Draft profiles: Robert Upshaw, 7'0, 260 lbs, C, Washington, Sophomore

Draft profiles: Robert Upshaw, 7'0, 260 lbs, C, Washington, Sophomore


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.

Athletic Ability

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

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).


Leave a comment
  • 76ers have 5 second round picks. Bulls should trade their #22 pick for the top three of those five picks. Then select Upshaw, PF Cliff Alexander from Kansas, and SG/SF Anthony Brown from Stanford.
    Upshaw would replace Nazr Mohammed, Brown would replace free agent Dunleavey, and Alexander could replace Taj Gibson who I would trade for a combo pg/sg to eventually replace Hinrich.

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    I'm all for this plan with the exception of hunting down a new combo guard. No doubt in my mind Moore's the man for that job. Give Hoibs a range of young, hungry options to develop and mentor as he builds the system with the vets. And filling the bottom of the roster definitely means the price is right for GarPax. Brilliant plan.

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    Does not seem to be the up tempo type that would fit into Hoiberg's offensive system. Plus he's a junkie.

  • fb_avatar

    Upshaw will be the ultimate Boom or Bust candidate. His honesty about his drug abuse shows a lot about having strong character (Boom) but having more money and free time could lead him back to drugland (Bust)

    With more teams spreading the floor, and playing smaller, quicker lineups Upshaw may be a dieing breed of big men who protect the paint, but he's good to have in a lineup cause in a couple of years he could be a dominate force due to his size and thickness. Z-bo pt 2.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I agree with the Boom or Bust idea. Strongly leaning toward bust, though. In all my experiences talking to family and people with drug issues, most of them almost seem to brag openly on their "difficulties." It doesn't surprise me in the least that Upshaw talks honestly about it. For his sake, mostly, I hope he turns it around. Maybe Jo would be a good mentor?

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Honest or not, I don't see how jeopardizing your life/career over drug use can be a sign of strong character. Drug use is a character flaw and almost always a fatal one career wise.

  • I agree with everything you just said. I really doubt anyone takes him in the first round, but I'd take him with the first pick of the second round. Just to much risk. I really think that next years draft could be full of talent at the center spot. The guy from Utah is already at the top of my list. I'm counting on the King's pick comming through next year.

  • zero chance paxson drafts this kid. i bet taj is traded and pax grabs harrell from Louisville or they get one of the combo guards

  • I can't remember off hand what Miami's Whiteside had issues with, but he was a huge upside project that is finally starting to pay off. If we can get him in the second round, with our strong vet presence, he could definitely take Nazr's spot on the end of the bench and simmer (hoping he gets things together). Nazr could fill a spot on Fred's staff as Upshaw bubble wrap- first nickname offered= Lil' Naz. As everyone says here, not likely Bulls take a chance on the kid, though.

  • Upshaw will likely go in the second round due to the drug issue. In some ways his size and abilities seem tantalizing, but shooting 42% on free throws is always a concern. I'd rather pull a Miami as in Whiteside, and shrewdly snatch him up years from now from some European experience or D-League team.

    It always seems like there are early second round steals waiting to be had. While the odds of a second round pick panning out are greatly diminished, there are so many players you can look at who came from draft obscurity to catapult to NBA success. Guys who are late bloomers or got pegged as undersized etc. while their offensive games just go trough the roof. Monta Ellis comes to mind as just one example although he came from the pre-one and done era where high schoolers were eligible.

    As far as trading away first round picks for two seconds the way you do say in football where NFL teams trade down on a regular basis. You just don't see that really in the NBA at least not recently.
    That being said, if I could trade the Bulls No. 22 pick for two early second rounders I might be tempted to do it. It might be unnecessary though as it is sometimes possible to either pick up a second rounder for multiple next and following year seconds or flat out buy a pick or "cash considerations."

    As I've said already Joseph Young IMO is going to be a good NBA three point shooter and over all scorer. It will be interesting to see how high in the second round he goes. Also, Jordan Mickey while undersized has the wingspan and over all game that should translate to the NBA IMO. These would be my top two 'steals' or targets. I will say guys like Jeremy Lamb interviewed so poorly and had such lackluster i.e unprofessional reps that talent and ability aside I shied away from them. I used to spend more time watching players high on my list to see their in game demeanor, but I just don't have the time or inclination anymore to do so.

    The reason I mention this is because I think a guy's demeanor as in attitude, and the way he carries himself is a factor. So I will watch interview vids of guys like Young, Terry Rozier, Kevon Looney, Jordan Mickey, Delon Wright etc. I did see a fair amount of Joe Young, Mickey, and Wright I will say.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Side Note: if you view this Bulls team as 'close' to contending then chances are you forgo the second round route altogether. Though a supposed NBA ready to contribute guy as in McDNP didn't come to fruition at least not in his first season. Though you could just say that in part was a Thibs thing. I sure hope McDermott(and Niko) pan out as three point shooters as that was a huge part of their appeal i.e why they were drafted by the Bulls in the first place.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Draymond Green(undersized at 6'5.75") was a second round pick the year that the Bulls jumped all over Teague with the last pick in the first round.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Looking forward to the Draymond Green v Tristan Thompson matchup in the finals. It will be very interesting to see who wins that battle and if it is a factor in the series. Also interested in seeing if Green matchs up with Lebron and how he does.

  • I would much prefer Bobby Portis out of Arkansas, even if he is a PF rather than a pure center, however, he projects to be gone in the low to mid teens.

    Question for you college guys, would you trade McDNP for Sam Decker in this years draft?
    Is Decker really 6'9" or does he measure 6'7" at the Chicago draft camp making him only 3/4 of an inch taller than McDNP?

  • I'm not a big Sam Dekker fan. Then again I wasn't a big McDNP fan either. I highly doubt Bulls will give up on him so soon. I just hope he starts hitting some threes for us at least. Will be interesting to see if Gary Harris pans out for Denver as one of the two draft picks we gave away for the McSter. Nurkic showed some signs that's for sure.

  • I also like Bobby Portis, but likely he will be gone. Defensively I watched guys just swim over him down low like he wasn't even there, but hopefully he can put on some beef in the next couple of years.

  • Love the new intros! Thanks!

Leave a comment