out to the perimeter, though he certainly is not a finished product in that respect. That length similarly gives him the tools to be a rim protector and as we’ve already said, he’s got a lot of similar tools to Faried who has excelled on offense when playing next to Jokic. However, he could also cause similar issues as Jusuf Nurkic did while playing next to Jokic, and especially if he was paired with Emmanuel Mudiay. With no discernible court stretching skills, Anigbogu will likely clog the lane making it much more difficult for Mudiay to operate.

Projected draft spot

SBNation - 24

Draft Express - 21

CBS Sports - 19 (Forgrave), 22 (Parrish)

Chad Ford - 17

Final Thoughts

I’m a bit surprised there isn’t more Anigbogu to the Nuggets buzz. There has been more and more buzz about the possibility of the Nuggets trading back, Nuggets insider Christopher Dempsey said just yesterday on Altitude950 that he expects the team to move back, and Anigbogu seems to fit the profile of what the Nuggets are looking for. It’s curious that Denver has brought in big men projected to go in the late teens to early twenties such as Justin Patton, Jarrett Allen and Anigbogu’s teammate T.J. Leaf, but Ike himself has yet to visit the confines of the Pepsi Center, at least publicly.

He’s definitely a project player and not someone you should expect to get minutes right out of the gate. Yet, it’s been said many times, even by Tim Connelly himself, that a rookie is going to have a hard time getting minutes on this roster regardless of his “NBA readiness.” Anigbogu fits perfectly into the long strategy the Nuggets should be using in this draft. He’s a player with the physical tools and promise to fit a major area of need and the Nuggets are an organization that can afford to allow him to develop into more of a complete player before relying on him in the rotation. Consider him my sneaky dark horse pick for Denver.