PF – 6’10, 220lbs – Born 25th July 1996
With his height, length, versatility, perimeter inclinations and very memorable name, Pope has been on the NBA radar since his San Diego State career began, if not before. He developed a bit in his years with the Aztecs, but perhaps never lived up to the lofty billing, and now finds himself in the G-League rather than the NBA.
Pope’s first professional season did start on the L.A. Lakers’ summer league team. Instead of signing in the NBA, though, he went to Greece with PAOK Thessaloniki, only joining the G-League in mid-January. But Pope has never entirely figured out how he wants to or should play, and PAOK couldn’t figure it out either.
A tall fluid athlete with long arms, Pope has always played with the smooth face-up game that suggests he could be a floor-stretching four or five man in short order. But the jump shot has never become a big-enough weapon. He hits a few, but only a few, and teams will generally feel comfortable leaving him open. As a roll man and cutter, Pope’s length allows him to sneak the basket with good body control, but his very limited handle makes it difficult to change direction, and his limited core strength sees him struggle to finish through contact.
Perhaps the potential he will best realise will be on the defensive end. Although his rotations in help defence can be slow, Pope has proven himself over time to be a good post defender one on one, even though there are many match-ups down there he gives up strength to. This perhaps bodes well for his potential as a undersized but skilled stretch five, in the Chimezie Metu role. This is not however a big role, and if a team wants someone like Chimezie Metu, they can of course just sign Chimezie Metu. Pope, then, will need a clean run of health and some slightly quicker development then we have seen from him over the last few years.
Forget the one-time hype – it doesn’t matter now. There is still potential and a spark in the fire. He just needs to throw a log on it.
– 20th June, 2019
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