The Los Angeles Clippers have selected Mfiondu Kabengele with the No. 27 pick of the 2019 NBA draft. L.A. acquired this pick Thursday from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the 56th overall pick and a 2020 first-round pick.
The ACC Sixth Man of the Year didn't start hearing his name mentioned in the first-round discussion until the NCAA tournament, when he averaged 17.0 points through three games. His skill level began catching up to his immaculate physical profile, which screams NBA big man.
Weight: 256.2 pounds
Pro comparison: Wendell Carter Jr.
At 6'10" and 256 pounds with a 7'3" wingspan and 5.1 percent body fat, Kabengele is a physical standout with a body built for either big-man spot. He shot 64.6 percent around the basket and ranked in the 92nd percentile on putbacks and the 85th percentile on rolls. He spent his most time working out of the post, where Kabengele showed the ability to create shots and make specialty ones turning over his shoulder or falling away. He also made 24 of 65 threes and shot 76.1 percent from the line, a promising sign regarding his long-term shooting potential.
Despite working mostly from the post, he only generated .805 points per possession there, ranking in the 49th percentile. Not once all season did he attack a closeout and score off a spot-up, which is a reflection of his inability to put the ball down and use dribbles. Having totaled just 11 assists all season, Kabengele has poor passing instincts and a suspect feel for the game.
His tools create defensive upside. Kabengele's strength and length should be effective for bodying up inside, and his athleticism and foot speed should translate to shot-blocking (2.8 per 40 minutes) and switchability. His defensive IQ will need to improve. Through 71 career games, he averaged 5.2 fouls per 40 minutes.
He came off the bench both seasons at Florida State, so he's most likely to play a smaller role next season as well. Kabengele will need to be coached up. However, he can be called on to provide energy and activity from off the ball around the rim. And he could surprise with his shooting, which continues to improve. He'll likely split time as a reserve, benchwarmer and G League player.
Projected role: Scoring energizer
Kabengele has starter potential, particularly if his three-point shot becomes reliable. He's developed into a legitimate scoring threat around the key as well, capable of creating his own offense. His ceiling stops short of star because he doesn't face up and make plays. The most likely scenario has Kabengele developing into an energy role player who gives the team easy baskets, post offense, some floor spacing and defensive playmaking.