“If it weren't for the injuries” is a phrase commonly associated with Killian Tillie.
If it weren't for the injuries, Tillie would have been one of the best players in Gonzaga history. If it weren't for the injuries, Tillie would be a lock to be chosen in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.
But as much as Tillie would like to, he can't shake his injury-riddled past. In four years at Gonzaga, he dealt with knee surgery, a torn ligament in his foot, a stress fracture in his ankle, numerous sprained ankles, a broken finger and a hip pointer. The long list of injuries forced him to miss a total of 38 games during his college career.
Tillie would be a first-round pick if his injury history wasn't a concern and he was being evaluated solely on his basketball talent. He's 6-10 with exceptional three-point shooting ability. He can handle the ball, pass and generally has terrific instincts on the offensive end of the floor.
Tillie averaged 13.6 points and 5.0 rebounds and shot an even 40 percent from long range during his senior season. He was one of the best players on a Gonzaga team that had a 31-2 record. Tillie finished his college career as a 44 percent three-point shooter and enters the NBA Draft as a proven winner with a track record of solid production for one of the premier programs in the country.
Tillie's combination of size and shooting makes him a very attractive commodity. He projects as a stretch forward who will be able to space the floor with his tremendous spot-up shooting ability.
At 22 years old, he's a polished offensive player with an excellent basketball IQ. Tillie was also very efficient in the pick-and-roll at Gonzaga, whether it was rolling to the basket or popping out to the perimeter for an open jumper. He will likely be utilized as a pick-and-pop forward in the NBA.
Tillie won't be confused for a slasher who gets to the basket, but he does have the ability to score in the paint. His solid footwork and soft touch make him an effective scorer on the low block. He'll do most of his scoring from the perimeter, but he's versatile enough to exploit size mismatches inside.
Tillie is also an above-average passer for a big man. Gonzaga often ran its offense through Tillie, who served as a facilitator from the top of the key or in the high post. He sees the floor extremely well, a trait that figures to translate well to the pro game.
You have to start with the injuries. Given the extent to which Tillie struggled to stay healthy in college, it's fair to wonder whether his body can withstand the rigors of an 82-game NBA season. His knee, ankle and foot problems are especially concerning. Those are the type of injuries that tend to derail careers, especially for big men like Tillie.
His lack of elite foot speed and strength limits his defensive ability. Will stronger, more athletic forwards take advantage of him? His size and understanding of the game should make him a passable defender, but he'll never be great on that end of the floor.
Tillie's extensive injury history will likely drop him to the second round — potentially late in the second round. At the moment, the Sixers own four second round picks — the 34th, 36th, 49th and 59th overall selections. Tillie likely isn't on their radar at 34 or 36 but he should warrant serious consideration at 49 or 59, assuming he's still available.
Once the draft gets deeper into the second round, teams take fliers on risky prospects with high upside. That description fits Tillie perfectly. The injuries make him a risk, but the offensive skills, particularly his shooting, translate to high upside. If Tillie manages to stay healthy — a huge if — he is absolutely skilled enough to crack the Sixers' rotation.
Tillie's ability to stretch the floor makes him a potentially perfect fit for the Sixers’ bench and a very intriguing possibility late in the second round.
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