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- Measurables: 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, senior center from the University of Kansas
- Key Stats: 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks per game; shot 58 percent from the field.
- Projected: Mid-first round.
- Hickory High similarity score
There are a lot of scatter-brained, potentially inebriated ideas that college students concoct — some great and some bad. But you’ve got to give it up, the cult following that Withey had during his four year’s at Kansas are pretty hilarious.
Not only did he have a parody Twitter account called @FakeJeffWithey, which is how I really hope he acts, if just for hilarity’s sake, but he’s also got two websites dedicated to his presence.
First you’ve got WitheyBlockParty.com which is literally a blog featuring a boatload of Withey’s blocks at KU. He had 286 in his final two seasons, and by listening to the calls of each block, you’d think the Kansas announcers had never seen him block a shot. There was actually a Twitter hashtag, #witheyblockparty, that was really a thing during the season and tournament, too.
The other goes by the name WitheyFace.com. If you’ve ever heard of ManningFace.com, you’ll know what this is. You’ll notice right off the bat that a snarling Jeff Withey closely resembles the Jayhawks logo. I’ll just leave you all with these 500 or so staring Withey faces…
Fits with the Pistons because …
There are a number of holes on the Pistons’ roster, but one of the more underrated ones is in the front court. The team already has it’s cornerstones in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, but with Jason Maxiell entering free agency and Charlie Villanueva being Charlie Villanueva, the Pistons need a third big man.
Withey’s biggest strength — shot blocking — is one of the Pistons’ biggest weaknesses. There’s the niche of fans under the assumption that the Pistons already have a Withey-like player in Slava Kravtsov, but Withey has an plus-NBA skill. Kravtsov lacks that.
There’s no reason a team wouldn’t want a guy like Withey on their team. Even if all he ends up being in the NBA is an above-average shot blocker from the weak side, he’s still got value. The question is where does that value start. The Pistons are drafting in the top-10, but not again until the early second round.
Withey would be a horrible reach in the early-to-mid lottery, but in the early second round, he’d be perfect. The chances of that aren’t great now, especially considering the kind of great-at-one-skill players like Withey are usually a value to contenders who can pick and choose when and how they use them later in a draft.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
He’s not going to help a sometimes-stagnant offense. For all the good that Withey brings on defense, he’s still somewhat easy to push around on the block and doesn’t have any semblance of a post game. That’s something that can be cultivated and developed, but he’s going to be a non-factor on offense early.
I’ve gushed about the shot blocking, but he’s not a great defender individually. There’s confusion sometimes between really good defenders and really good shot blockers — there’s a difference. Serge Ibaka is a GREAT shot blocker, but just an above-average defender. Right now, Withey’s a really good shot blocker, NBA caliber, but in college hoops, specifically the Big 12, you’re not facing any sort of real post threat.
The best example of that might be his struggles with Michigan freshman Mitch McGary in the Sweet 16. Withey was muscled around and tossed aside by McGary, whose post game is hardly refined, even by college standards. That’s scary if you’re a GM looking at Withey to be a key defender for you.
Fair or unfair, he’s also kind of been stereotyped as the big, goofy stiff who is bound to be a bust. The fact that his predecessor, Cole Aldrich, has really done nothing in three seasons with a very similar skill set doesn’t help, either.
From the Experts
If there was a shot-blocking drill where the goal was to block as many shots as possible without fouling the shooter, Withey would walk away with the prize handily. Alas, the focus on offense probably won’t speak to Withey’s strengths at the combine. Big men rarely have their stock helped or hurt at the combine — his real tests will come in workouts against Gorgui Dieng, Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert and Mason Plumlee.
Athletic 7-footers with great defensive instincts and excellent finishing ability don’t grow on trees, though, so there will surely be a market for his services this upcoming June. A playoff team drafting in the second half of the first round could be very happy picking a player who is well-coached, experienced and ready to compete from day one, as if he pans out, he could present excellent value to a NBA team playing on a rookie scale contract.
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