The Future of Solomon Alabi
Posted by Jordi
As I did late last year with Toney Douglas, and the year before – again late – with Al Thorton, I’m keeping a close eye on the potential NBA draft status of soon-to-be former Seminole center Solomon Alabi. Instead of posting after the June 24th NBA draft, I figured I would put together a preview of what we may expect.
(Note: as we saw with Alexander Johnson, any prognostication may be way off. Before the 2007 draft, Johnson was rumored to be a first round pick. He didn’t end up going until half way through the 2nd round. Whether that was his fault, the scouts, the teams, or his agent, I’m not sure. But I did want to give you a heads-up. Any predictions could be completely and utterly wrong.)
Before I go into where he will be playing, let’s first look at what Solomon did here at FSU:
Stats from ESPN.com
(By the way, PF = personal fouls per game and A/T = assist/turnover ratio. I had to look those up.)
Obviously, Alabi got better as he went along. Although he is still considered a project by NBA standards, he was a more than capable college center for the Seminoles during his sophomore and junior seasons. Although there were times when he was dominant offensively, such as the stint in December of 2009 when he scored 20 points in three of four games, his game was centered around defense. Coach Hamilton knew it, as did anyone who watched the Noles. At 7’1, 237 lbs, Solomon was far too skinny to be the next Shaquille O’Neal. If Solomon were to have a career at the next level, it would be his defensive skills that would get him there (of course, a nearly ridiculous 80% free throw shooting percentage helps as well).
The problem with defense in basketball is that it is so difficult to measure. Sure, we can look at defensive rebounds, steals, or blocks, but what if the opposing player keeps the ball away from the defender for fear of it being stolen or blocked? The result of good defense carries with it a reputation and resulting actions that are invisible to the basic stat sheet. For example, if I was playing against Alabi, there is no way I would consider driving to the basket. I would probably settle for 3-point attempts and hope a few went in. Although much better than I am, I’m sure Solomon’s defensive presence altered the game plan of quite a few teams and players as his FSU career progressed.
As for where his NBA future may be, most sites have him going in the later half of the first round. Here is a sample of what some of the sites around the ‘net are saying:
Yahoo! NBA: 20. San Antonio Spurs – “After three years in college, the 7-1 Alabi may no longer be considered a project. The native of Nigeria has a nice shooting touch and produced double-doubles against both Ohio State and Duke last season.”
HoopsHype.com: 20. San Antonio Spurs – “Raw big man with terrific size and length. Reasonably mobile, plays hard and has a decent feel for the game. Limited offensive player with no post moves and average coordination. A major presence defensively thanks to his physical tools and solid timing. Not as good of a rebounder as you might hope. Long-term prospect who is slowly but steadily making progress, but needs time to develop.”
Hoops Addict.com 21. Oklahoma City – “He’s a legit seven-footer who has a strong low post game. However, he’s kind of like Andrea Bargnani in that he doesn’t show a passion for crashing the glass. If you draft him you have to hope he buys into the need for post players to be strong rebounders or else he’ll have a hard time cracking your playing rotation.”
NBADraft.net – 29. Orlando
Overall: There’s no arguing that he has the potential to become a defensive centerpiece for a team that lacks a presence in the paint… He is capable of scoring on basic post moves right now, but this part of his game will be the toughest in terms of translating to success at the next level … Like most 7-footers, he is a project and will be a backup for his first few years until his game expands on the offensive end, and until he adjusts to guarding bigger and stronger players on the defensive end … While he has a positive track record off the court, there is some debate whether his age is 100% correct due to the fact that he’s from Nigeria: facially he appears older. But most likely it won’t be a factor in his draft status … Some team in need of a shot blocker who has time to develop this mature, hard working, high character, and high energy center should take a chance on him somewhere in the late-first to early-second round …
Out of the three teams mentioned (the Spurs, Thunder, and Magic), Alabi would probably get the most playing time during his rookie season in Oklahoma City. They are a young, running team definitely in need of someone with his skill set. For selfish purposes, I would like to see him in Orlando, but that may depend on what the Magic do with their current backup center. Overall however, I think San Antonio would be the best fit. The Spurs are a world-class organization who pride themselves on defensive-minded basketball. Kinda like Coach Hamilton and the Seminoles.