June 18, 2014
|Arms as long and thin as advertised.|Raphiael Putney
, Massachusetts, Senior, 6'9 185lbs
2013/14 stats: 24.2 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.2 bpg, 1.7 TOpg, 2.7 fpg, 45.1% FG, 32.0% 3PT, 75.0% FT
The rail-thin Putney has essentially played mostly as a small power forward in his career so far, and may well continue to do so here on out. But he is hereby listed as a small forward, because the thought of a power forward weighing less than 200lbs is a tough one.
Putney is very, very wiry, which is both a blessing and a curse. His limbs are long, hence all the blocked shots. Although he bites on every shot fake and reaches far too much, Putney's tremendous wingspan makes him versatile and disruptive defensively. Even when beaten, Putney's wingspan and good mobility makes him able to recover and contest, and he is best on the defensive end when freeroaming, defending switches, lurking around the basket, gambling and anticipating, and providing help anywhere on the court. In theory, Putney can develop everywhere from shooting guard to centre. The flip side of this leanness, though, is that in being so thin (and it is hard to overstate how thin he is), Putney is very easily overpowered, and not even necessarily by especially powerful opponents. He also does not always give forth the effort to try and win position or stay in front, relying on his wingspan and athleticism to do it all, which it doesn't. His length is a big asset on defense, but it's also the only defensive asset he has.
Offensively, the story is similar for similar reasons. Not aided by the unnecessarily large arc on his shot, Putney is not the best jump shooter, and although he can hit open spot-ups from both mid-range and long with decent form, he does not create these looks or shoot off the dribble. Putney also does not create in the post, and though he can get from perimeter to basket in two long (always right handed) dribbles, it has to be a fairly open lane for him to do so, as he hasn't much of a handle at all. What Putney does do is run the court well, spot up, and be a threat for lob passes. But he struggles badly under duress, is easily pushed off the spot, cannot feed the post (thus negating any potential usefulness in high-low action), cannot create, nor finish reliably. And further to this, he takes some bad quick shots.
Putney intrigues because he does a lot of what can't be taught through his physical profile and natural instincts. His skill set, however, has not caught up. Putney is still raw, somewhat deficient in his court awareness and raw skills, and prone to letting his offensive performance on any given night dictate his defensive intensity. Whoever picks up Putney will have an asset, but a frustrating one. Putney would be quite the sophomore right now, but as a 24 year old graduating senior, he needs to make some quick strides to realise his potential. Putney has the same sort of physical profile as multi-year NBA player Jeremy Evans
, but Evans plays to his strengths and plays hard. And thus Putney needs to be more like Jeremy Evans. Or, if he shoots better, Travis Outlaw
. Either direction is open to him, yet he currently sits in the no-mans land in between.