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Kobe Bufkin 2023 NBA Draft Profile

Kobe Bufkin 2023 NBA Draft

(Photo: Paul Sancya | AP)

Kobe Bufkin 2023 NBA Draft
(Photo: Paul Sancya | AP)

Kobe Bufkin 2023 NBA Draft Profile

Kobe Bufkin 2023 NBA Draft Profile

  • Height/Weight/Age: 6’5”/187 lbs /19 years old 
  • Primary Position: Combo Guard 
  • Sophomore Season Stats: 14.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 48.2% FG, 35.5% 3PT, 84.9% FT, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 1.9 TOPG

Strengths: Finishing, Quick Decision Making, Defensive Playmaking

Michigan combo guard Kobe Bufkin has a lot of impressive traits that help make him a well-rounded prospect in a great 2023 NBA Draft class. The most notable of those skills is his elite finishing. Bufkin has a solid first step and handle which he uses to get to the rim.

Once he gets inside, he is a crafty finisher with a remarkable touch. Bufkin, a lefty, is more than capable of finishing with his right hand as well. If you like stats, Bufkin shot a sensational 71 percent at the rim.

Bufkin showed to be a decisive guard at Michigan. On the perimeter, Bufkin made quick decisions as to whether to drive, swing the ball or shoot. This was on display the most in situations where Bufkin would make the extra pass and find the open shooter on the outside. The offense rarely became stagnant when the ball landed in Bufkin’s hands.

While Bufkin’s offense has several other strengths, his defense should not be ignored. On the defensive side of the ball, Bufkin has his flaws, but he makes a lot of great plays. On the perimeter, Bufkin has quick hands and pokes at the ball, oftentimes leading to steals and transition opportunities. On the inside, he is a great shot blocker for his position. This helps him make up ground if he is beaten off the dribble while adding some extra value as a help defender.

Lastly, before we transition over to weaknesses, Bufkin’s progression needs to be noted. Bufkin has always had talent, he entered Michigan as a top-50 recruit, but he continuously improved throughout his college tenure.

Still, Bufkin made a massive jump from his freshmen to sophomore year. More importantly, he saw a spike in the middle of his sophomore season which cemented him as a first-round prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft. In the league, it should be expected that Bufkin continues to improve.

Weaknesses: On-Ball Defense, Screen Navigation, Three-Point Shot Creation

Before we discuss the weaknesses in Kobe Bufkin’s game, it should be noted that he does not have any massive red flags. Yes, he has issues, but he is a fairly well-rounded prospect that is not littered with issues.

The problems with Bufkin’s game are mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Bufkin is not a great on-ball defender. While not a constant issue, Bufkin gets beat off the dribble more than you would like. Additionally, at times, he can get a little over-aggressive hunting for steals which presents opponents with offensive opportunities.

Additionally, he does not navigate through screens at an adequate level. In a screen-heavy modern NBA, that is certainly not great. Bufkin is on the skinny side which results in him getting really affected by bigger bodies. On top of that, he does not have the technique to get over screens.

On the offensive side, Bufkin’s interior and mid-range shot creation is much better than his three-point shot creation. That does not mean he can not shoot. It is just more likely that he will rely on catch-and-shoot looks for his three-point opportunities. If Bufkin wants to be an elite offensive threat, he will need to improve his bag and develop his stepback.

Best Fits: Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat

It is not hard to find compelling fits for Kobe Bufkin. His versatility to play as a lead guard or off-ball guard allows him to slide into a ton of rosters.

The fits for Bufkin begin with the Utah Jazz. The Jazz attempted to rebuild last year, but they ended up finding a little too much talent and won quite a few games. Still, they need young guard talent if they want to set themselves up for long-term success. The Jazz currently hold picks No. 9, 16, and 28 in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Bufkin would be a solid piece in a three-player draft class.

The Los Angeles Lakers are another team in need of guard play. It is hard to tell exactly how the Lakers will approach improving the position, but if they add a guard in the draft, Bufkin would fit the team. In the now, Bufkin could be a ball handler with the bench unit while adding a catch-and-shoot threat when LeBron James is on the floor. In the future, once James inevitably walks away, Bufkin would be a nice young player to have as you attempt to re-tool.

The Miami Heat should take a look at adding Bufkin as well. The Heat backcourt is filled with questions. Bufkin could provide solid minutes off the bench while growing into a starter in Miami’s elite development system. It is worth noting that Miami has a few holes that could be filled with their first-round selection. That said, at pick No. 18, the best player available will likely be a guard.

NBA Comparison: Immanuel Quickley

I was internally fighting between Immanuel Quickley and Derrick White for Bufkin’s NBA comparison. I’ll go with Quickly, though. I think the offensive profile as a combo guard with great finishing skills is comparable. The major difference is that Bufkin will likely take fewer 3-pointers than Quickley. In that regard, I think he will be a guard that will punish you if you leave him open. That aspect of his game reminds me of White. The White comparison can also be seen in his help defense, blocks and steals.

Projection: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round

In the 2023 NBA Draft, Kobe Bufkin will hear his name called in the late lottery to the middle of the first round. I have a hard time measuring a ceiling. I think the Jazz at No. 9 and Magic at No. 11 may select Bufkin. Those selections are difficult to predict since each team has several selections in Round 1.

Still, there is a chance either team makes a move for Bufkin, even if it may be a shock. I’ll set the floor at pick No. 22 where the Brooklyn Nets make the second of two consecutive selections. Ultimately, I think he gets selected closer to the ceiling side of that projection.

Personally, I am higher on Bufkin than the consensus. At his best, we are looking at a player that can be a high-quality starter on a successful team while the floor is limited to a quality role player. The only issue is that he does not have the star potential that you would like out of an early selection. Still, Bufkin should solidly be within the second tier of guards to come off the board. If I were running a team, I would be more than happy if I walked away from the 2023 NBA Draft with Bukfin.


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