Bulls Lead

Why Gafford Will Be the Steal of the Draft


In the last few years, we have seen many second-round picks become pivotal parts of their respective teams. Some examples are Malcolm Brogdon, Jalen Brunson and Jordan Bell. This year, it will be Daniel Gafford of the Chicago Bulls. Chicago’s 2019 second-round pick showed out in NBA Summer League and seemed like an absolute steal.

The big man out of Arkansas averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game this summer. Gafford is a high-energy, defensive-oriented big man that does all the intangibles for his team. This is why Gafford will be a spark plug off the bench for Chicago this year and be this year’s second-round steal. The center can do all a team looks for in a prototypical NBA center. In college, Gafford was an excellent defender, as he was in the 90th percentile in isolation defense and 67th percentile in post defense. Offensively, he shot an efficient 66% from the field, ranking 81st in post-up efficiency and 85th percentile P&R finishing.

Additionally, Gafford is lightning quick in transition, ranking 81st in transition throughout college. A play that stood out to scouts was in Gafford’s first game against Texas. The big man was able to go for a steal at the other free throw line and be back in the play in three seconds. For a team like the Bulls who ranked 27th in points in the half-court, 29th in OFF RTG, and 20th in Pace, a mobile big man like Gafford is essential to development throughout the year.

Gafford’s court-wide mobility will earn him minutes for the Bulls behind Wendell Carter Jr. all year. However, Gafford’s best trait is that he understands his worth and usage on the court. Too often, NBA players believe they can do much more than they can actually do, leading to a lack of efficiency on offense. Throughout Gafford’s tenure in basketball, he understands his offensive game is not developed enough to try and do more than he is asked. He understands his role and shoots only effective shots down low. Outside of the paint, Gafford is virtually invisible. Therefore, Gafford does not jeopardize the offense by trying to expand his game just yet.

Gafford is a reincarnation of Rockets center Clint Capela. His efficiency and statistics mirror each other. Capela came into the league as a fast defender and finisher in the lane that proved successful for the Rockets. Capela actually added around four wins per advanced stats for the Rockets. The Rockets big man’s game has only expanded since which is an excellent sign for Gafford. This article is not the first to compare the two big men. This realization that his game still has significant areas to work on is why Gafford will be successful.

The consistency in Gafford’s game is what a young, developing team like the Chicago Bulls need right now. His ability and consistent energy will make the Bulls use the big man for big minutes all throughout the year. He has all the tools to be an active and energizing producer off the bench. Fans could also trust that Gafford will hustle for every single loose ball.

Daniel Gafford is ready to put the league on notice.

All stats via Synergy Sports. Follow us on Twitter @BullsLead for the latest Bulls news and insight.


About Aaron Pearlstein

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