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2021 NBA Draft Profile: Is Neemias Queta the shot blocker Denver needs?

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Utah State at Texas Tech Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Neemias Queta is an absolute specimen of a man. He’s a powerful 7’0” 245 lbs. which translates well with professional athletes. He’s a defender and rebounder at heart so he profiles to be a good inside presence at the next level.

Throughout his time at Utah State, he complied five awards. He was a 3x All-MWC, 3x All-MWC Tourney, 3x MWC All-Defense, 2x MWC Defensive Player of the Year, and 2018-19 MWC Rookie of the Year.

The modern NBA values shooting range from their bigs these days, and although he needs to improve that, he might be the inside presence Denver and several other NBA teams could use.

Neemias Queta

Vitals

Age: 21

Height: 7’0”

Weight: 245

Wingspan: 7’4”

Per Game Stats

Starting all 29 games, Queta averaged 15 points a game and 10 rebounds on 56% shooting from the field. His defensive numbers are incredible as he averaged 3.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He’s a menace on the glass averaging 3 offensive rebounds a game last season, and he is also a good free-throw shooter for his position at 70%.

Strengths

Defense

With a frame like 7’0” 245, he can be almost impenetrable inside at times. He’s a very good rim protector, but also has the mobility to work the passing lanes on the perimeter. He can create transition opportunities from his great hands, and he can also stop transition opportunities with athletic chase-down blocks.

He doesn't have guard-like quickness, and how could you with a frame like that, but when he gets rolling in a straight line he has great burst. Help defense is another one of his strengths. He can recognize when it's needed and rise for shot-blocking opportunities. When he can’t block the shot, he does a really nice job of jumping straight up with high arms to avoid a foul.

Finishing

Throughout his career at Utah State, he shot 64% at the rim and 50% on his post-up opportunities. He has good touch and feel for spacing the floor, so he can be utilized in the pick and roll at the next level with more experience. During transition offense, he runs the floor very well, and he can take it to the house by himself or finish it off with a lob.

He’s also one of those powerful dunkers who does not take it lightly above the rim. Utah State loved to use him as a lob threat, and if he improves in the pick and roll at the next level, he can be very effective being a lob threat. He’s also very adept at catching from the post and immediately finishing, but also knows how to pump fake and let the defender fly by.

Passing

He averaged just under three assists last season which is good for his size, but the eye test will show his passing skills and vision. He’s a really good passer from the post, so Utah State would run actions behind that knowing he can hit cross-court passes. He’s a very willing passer, so when the double comes he knows where to go with it.

One of the more impressive parts of his post-passing game is his patience. When the double comes quickly he shows the ability to avoid panic, so he dribbles it out and waits for an opportunity to find the open guy. If you cut he will find you because most of the time he can see over the defense.

Weaknesses

Shooting

He’s not one of those bigs who only have range from about three feet outside the paint. He can shoot, he just doesn't have the best range. As of now, he doesn’t profile to be an NBA three-point shooting big. He has a decent college mid-range stroke but that was about the extent of his shooting ability in college.

His mechanics aren’t the best either. He shoots stiff with erratic feet at times. More times than you would like, he comes off the pick and roll and rolls to spots to shoot where he is ineffective. He is not a comfortable three-point shooter, and some of his opportunities from beyond the arc will come because people dare him to shoot.

Ball security

Even though he displays nice patience when the double comes, he will turn the ball over. He had a 19% turnover rate coming from the post. He’s also a dominant-hand player, so he’s not comfortable with the off-hand and NBA teams will exploit that. He’s a sloppy ball-handler at times and one of those players you say “get it to a guard” when he is dribbling in traffic.

Even in the post, he struggles putting the ball on the floor as it will kick off his leg out of bounds. NBA teams will pressure him far more and he has shown the tendency to be uncomfortable with pressure.

Plays stiff at times

He’s very robotic at times lacking fluidity, so he doesn’t have the greatest hip movement. He’s a good athlete vertically but laterally he does not share the same natural techniques. With that in mind, he will struggle to defend guards on the perimeter since it calls for quick feet and fluid hips.

Furthermore, sometimes he stands straight up without an athletic position. When he gets caught with that stance, players will try to drive by him and he will either get blown by or he will reach. When guarding the pick and roll, NBA guards will attack him and try to get downhill.


Verdict

The Nuggets have needed a shot blocker for a very long time, and even though he can make an impact in that area, he is still a project at the next level. He’s one of those prospects that could be a decent find later in the draft, but I don’t think the Nuggets would need to draft him in the first round.

He has the tools to be effective at the next level since he does have good court vision and the ability to finish at the rim, but his lack of fluidity can be a problem in the NBA. Most of his usage came from the post in college, but this modern NBA will not offer him those opportunities until he improves his ball security.

Overall, he’s a very good defender and one the Nuggets would like to have off the bench since they don’t have good defensive bigs especially at Queta’s size. If he falls to the second round and the Nuggets can make a trade getting back into that round, this might be a guy they take a look at, but I feel like Denver likes more offense from their bigs.