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Taking Out the Trash Volume 4
In this week's installment of Taking Out the Trash, Garbage Time Ghim compares three standout college centers to popular wrestlers from the early 2000's.
After two-plus weeks of suffering, I am officially out of health and safety protocols and I’m back to wreak havoc. Before I even get into the fun stuff this week, I just want to say that Covid sucks and I really hope all of our followers are staying safe. This virus is no fun and I can actually speak from first-hand experience now.
I’ve spent the last month doing some introspective thinking, and I realized that I want this bi-weekly column to just be about the prospects that are interesting to me. Hopefully, you’ll find them interesting as well. This week I wanted to dive into three centers that aren’t necessarily the most talented or highly-touted, but I think they’re all going to find roles in the league and should have lengthy careers on the next level.
I want to dive into Christian Koloko, Mark Williams, and Walker Kessler. As I was diving into their tape, I felt like they belonged in the same group because all three of them have some really exciting tools, but also glaring weaknesses that’ll probably (?) keep them from the lottery discussion. As I was thinking about their similarities and differences, I randomly saw a WWE NXT commercial while watching TV and it reminded me of the wrestler Kane. Back in late elementary and early junior high school, I was a huge fan of Kane. Being a taller guy for most of my life, I always appreciated larger athletes and Kane was an absolute beast of a human being. There were many memorable moments with Kane, but him getting betrayed by Tori never left me.
As a 5th grader, this was one of the most unbelievable and painful moments in my life until that point. I couldn’t believe Tori just cheated on Kane and went for that loser X-Pac. Of all the things to remember, it’s weird that this is the first memory that comes to mind. Maybe this is why I had trust issues for most of my life and didn’t like people with long hair. Shouts to my boy Josh Spice and his love affair with growing out his hair despite my hate for it.
But it wasn’t just Kane; I also loved The Big Show and The Undertaker as well. I felt like all three of those monsters were pretty similar and I loved watching all three of them. I know Undertaker was definitely the biggest star out of the three but I felt skill-wise they were all pretty similar and even used similar moves.
So as I was going over the three centers I mentioned earlier, I decided I’d compare them to the three wrestling legends and try to break down for you why I love them and why I think they deserve to be drafted around the same range.
Christian Koloko (Arizona): Kane
Finishing Move: Choke Slam
I’m so happy I found this compilation of chokeslams because the Kane Chokeslam was one of the coolest things you would see in wrestling. Also, I definitely chokeslammed a bunch of my cousins and stuffed animals growing up. I was cool. I used to have a stuffed animal that was a green frog that I used to absolutely destroy in my room. That’s a weird sentence.
For every prospect, I want to compare their main strength to the finishing move of the wrestler I’m comparing them to. For Christian Koloko, I was reminded of Kane because I feel like he’s not as highly regarded as the other two centers in this group. When I watch Koloko play, the first thing that crosses my mind is strength. The dude is not just a tall man, but he’s a really powerful man as well. He has really worked on his body during his time in Arizona, and you can tell that he already has an NBA-ready physique. He’s got a big upper body and a strong base to handle heavier bigs as well.
In my opinion, I think he moves the best out of the three centers in this comparison and he’s shown some real agility and speed that is amazing to watch. I want you to watch the clip I posted below and just notice where Koloko is on the floor when Hunter Dickinson catches the ball. The fact that he was even able to contest this shot at the rim is insane. Like The Big Red Machine jumping off the top rope for a flying clothesline, Koloko comes flying in to absolutely wreck Dickinson in this play.
Koloko isn’t just some wild hunter of blocks either. He currently averages 3.3 blocks per game, which is awesome, but I want it to be known that Koloko has developed into a much more disciplined defender. I think the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most from him and what I would call his “Chokeslam” is his developing ability to guard smaller guards. He is by no means perfect at it, but I have two examples for you where you can see the development and the potential.
In the first clip, we see Koloko in some drop coverage. When he gets switched on to the smaller guard, he doesn’t panic; he stays in front of him and blocks the weak mid-range jumper. I know it’s not some unbelievable play but I like that he wasn’t freaking out when he switched on to the smaller guard and he did a great job of containing him.
In the second clip, it’s a bit of a broken play but I love what he does in using his strength to get the driver off-balance. He just uses his chest to get the driver wobbling and then absolutely destroys his shot off the backboard. You have to shout out the foot speed to keep up with the guy as well. These are the types of plays where you can start to see how his game translates to the next level. I get that he didn’t do this against Dame Lillard and Ja Morant, but the signs are there.
Koloko is not the biggest name in the group, but he’s got some real skills and he can hang with just about any of the top centers in the draft. As a little treat, I’ll leave this clip of him on offense. Koloko is not the most advanced offensive center but he’s not some dud either. Peep the good hands and the soft little baby hook over Dickinson. VERY NICE.
Mark Williams (Duke): The Undertaker
Finishing Move: Tombstone Piledriver
The Undertaker definitely had the longest and most successful career of the three wrestlers on this list. I’m definitely not saying that Mark Williams is going to have the best career of the three centers, but he’s the most well-known of the group. Mark Williams is the defensive anchor of one of the top teams in the country, and he gets to play next to a bunch of potential first-round picks every night. Although he’s playing on a star-studded team, it’s important for us to note that he’s one of the stars on the team as well. Mark Williams is a very talented center and more than holds his own amongst his talented teammates.
