For the next in our pre-draft series of profiles we bring up Duke’s finest, Kyle Filipowski. This is one of those profiles I’m writing because it could happen, not necessarily because I want it to happen. If some other options I am more in favor of go ahead of the Denver Nuggets, their 2024 draft could come down to whether they believe in a reach on someone scheduled for the second round, or if the fall of someone like Filipowski can be turned to their advantage. Can he fill a bench role, or even play next to Jokic as a near-seven-foot forward? If he’s there when Denver’s on the clock, those are the questions that need a very clear answer – and I’m not sure there is one.

Kyle Filipowski, Forward, Duke


Height (w/o shoes): 6 feet, 10.75 inches

Weight: 230 pounds

Wingspan: 6 feet, 10.5 inches

Age: 20 (11/07/2003)

Filipowski in shoes is 7 feet tall, which is great from a height perspective especially if someone needs to play him at center as well for stretches which Denver almost certainly would. The wingspan is somewhat of an issue however, where his ability to be a rim protector is affected by his lack of wingspan as well as his lack of explosion. He also has a low shot release that, along with his arm length, plays into a shot that can be more easily bothered than you would think a seven-footer’s would be.

College Statistics

2023/2024 Season Stats

30.4 16.4 8.3 2.8 1.1 50.5% 34.8% 67.1% 11.1




Cutting and Finishing

Filipowski is at his best rolling to the basket or getting the ball while on the move. He has good hands for a big man and a really good touch inside the paint. He has relatively quick feet on offense, happy to hit spin moves and reverses to lay the ball up off the glass or finish with nice touch. He doesn’t have a huge number of dunks for a seven-footer, but he loves little hook shots and push layups. He uses his body well to shield the ball while making running scoop shots or other kinds of shots that shorter players would normally be making. He uses his rolling ability and quickness off of screens to force the hands of defenders because he has to be covered going to the hoop.

Quick reads and court awareness

He doesn’t get silly fouls for mashing smaller player inside, instead pivoting around them or moving the ball if the shot isn’t there. A player getting set for a charge on him is just as likely to see him dish it off or pass it cross-court, because he plays with his head up at all times. He’s a good secondary ball mover, letting the defense come to him before getting the ball to the open lane or uncovered player. That works well with his abilities in the paint to force quick reactions from defenses as well, which can be exploited by his teammates. This also works on defense, where his quick hands can lead to deflections or steals and his help rotations are on point for blocks and to cut off driving lanes. His rebounds are because he is in the right place and doing the right thing (namely boxing out) which definitely gives him a platform for growth.

Improvement Areas

Center strength

Filipowski played the 4 last year, and moved to the 5 this year. That helped his blocks figure as well as making him less prone to blow-bys on the perimeter, but the question still remains whether he can fill the center role in the NBA. One of the reasons he’s got so many cute paint moves is because simply backing down strong players is not a huge part of his game. He pivots and spins and dances and it’s all very nice, but when a 30 year old seven footer is leaning on him can he actually do anything in the pros or will he have to kick it out? Can he fight for rebounds successfully against grown men or will he be out-reached and out-strengthed for boards the way Denver’s bench was this year? He has a quick jump for boards and blocks, but it’s not very high and he doesn’t have the reach against some lengthier bigs in the Association. It worked in college, and as a bench player maybe it won’t matter – or maybe it will continue an unsightly trend for the Nuggets.

Stretch ability

Having a face-up game as a center in the modern NBA isn’t a crime – not everybody needs to be a plodding 5. The problem comes when figuring out what Filipowksi’s pro range is going to be. In his 2 years of college he shot a combined 27.3% from deep. That will not strike fear into anyone except his own team. He shot 71.8% in college from the stripe, which makes him more functional than a Mason Plumlee in those situations but also doesn’t speak to any immediate ability to actually hit deep shots. His offensive game is almost exclusively anchored in the paint, which again is problematic if he can’t get to the spots he wants either by strength or by guile.

Mock Outcome (Nuggets draft 28th)

The Athletic: 15th

CBS Sports: 14th

The Ringer: 31st

Yahoo! Sports: 24th


I’m on the fence with Filipowski. He can get some minutes next to Jokic offensively, since dunker spot cleanup is right in his wheelhouse, but defensively that’s probably only passable in short bursts. The goal is to have a playable bench big to run PnR with & he can do that while also passing & handing the pop and roll parts fine. He gives effort but I’m not sure I see a ton of upside in his defense either at the level or in drop, because he doesn’t have the length for drop or the footspeed to play up a bunch. I also don’t like taking offensive 4s with iffy range and making them play the 5 – but maybe that’s just my trauma talking.

All things considered, the successful version of Filipowski isn’t hard to see… as long as he gets some growth. Millsap was a stronger player with more length but could play the 4 or the 5, was limited in his early range, used his smarts and his craft to be a good roleplayer while he rounded out his game. Kyle is not a transition guy but his effort shows up in other ways, and he’s a better passer than his stats would indicate. It all comes down to whether he can survive the paint wars he’ll have to be in while he takes his set shots in the gym to stretch that range out. If you believe he can, then the rest of his game shows promise. If you think he’s the kind of player that used to come out of Europe in the early 2000s, then maybe it’s not a bet you want to make. I honestly hope that he is taken before Denver so that someone else has to place that bet. Kyle is not a player type that Denver has shown success at building up, and that’s where my concern lies.