2018 NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Daniel Gafford

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note, by rook6980: This is the third installment in a series of regular postings on draft prospects. This series will take a look at the top draft prospects for the 2018 NBA Draft in June. The plan is to have one or two a week, leading up to a flurry of activity the week of the draft.

Daniel Gafford

Age at time of draft





6’11" (with shoes)


225 lbs



Average Mock Draft rank


Pro-player comparison

Brandan Wright (6'10" with 7'4″ wingspan, 36-inch vertical)

Arkansas freshman center Daniel Gafford has been a surprise to a lot of people. The under-the-radar 4-star recruit out of El Dorado, AR. committed early to Arkansas and has rewarded that school with a stellar season so far. He has put himself solidly in the conversation as a first round pick; and even in a draft loaded with big men, he could still be drafted in the lottery. If he decides to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft, Gafford will be one of the younger big men in the draft at 19 years old. He didn't start playing basketball until his Junior year in High School, so he has plenty of untapped upside. NBA General Managers love drafting players with elite athleticism and tons of potential; and Gafford is loaded with both.

Daniel Gafford is a pure center. Standing 6'11" with a 7'2" wingspan. Gafford has big time athleticism that he shows off with impressive above the rim play. He has a reported 12'4" maximum reach (USA Today). To give you some perspective on that, the highest reported maximum reach I could find was Shaquille O'Neal at 12'5", followed by Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee with 12'3". Gafford will be in rarefied athletic company if that maximum reach can be verified at the NBA Draft Combine.

In addition to his elite jumping abilities, his other athletic attributes are very good as well. He is a quick, effortless leaper and has quick second jump capability. He has flashed solid lateral quickness for a big man which should allow him to hedge pick-and-rolls, and guard smaller players for short stretches on switches. He's very mobile and agile, and covers a ton of ground on weak side help defense.

He is averaging just under 4 blocks per 36 minutes. He allows perimeter players to take chances on defense because he can erase any mistakes. He sprints back on defense in transition situations and plays with energy. He does have some problems holding position in the post, but he is aggressive in denying entry passes. He even takes the occasional charge (when he's not blocking shots).

He needs to improve his defensive fundamentals. He stands too erect when defending in the post. If he would bend his knees and present a stronger base, it would be harder to back him down. He could also benefit from a strength program to add muscle and weight. His frame should be able to add weight without sacrificing any athleticism. Like all young shot-blockers, he is susceptible to pump fakes.

Much like Bobby Portis, another Arkansas product, Gafford is an energetic, fiery player that flies all over the court. That energy, along with the susceptibility to pump fakes makes him extremely foul prone. He is averaging nearly 6 fouls per 36 minutes. That will have to be cleaned up or he will be a useless foul-machine in the NBA. Right now he projects as a good defensive anchor; excellent rim protector and very good rebounder.

On offense Gafford is limited to finishing lobs, collecting easy buckets on back cuts, running the floor in transition and finishing offensive rebounds. Around the basket and in transition he tries to dunk everything, leading to some jaw dropping highlights. His post game is raw to say the least. He doesn’t yet have the physicality to back down opponents in the post, and he lacks the strength to finish through contact. He has shown a nice touch occasionally around the rim, and flashed some nice passes out of double teams; but his offensive game needs a lot of work.

At this point he is not a good screen setter. He lacks the bulk and strength to set a solid screen, and he slips too many screens too quickly. Interestingly, Gafford draws a lot of fouls; he is generating nearly 8 free throw attempts per 36 minutes in college. Unfortunately he cannot take advantage because he is shooting only 54% from the line. While Gafford has marginally improved this year, he would need to take a huge jump offensively to be anything more than a rim runner and lob finisher in the near future.


  • Size/Length - Measured at 6'11" and reported to have a 7'2" wingspan
  • Athleticism - Explosive, quick leaper; with 12'4" maximum reach. Agile enough to hedge on P&R.
  • Rim Protection - Good shot blocking instincts and timing. Affects shots in the paint.
  • Energy - Plays hard every play. Energetic and intense. Doesn't take plays off.
  • Efficiency - High percentage scorer because he only shoots close to the basket
  • Rebounding - Good rebounder. Especially good on the offensive glass.
  • Transition - Has speed to outrun most opposing bigs. Can get back to affect transition shots.
  • Upside potential - Lots of untapped offensive potential. High upside.
  • Draws Fouls - He is generating nearly 8 free throw attempts per 36 minutes in college.


  • Strength - Needs to add weight and get stronger. Struggles to finish through contact.
  • Raw - Offensive skill package needs polish.
  • Foul prone - Averaging almost 6 fouls per 36 minutes.
  • Free Throw Shooting - Struggles at foul line, shooting around 54%
  • Right hand dominant - Needs to learn to use his left to be less predictable
  • Post moves - Needs to learn drop step, jump hook, and other basic post moves.

Gafford will need to bulk up and get stronger to play Center in the NBA, but his physical and athletic gifts give him a fair shot at becoming a good NBA player. With the League putting a premium on Guards and Wings that can shoot, and Centers that can defend, protect the rim and rebound, Gafford should fit right in with the direction the League is heading.

He could be the answer to the Wizards need for a young, defensive minded big man to replace Gortat/Mahinmi in time. I think that what he could bring defensively would benefit the team and allow the Wizards perimeter players to play more aggressively knowing they have a legitimate rim protector behind them. Plus, I'd love to see the lob/dunk highlights he and Wall could generate in the pick-and-roll. Daniel Gafford may not be available by the time the Wizards pick, but if he is they should snap him up.

And he's not bad on the drums too.

How about some Daniel Gafford dunks. (It's really all he does offensively).

Watching these, he reminds me of John Henson

And then there's this huge dunk against Oklahoma.

Almost JaVale McGee-like.

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.