NBA Draft Capsule: Minnesota PF Trevor Mbakwe

NBA Draft Capsule: Minnesota PF Trevor Mbakwe
June 7, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Trevor Mbakwe, 6-foot-8 power forward, Minnesota: This rugged rebounder leaves college with plenty of experience, having graduated from high school back in 2007, the same year as Bulls superstar Derrick Rose. The beginning of Mbakwe's career was rocky, as he transferred from Marquette his freshman year and spent a year at a Miami junior college, but after landing at his hometown school, the St. Paul, Minn., native was a model of consistency on the court. After having endured significant injury problems, including a torn ACL, and sitting out two redshirt seasons, he's regarded as a player with a lot of toughness. 

Career highlights: Mbakwe led the Big Ten in rebounding in 2010-11, got hurt the following campaign and returned to the floor to again top the conference in the category in his sixth year of eligibility. A double-double machine, he averaged the feat as a redshirt junior. While the Gophers generally underachieved during his time at Minnesota, Mbakwe was able to help the team win some big games, such as an upset over then-No. 1 Indiana, in which he had 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Strengths: Mbakwe is a powerful and explosive interior player, who plays within himself. A relentless rebounder on both ends of the floor, he's also an active defender and utilizes his length and athleticism to be a shot-blocking presence. Physical in the paint, Mbakwe is a strong, above-the-rim finisher.

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Weaknesses: While he doesn't shy away from battling any opponent, Mbakwe is a bit undersized when compared to power forwards on the next level. Far from a finesse player, he wasn't a big scorer in college and must polish his offensive game to become a legitimate scoring option in the NBA. Teams are likely to do significant background work on him, due to previous legal incidents in college, meaning the 24-year-old's interviews could be as important as his workouts.

Draft projection: Mbakwe is a solid second-round candidate and if his on-court maturity can overshadow his negatives, he could easily transition into being a long-term NBA rotation player. It will be interesting to see if his past will be held against him in the form of character red flags, especially because he's already battling a perceived lack of upside due to his age. But as a pro-ready prospect who already has a niche as a high-energy rebounder, Mbakwe has a lot of value for a team looking for some toughness inside.