Quality big men are hard to find in the NBA. This is why when there’s a skilled center pounding the door down in the G League, chances are it won’t be very long until he makes it to the big time.
Alas, there’s plenty of hope for 2017-18 G League Defensive Player of the Year Landry Nnoko as he heads into the minor league’s Elite Mini Camp next week.
Examining the roster for the 2018 camp, Nnoko is head and shoulders above a scarce group of big men that also includes Diamond Stone and Daniel Ochefu. Needless to say, there will be slim pickings available when it comes to front court players who are near ready to make an impact on the next level, but that’ll make it all the more likely that Nnoko makes his mark with big league personnel.
The Grand Rapids Drive center is coming off of a very special season. While earning DPOY award honors, Nnoko averaged 14.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists through 49 contests. He’s still a little raw offensively, which means he’s not as polished of a finisher around the basket. Still, he has the makings of somewhat of a “throwback big” with his back to the basket when working in the post.
Nnoko exudes hustle and energy with a motor that runs for days. His grit and physicality makes up for any lack of refinery in his game. He truly fights for every rebound, throwing his hands up and working on that “tip back” rebound that has made Tyson Chandler so dependable in the NBA. Such an ability keeps offensive possessions alive, as demonstrated by Nnoko’s awing 4.5 rebounds on the offensive glass. What’s more, upon tipping the ball and attacking the boards on the defensive end, Nnoko is quick to find his teammates in the open floor and make sure they’re close to cashing in on key scoring opportunities. He’s always on the lookout for for his teammates, with developing vision. Skilled passing centers are rare, but Nnoko is on his way to becoming a special commodity in that area. He may not have much of a jump shot, but the way he mans the paint just increases the likelihood that second chance scoring opportunities will simply fall into his lap over the course of a given contest. He makes his presence felt.
At 6’10” and 255 pounds, it won’t be hard to spot Nnoko at the Elite Mini Camp. Despite his impressive award at the end of the season, he clearly believes he has more to prove and isn’t above taking the trip out to Chicago in order to show it.
After spending training camp with the Pistons last fall and subsequently putting up a great G League campaign, Nnoko is on the cusp of receiving that covered shot at the next level. The Elite Camp is his next platform to shine.