When Jakob Poeltl was drafted 9th in the 2016 NBA draft the disrespect was massive.
“The Raptors should have taken player X instead”.
The talk of the Raptors should have taken Thon Maker continued this summer. Thon was projected to be a late first-round pick by many experts. The Bucks like taking high upside players so they drafted him at 10. Maker gave the Raptors problems in the first few games of the playoffs last year, but he hasn’t really shown any consistency. The Raptors window is now and Jakob Poeltl is producing consistently now.
“It was an eight-player draft.”
Jakob Poeltl has probably been better than half the guys that were drafted in front of him. People make crazy conclusions with draft grades as if they have watched the player play their entire career and can see the future as to what this young talent will become.
I don’t know what Jakob Poeltl will become, but I want to compare what he’s doing this season to what other NBA players have done. Before we do that let us compare what he is doing this season to what he did in college to see if this pace is sustainable.
Stats are per 36 minutes
As you can see Jakob is scoring a bit less and rebounding significantly more. The Raptors haven’t needed him to score like he did in college so Poeltl has been using that extra energy on defense as well as on the glass. He was pretty good on the offensive glass last season as well so as much as it seems like a major leap I think it could be one of his skills here to stay. As far as the steal and block rates they might come down a tad, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jakob was able to grab close to a steal a game and maybe 1.5 blocks playing 20-25 minutes per game.
Rest of Season Fantasy Projection
22MPG, 9PPG, 9RPG, 0.75APG, FG 65% FT 62%, 1.5BPG, 0.8SPG, 1.5TPG
If Jakob Poeltl were to play more minutes than this his free throw percentage would start to hurt with more volume, but since he doesn’t get to the line often in his current role it’s very manageable.
Season Ceiling Capped
There is a worry when Jonas Valanciunas returns it will limit Jakob Poeltl’s minutes. That shouldn’t be the case. During Valanciunas’s absence, Poeltl hasn’t started one game. Dwane Casey seems to think it is best to keep the bulk of Jakob’s minutes coming with the second unit. Personally, I believe in just playing your best players the majority of the minutes. If Casey didn’t think Bebe was better than Poeltl when Valanciunas was healthy I don’t see why that should change with Valanciunas out. Regardless of who is available Poeltl should play between 15-25 minutes a night. Ideally, I would like to see a 50/50 timeshare with Valanciunas and Poeltl where each plays 24 minutes, but that probably doesn’t happen until later in the season.
Initially, when Jakob Poeltl was drafted he reminded me of Tristan Thompson because of his mobility and rebounding skills. However, now watching Poeltl play in year two he kind of reminds me more of Andre Drummond or DeAndre Jordan. Jakob doesn’t rotate on to guards like Thompson has shown he can do. Instead, Poeltl protects the paint and grabs a ton of rebounds on both ends of the floor. He is already on pace to produce similar numbers to what DeAndre Jordan did in year three and Poeltl is only in year two. Am I saying Jakob Poeltl is as good as Jordan or Drummond currently? No, but his play style is similar.
DeAndre Jordan's third year with the Clippers.
Jakob Poeltl may never become a star and that’s okay. He currently has a very limited shooting range, but the Raptors don’t really need him to shoot. Those rebounds Jakob delivers lead to extra possessions which are extremely valuable. If the Raptors can alternate between Poeltl and Valanciunas throughout games, they should win the rebounding battle most nights. When you don’t have the shooters a team like the Warriors have you need to take advantage of anything that can give you an edge. Jakob Poeltl gives the Raptors an edge on the glass.