When you watch The Undertaker demolish people with his Tombstone Piledriver, you can’t help but wonder how many people have died from that move. The man would grab people, flip them upside down, and slam them on their heads. It’s amazing that more wrestlers didn’t snap their necks after being on the receiving end of one of those. When you watch the sheer force that goes into that move you can’t help but be amazed. In a similar way, Mark Williams also knows how to use force to completely destroy his enemies. Of the three centers on this list, Williams has had the most violent and terrifying blocks of all.
This block is straight nasty. Look at how he cocks back and just detonates the ball. You have to love the athleticism he shows to get there and the timing on the block. The guy timed it perfectly and knew he was going to absolutely send Wheeler’s shot to hell. The thing about Williams is that it feels like he has at least one of these per game. You can literally feel the emotions behind these blocks. Williams is really close to Koloko in block numbers. He’s currently averaging 3.4 blocks per game, with a 16% block percentage. If I were a guard attacking the rim around Duke, I’d probably just not attack the rim. Those are the types of blocks that take away your confidence and leave you wanting to try another sport.
Look at the possession below—this block isn’t as powerful, but look at his length and timing on this one. This one really makes no sense to me. I don’t know what his measurables are but his wingspan has to be insane. Wheeler has to hate Williams.
Personally, I feel like Williams is not the defender Koloko is in space, but I have to admit he’s had some nice moments where it leaves you slightly excited. In the clip I posted below he ends up guarding Isaiah Wong, a guy that I personally love who is no joke when attacking the rim.
I love how Williams showed off some foot speed in staying in front of Wong and also showed off some discipline in not falling for his fakes. He does a great job of contesting and blocking his shot. This is a really nice stop by Williams and it shows you what he could potentially become. It hurt my feelings posting that one because I love Wong, but that’s some awesome discipline on William’s end.
I don’t love his footwork as much on this one, but you have to like the fact that he didn’t give up on the play and was able to recover after falling for two fakes. This is the type of clip that may leave people lukewarm but I definitely enjoyed the effort and the recovery at the end.
I think Williams is the most limited of the group offensively, but his defensive highlights and the fact that he’s on a high-profile team I think will lead to him going somewhere in the first round. He could easily be the first one drafted out of the group.
The Big Show: Walker Kessler
Finishing Move: The K.O. Punch
I know what you’re all thinking, wasn’t The Big Show’s finishing move The Chokeslam? The Chokeslam has definitely been his finishing move for most of his career, but there has been a stretch where the K.O. Punch has replaced it and I also didn’t want to double up with Kane having the same finishing move. We want to keep things spicy here. It’s important to note that all of these wrestlers are pretty close in height to the prospects I’ve been comparing them to. Kane is a 7-footer, The Big Show is also a 7-footer, and The Undertaker is 6’10”.
I compared Kessler to The Big Show because I believe Kessler, like The Big Show, can end up having a very long and successful career. I personally don’t think he’s going to be the best amongst the three because I think he’s the most limited athletically. The gap in foot speed between him and the other two guys is pretty big. But like The Big Show, I do believe Kessler has some skills that are specific to him and could lead to a nice and lengthy career.
When I watch Kessler, I think the thing that sets him apart the most is his offensive game. I promise you won’t be mistaking him for Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, but I think Kessler has shown the most in the group. In the play below, it’s not the cleanest or prettiest looking pass but I really like how Kessler was able to read the defense and made the correct pass to the weakside corner. He does look pretty awkward when he turns, but excellence doesn’t always look beautiful. I am wise.
This is the type of play that makes you think he might occasionally be able to make some plays out of the short roll on the next level. If he can keep working on this and show off more of this passing from now till the end of the season, I can’t help but think the scouts will start to consider using a first-round pick on Kessler. Also, I think it’s kind of hilarious whenever he throws up 3-pointers. He’s currently taking about 1 per game and shooting 17% on them. Some sick numbers, but it’s fun whenever he throws them up.
When we start talking about him defensively, I think I’m not as high on him as others may be. He struggles a ton when guarding guards and wings and really struggles when he’s defending in space. I know he’s averaging 4.1 blocks per game and an insane 19.6% block percentage, but it’s not always perfect.
Props to Kessler for recovering to contest the shot, but he got absolutely dusted on this play. You can see here what things might look like for him on the NBA level. Guards are much faster and better with the ball in their hands, and Kessler is definitely going to struggle to guard faster guards. But it’s also important to mention that most centers are going to struggle against fast guards. I just think he’s going to struggle the most out of the three guys I’m breaking down. To be fair though, he’s not a nightmare either. Look at this possession against Tari Eason of LSU below.
That’s a spicy little battle there! I like how Kessler does everything in his power to stay in front of him and does a good job of recovering from the euro-step to block the shot. As much as I like this play, once again you can see that Kessler doesn’t have ballerina's feet, but it’s definitely not the end of the world. You still have to give the guy credit for making a nice play. The same goes for the play below. Kessler doesn’t look so confident in his feet, but he keeps them lively, I like that. “Lively Feet” should be something we say more often when talking about prospects. I’m a genius.
All three of these centers are going to be interesting to watch throughout the second half of the season. If I had to pick my favorite of the three I might be leaning towards Koloko, which is something I wasn’t expecting to say. I think I might end up having all three guys in my top 30 by the end of the season. The thing that I want to emphasize is that this group really is neck and neck and I’m interested to see how you guys feel about the group. How would you guys rank these three? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to give you a proper education. Thanks for taking out the trash with me again fools, stay safe out there.