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Big Dave in Big Games: An Examination of David Roddy | The Prospect Overview
David Roddy is a one-of-a-kind prospect with a fascinating skill set. What do his performances in some of his biggest games teach us?
David Roddy is an amazing basketball player. The blend of his burly 6’5” 252-pound frame, quick spin move, and gorgeous shooting stroke is a rare package. There aren’t many 6’5”, 252-pound basketball players, and the ones that exist don’t normally operate with the ball in their hands on the perimeter or shoot 43.8% from three. Roddy has the power of a fullback but the graceful footwork of a ballerina. His game is strange, but it was obscenely effective for Colorado State this past season— he posted 19.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.1 BPG. Still, there isn’t anyone else in the NBA that looks like him, and his lack of hip flexibility seemed to betray him as a perimeter defender. As a result, he’s haunted me. Projecting any player’s future in the NBA is difficult to a degree, but figuring out what David Roddy will become has felt like an impossible task. This becomes exacerbated by the fact that he played in the Mountain West, a league that is more “good” than “great.” Even after watching him a handful of times throughout the season, I still didn’t feel like I had a clear enough picture to evaluate Roddy. I figured the best way to get a feel for his NBA translation would be to watch (or, in some cases, re-watch) him in a handful of his biggest games. Not only does this give us an idea of how he performs under pressure, but also how he performs against high-level competition and tricky match-ups. Let’s go through this in chronological order and see what we take away!
David Roddy vs. Creighton, 11/21/2021:
-36 points, 13-20 FG, 7-10 3FG, 3-3 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 TOV
Creighton started off this game by putting a big on David Roddy in the form of 7-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner. This backfired almost immediately. Kalkbrenner is a great rim protector, but he struggles to guard in space. Perhaps worse, Kalkbrenner seems to know that he struggles in space. He felt entirely uncomfortable meeting Roddy on the perimeter, and Roddy took advantage. Roddy’s recognition of mismatches and eagerness to punish them is perhaps his greatest offensive trait. When Kalkbrenner sagged off, Roddy drained threes in his face. When he came up, Roddy danced with the ball to get him off balance to set up his next move. Though his first step isn’t electrifying, Roddy is like a snowball rolling down a hill, and he’s difficult to stop once he’s built up a head of steam. He also has a solid step-back move he can use to counter the defender’s anticipation. Though he caught Kalkbrenner with a nasty one, he didn’t convert on the jumper afterward. While that was disappointing, the rest of Roddy’s shooting performance wasn’t. He drained every open three he was given off the catch. I’ve seen a few folks worry about the jumper because his three-point volume was on the low side (3.4 attempts per game), but I’m not concerned in the slightest. It’s a clean shot that he gets off with good speed. The more significant concern to me is his occasional tunnel vision. Roddy is prone to forcing tough shots against bigger defenders and double teams rather than resetting the offense or kicking it to an open teammate. It wasn’t out of control in this game, but there were a few instances where he tried to score despite the advantage being firmly in Creighton’s favor.
There were some rough moments for Roddy on the defensive end. Just like Roddy took advantage of his speed on offense, Kalkbrenner utilized his size on offense. Roddy isn’t long or vertically explosive, and Kalkbrenner had no issue dropping the ball in the bucket over him in the post. His relative stubbiness and lack of lift also prevent him from providing meaningful rim protection and allow easy second-chance buckets when he has to defend around the cup. This game also featured a few of the worst closeouts I’ve seen from any real draft prospect during this cycle. In one instance, Roddy came in slow, upright, and narrow, allowing the opposing player to blow by him with ease. On another play, he badly bit on a pump fake and flew by Ryan Hawkins, allowing a closer, higher percentage look.
David Roddy vs. Mississippi State, 12/11/2021:
-19 points, 8-11 FG, 1-2 3FG, 2-3 FT, 7 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK, 5 TOV.
This was an interesting game for David Roddy. The numbers may indicate another dominant performance, but he actually had some real difficulties with Mississippi State in a few areas. His 11 shots didn’t come easy. Roddy’s primary defender was Garrison Brooks, a 6’10”, 240-pound fifth-year senior. Roddy had a bear of a time creating against Brooks, who boasted enough strength, savvy, and athleticism that Roddy couldn’t truly punish him anywhere. While this was troublesome, Roddy still found ways to put the ball in the bucket any time he had someone else on him. His footwork on slips gave him a few easy ones around the basket, and when help defenders came, he was patient enough to pump fake them out of the way. Roddy didn’t force many bad shots, but he did force some bad plays. His frustrations bubbled over a bit as he drove into traffic and tried to sling overly-ambitious passes on a few occasions.
