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Houston Rockets Draft Prospect: Guerschon Yabusele

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The second round of the NBA Draft is expected to be filled with several international stars. The Rockets should look to get in on the action with a flexible big man from France.

The Houston Rockets are in need of a modern day power forward. Their answer may reside in 20-year old Guerschon Yabusele from France. At 6’8″-270 lbs, Yabusele certainly has the size and strength to compete on the NBA scale. His adaptation of the modern stretch-post makes him an ideal fit for the Rockets who love to attack from the perimeter and beyond the arc.

Scouts have referenced Gary Trent as an NBA similarity, but Yabusele believes he can become the league’s next Draymond Green. Besides the size comparison (Green listed at 6’7″-230 lbs) and the fact that Green is his favorite player, their skill set is similar.

May 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) dribbles the basketball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Good passer, ability to score the ball inside and out, quick feet and the ability to make plays on both ends of the court cause many to see  the resemblance. One thing that concerns those who have seen him play is that he has yet to be truly tested by elite talent, but if drafted, that could change very quickly.

He’d make logical sense for the Rockets. His ability to stretch the floor as a shooter should be very appealing for Houston, as it would fit well into their system. He also runs the floor well for a power forward and moves efficiently in transition. Not to mention his proficiency in the pick-and-roll. If he’s available with the 37th pick, the Rockets should take a gamble on him.

The Skills

It’s rare to find an athlete with such a solid build with a perimeter shooting game. From deep, Yabusele made 43 percent of his shots while making 54 percent from the field as a whole. His quick feet and bursts of speed allow him to get away from his defender and get open for shot attempts from a variety of spots on the floor.

On the inside, Yabusele has a lot of upside. While his post game may not be ready for the next level just yet, his broad shoulders and soft touch around the rim suggest he could be just as deadly in the paint as he is on the outside. He showed last year that he’s able to go over either shoulder inside and has improved greatly with a few post moves and pump fakes to get to the free throw line.

He’s a solid rebounder as well, but he could stand to improve that part of his game. Yabusele averaged nearly seven rebounds per game, after tallying 4.5 boards the year before. His leaping ability won’t jump off the scouting sheet, but his initial move for a rebound is one of the best. Defensively, Yabusele uses his quick feet to get to shooters on the wings for close outs and contested jump shots. His anticipation for where the ball is going, as well as a high ability to read his man on defense, helps account for the majority of his steals with over one a game.

One of his most valuable skills is his ability to work within the pick-and-roll. As a big body, Yabusele can knock defenders down as a screener. When he’s the target scorer, he keeps defenders on their toes. His ability to cut to the basket as an elite cutter allows him to take high efficiency shots, while Yabusele continues to improve his shooting from 15 to 20 feet, as well as venturing out to the three point arc.

You won’t have to worry about Yabusele getting pushed around in his first year in the league, like you do with so many rookies. But his size also doesn’t slow him down. His speed allows him to keep up with his defenders step for step. Even on switches, he has proven to keep up with smaller, quicker guards on the outside. On help defense, he’s one of the best, reading players well and knowing where he needs to be at what times. And while he won’t wow you with a lot of blocks, his 7’2″ wingspan, combined with his explosiveness, results in several contested shots against bigger opponents.

The Specifics

  • Height: 6’8″
  • Weight: 270 lbs
  • Country: France
  • Position: Power Forward
  • Age: 20
  • Standing Reach: 8’9″
  • Wingspan: 7’2″
  • College or Pro League: SPO Rouen
  • Stat line: 34 Games, 11.5 Points Per Game, 6.9 Rebounds Per Game, 1.1 Steals Per Game, 54.0 FG%, 43.0 3FG%, 77 FT%

Current Rank

Draft Express: 32

NBA Draft.net: 29

NBA.com: David Aldridge ranks Yabusele 10th among power forwards and says he’ll go in the late first round or early second round

Sports Illustrated.com: 57 overall in Top 60 Prospects

CBS Sports: 38 overall in Top 150 Prospects

The Questions

While his length makes him a tough defender, Yabusele is still undersized compared to average NBA power forwards. His big build should help in defending bigger posts in the paint, but at 6’8″, it won’t help in contesting shots against near seven-footers. As far as his weight goes, he’s proven to be able to add and shed pounds easily, but he has to continue to work on his body to maintain a healthy weight over his career.

Yabusele’s leaping ability also is a cause for concern. Perhaps not a big question mark if he was a few inches taller, however, a strong vertical would help him overall as a rebounder. He has a strong work ethic for working under the basket for positioning, but few things make up for athletic ability.

His offensive game also needs some work, specifically inside. Yabusele has shown an ability to go over both shoulders with post moves, but at the moment, he does favor going over the left more than the right. He also needs to show more consistency from three-point shooting. Yabusele shot over 40 percent from three last year, but it’s unclear how that will translate against tougher and more athletic defenders in the NBA.

He’s still very raw. He’s young, inexperienced against truly great competition and has several areas that he needs to improve upon to be consistent. But his unique build and skillset make him a solid pick in potentially as high as the late first round.

The Fit

The Rockets are expected to run a version of Mike D’Antoni‘s seven-seconds-or-less offense that  should make them the top scoring team in the league next year. As a big man who can stretch the floor and be an ideal small ball center, Yabusele could help Houston in a variety of ways. He’d be a great screener for James Harden in the pick-and-roll, giving Harden the opportunity to get free for a score or hit Yabusele on the wing or cutting to the basket.

He also gives the Rockets another three-point shooter. It’s not for certain if Yabusele will be able to maintain his three-point shooting once he arrives in the NBA, but if he is, it’ll allow the Rockets to potentially run with lineups in which all five players on the court can be a threat from deep. In addition, his ability to move up and down the court well in transition will also appeal to D’Anotni and the Rocket’s coaching staff.

French power forward Guerschon Yabusele will stay in the draft. He's likely in the 20 to 35 range.

— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 13, 2016

A European name to put on your radar for draft night: Guerschon Yabusele. 6-8 bruiser could play way into latter part of first round.

— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 15, 2016

More from Space City Scoop

If Houston was to draft Yabusele, he would need to spend time in the developmental league at first, just to adjust. He would not need to spend too long there, as he could be added to the roster by January or February of 2017. He could potentially be a starter for the Rockets in his second year, teaming up with

Clint Capela

in the post while bringing

Michael Beasley

off the bench as an offensive spark.

Yabusele will help the Rockets defensively if he can prove he can defend larger opponents. But it will be his offensive game where you’ll see him shine. Yabusele has the ability to grab a rebound, lead an offensive fast break and either take it all the way in himself, or find a teammate at the right moment for an easier shot. If he can keep his weight in check and improve his defense, he should make for a solid big man in an age of do-it-all centers and power forwards.

Awards and Honors

  • Averaged 20 points per game for France’s U20 Team
  • 4th best international athlete available
  • Averaged 18.9 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game and 60 percent shooting in final eight games of the season.

Next: Houston Rockets Draft Prospect Series: Chinanu Onuaku

Next: Houston Rockets Draft Prospect Series: Demetrius Jackson

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