NCAA Basketball: How Will Gonzaga Star Drew Timme’s Game Translate to the NBA?

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme has been one of college basketball‘s best players for the past two seasons. The mustachioed gentleman has a nearly-unstoppable post game with an arsenal of moves and footwork that make him look like Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale.

But a player who operates almost entirely on the block as Timme does is difficult to peg as a pro.

He certainly has enough skill at that spot on the floor to carve out a niche — but with the way today’s league operates, how will someone with Timme’s skillset translate to the NBA?

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme is one of the most productive players in college basketball

Will Gonzaga star Drew Timme's game translate to the NBA?
Drew Timme of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after making a basket during the second half of a Men’s NCAA Tournament game against the Memphis Tigers. | Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound junior is scoring 18.2 points per game across 31 starts this season. He’s also averaging 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 59.2% shooting.

Timme is hitting 61.4% of his two-point shots, which is actually a step down from his first two collegiate seasons.

In 63 starts across his sophomore and junior campaigns, the Richardson, Texas native is averaging 18.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 62.2% shooting and 68.3% shooting from the free-throw line on 5.6 attempts a night.

That’s the definition of consistency.

Timme is already a two-time All-American, a two-time All-West Coast Conference Team selection, this year’s WCC Player of the Year, and an NCAA All-Tournament Team member.

He’ll likely add another one of the latter awards after this year’s March run.

In short: The 21-year-old is almost automatic from close range and has been the most productive player on one of the most successful teams in college basketball the last two years.

But where does that put him in terms of the NBA draft?

How will the Zags’ big man’s game translate to today’s NBA?

Someone with the footwork and post moves that Timme has will always have a place in any league at any level.

But the NBA has moved far, far away from the days where teams tossed the ball into a big man on the block and let him go to work.

The question is, are Timme’s skills in that area so good that they’ll cover up his obvious weaknesses?

The Bulldogs’ leader is an average athlete who won’t be able to switch onto quicker wings or guards at the NBA level. He should be sufficient guarding bigger players down low, but outside of that, his defensive abilities are significantly limited.

He’s also not a great rebounder — a good rebounder, but not great. He’ll likely get outmuscled by bigger, longer NBA centers.

He’s not a great outside shooter, either. He’s averaging a career-high 0.9 three-point attempts this year and hitting 29.6% of them. His 66.6% career free throw shooting isn’t promising either.

But the eye test shows good form on Timme’s jumper. With more work — which he hasn’t needed in college but surely will in the pros — he could develop into an average shooter. He’ll have to improve that to thrive in the NBA.

But the big man’s strengths outshine his weaknesses:

  • He won’t be outworked or out-hustled by anyone
  • He’s intelligent, knowing where to be and how to put himself in the right positions
  • He’s an above-average cutter who’s able to find open spots on the floor where his guards can find him
  • He’s the leader of one of the best basketball teams in the country
  • He has good size and incredible skill down low
  • Even with top-five picks like Chet Holmgren and Jalen Suggs around him, Timme has been the go-to scorer for the Bulldogs

He won’t be a first-round pick, but he’s 100% worth a flyer in the second. Players with Timme’s attributes have long NBA careers, even if they don’t become superstars.

Not all of his game will translate, but enough of it will for the Gonzaga legend to carve out a rotation role in the league.

Timme still has time to round out his game at Gonzaga

If he decides to, Timme could return for his senior season in Spokane. He’s proven enough to land a spot on an NBA roster, but there are still parts of his game to showcase if he wants to make a possible leap into the first round.

Age will work against him, as it always does for college seniors. That’s the downside to playing another year with the Bulldogs.

But if the sport’s best mustache (and the player behind it) can improve its jumper and show at least some semblance of a three-point shot, it unlocks another part of Timme’s potential entirely.

As it stands, the old-man-YMCA game is good enough to earn a role in the NBA. But any development in his outside shooting and Timme has a legitimate shot at becoming a first-round pick.

All statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.

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