In this latest instalment of draft profiles, I will be looking at Daniel Gafford.
College Team: Arkansas (Sophomore)
2018-19 Stats: Over 32 games in around 29min per game he averages 17pts, 9reb, 2blk, 0.9stl, 0.7ast at 66% FG, 0% 3P and 60% FT.
Projected Draft Spot: Mid 1st Rd – Early 2nd Rd.
Gafford is very athletic, which the highlight videos will show. He uses that athleticism to run the floor well, move into position for pick n roll sets, or dives to the rim. He can move will the ball inside the arc well enough that he can attack the lane with strength, and with a few post moves to get space. In transition Gafford is an athletic finisher, who also moves off the ball well. At times, Gafford can be a real leader on the court who directs the offensive schemes, and while his stats don’t seem like it, he can also be a solid passer out of the low block.
On the defensive end, Gafford uses his strength and athleticism to rebound and defend the rim with consistency. In the NBA, Gafford would probably fit into a role similar to that of Clint Capella, or even Poeltl (albeit more athletically). If he is surrounded by shooters then Gafford would be a plus presence in the paint hoovering in rebounds and defending the paint against opponents drives, but could not be paired with another lane clogging big due to his inability to shoot from anything resembling range. His athleticism, height, length and BBIQ to become a great interior defender at the pro level.
Gafford has no range, with most of his offense coming around the rim or in the short mid-range zone (with ever decreasing accuracy). His percentage from the charity stripe is very low too, which means that as Gafford is attacking the rim and collecting fouls he won’t be able to capitalise on them. His passing is also almost non-existent, and this may become a liability when he gets double teamed in the pros. Add to that list, the fact that he is foul prone in trying to defend the rim, and he struggles to defend on the perimeter as well.
NBA Player Comparison: Clint Capela, Marcus Camby, DeAndre Jordan.
Fit with the Spurs:
Gafford’s fit with the Spurs is a bit more problematic with Poeltl in the roster, however if he was on the bench and came in for Poeltl and never shared the court with him (or shared it with him in limited minutes), then he may be able to fit alongside Poeltl. Additionally, we all know that the Spurs rookies spend a year in the G-League, and by the time Gafford is really growing into the Spurs system, or even playing well enough for a starting role, Poeltl might be gone.
Gafford could be effective in a line-up of say Murray, White/Walker, DeRozan/Gay, and Bertans. That sort of line-up would give the Spurs athleticism, deep shooting, ball-movement, rim attack, mid-range shooting and two separate levels of defence. If he could be gotten with the Toronto pick, or even in the second round then it might be worth the Spurs while, but he might not be worth the risk with the 18/19th pick.
Last year, before he returned to Arkansas he was one of the players I was hoping the Spurs picked up, but that was before the Toronto trade and the ongoing development of Poeltl in the Spurs system. In this current 1st Rd Playoff series the Spurs interior defence has been shown to be an area of need, and Gafford would be able to provide that, and rebounding - very well.
Next Profile: Goga Bitadze