To say that Skal Labissiere's lone season at Kentucky was disappointing would be a severe understatement. He stepped foot campus as one of the top few prospects expected to declare for the 2016 draft, only to have his standing among NBA circles questioned after a rough freshman campaign.
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Labissiere averaged just 6.6 points (5.3 field goal attempts), 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the Wildcats. He did appear to experience a bit of a late-season surge that included a monster game against Ben Simmons-led LSU with 18 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. However, those type of performances were few and far between.
With that said, it's a good thing the NBA draft is all about potential because Labissiere has plenty. He has been playing the game for roughly six years since coming to the United States from Haiti in 2010, which means there is tons of room for growth. And with an impressive base of size, athleticism, good feet and shooting mechanics for a big man, some team will jump at the thought of his upside at the next level.
You can't teach height or athleticism and Labissiere has both in abundance. The 20-year-old stands at 6-11 with a 7-2 wingspan, more than ideal for a big into today's game. He combines that size with the ability to play above rim on both ends of the floor. Labissiere also has very quick feet, which allow him to burst in the open court or easily switch in pick-and-roll situations on defense.
Those skills would make Labissiere a player deserving of getting selected in most any draft, but the thing that has teams considering him among the top of the 2016 crop is his outside shooting. Despite going just 0 for 2 from three-point range last season for Kentucky, Labissiere showed he was capable of knocking down shots away from the basket. Equally impressive as the shots going in was his solid and consistent form, which is rare for big men coming out of college. The possibility of grabbing a stretch four -- the most coveted position in the NBA today -- has teams dreaming of Labissiere's potential.
For all of Labissiere's upside, there are still plenty of question marks. The first being that he is sill a very raw player. While he does show flashes of what could be, there are countless times when he displays the basketball IQ and awareness of someone who only started playing the game just over a handful of years ago. Look no further than his fouls. He averaged 3.0 fouls per game and 7.6 per 40 minutes, which according to DraftExpress ranked worst among their top 100 prospects.
Then there are the knocks on Labissiere's toughness. You never want to question a player in that regard, but it was clear far too many times at Kentucky that he was simply not strong enough both physically and mentally. Whether that was getting pushed around in the paint by guys smaller than him or just drifting on the court instead of demanding his blue-chip teammates involve him in the action, Labissiere didn't show the fire you typically associate with successful players at the NBA level.
How he'd fit with the Sixers
After the Jahlil Okafor-Nerlens Noel experiment went considerably wrong last season, it became very evident that the Sixers are in need of a big man that can stretch the floor. However, with reinforcements supposedly on the way in Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, I don't see where Labissiere would fit in.
Even with his jump shooting, Labissiere still does a lot of his operating on the low block via lob passes and jump hooks. Not ideal for a team loaded with bigs. Plus, I'm not sure how that nice-guy personality would go over in Philadelphia with a fan base that wants its players to have a certain killer instinct on the court.
If you're an organization drafting him in the top 10, you want Labissiere to turn into the next Kevin Garnett or Chris Bosh. But without Garnett's fire or Bosh's basketball IQ, Labissiere can still turn into a very productive player. I'll say Al Horford. A center that can move well and go down low but prefers to shoot from distance sounds about right.
Mid- to late-lottery. With Toronto (No. 9), Milwaukee (No. 10) and Orlando (No. 11) all likely in the hunt for big men, look for Labissiere to go somewhere in that range.