Weight: 256 pounds
School: Florida State
With many prospects, there’s a lot of projection required to convince yourself they can eventually be a positive player in the NBA. That’s not the case with 21-year-old Mfiondu Kabengele, who started zero of his 71 games in two seasons at Florida State. He could still improve, sure, especially given the strides he took after his redshirt freshman season, when he averaged under 15 minutes per game. But Kabengele, a nephew of Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, already appears to have a high “floor” as an agile big man who can shoot from long range and protect the rim.
Kabengele was very efficient in the minutes he received last year, finishing second in player efficiency rating in the ACC to presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson — he was second to Williamson by a gaping margin, but it's still an impressive stat. With a 7-3 wingspan and 35.5-inch vertical leap, he has ideal physical traits for a shot blocker, and he swatted away 2.8 shots per 40 minutes as a redshirt sophomore. He hunts the ball well, whether it’s defensively or as an offensive rebounder, an appealing quality in a backup big man. Outside of his rebounding, Kabengele is an asset offensively running the floor, as a spot-up shooter and in the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop. He made 37.4 percent of his college three-point attempts and hit 76.1 percent of his free throws last season.
For better and for worse, Kabengele is best suited for a complementary role. If you’re asking him to create his own offense, you’re asking for trouble. He had just 21 college assists in 1,301 total minutes, compared to 83 turnovers. There aren’t concerns about his ability to score out of the pick-and-roll in the NBA, but if he’s put in positions where the defense forces him to pass or put the ball on the floor, that would be a worry. He doesn’t have much of a post-up game, with his post-up possessions often resulting in contested mid-range jumpers. Foul trouble is a downside for Kabengele on defense. He fouled out of five games last season and committed four fouls in six.
Regardless of how free agency shakes out for the Sixers, Kabengele would likely be in the mix for backup center minutes. Whether he can smooth out the rough edges of his game — the turnovers, foul trouble and inclination toward inefficient mid-range jumpers — would determine his immediate role. Jonah Bolden, a player Kabengele would be competing with for playing time, had a similar list of issues entering the NBA and experienced an up-and-down rookie year. Like Bolden, Kabengele’s outside shooting would also enable him to play as a power forward alongside Joel Embiid. One edge Kabengele would have over Bolden in the backup big man competition would be his strength — he’s about 35 pounds heavier than Bolden ended last season and won’t be overpowered by NBA centers.
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