School: Florida State
Height/Weight: 6’10, 250 lbs
Kabengele skyrocketed up draft boards late in the year thanks to a breakout sophomore season. The 2019 ACC sixth man of the year averaged over 13 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in just 22 minutes per game. Kabengle’s size, strength, and shooting ability make him one of the best prospects in the 2019 draft class.
Mfioundu Kabengele is arguably the best shooting big man in this year’s class, as he is deadly from mid-range and can also knock down open threes.
Kabengele’s go-to shot is the mid-range jumper, both spotting up for catch and shoot and off of back down fadeaways. He has a very smooth release and his range extends beyond the three point line, where he shot an impressive 37% from deep this season. When his jumper is on, he is virtually unstoppable. He can get his shot off whenever he wants thanks to his size, making him an extremely tough cover for any defender.
Kabengele has incredible strength and has a great frame, standing an intimidating 6’10, 250 pounds. When he catches it near the rim or gets half a step on his man when driving the lane, he is nearly unstoppable thanks to his strength and athleticism. His build also benefits him greatly on defense, as he has no issue guarding most bigs and will not be backed down or pushed around in the post. He is also quicker than he looks, and can hold his own against guards when he is forced to switch off on screens.
He still needs to work on his defensive awareness, but his tools show that he has what it takes be a strong defender at the next level.
While Kabengele is a true scoring threat facing the basket, he desperately needs to improve his ability to score in the post. Right now, he doesn’t really have any go-to moves down low, other than simply using brute force to go through and/or finish over overmatched defenders. Bully ball won’t work much in the NBA, as most defenders he’ll face will be skilled, long, and athletic enough to neutralize his strength. He’ll need to develop two or three consistent post moves to keep opposing bigs honest.
Another weakness of Kabengele is his tendency to fall in love with his jumper. Especially if he’s seen a couple go in, Kabengele is not shy about letting it fly, even if it’s not the best look that he or his teammates could get. He has to do a better job of understanding when he should pass it up, or when he should put the ball on the floor and attack instead of settling for a contested jumper. Improvement in this area will come for Kabengele through obtaining better offensive awareness while also developing other ways to score on a consistent basis.
Kabengele’s ball-handling and passing ability need a lot of work as well. He looks very uncomfortable when he’s pressured on the perimeter and forced to put the ball on the deck. He dribbles with his head down when pressured, often leading to turnovers or bad shots. This affects his ability to pass, as he’ll miss open teammates when he’s not looking up. If Kabengele really pushes himself to improve his ball-handling ability, the game will really open up for him and he will be a nightmare to defend.
Mfioundu Kabengele is still incredibly raw, but has a couple of moments every game that will absolutely wow you. He has a long way to go, but his great frame, strength, and smooth stroke give him one of the best upsides of any player in the draft.
Players like Kabengele that have such high ceilings but still need a lot of work to be successful at the next level are typically all over NBA teams’ boards. He could come off the board anywhere from the lottery to early second round on draft night, but I think his star potential is too good to pass up, so I’d lean more towards the former.