One of the best rebounders in college basketball could make sense for the OKC Thunder.
Evaluating NBA Draft prospects is hard, so even NBA teams miss the mark. However, rebounding is one of the easiest things to translate from college film to repeatable skill at the pro level. That is a category where Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe thrived.
Tshiebwe started his career at the University of West Virginia for two seasons before playing as many with Kentucky and entering the 2023 NBA Draft. For his career, he averaged 12 boards per contest, highlighted by a 15 rebound per tilt outburst in the 2020-21 season, and posting 13 per clash a season ago.
The 6’9, 260-pound center might be undersized on paper, but his length and aggression make up for his lack of pure height. Oscar Tshiebw dominated as a post-up option, collecting put-backs, in transition, as a cutter, and was a great pick-and-roll partner for his guards at Kentucky.
The big man does not have floor spacing ability, did not make a single triple in college, and is not a high-level passer for his position, but he is an old fashion, big man.
While the Wildcat cleaned up on the defensive end in college, including 1.4 STOCKS per game for his career, many wonder if he has the quickness to translate that defense to the NBA level. Opponents shot 54 percent at the rim on his watch a year ago.
In all likelihood, Tshiebwe will not last in the modern NBA. However, with the addition of a third two-way slot, at pick 50, the Kentucky product is worth a shot as a change-of-pace option on a two-way contract.