This is a feature that we'll roll out as often as possible leading up to the draft. Basically, we'll be taking an in depth look at some of the potential draftees for the Thunder, and asking questions of the people who know them best, the college blogs that cover them. Up second is Solomon Alabi of Florida State University, and TrueCubbie of Tomahawk Nation. Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside predicted us to take him at #26, but NBADraft.net has him going lower, at #29. Regardless, he is a potential future Thunder player, so here's the 411 on Solomon Alabi....
Player Feature via Seminole Sports Magazine
Q&A, TrueCubbie, Tomahawk Nation
1. What type of player is Solomon Alabi?
Solomon is your typical athletically gifted, raw seven foot center. His defensive skills are far ahead of his offensive ability. Additionally, he needs to get stronger, which is no easy feat for a seven footer. Solomon only started playing organized basketball during his junior year of high school, which is when he first arrived in the United States. He also received a medical redshirt his freshman year. Adding all of that up results in a relatively 'inexperienced' player, which at times shows up in his play on the court. That said he is very aggressive on the defensive end of the court and was one of the best shot blockers in the country. His timing is outstanding and he really is a difference maker on defense. If you watch him play, you will see that he needs to have better footwork and confidence when he is getting established on the low post. Given his relatively short duration of a basketball career, it is not surprising that his offensive skills lag behind his defense. Though, he should signs of significant improvement this year and could turn into a complete player.
Below: Will Solomon Alabi make it in the NBA? Will he be a good fit for the Thunder? Your favorite Solomon Alabi Moment?
Alabi has the athletic ability and potential to develop into a difference maker in the NBA. However, the likes of Hasheem Thabeet and Roy Hibbert should be in one's mind when thinking about Solomon's NBA career. If he can develop the lower body strength, he'll get regular minutes. But, it is hard to see him trying to post up against a Shaq or Howard. He is an incredibly gifted free throw shooter and could be used in late game situations. There is certainly the possibility that he will develop into a NBA caliber player, but he is an investment for the future. Granted, as a Chicago Bulls fan, I never thought Noah would turn into the kind of player he was this year. So, hard to really predict, but his impact will not be immediate.
3. Based on what you know, do you think he would be a good fit for the Thunder?
It's not like the Thunder need any more size, but having an athletic seven footer is always a nice addition to the team. He would certainly add depth at the position for you. Solomon runs the floor well and would fit in nicely with the Thunder. I don't know enough about the subtleties of the Thunder or specific needs to really comment further than that.
4. Do you think Alabi will drop to pick #21, or do you think he'll go before that?
Before the start of the NCAA season, Solomon was predicted to be a lottery pick and some draft boards thought he might even turn into a top ten pick. The hope was that Solomon would turn into a consistent double-double kind of player. He finished the year averaging 11 points, 6 rebounds and two blocks per game in 25 minutes of play and shot 79% from the free throw line. He also averaged two turnovers per game. Everyone hoped that his offensive game was going to blossom this year, but it didn't evolve quite the way everyone hoped for. He could easily be available at 21.
5. The Thunder are a very disciplined squad with a team mentality. Do you think Solomon Alabi would fit into that type of environment, or would he be too wild or selfish?
That is the perfect system for Solomon. Solomon understands his role on the team and will buy into the system. It may in fact help him develop faster than what he did during college. Florida State's head coach Leonard Hamilton is known for developing players on the defensive end but is criticized for his consistently under performing offense. With a good system, good fundamental coaching on the offensive end, Solomon could do exceedingly well. He is not a wild or selfish player. In fact, it would have been nice to see some of that from Solomon this year.
6. Do you want to see him go to the Thunder, unite with Al Thornton in Washington, or go somewhere else?
I don't have a particular preference for which team he ends up with. I would like to see him join a team that has a coach who is particularly adept working with young centers.
7. What is your favorite Solomon Alabi moment? (YouTube link if possible/applicable?)
There are a lot that stand out. He had numerous blocks through the season that were impressive. But, the one I recall and appreciate the most was his turn around jump shot against Marquette to put the Seminoles up by one with seconds to go in the Old Spice Tournament. Solomon spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble and was frustrated by the smaller, scrappy play of Marquette's defense. However, in the closing seconds of the game, the 'Noles got the ball into the low post to Solomon, predicting that he would get doubled opening up one of the shooters on the wing. The double team was late, he recognized it, and hit a really nice turn around jump shot. It was nice to see the confidence to take the shot and that he recognized the situation quickly. (Zorgon's Note: It's here, and the play starts at 6:13.) But the picture above shows the kind of player that Alabi is.
Best case he gets drafted by a team that is not in immediate need of an impact player at the center position, he develops over a few years time and becomes a starter in the NBA and averages 10+ and 10+ a night. Worst case, he gets thrown into the game without time to develop or get stronger and becomes obsolete in a couple of years. He's not ready to be a marquee go to player yet.
9. Solomon Alabi might have to live in the shadow of Al Thornton, currently the best Florida State player in the NBA. Do you think Alabi will ever reach an Al Thornton level, or will he always be less successful?
Al Thornton finished with a great year after the trade to the Wizards. We are all anxiously awaiting the break out season for Toney Douglas, who is currently with the Knicks. Alabi could certainly be a Thornton type of player, getting regular minutes and making a regular positive contribution to his team.
10. Any other information you might want to include?
Solomon is a great guy and is very intelligent as well. He will be a nice addition to any team in the league and there should be no concerns about commitment, character or effort. He wants to get better. He just needs to be in the right system.
Many thanks to TrueCubbie for the in-depth analysis. So, what do you think? Is Solomon Alabi a good pick or a bad pick? Will he be worth the risk at #21, or even at #26? Let us know by dropping a comment!
See Also: Larry Sanders Profile.