In the last few years, we have seen many second-round picks become pivotal parts of their respective teams. Some examples are Malcolm Brogdon, Jalen Brunson, and Jordan Bell. This year, it will be Daniel Gafford for the Chicago Bulls.
Bulls 2019 second-round pick Daniel Gafford showed out in the NBA Summer League and seemed like an absolute steal for the Bulls. The big man out of Arkansas averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game over the five summer league games. Gafford is a high-energy, defensive-oriented big man that does all the intangibles for his team. This is why Gafford will be a spark plug off the bench for Chicago this year and be this year's second-round spotlight in the NBA.
The center can do all a team looks for in a prototypical NBA center. In college, Gafford is an excellent defender as he was in the 90th percentile in isolation defense and 67th percentile in post defense. Offensively, in his two years at Arkansas, he shot an efficient 66% from the field, ranking 81st in post-up efficiency, and 85th percentile P&R finishing. Additionally, Gafford is lighting quick in transition, ranking 81st in transition throughout college.
A play that stood out to scouts was in Gafford's first game against Texas. The big man was able to go for a steal at other free throw line and be back in the play in 3 seconds. For a team like the Bulls who ranked 27th in points in the halfcourt, 29th in OFF RTG, and 20th in Pace a mobile big man like Gafford is essential to development throughout the year.
Gafford's ability to get all over the court will get him minutes for the Bulls behind Wendell Carter Jr all year. However, Gafford's best trait is that he understands his worth and usage on the court. Too often, NBA players believe they can do much more than they can do, leading to a lack of efficiency and a horrible net rating on offense. Throughout Gafford's tenure in basketball, he understands his offensive game is not developed enough to try and do more than he is asked to do. He understands his role and shoots only effective shots down low. Outside of the paint, on offense Gafford is virtually invisible, so Gafford does not jeopardize the offense by trying to expand his game just yet.
Gafford is a reincarnation of Rockets center Clint Capela. His efficiency and statistics mirror each other. Capela came into the league as a fast defender and finisher in the lane that proved successful for the Rockets and added around 4 wins per advanced stats for the Rockets. Since his first year, Capela's game has only expanded to finesse post moves and free throw efficiency, which is an excellent sign for Gafford. This article is not the first one to compare the two big men. As Gafford said, "Position-wise, I'm mainly a center. I've been getting compared to Clint Capela since my freshman year. I wouldn't say I'm the next Capela - I'd say I'm the first Daniel Gafford because I'm still working on myself." (Chicago Bulls) This realization that his game still has significant areas to work on is why Gafford will be successful.
The consistency in Gafford's game is what a young, developing team like the Chicago Bulls need right now. His ability and consistent energy will make the Bulls use the big man for big minutes all throughout the year. He has all the tools to be an active producer off the bench that energizes a team's defense and hustles for every single loose ball. Daniel Gafford is ready to put the league on notice.