Caleb Swanigan, Sophomore, Purdue
Age: 19 (20 by draft day)
Caleb Swanigan is an extremely successful college basketball player this year and has made vast improvements from his freshman year to his sophomore year, thus raising his draft stock. Below are his stats for both years at Purdue as of 3/17/17.
Weaknesses: He has improved in almost every category which is very impressive since he plays in the Big Ten, known for its talented and physical big men. Swanigan is an intriguing NBA prospect due to his impressive college numbers, and one might think with his college dominance he should be a high draft pick. However, college production doesn’t always lead to success at the next level which is what makes Swanigan a polarizing prospect. After watching him play he has an old-school game. He relies on skill and strength over athleticism to be productive on the court and it’s fair to question if that style will translate to today’s NBA. The question is what is Swanigan’s draft stock and how does he project to the NBA? By looking into his strengths and weaknesses we can project how he might fare at the next level.
- Strong, wide body frame
- Excellent rebounder, understands positioning
- Decent post moves and mid-range shot
- decent passer for a big man
- can pass out of double teams
- makes about 1 3 per game at 43.1 % clip
- good BBIQ
- big improvement from freshman to sophomore year
- strong base and footwork skills
- good FT shooter
- 7-3.5 wingspan/length
- Athleticism/Lateral agility/leaping ability
- Will struggle to guard NBA Centers and perimeter 4’s
- Not a rim protector
- Could struggle with pick and roll defense
- Not a rim runner
- Transition game will not be his strength
- Needs to improve his NBA face up game and mid-range jump shot
- Can he extend his range consistently to 3pt?
In my opinion, Caleb Swanigan projects as a serviceable NBA big man that can contribute to an NBA rotation, likely as a 2st or 3nd big man off the bench who averages around 20 minutes per game. He can offer a strong presence down low that can rebound and provide some pick and pop buckets on the offensive side. He has increased his range to 3pt in college and he should continue to improve his range at the next level. His spike in production from his freshman to sophomore year tells me he put in a lot of work on his game and body. If that work ethic transfers to the next level, he will have a long NBA career.
Defense is always going to be a weakness of Swanigan’s and that will ultimately limit his ceiling. He projects to be an undersized, below-average NBA athlete at the 4/5 position, which could limit his floor time. He struggles with lateral agility and leaping ability. I believe he will struggle to guard on the perimeter when forced to, and he won’t be a rim protector at the next level either. Coaching, improved defensive mechanics and fundamentals can turn him into a serviceable defender, and this will be key to his NBA development. It does help that he has a long wingspan, and that length should help cover his poor leaping ability and lateral agility to a degree. Also, being on an NBA schedule and workout regimen will help his endurance and improve some of his below average athleticism.
Due to Swanigan’s underwhelming athletic profile working to improve his offensive skills is a must if he wants to find floor time at the next level. He should work to improve his post moves, mid-range game and extend his range out to the 3pt arc. At 6-9 250lbs his physical profile is similar to NBA players such as Kevin Love, Zach Randolph, Lavoy Allen, and Allen Williams. (Not saying that Swanigan will project to be the players Love and Randolph are. Just pointing out the similar size and athletic profile of the players.) Undersized 4’s who make up for their below average athleticism with skill, BBIQ and strength. My draft projection for Swanigan is early 2nd round. This is an extremely talented and deep draft and I think teams will take gambles on higher upside prospects and prospects to stash from oversees. I see this dropping Swanigan down to the second round of the draft.