The 2021 NBA Draft is set to kick off on July 29. LWOS continues its draft profiles with Tennessee’s Yves Pons. After capturing the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award, Pons followed up his junior campaign with a solid senior season.
Yves Pons 2021 Draft Profile
Tennessee Volunteers Career
After attending INSEP institute in Paris, Pons chose to attend Tennessee over fellow SEC schools Florida and LSU. He spent his first two years behind forwards Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams, but finally broke through during his junior season. Their departures led to Pons blossoming into a high-energy player who’s a stud on the defensive end.
As a junior, Pons averaged 10.8 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and a conference-leading 2.4 blocks per game en route to winning the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award. Pons almost entered the 2020 NBA Draft, but he withdrew after the draft combine to return for his senior season. He would have been a fringe second-round pick but made a good decision to return to Tennessee to try to solidify his draft status. His numbers went down, but he grew as a defender, making the SEC All-Defensive Team for the second time.
Trademark Game: 11 pts, 8 rebs, 9 blocks, vs. Florida (SEC Tournament)
Yves Pons is a menace on the defensive end. He’s undersized in terms of height but he’s got a wide frame and is a powerful athlete. The 6’6 swingman has a 7′ wingspan and he’s got the strength to bang with bigger players. He’ll be able to guard positions 1-4, and he’s got small-ball 5 potential. He excels at protecting the rim, despite being undersized, and he can defend the perimeter very well.
The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year will find a role in this league solely off of his defensive abilities, but he’s got upside offensively too. Pons is a strong finisher at the rack, making him lethal in transition. He doesn’t require touches on the offense, which only makes for a seamless transition in today’s fast-paced game.
Pons limitations offensively are what will prevent him from sneaking into the first round. Pons has the ability to take an opposing team’s best player out of the game, but he lacks the ability to create his own shot. He fits the mold of a 3&D player, but his three-point shot is shaky and untested. Teams won’t hesitate to leave Pons open, and until he proves capable of making teams pay, he’ll have a tough time on the offensive end.
Yves Pons Pro Comparison
Pons mirrors two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybuille. He’s a high motor player, who’s very skilled on the defensive end. He can lock down scorers, alter and block shots, and create turnovers with his anticipation and wingspan. He won’t need the ball in his hands to have an effect on the game, and he’s a good finisher in transition. He’s one of the few prospects who will enter with a defined role.
2021 NBA Draft Projection
Pons will likely be a second-round pick, and if he can latch on to the right team, he could become one of the better defenders league-wide.
Main Photo Embed from Getty Images