Defensively, it was more of the same as far as a bigger player shooting over him. Brooks knocked down a few jumpers that Roddy couldn’t meaningfully contest. We also saw more second-chance opportunities surrendered due to his lack of height and jumping ability. Pick-and-roll and handoff sets also troubled him at times, as he is similarly hampered as a drop defender by his insufficient height. There were bright spots on switches, though. He managed to wall off an Iverson Molinar drive that led to a jump ball. Roddy did a solid job guarding smaller players at the point of attack. Defensive rotations can see him lose focus and get too upright, but when he can focus, sit down in his stance, and use his nimble feet, he’s pretty good. His strength does him a lot of favors, too. If Roddy manages to stay in front of the ball handler and they try to drive through his chest…well, they’ve got…
David Roddy vs. San Diego State, 3/11/2022:
-22 points, 7-14 FG, 2-5 3FG, 6-10 FT, 9 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TOV
Let’s start with the positives on offense: David Roddy demonstrated an incredible ability to hit tough shots in this game. San Diego State’s defense was tremendous, and Colorado State wasn’t getting any easy ones. Roddy hit some tough long bombs and contested shots around the basket. He also displayed his ability to demolish sagging defenders on the perimeter. Roddy’s pull-up ability and knack for knocking down jumpers off the bounce is top-notch; he graded out in the 96th percentile for all jumpers off the dribble in the halfcourt, per Synergy. It goes beyond the jumper, though: defenders who play off him also give him a runway, and his second and third step is good enough to give trouble to solid athletes. Roddy also took advantage of the fact that he couldn’t get as many easy looks by playing a physical game. He bulldozed through the defense and initiated foul calls to get the most uncontested looks of all: free throws. Roddy was only 69.1% from the charity stripe this season, and if he can get better there, his willingness to take contact and get to the line could be a great weapon. Still, Roddy forced a few bad shots in this game. He couldn’t establish post position against San Diego State’s bigs, but he still tried to lob shots over them. Roddy also ran into turnover woes again, as he tried to do too much with his handle and threw a few lazy passes. His creation ability for others has flashes, but it’s far from being actualized and consistent as of now.
On the defensive side, it was a similar story yet again: bigs finished over him with ease. We also saw more pick-and-roll woes, as he cannot play the cat-and-mouse game at all when he operates as a drop defender. He was also burned on an attempt to hedge and recover, though his teammate missed a help rotation that could have prevented the basket. Still, he doesn’t make the long strides necessary on the defensive end to cover a lot of ground quickly in those predicaments. Despite that, I was yet again encouraged by his on-ball defense against smaller players. Roddy’s hips aren’t great, and his wingspan isn’t the longest, so he manages to take them out of the equation by getting close to the ball handler. By playing them off his chest, Roddy doesn’t allow the dribbler to gain any ground, and he’s able to funnel them where he wants.
David Roddy vs. Michigan, 3/17/2022:
-13 points, 5-11 FG, 1-6 3FG, 2-4 FT, 6 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 2 TOV
The Moussa Diabate vs. David Roddy match-up was fascinating to watch as it unfolded. On the plus side, Roddy did a great job of holding position defensively and didn’t give up as much to Diabate as he had to other bigs throughout the season. Unfortunately, Diabate neutralized Roddy on the other side of the floor. He had a hard time separating or creating any offense when the athletic, 6’11” freshman covered him. Still, when Roddy got different defenders, he ate them up immediately. He posted and shot over Eli Brooks and used dazzling footwork to get off a nice Dirk shot in the face of Caleb Houstan. Roddy also did a wonderful job of taking advantage of his offensive gravity and finding his teammates for open looks.
For the fourth consecutive game in this series, the defense looked the same. Hunter Dickinson roasted him every time he got the mismatch, and his help defense efforts were uninspiring. Again, though, he did better on the perimeter than I anticipated. At the same time, Roddy displayed an ugly habit of sagging way off of perimeter players when they didn’t have the ball. I believe it was to prevent getting beat by their first step, but it actually gave them better looks and the opportunity to feast on his sloppy closeouts.
I was hoping to come out of this exercise with a firm take on David Roddy. Still, I’m not entirely sure what he’s going to look like in the NBA. Previously, I’d assumed he would operate as sort of a small-ball 4 and unorthodox offensive weapon. However, after watching him play against bigger teams, I think he may give up too much on the defensive end against bigger players for that to work. Additionally, Garrison Brooks, Moussa Diabate, and their ilk did a phenomenal job of containing his offense. The idea that he’ll be a mismatch against NBA fours feels a little bit misguided to me. I think he’ll have to play on the perimeter to stick.
With that being said, I’m still not out on Roddy! I thought his on-ball perimeter defense was better than I’d noted throughout the season. His tactic of forcing the ball handler to play through his chest is a masterful way to weaponize his strength and best utilize his feet. He desperately needs to improve his off-ball attentiveness and closeout technique, though. His effort on closeouts was abysmal, so hopefully, a simple increase in that department will cover a lot of ground. Still, the tape was so bad in that department that it feels dangerous to say, “oh, it will be fine if he works harder and has a lower usage.” It’s a real problem that he needs to address. Offensively, I thought he did some of his best work against perimeter players. He’s able to bully his way to spots and shoot with his hands in their face. Plus, pick-and-rolls will still allow him to get favorable match-ups against slower-footed bigs in space from time to time, too.
