Scouting Report: Skal Labissiere

Skal Labissiere is a power forward/center from the University of Kentucky. Labissiere is 7’0 and has a wingspan of 7’2. For the year, he averaged, 15.8 minutes per game, 6.6 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game, 0.3 steals per game, 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 51.6% from the field.

Pros:

  • NBA size and length
  • Leaping ability
  • Runs the floor well
  • Good speed
  • Excellent shooting mechanics
  • Good shooting range
  • Three point potential
  • Pick-and-roll star potential
  • Natural rim protector
  • On-ball defense
  • High character player
  • Immense potential

Cons:

  • Needs to bulk up considerably
  • Lacks toughness
  • Questionable motor
  • Raw player
  • Poor rebounder
  • Foul prone
  • Post offense
  • Disappears on offense
  • High bust potential

Overall:

Skal Labissiere had a rough year at Kentucky. He started the year off as a projected top two pick, but his inability to assert himself, or fall into the line of great big men produced by John Calipari lead to him riding the bench for a good stretch of the season. Coming from Haiti might have made this transition harder, but if he is having a hard time transition to college, it is hard to see his transition to the NBA going smooth. The potential is there to become the next Anthony Davis, but the question will be is there a team willing to put the work into him.

On offense, Labissiere came into Kentucky with a lot of confidence in his overall ability, but was quickly grounded. Labissiere has a skinny frame, and lacking both upper and lower body strength, he was not able to oppose his will on the bigger bodies in the collegiate world. Even when he was in the paint, Labissiere lacked any real post moves, so with proper scouting opposing bigs could predict his one to two moves he did try. Labissiere then turned to his jumper to jump start his offense. His mechanics are nearly flawless, and if he finds a groove, good luck trying to stop him. However, Labissiere struggled to find consistency on a game to game basis, causing him to disappear on the offensive side of the ball for multiple games. The range is not just limited to a potentially deadly mid-range game, Labissiere has the range to stretch to three point range, which he did not show during the season at Kentucky, but has shown it in offseason workouts. Labissiere is very raw on offense, and is quick to hide in his shell if things do not go his way offensively. If Labissiere is given a chance to start in the D-League or very limited minutes at the NBA level, where he will not be highlighted by the media, he could develop this offense into something respectable.

Defense is the only thing that has Labissiere even considered as a first round pick. Labissiere has the shot blocker intuition. His combination of speed, height, and length allows for him to stay in front of his man, and cause havoc for him. Any opposing guards who think they will attack the rim will have to face him for a contested shot. On-ball defense is another plus for Labissiere as many big man do not have the speed to get around him. Labissiere will struggle at the next level with the stronger big men, as they look to back him down to his weaker frame. In games where Labissiere saw more minutes, he quickly became foul prone. This was usually when Labissiere tried to make a play happen instead of following his instincts. Labissiere does not fall for the typical fakes displayed by players, which is key when moving to the next level for potential rim protectors. For a player his size, one would expect for Labissiere to be a good rebounding presence, but his lack of strength causes him to get boxed out from any chance.

Labissiere is far, far away from being a finished product and will need a nurturing environment to see any chance of success, and this is why he is one of the biggest boom or bust prospects. Labissiere from all accounts he is an intelligent, high character guy, but I have just not seen any improvement on his overall game throughout the season, as well as a lack of a killer instinct. When we talk about how far international players are from contributing, Labissiere in these terms is at least three years away from anything meaningful in terms of contributions. I think a year in Europe would be amazing for his overall game, as it would allow him to develop some toughness, one of the biggest things he lacks, and effects both sides of the court for him. I expect Labissiere to see his draft range be in the 10-20 range. Teams like Phoenix, Boston, and Denver, who have multiple first round picks could use one as a developmental pick, one who could turn into a franchise cornerstone in a few years. Boston would be the best fit for Labissiere, as Brad Stevens is extremely gifted at getting the most out of his players, and presents the best ability to get the full potential out of Labissiere.

Pro Comparison: Serge Ibaka

I compared Marquese Chriss to Ibaka a few days ago, but I think that is his max potential, while Labissiere if he develops properly could be Ibaka for his floor, and Anthony Davis at his full potential. Ibaka was given a good chunk of time to develop, which has paid major dividends for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Offensively, Ibaka is a much stronger player than Labissiere, but neither player likes to play in the paint. The only time you see either player in the paint is in transition, where both players run the floor extremely well, and can get easy buckets at the rim. The mid-range to three point threat is where both of these players plan to make their money. In his early career, Ibaka was a timid offensive player, but now has great confidence in his game, something Labissiere will have to do to become a successful player at the next level.

On defense, Ibaka and Labissiere are natural shot blockers. Neither player is susceptible to falling for fakes, and times their blocks almost perfectly every time. Ibaka is a much stronger player than Labissiere therefore he does not struggle as much in his interior defense. Labissiere has the edge on perimeter defense, as he has an elite combination of size and speed. A dominant defensive game is what kept so much faith in Ibaka, one which called for them to max him instead of James Harden, and this kind of potential lies within Labissiere.

The key for Labissiere to find this sort of floor as a player will be improving his physical and mental toughness. Physical strength is an easy fix, just a matter of getting into the weightroom multiple times a week, but if he is a sensitive player, the media will eat him alive at the next level, and he just will not make it. As mentioned above, the fate of Labissiere might hang on who does draft him, and how they nurture him.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

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