James Nnaji plunges into the 2023 NBA Draft as one of the top international prospects. Check out below for a James Nnaji scouting report, NBA comparison, stats, highlights, draft ranking, and team fits. Other scouting reports can quickly be found on the Lineups 2023 Big Board or Final Mock Draft as well.
James Nnaji Scouting Report
Nnaji played for FC Barcelona in Liga ACB – the top Spanish professional league. In 12.1 MPG, he contributed 4.9 PPG, 3 RPG, 0.3 APG, and 0.7 BPG on a 70.5 FG% and 44.1 FT%. The stats are not eye-popping, but the fact that he received legitimate minutes at 18-years-old in this hyper-competitive league is supremely impressive.
Draft Age: 18.10
Team: FC Barcelona
Strengths: Nnaji’s 7’7” wingspan, lateral quickness, leaping ability, and physically imposing frame all indicate elite rim protection at the NBA level. He possesses excellent timing when contesting shots, and his block radius will immediately be one of the largest in the league. He’s mobile too, so he should be able to survive on the perimeter when opponents run high pick and rolls or dribble handoffs.
Offensively, Nnaji is a terrific rim-runner and cutter that throws down lobs only he can get. He reads the defense well and understands when to position himself for the pass. Nnaji also works the offensive glass for second chance points. Overall, he’s a prototypical shot-blocking roll threat at the center position.
Weaknesses: Nnaji is excellent in his role, but can he provide value outside of it? He doesn’t have any semblance of a three-point shot, offers no self-creation, and cannot be used as a passing hub at the elbow. Playmaking centers are the new direction of the NBA, and Nnaji doesn’t fit the bill. Plus, opponents will eagerly send him to the free throw line in a playoff setting due to his 47.8 FT%. Given his exploitable weaknesses, Nnaji ceiling doesn’t elevate higher than a solid starter. However, it’s highly probable he has a long career as a defender and roll man.
James Nnaji Stats
James Nnaji NBA Comparison
Nnaji’s skill set aligns perfectly with Knicks center Mitchell Robinson. Both are imposing athletes that provide superb rim protection and rebounding. Nnaji is more mobile than Robinson though, so his perimeter defense has a brighter outlook. In addition, they are offensively confined to rolling, cutting, and put-backs. Nnaji’s potential stat line in the NBA could follow Robinson’s 2023 season: 7.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.8 BPG on a 67.1 FG% and 48.4 FT%.
James Nnaji Highlights
James Nnaji NBA Draft Ranking, Team Fit, Landing Spot
Draft Ranking: Nnaji ranks 28th on my Big Board and sits in the seventh tier with names like Kris Murray, Dariq Whitehead, and Amari Bailey.
Team Fit: The Indiana Pacers (26th, 29th, 32nd) are the ideal landing spot for Nnaji. They already roster Myles Turner at center, but he’s a perimeter-oriented center with an injury history. Nnaji provides much-needed depth, and his rim-running would pair extremely well with Tyrese Haliburton’s playmaking.
Landing Spot: Despite his obvious tools, Nnaji is likely drafted in the 25-32 range. Portland (23rd) has desperately needed a defensive center for years, and Nnaji would qualify. He’s also ready to contribute now, which is essential for their goals. The Clippers (30th) could use Nnaji as a backup center because Mason Plumlee is an unrestricted free agent. Los Angeles sits in win-now territory as well.