After two seasons at Arkansas, forward Daniel Gafford has decided that he is ready for the NBA and he is going to make the jump, while also electing to sit out the NIT appearance that Arkansas is set to be a part of.
Gafford is largely viewed as a prospect that will likely land between about number 20 and the last pick of the first-round, so it makes sense why he would elect to leave school when he can continue to develop his game while also making the amount of money that a player makes after being drafted in the first-round of the NBA Draft. On top of that, if he does get drafted near the end of the first-round he will likely be able to go in and be on a team that is already good and there won’t be pressure on him to make a big impact as a rookie, allowing him to just work on his game and learn how to navigate NBA life.
In his two seasons in Fayetteville, Gafford averaged 14.3 points per game, scoring 955 career points and seeing just over a five-point per game increase from his freshman year to his sophomore year. He also pulled in 7.3 rebounds per game during his two seasons, totaling 492 and he blocked 138 shots in his Razorback career.
During this season Gafford also averaged 16.7 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game in conference play during SEC play.
What should be encouraging to NBA teams about Gafford is his improvement from year one to year two. He jumped six-percent to 66% shooting this past season and as I already mentioned he saw an increase in his scoring between seasons, along with increased rebounding numbers.
Gafford does need to work on his skill-level to fit into today’s NBA game, as he didn’t even attempt a three-pointer in his two seasons at Arkansas, which is fine, but more concerning for me is that his turnovers per game jumped this season from 1.9 to 3.3 per game and that wasn’t just because of more touches, he also jumped in turnover percentage from from 9.6% to 15.5% this season.
He will definitely need to work on taking care of the ball and developing more of a jump shot if he wants to be able to be a double-digit scorer in the NBA eventually. He will also need to improve his free throw shooting as he only shot 56.2% in his college career (199/354).
So while Gafford definitely has things to work on, he has already shown improved defensive ability from his first college season to his second college season, and he has shown the ability to be a shot-blocker. Those traits, on top of being a superior athlete to most players he takes the floor against, should have whichever team that gets him excited about trying to mold him into someone who can play at both ends in the NBA.
Top Photo: Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports