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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Paul Eboua

A forward from Cameroon has physical attributes on his side.

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U18 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade v U18 Stellazzurra Rome - Adidas Next Generation Tournament Photo by Marko Metlas/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Paul Eboua, Forward, VL Pesaro Italy (International)

  • 6’8” (7’3” wingspan), 223 lbs., from Douala, Cameroon
  • 2019-2020 Season/Career Stats (18 games): 21.6 minutes played, 7.4 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, 25.8% shooting from three, 62.5% from the free throw line
  • Current big board rankings: ESPN (56), Tankathon (59), CBS (78)

Another week, another prospect profile on an international prospect that I am not going to pretend to be an expert on. Much like Yam Madar, however, I enjoyed my two hour long dive in to Paul Eboua’s game. If there was ever a clean basketball slate, it is Eboua. According to Synergy’s advanced scouting report on Eboua he left his native Cameroon in his mid-teens to play professionally. He has physical tools that should make NBA teams salivate, and at 20 years old he has time to grow his game in to a body that is ready to make an impact in the league.

Of course, physicality is just one piece of the puzzle. And there are a lot of holes in the game of this young player, so many in fact that perhaps the best-case scenario for Eboua is that he gets taken with a pick in the 50’s in this draft. So while he may not make sense for Memphis at 40 overall, perhaps there’s a window for him to be an undrafted two-way contract target for the Grizzlies.

What he does well

Championship game U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius v U18 Stellazzurra Rome - Adidas Next Generation Tournament Photo by Patrick Albertini/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

He most certainly looks the part of an NBA player. Essentially imagine a slightly shorter, much more athletic Kyle Anderson - that is the frame that Eboua boasts. And that length enables him to be a possible positionless defender, at least in the front court. Synergy says (and YouTube highlights back up the notion) that he has the capacity to defend not just the traditional “power forward” position, but also the center spot. He also can switch on to perimeter players and hold his own at times, utilizing his lateral quickness and wingspan to impact opposing offensive schemes and passing lanes.

On the offensive end, he’s at his best around the rim. Think a very poor man’s Brandon Clarke - he can rim run and attack the basket well off of cuts and the pick and roll. His shooting mechanics are a bit off (as any highlight viewing can attest to) but he has shown potential to shoot the three at times, and at the very least growth is evident in that area. He can get off the ground quickly and that ability to reset fast after a jump makes him a strong rebounder, especially offensively with regard to misses (especially his own).

How he can improve

He’s a project in almost every sense of the word. Even defensively, where his upside currently shines brightest, he seems to get lost at times when the ball swings too quickly or a screen off ball is set without his peripheral vision picking it up. Especially when he gets switched on to a perimeter player he is a foul concern, which is problematic considering the talent in the Italian leagues is not quite the same as the NBA. Eboua is raw with regard to picking up intricacies in the game due to coming to basketball at a later stage in life than most prospects. That doesn’t mean he can’t pick it up - it just means he’s behind a bit when it comes to “feeling” the game.

The same can be said offensively. He is pretty dependent on teammates to help him create his offense, either off of lobs at the basket or catch and shoot threes. He has a limited handle, does not project to be an average NBA three point shooter according to Tankathon, and does not rebound as well as a player with his physical toolbox should. While his lack of experience contributes to a lot of this, the fact is that there is a lot of work to be done before Eboua can be a functional NBA rotation player.

Does Memphis have the time (or roster space) to let him grow in to the role?

The fit and verdict

Championship game U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius v U18 Stellazzurra Rome - Adidas Next Generation Tournament Photo by Patrick Albertini/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Theoretically, the Grizzlies do have the time to be patient with a player like Eboua. But they don’t have the space on the NBA roster. Assuming Memphis would be looking to add a 2nd pick later in the draft to acquire him (#40 would be a huge reach, considering the level of talent that should be available in that spot of the draft) he’d likely be spending a lot of time in the G-League with the Memphis Hustle his first year with the organization. That’s not necessarily a bad thing - Eboua showed signs of improvement just in an 18 game stretch this past season. He got more confident with his shot, and defensively really shined against front court players for extended periods of time. He can, and likely will, get better...and you cannot teach his physical attributes.

But if De’Anthony Melton returns, and Memphis uses #40 on a wing or guard, with Jontay Porter on the roster adding another project big probably doesn’t make a ton of sense...unless it is under a two-way contract. There is enough there in terms of the numbers (Synergy likes him more than anticipated) to suggest that he could be a John Konchar-esque target of this front office in terms of an undrafted player getting a two-way deal with the Grizzlies/Hustle. That way, he gets a chance to get meaningful in-game work while still being exposed to NBA reps and facilities.

Is that the best use of that two-way? Maybe not - it depends on who all is available, and the Grizzlies have larger needs than versatile front court players. But Eboua is intriguing, because beyond the athleticism his lack of basketball experience means he can develop as a player rapidly if put in the right situation.

The verdict: The Grizzlies prioritize other areas of the roster with a hypothetical pick acquisition/two-way contract...but Eboua is a player worthy of investment is due to his physical gifts and evidence of basketball growth.

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