The Mavericks said that they got their guy when they drafted Isaiah Roby in Thursday’s NBA Draft, but what exactly did they get?
By now you’re aware that the Mavericks traded down from 37 to 45 in the draft (securing two additional future second round picks) and selected Isiah Roby out of Nebraska. After the draft, the Mavs then quickly swooped in to grab Joshua Reeves out of Penn State on the undrafted free agent market.
I watched both players in 3+ games this season so I feel confident in my assessment about who they are right now as players. As for what they can be, that’s where I’ve seen a lot of things about Roby that I’m not sure about but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get into it.
Isaiah Roby, JR. PF/SF? Nebraska
Key Measurements: 6’8″ 230, 7’3″ wingspan
Key stats: 31.2 Minutes per game. 11.8 pts, 6.9 rbs, 1.9 blks
Shooting: (33% from 3. 2.4 attempts per game). 67.7% FT
What he does well
Offense: Roby is an athletic big man. On offense he’s going to score by attacking closeouts off the bounce for a straight line drive or getting into his jump hook. He has a good bit of touch on the inside with that shot. His jumper is not horrible but it’s not great either. There is room for growth for sure. He is also a great finisher in transition and can push the ball in the open floor. He’s not going to outrun anyone to the cup but does a good job of holding off defenders if he’s starting with a step on them.
He’s explosive in space and will get some big time blocks with that explosiveness as well. He sets decent screens off the ball and is opportunistic in slipping them for easy scores at the hole. The shot will need to improve for him to be a threat in the pick and pop game.
Defense: Though he’s undersized for a 4 he has great length. If you asked me how tall he was I’d have guessed he was at least 6’10”. Inside, he has solid timing coming over from the weak side and gets off the ground quickly for blocks. He’ll also snuff out shots from smaller players who challenge him inside.
Though some seem to think he can play the 3 I don’t see this as something I’d expect from him for long stretches. He has good lateral mobility on the perimeter but not quite enough for me to be comfortable with him guarding guys that can handle the ball. More on that later.
Other: One way I judge effort is in a player’s willingness to box out and Roby does do so. When the shot goes up he turns to find a man and that’s a great sign. I also enjoy that he’s not a player that is going to be caught standing around. On offense he looks for opportunities to cut or moves to the open spot on the floor. Defensively he is very aware and will show the help off of his man if someone breaks free near him.
Flaws/Areas for Improvement
Offense: As I mentioned his shot is solid. It’s somewhat stiff looking and he doesn’t get a lot of air under it. As for his drives, he gives up immediately if someone steps up to challenge him before he is in position to go up to the rim. This often turns into him being stuck in a difficult position and having to kick the ball to another player. I’d bet that half of his turnovers come from these types of plays.
In addition to this, he’s not as aggressive as you’d want him to be. The talent is evident and he was one of the better players on his team but he was hesitant to pull the trigger on even wide open shots. Often he’d get the ball and not even look at the basket, immediately looking to move it. When he’s uncovered he seems to be uncomfortable with the ball and this is another place where he’ll try to force passes. He seems to have good vision in finding guys but the delivery of the ball is a work in progress.
Defense: I nearly got ahead of myself earlier but back to his perimeter defense. As I mentioned, he does move well laterally but he plays back away from his man. He intends to use his length to challenge the shot if the player goes up and plays back so as not to be blown by. This is something a lot of big men do and works if you’re disciplined. When guys drive on Roby or when he’s guarding a bigger guy in the post. His arms go straight up in the air as soon as there’s any contact. He bites on fakes from smaller players and remains stationary on bigger players allowing them to score over the top. I’ve also seen him flop in these situations but it’s a tough sell from his starting position.
Other: One main key for him at the next level will be to increase his physicality inside. He doesn’t try to hold his ground much at all on the block. When it comes to rebounds in traffic he doesn’t pursue the ball with strength. He’s more likely to tip the ball to a teammate or swat it back up the court.
Roby has a lot to work with. He’s athletic, seems to be intelligent, active, and has a lot of elements to his game. He needs refinement though. The Mavs will likely have him in the G-League working on being more aggressive, more physical, gaining consistency in his shot, and gaining confidence in his game.
I see the potential for him to be a very solid player, but I don’t think he’s there quite yet.
PS. I decided after watching another game that the way he runs without the ball is what reminds me of Dwight Powell. Last thing I’m saying about it. lol