Upshaw is a very talented player at the center position with some serious size to him. He provides all the skill-set to be a force defensively at 7’0, 260 lbs, with a long wing-span, being athletic, and he's generally a beast in terms of protecting the rim. Upshaw is raw overall, but carries some of the biggest red flags in this draft, since being busted for major drug busts twice, and being kicked off two teams in two years.
Upshaw is a good athlete for someone at his size and weight. While he is not a freak athlete like a DeAndre Jordan, Upshaw is in the next tier of athletes at the center position. He has excellent mobility and agility around the post, but is strictly a low-post player and not someone agile enough to guard a quick guard on a pick-and-roll switch.
Upshaw has all the size you need at the center position, especially in today’s game. At 7’0 and with over a 7’5 wing-span, Upshaw provides nice length. At near 260 pounds, he has the body to guard in the low post, but he might need to fine-tune his body a little as he has a little chub right now. With continuous NBA practice, this should go away.
Basketball IQ wise, I don’t know if Upshaw is even average at this level. Could it be he was disinterested or is just a man-beast due to his physical talents? It is hard to know until we see him at the next level, and in terms of overall IQ, you have to wonder if he's clean from drugs?
There is no doubt that Upshaw is a man-beast on the floor defensively. He averaged over eight rebounds and four blocks a game in just 25 minutes. He can alter many shots and will enforce teams from going inside when he is in the game. Upshaw also sets good picks offensively and is a good finisher when being set-up.
Stating that, Upshaw also has many weaknesses. While excellent at protecting the rim, Upshaw seems to lack the stamina from playing many minutes and does not run the floor hard most of the time. Offensively, outside of finishing close to the paint, offensive rebounding, and setting picks, he does not provide much scoring. He cannot shoot a jumper to save his life, nor does he currently have any low-post moves. Will he be motivated to get clean from drugs, but also to play hard at all times?
Overall, Upshaw is an enforcer and one of the best talents in this draft. He will likely slide to late first-round or early second round though due to him being kicked off two teams in two years for drug reasons. While in the game of life, I am all about giving people multiple chances, I don’t know if it is fair to invest in a player with a guaranteed contract (1st round) and assume he is going to handle it wisely. While it is possible, it usually does not play out that way. Usually it takes someone to hit rock bottom before they turn it around when multiple offenses occur. While supposedly giving the right answers in interviews, it is hard for me to believe that someone is going to turn around this quickly while becoming an instant millionaire in a league with a lot of distractions. I don’t know if that is fair for anyone and I certainly don’t know if following him around like the Dallas Cowboys follow problematic players around is the solution either.
Again, Upshaw is a great talent and could surprise me and overcome his issues. I just would prefer someone with a more stable situation (front office and coach together and on the same page for a couple of years) to draft Upshaw.
Fit with Bulls
Upshaw provides everything the Bulls need. He has toughness in terms of enforcement (don’t know about mentality), can block shots, rebound, set picks, he provides size, and is an above average athlete at the center position. He also will most likely be available when we pick at number 22. I understand the view of him being the best talent available, but finding cheap, young players is a hot commodity, and I think there will be a couple in this draft at pick 22.
Typically, in the past, the Bulls have shied away from drafting problematic players and in this case I would sense the same. While wanting to add the best player available and calling for more athletic toughness, I would not draft Upshaw anywhere in the first round. I just don’t see many players that turn it around in any profession with such big distractions traditionally. I think in time he could be valuable, but would want him to earn it. I know many people will say he has done well in interviews and will be by far the best talent available. I will ask those to provide me examples of such cases to where players were clean for multiple years from the start after such issues came out? If buying a pick in the second round, then I am all about it (where contact is not guaranteed).