The 2023 NBA Draft is projected to be one of the best, if not the best class since 2003, headlined by perhaps the best prospect since LeBron James, French center Victor Wenbayama https://sports.yahoo.com/2023-nba-draft-meet-victor-wembanyama-best-prospect-since-lebron-james-projected-to-go-no-1-next-year-130006489.html#:~:text=Wembanyama%20is%20the%20most%20talked,two%2Dtime%20MVP%20Nikola%20Jokic, who is considered by many the best prospect in a longtime and the best big man in the class. While much about Wenbayama has been talked about the last couple of years, perhaps the second best big man prospect is Oregon Ducks five-star incoming 7-foot center, Kel’el Ware.
Ware is a prospect who quickly rose up the rankings this past season at North Little Rock High School in Arkansas where he played alongside another fellow projected 2023 lottery pick in Nick Smith. Ware has the potential to be a cornerstone type talent if he continues to develop his game, and in this article we’ll be going over some of his strengths and weaknesses on the offensive end.
Post Game- Ware has a very solid post up game foundation already at such a young age. He knows how to establish position in the lane to get easy baskets in the paint or draw fouls to get to the foul line.
Here you see him get in a stance off the switch to force his opponent into a tough shot, which shows his defensive veratility potential. Ware then rushes down the court like a gazelle to his spot in the post and does a beautiful drop hook over his left shoulder with his right hand and goes to the line for a chance for a three point play.
Here is another example of Ware's great feel in the post where here he you see him come off the screen-and-roll action and uses his frame to get his position on the left block and takes one power dribble into the defenders chest to get them off balance and does a beautiful up-and-under finish. Not a move a lot of young big men have at this stage of their development, especially in today's new space and pace NBA.
Athleticism- Ware is a very fluid athlete in the open floor who has great agility when running the floor and off vertical for lob catches. He has a great catch radius due to his long arms and we'll be a lob target all season while with the Ducks.
After what seemed like a broken play for the USA squad, Anthony Black recovered the ball to find Ware for the lob where he easily jumps up for the two handed flush off vert which just shows his quick second jump.
Here is another example of Ware's pogo-stick like second jump for the putback slam off a missed shot attempt.
Potential as a ball handler/Great Hands- In the current NBA landscape where the best bigs are the ones who can play on the perimeter, handle the ball in the open court, ala Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ware has shown some flashes of being able to take the ball down hill himself.
Here's Ware converting a turnover from Puerto Rico downhill without hesitation for the monster one handed one-handed cockback dunk.
What all great big man must have in order to be great is to have great hands to catch difficult passes in traffic from their guards to finish tough plays, and that is exactly what Oregon will be getting from Ware this upcoming fall in what will likely be his one and only season.
Here is Ware using his long strides to run the floor and receives a tough pass at full speed where you see he has to twist his body in order to catch the pass through traffic for the finish.
Here is another great example of Ware's great hands against Brazil where he receives an off target pass from Ty Rodgers that appears to be headed out of bounce or about to hit the backboard and be a turnover, but Ware's great hands and long arms allow him to catch a poor alley-oop pass from Rodgers for the slam.
Outside Shot- Ware is not an ideal outside threat at this junction of his young career, which is an area of his game he'll have to improve if he wants to realize his true potential.
Here is a prime example of Ware running as the trailer on the fast break where he's pretty much wide open at the top of the three point line. The defense is pretty much sagging off of him, daring him to shoot. He puts up an airball in this clip and puts his head down after the result. If you also pay attention closely you can see he kind of has a low release point on his shot and is kind of slow getting into his shot which will have to get tighter and quicker at the collegiate and professional levels.
Decision Making- Ware tends to make questionable passes and take ill-advised shots at times seems to rush the issue at times instead of taking his time to read what the defense is doing.
In this out of bounce play set you see Ware receive the ball, he clearly has a mismatch with a smaller defender on him and 14 seconds on the shot clock to get a much better shot then the off balance turn over the left shoulder fadeaway near the baseline that you see here.
With more experience and reps over time he should realize that mismatch of a small defender on him and instead of making their life easier by forcing up a tough fadeaway off balanced jumper, he'll instead take advantage of his size to bully his defender to get in the paint for an easy two, or draw a foul to get to the foul line.
Instead of slowing it down after the rebound and giving it to Rodgers, who was beside him wide open, Ware instead tries to fling an out of control pass downcourt to Cam Whitmore, which goes out of bounce and gives the ball right back to Puerto Rico.
Finishing through contact- Ware's lack of strength at just 210 lbs causes him to miss some easy baskets at time through contact against his opponents.
Ware gets the rebound here and takes one strong power dribble against a smaller defender but fails to finish through the contact, in what looks like an easy finish after intiating it. He then rebounds his miss and attempts a putback dunk but fails to convert on the opportunity.
Here's an inbound play designed for Ware to show hard for an easy two, he goes up against multiple smaller defenders for a dunk, but misses it due to his lack of strength. With added muscle to his frame over time. this should be an easy two points or a trip to the free throw line for two.
Final Thoughts/Projections- Ware is an intriguing prospect who should make some noise this season while at Oregon. His game reminds of Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star center Jarrett Allen where he is a lob threat and great rim runner with insane length. He also has a little more to his offensive game than Allen due to showing flashes of a outside game.
Ware should be a prospect to follow as the season nears, and with improvements to his offensive game he can possible get mentioned as a top 10 pick in next years NBA Draft.