James Nnaji

NBA Comparison: Udoka Azubuike/Ian Mahinmi

Strengths: Athletic, mobile center … Very good size for a big … Has amazing length (reports suggest wingspan between 7’5 and 7’7 feet) … Bouncy, a very good leaper either off two feet or one foot … Already has an NBA body … Built like a tank, it’s really difficult even for physically imposing bigs to move him … Understands his role and limitations, doesn’t try to do too much … Coachable, will always do what his coach asks him to do… Has a translatable game to the next level … Likes to play physically, doesn’t back down to anyone … Runs the floor very well for a big… A great, strong finisher at the rim … Wants to dunk everything … Sets good, strong screens either on or off the ball … He doesn’t have a problem setting screens constantly during the same play… Good at setting picks in pick and rolls, has nice mobility in his hips … The definition of a rim runner… Very good in pick and roll actions, with dynamic dives to the basket … Occasionally slips in Pick and Roll to have a running start, catching his opponents off guard … A point guard’s ideal partner in Pick and Roll actions when it comes to lobs, he jumps high enough to grab almost any pass … Can absorb contact well when finishing at the rim… Moves well without the ball … He is effective when standing in the dunking spot to receive a pass … Great offensive rebounder, crashes the boards and adds pressure to his opponent … Makes his presence felt on defense … A good post up defender, knows how to use his body and length … A good rim protector due to size and athleticism, tries to contest every shot … Has shown promise when defending in flat or drop coverage in Pick and Roll actions … Has good enough mobility and lateral quickness to support switch defense to some degree …

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Weaknesses: Has average feel for the game … Game is still pretty raw and depends mostly on his instincts … Being a part of an established club had it’s consequences, since he had limited playing time for years … There is a concern that his limited playing time slowed down his development … Limited skillset offensively… Depends on his teammates to be effective on offense … His post up game needs a lot of work, it is kind of mechanical for now, with just a jump hook … He should add some counter moves, or any moves to that matter when Posting Up … He needs to improve finishing plays with his left (weak) hand … Has no shooting range, does all his damage in the paint … Shooting mechanics need work … A bad free throw shooter can be a target in games … He is kind of hit or miss when he does a short roll in Pick and Rolls, he can either dribble once and score, travel or make a bad pass … Playmaking isn’t there yet… Foul prone, he has the tendency to make an occasional “bad” foul due to his lack of experience and reps … It remains a question mark how he will react when he is matched athletically and physically against more polished bigs … Average defensive rebounder, depends too much on his physical tools and at times forgets to box out … Not always focused on defense when defending off the ball … Chasing for blocks leads to offensive rebound opportunities for his opponents … Has problems when he is asked to defend Pick and Rolls doing Hedge Out or Blitz, he occasionally turns his back to the ball and leaves his man open …

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Outlook: James Nnaji is a beast … A great athlete and leaper, who is already a real threat in Pick and Roll actions and really active on the glass, while he makes his presence felt on defense … The fact that he already has a defined role is a two-way street though … He could either fit perfectly from the start, or make a team worry that he has already hit a plateau since he has a lot to work on his game in every other aspect of his game … He is pretty raw and lacks reps on a high level, but at the same time he has shown flashes on both ends of the floor and especially on the defensive end … His upside is a question mark, but he has enough tools to be considered a player with the potential to become a good role player …

Stefanos Makris 6/7/23

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