Brandin Podziemski looks like the next iteration of the archetype that’s become one of the main talking points of this year’s conference finals. He’s an average athlete as a combo guard, but he plays with a lot of grit, can hit outside shots, and makes the right decisions. The Lakers have a similar player in Austin Reaves. The Heat are basically nothing but this kind of player. The Charlotte Hornets would be wise to stock the cupboard with this kind of player, the 23rd ranked player on our board.
Standing reach: 8’0.5″
Weight: 203.8 pounds
Vertical: 31.5″ standing, 39.0″ max
Outside shooting, feel for the game, rebounding
Podziemski’s most obvious NBA skill is his outside shooting. He connected on 43.8% of his 5.8 3-point attempts per game during his one and only season at Santa Clara. He has a smooth, high-arcing jumper and is lethal in catch-and-shoot situations. He’s got some ability off the dribble as well.
That shooting touch translates inside the arc as well. He has a terrific floater and great touch around the basket, though his lack of burst will probably limit the opportunities he has to showcase those skills.
Podziemski also has very good feel and vision as a passer, and there’s probably more potential here than he showed at Santa Clara given the leash he had as a scorer there. The touch and accuracy he shows as a shooter also comes through with precision lobs around the rim, and he has good vision in pick and roll scenarios.
He probably won’t be a primary ball handler or facilitator at the NBA level, but that feel and passing ability will help the offense flow and create looks for others out of secondary actions. That feel shows itself on the defensive side of the ball as well. He’s not a lockdown defender by any means, but he can be disruptive off the ball. He registered 1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks per game during his sophomore season.
Podziemski is an outlier rebounder. He’s a 6’4″ combo guard, but he led the WCC in rebounding with 8.8 rebounds per game. That rebounding ability showed itself in the NBA Combine scrimmages, where he tallied seven rebounds in his first scrimmage.
On ball defense, first step
Both of the main weaknesses in Podziemski’s game are borne out of the same problem–he has slow feet. He sometimes gets beaten so easily on the drive that his help doesn’t have time to get there. He has the instincts and motor to be a plus team defender, but he’s going to be very reliant on his teammates to help him in on ball situations. He’s not quick enough to stay in front of guards, and he’s not big or strong enough to guard up.
His slow feet also limit him with the ball in his hands. He struggled to get separation in the WCC, and it certainly won’t be any easier against NBA defenders. He scored well as a shot creator in college, but that was on high volume with a long leash to take shots that he won’t be taking in the NBA. His game was predicated on tough turnarounds and floaters since he wasn’t able to create space and blow by defenders. That inability to create from a standstill will relegate him to a role player that can make plays against scrambling defenses on secondary and tertiary actions.
Podziemski saw his stock rise at the NBA Draft Combine where he showed off his passing ability and showed that he could maintain his level of play against stiffer competition. He’s a gritty player that makes threes and plays hard. NBA teams need guys like that, and you can see that with how many players of that mold are featured in the conference finals.