David Thorpe has a new piece on ESPN about potential draft night steals. He mentions Solomon Alabi on his list, and if David Thorpe says that Solomon Alabi can be a serviceable NBA center, then I am going to believe him, and so should you. I hadn't looked too much into the prospects of drafting Alabi, as I've been more focused on Daniel Orton and Hassan Whiteside of late. But based off Thorpe's analysis (below), the Florida State product instantly sounds more appealing. Even better, he's probably not a lottery pick, so, hypothetically speaking, if the Rockets were to decide that Alabi is their guy, they would have the flexibility to trade down, stockpile an extra pick or other asset, and then select Alabi.
Solomon Alabi, sophomore, C, Florida State
Alabi has the rep of a raw player on offense, yet he's 22 years old and led his team in scoring while also leading all starters in field goal percentage (53.4) and free throw percentage (79.4) this past season. To be sure, he's far from a polished player, but considering his late arrival to the sport, the improvement has been considerable. Scouts always wanted him to be more dominant on the offensive end in college. But the pro game is far better for him, with much more open area in the lane and players who are far more gifted at post feeds.
Will Alabi command double teams? Not initially, and probably never. But he's good enough to score as a fourth or fifth option on a post feed, and he'll be one of the few centers who can play late in games as a defensive presence without sacrificing free throw shooting. For teams in the playoff hunt, that is gold.
Alabi is such a gifted defensive center that he projects as a rotation player immediately (limited minutes early, but steadily increasing), although he still has lots of room to grow and develop. He reminds me in many ways of Serge Ibaka. He's not as athletic as Ibaka but is taller and longer. Both guys are the rare energy guys who also bring a palpable positive spirit to any room they walk into. FSU finished in the top 10 in defensive field goal percentage the past two seasons, including first in the nation this past season, and Alabi anchored that unit. It's hard not to bring your best when playing alongside someone like Ibaka or Alabi.
Doesn't this sound like the exact type of player that the Rockets are looking for? A defensive-minded center with size, upside, and energy? The Rockets could care less that he is 22 years old; they're not looking to develop a "center of the future" this season. He'd be a great fit in our system, and wouldn't take minutes away from Jordan Hill.
For those who are interested, here's a clip on Alabi done by FSU.
What do you guys think? Anyone joining me on the Alabi bandwagon, at least for now?