Jakob Poeltl resides from Vienna Austria, and is a 7’1” center with a 7’3” wingspan, who played his college ball for the Utah Utes. Poeltl broke out his sophomore season, winning the Pac-12 2016 player of the year. He looks to make the leap to the NBA after a very promising year in Salt Lake City.
The 20 year old center shows enough on the floor to consider him with the ten pick. Jakob has a well-balanced game that should fit into the Buck’s future plans. He doesn’t levy a high usage in the NBA, yet he is still worth giving the ball to down-low, meaning he won’t take away from our star players, but make life easier on them. The sophomore improved dramatically after his freshman season, so there should be some potential to tap into, but he does have average NBA talent in most regards. His biggest asset to the NBA is his ability to run the floor.
-Speed: Moves up and down the floor very well for a player his size, shows the ability to outrun his match up for an easy dunk, and get into the correct defensive position on the opponents fast break. The Bucks will be a lethal fast break team with Giannis running the point, Jabari cutting to the rim, and Khris Middleton spotting up. Adding another component is just gravy at this point, but I love me some broth with butter and flour mixed into it.
-Passing: The comparison is obvious, but he has very similar playmaking abilities to Andrew Bogut. The former #1 pick’s passing is a huge plus to Golden State’s offense. We don’t have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to run around screens waiting for an opening to receive the ball from Bogut, but having the skill is a reason why he’s worth considering him as our pick, as the other centers in the draft class don’t have the same ability. He used his impressive passing ability to find the open man while being doubled in the post many times at Utah last season, making it possible to lead the team as a back to the basket center.
-Free Throw: Part of his large scoring increase from his freshman to sophomore year was his huge leap in free throw percentage, improving from a 43% shooter to a 69% shooter. His breakout season shows that the kid’s working hard on his craft, we could see him continue to improve as a shooter early on in his career. Plus, assuming his percentage leap wasn’t a fluke, Jakob will not be getting hacked, hurting his team, or slowing the game down to an ADHD person’s nightmare.
-Soft Touch: All of his scoring came from the paint last season, as he only attempted four jump shots. He uses his soft touch in the post quite well, pivoting his way to an opening, then getting the short hook over either shoulder to fall. His soft touch also gives me hope he can improve his jump shot.
–Shot Blocking: In general averaging 1.5 blocks per game isn’t a negative; however, when Jakob isn’t in position to get the big swat, he doesn’t give a solid effort contesting the shot. Centers can affect a shot with their physical presence, causing the offensive player to strongly consider that angle he’s about to take to the rim. When playing Poeltl, many offensive players feel comfortable driving right into his chest daring him to knock them around, usually getting to the rim for a fairly uncontested lay in.
-Strength: Maybe Jakob fails to physically impose himself on defense because he simply doesn’t have the strength to hold up taking blows on both side of the ball. He was a very important part of the Utes offense last season, so perhaps he was conserving energy to make a difference on the other end, still that’s not what Milwaukee needs out of its next center.
-Upside: Although he had a great season, his skill set is rather average at the next level. He can score in the post, but you’ll also see Jakob air ball his fair share of contested push shots. For every positive he shows, there is an equal negative to balance things out. Sure, he can out run his defender for an easy dunk, but on the other end he’s going to get sealed off for an easy look at the rim. It’s pretty hard to improve your game when it’s so average in so many areas. I expect him to be a good player, but an All-Star appearance during his career feels like a reach.
Rookie Year For Milwaukee:
If Jakob Poeltl is a Milwaukee Buck come June 23rd, he can expect to be a rotation center, playing anywhere from 10-20 minutes a game. With his speed and soft touch around the rim, he has the ability to make life tough for opposing back up centers. And on other nights, teams will have a field day with his limited rim protecting abilities, which could help contribute to some frustrating losses as we fight for a playoff bid. I’m not sure he’s ready to make an impact in the NBA.
The question is whether Poeltl can expand his range, and start hitting some jumpers. He’s been working on it all summer, and I have to say his release looks a Larry David level of pretty good. He’s a set-shot kinda guy, but that’s expected out of most center prospects. Should he add a jump shot to his game, his potential increases as he can score and space the floor from different levels, giving our offense more options when he’s on the floor. He becomes quite the interesting prospect if he can shoot the ball.
Future For Milwaukee:
Poeltl needs to add strength above anything else to succeed in this league. Stroking threes with great confidence would be great, but if he’s getting pushed around night in and night out he essentially compares to Steve Novak. That comparison was a stretch, I feel you. I’m just saying without the strength it doesn’t matter what he can do on the floor, he’d always be hard to play.
If he adds the strength, he becomes an interesting offensive option, being able to out run his opponent and match their strength in the paint would allow him to play very similarly to Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors. On the defensive end, I think he needs to take on Zaza Pachulia’s philosophy of getting a body on anyone trying to get to the rim, as I think his average length and leaping ability will always hold back his ability to block shots. He may not block the guys shot, but contesting a guy’s shot by putting your body in line with his desired angle for his shot causes the defender to lose eye contact with his target increasing the likelihood he misses the layup.