Athletically, Stokes is surprisingly agile for guy built like a built tank. While not the most adept at leaping, though no slouch, Stokes presents great lateral quickness along with solid front-line speed. Combine that with his size and basketball smarts, and his athletic ability should translate to the next level.
While slightly undersized for a NBA power forward in terms of height being slightly below 6’9, Stokes makes up for it with a tight end type body frame and a 7’1 wingspan. I think with Stokes’ smarts and size, he will be a physical presence in rebounding, setting hard picks, and wearing down opposing big guys at times or guards going around screens.
Stokes is not only extremely basketball smart, but smart in general. He graduated a year early from high school and despite being a junior, he is only 20. What separates Stokes from most big guys is his ability to see the game unfold well. In fact, his passing is a skill that should translate. He seems like one of those Spurs players that just makes people better.
Typically rebounding usually transfers to the next level and Stokes averaged near 11 rebounds for Tennessee in a major conference. While rebounding is a tremendous skill that Stokes has, he is also a very good low post defender which opponents struggle backing him down.
Stokes defends the guard on the pick-and-roll solidly due to his surprising lateral quickness and large wing span despite his thick build. He can body up ball-handlers, or shield the ball-handler while recovering to the pick-setter.
Offensively, Stokes sets extremely hard picks to free up shooters easily. If the ball-handler passes it to a flashing Stokes, he can either try and finish or is an excellent passer. While being a great rebounder overall, he's a beast on the offensive rebounds (a Bulls requirement) and uses shear strength to knock off box-outs regularly.
While Stokes is not known as an offensive stalwart, occasionally he can post-up and finish, has spin-moves, and has an improving, but still raw mid-range jumper. One other strength of his running the floor as he hustles. He hustles and has above average foot speed.
While Stokes has plenty of strengths to carve out a niche in the NBA, his weaknesses will likely keep him in a role player position. His biggest weakness is struggling to finish against length. While he's improved his touch, he's still not much of a jump shooter at this point.
While surprisingly quick, he can be beat easily by quick ball-handlers.
The biggest question mark for Stokes will be whether he can improve his jump shot.
Overall, it is hard to come up with a comparison for Stokes. He is no DeJuan Blair as he is more skilled from the perimeter, presents more passing, more athletic, has two ACL’s, and a better understanding of the game. He is not a scorer like a Corliss Williamson or a Jared Sullinger, but does other things better.
I just think Stokes is one of those players that can rebound, set mean picks, pass, and score opportunistically. At this point, I think he is one of the safest players in this draft due to his rebounding, knowing his role, and should be drafted anywhere from early 20’s to early 2nd round. I don’t think he will be a stud at the next level, but will be a very useful player.
How does he fit with the Bulls?
While the Bulls need more athleticism, shooting, and playmaking skills, Stokes at least provides great big-man depth. If we don’t plan on bringing Mirotic over or sometime plan on trading Taj, he would be one of the better big guys to have in this draft.
While I like Mitch McGary, I am sometimes concerned by back issues and more so his refusal to show up for the combine. I like Payne and think he and Stokes provide differences that could both be of benefit to the team. Payne provides more shooting which seems to be a focus this year, while Stokes can defend the post and rebound. If we traded down to mid-20’s and drafted Stokes, I would be elated.