It will certainly be an interesting offseason of decisions for the University of Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe. First off, he’s eligible for another year in Lexington next season. On another hand, however, his stellar play this season essentially makes him a 2022 NBA Draft lock, and possibly even a late first-rounder.
Now that he’s eligible for a NIL deal, and holding a lot of star power at Kentucky, Tshiebwe can dominate college basketball once again while making a very solid amount of money. Whether fans want to admit it or not, money talks and is almost always a driving force in decisions. NBA money, even as a rookie second-rounder, is solid as well. It’s difficult to imagine (but certainly not impossible) Tshiebwe putting up even better numbers next season at the collegiate level, so he’s certainly ready to go pro. The decision is his, but the draft stock is definitely there and rising.
Oscar Tshiebwe Draft Stock
Tshiebwe is dominating the college basketball landscape. He’s averaging 16.9 points, 15.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game. He’s also shooting over 69 percent from the field. National Player of the Year honors can be coming in the future.
His improvement from last season is massive. In 10 games for West Virginia, Tshiebwe averaged 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Kentucky fans knew they were getting a solid big man after Tshiebwe announced his transfer, but they couldn’t possibly have imagined this kind of play.
He dominates the defensive end and absolutely feasts on the boards. Slip him the ball in the paint and he’ll find a way to finish. Tshiebwe will lead Kentucky this month and can only raise his draft stock from here.
Tshiebwe can Silence Doubters
He’ll carry a few doubts heading into the draft should he declare, but ones he can put away rather quickly.
The first is his age. Should he declare for the draft, Tshiebwe will turn 23-years-old early into his rookie season. That’s considered “old” for rookies, but there are plenty of examples of why this can be irrelevant. The 2021 NBA Draft has a good example in Chris Duarte. He’s 24-years-old, but a top contributor for the Indiana Pacers.
There are plenty more recent examples of players who’ve succeeded greatly despite entering the league later than others. This includes Jalen Brunson, Grayson Allen, and Devonte’ Graham in 2018, Terance Mann in 2019, Desmond Bane in 2020, and several others.
There may be questions of his size at 6’9″ at center, the same criticisms that surround a player such as Montrezl Harrell. Tshiebwe will certainly be matched-up with taller players, but he plays with unprecedented strength. Toughness is not a problem with his game at all.
Tshiebwe will succeed defensively. There shouldn’t be any debate there. A “worry” will be his limited offensive game. He scores in the paint and is great at put-backs, but will likely not develop into a floor spacer. Floor spacing is all the rage in the NBA, but more traditional centers still have a place. Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela aren’t great floor spacers but still excellent centers.
He has the skills necessary to succeed in the league.
Embed from Getty Images