I could see an NBA team falling in love with David Roddy and convincing themselves he’s a first-round pick. On the other hand, I could also see a lot of NBA teams not knowing what to make of him and not wanting to take the time to figure him out. Teams generally aren’t looking to scheme around their late-first and second-round draft picks. Still, I think he’s absolutely a priority second-round talent. I believe his perimeter defense can reach a respectable level with the right improvements, and his quirky offensive skillset could be a handle if he can convert from distance at the next level. Ultimately, I’m rooting for Big Dave to succeed. He’s a player cut from a unique cloth, he’s exciting, and it’s always a joy to watch players make it after being told they can’t because of their body type. Players like Draymond Green and Nikola Jokic have shown that you don’t need to fit a common mold to be an awesome NBA player. I’m not saying Roddy will be anything like either of those guys or even that he’s guaranteed to make it. But saying that he won’t stick because there hasn’t been anyone else like him would be a foolish way to evaluate such an excellent player.
The Draft Sicko Deep Cut Prospect of the Week is…Johni Broome! Alright, I’ll be straight up with you—this isn’t as deep of a cut as you’ve come to expect. But the Morehead State big man declared for the draft recently, and he completely slid under my radar for the entire season. He’s also entered the transfer portal and generated massive interest there. Broome has narrowed his list down to Duke, Gonzaga, Houston, Auburn, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, and Florida. Right now, it seems like he’s headed back to school. While he may not be a factor in the 2022 NBA Draft, he will undoubtedly be a needle mover for a major college program next season, so he warrants discussion.
Broome is 6’10” and 235 pounds, so he has high-major size. As far as the NBA goes, he’s got a good amount of mass in his legs, but he’s skinny up top. He posted 16.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG, and 3.9 BPG, all outstanding numbers. He hit 56.1% of his shots from the field, and he has a nice arsenal in the mid-post. If he struggles to back down his man, he can use a Dirk-style fallaway to get himself separation. His touch around the basket is sublime: he can use a lefty baby hook shot or simply drop the ball softly through the basket with two hands. Broome finished the year in the 82nd percentile on shots around the basket in the halfcourt per Synergy, and he was also 74th percentile for shots out of post-ups. What separates Broome from his peers is his cleverness and coordination. He’ll pull the Alperen Sengun tactic of setting up for a hand-off before darting toward the rim for an easy bucket. If a guard throws an entry pass too high, I’ve seen him leap for the ball, grab it, and turn in mid-air immediately into a made basket. Though he only averaged 1.2 assists per game, he displayed good vision out of the post finding cutters, and he’s far from selfless. On the defensive end, his feel carries over well. He knows how to position himself, how to play cat and mouse, and how to pinpoint the ball for blocks. When he’s switched onto a guard, he does an excellent job of making himself big while sliding his feet to prevent easy penetration.
There are a few concerns with Broome that are the primary reason his declaration for the draft didn’t create more noise. The biggest issue with him is that he’s not a great leaper, and he has almost no second jump to speak of as well. While he’s an effective shot-blocker at the mid-major level in college, his game is predicated on out-positioning and out-smarting smaller peers. I have some concerns about how it will translate against high-major players, let alone NBA competition. This also gives me some pause about his finishing ability on offense, as stronger players who won’t relent positionally or can meet him up top will prevent new challenges for his game. Right now, he’s not a floor spacer, but his 63.8% free throw percentage is okay, and I like his touch.
In some ways, I feel that monitoring the interest levels and performance of Trevion Williams and Orlando Robinson will be telling for Broome. Though all three play a different offensive game, they’re all smart, talented, and polished offensive players with defensive and athletic concerns. If teams bite on either Williams or Robinson, and either of them looks impactful at the next level, it will be great for Johni Broome. He’s an immensely talented college player who will give a major program a boost, but it’s hard to get too excited about an NBA future at this moment in time.
-I dug back into some Malaki Branham film this week, and I came away higher on him than I was going in. I had some reservations about his three-point shot, given the lack of volume and his lack of reputation as a shooter going into the season, but those fears have been quelled. He’s always prepared on the perimeter, and his release is quick! His willingness to move off the ball, poise as a pick-and-roll operator, and jumper have me on board. The defensive warts are still holding me back from a lottery grade at this point, but he’s more raw than bad. His positioning can be iffy, and he’s prone to ball-watching too much while the offense is moving around him.
-As of this moment, I still have Jabari Smith Jr. number one. I understand the concerns about his handle, and his footwork on offense can be clunky. Still, I’m willing to bet on his motor, work ethic, and youthfulness. I also don’t think his handle will need to be truly advanced, given the nature of his tools and shot-making ability. He really just needs to figure out a few things with his feet to gain separation. Elite shooters with his size who can play high-level defense at his age are a rare commodity, and I’m not comfortable passing on him for one of his peers at this stage.
-I also finished up my Paolo Banchero deep dive. While his defense was a bit better than I gave him credit for, his unwillingness to dominate irked me at times. Similar to the previously mentioned Trevion Williams, there are times when I want him to be a bully and set the pretty stuff to the side. He still sits at 2 for me as of now. His creation ability paired with his size and strength is outstanding, even if there are frustrating moments with his motor and attentiveness.
-I’ll be digging into Chet Holmgren in this part of the column next week, and I’m totally open to the idea of him taking the top spot. We will see!