Daniel Gafford is one of many hopefuls to hear their name called during the 2019 NBA Draft. The 6’11” big man out of the University of Arkansas is projected to be a late first or early second round selection.
His athleticism and motor are nearly unmatched, but a handful of question marks surround the young prospect.
Daniel Gafford NBA Draft Profile
- Height: 6’11
- Weight: 240 lbs.
- Position: Power Forward/Center
- College: University of Arkansas
- Hometown: El Dorado, Arkansas
- SEC All-Freshman Team, 2018
- First Team All-SEC, 2019
- SEC All-Defense Team, 2019
- AP All-America Honorable Mention, 2019
Gafford’s College Career
Gafford burst onto the scene as a true freshman for the Razorbacks. The big man seemingly came out of nowhere to dominate SEC defenses left and right. His highlight reel could go toe-to-toe with any big man in the entire NCAA. His signature windmill dunk always wowed crowds, even when full of opposing fans.
During his freshman campaign, Gafford averaged 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, despite playing just 22.6 minutes per game alongside four senior guards. He was projected as a potential lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft but ultimately decided to stay in school for another year to develop his skills.
The gamble didn’t necessarily pay off. As a result, his draft stock has taken a hit.
Gafford’s sophomore season was not bad in any sense, but his draft stock began to fall when the necessary developments never fully came to fruition. His freak athleticism was enough to average roughly 17 points and 9 boards per contest, but his inefficiency at creating shots in the post raised more concern than hype.
Gafford finished his career with 163 dunks (2.4 per game) and 141 blocked shots (2.1 per game) while knocking down 63.5 percent of his field goal attempts along the way. The Razorbacks made one NCAA Tournament appearance during his career, losing to Butler in the first round.
The big man has always been a ball-hawk, making emphatic put-back dunks and game-changing blocks look easy. His motor and ability to run the floor as a 6’11” post player is unmatched. Many describe his play as “bouncy”, as he plays so high above the rim on both ends of the floor.
His 7’2 wingspan combined with an impressive yet-to-be-determined vertical gives him a range unlike many prospects coming into the NBA. When Gafford is on the floor, any shot can be blocked and any bounce can turn into a put-back dunk. He is built for the SportsCenter Top 10.
Gafford is also a tenacious rebounder, especially on the offensive end. He can crash the glass as well as anyone at the college level, often resulting in high-percentage looks at the rim for his team. His determination and hustle never come into question, as his passion for the game bleeds through into every possession.
Like many big men, Gafford is far from being a good, and consistent shooter. His free throw percentage caused issues for the Razorbacks as he hovered around 60 percent from the line for his career. If he can develop a consistent jump shot and improve his FT percentage into the 70 percent range, he could become a real threat at the next level.
For a big man, Gafford has a very limited offensive range in the post. He relies on fastbreaks and missed shots to get easy looks inside, but struggles in half-court sets. He thrives in chaotic situations, which were plentiful in coach Mike Anderson‘s system. To be a full-time starter in the NBA, he has to develop a consistent post game. If not, he will likely serve as a reserve to play in relief and special packages.
A more athletic Clint Capela.
Late First Round, Early Second Round
Last Word on Daniel Gafford
Gafford can thrive in the modern NBA with just a few tweaks to his game. At the minimum, he can function as a shot-blocking, alley-oop specialist off the bench for a successful team. If he reaches his potential, though, he can be a household starter and possibly reach All-Star status.
His athleticism is undeniable, and his length and motor stand out amongst most prospects. If he is coachable at the next level and develops a more efficient, and refined offensive game outside of transition, he can be a great piece for a championship-level team.
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