Our NBA Draft profile series continues as we head down to Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the Virginia Cavaliers, where forward Darion Atkins looks to break into the Association in this year’s NBA Draft.
PF Darion Atkins, Virginia
- Age 22
- 6’8″ 240 lbs.
- Wingspan: 7’2″
- No-Step Vertical: 30″
- Max Vertical: N/A
Darion Atkins was one of the premier defenders in UVA’s staunch pack-line defensive system. Standing at 6’8″, Atkins was able to use his big body to bully offensive players on opposing rosters, while displaying a strong ability to rebound and block shots. Atkins played in 33 games in his senior season for the Cavaliers, averaging a shade under 24 minutes per contest. In those games, Atkins averaged 7.6 points per game on 51% shooting, although most of his field goal attempts came down on the block and in the paint. Additionally, Atkins was able to pull down 6.0 rebounds and block 1.1 shots per game on defense. His athleticism is unquestioned, as he should be considered to be one of the most athletic forwards in this year’s class after you get out of the potential lottery selections. Atkins also possesses a high motor and makes the hustle plays, such as diving for 50/50 balls, that give your team a chance to win. He seemed to have a focus of doing the little things to put his team over the top, which made him a valuable part of Virginia’s successful 2014-2015 season that resulted in a regular season ACC Title for the second straight season, as well as a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
While Atkins was able to exert himself positively down low in college, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to do the same at the next level. While his height was not an issue at the collegiate level, he is considered to be undersized as a conventional power forward in the NBA. Atkins is not a guy who is going to be able stretch the floor and give his team a spot up shooting threat, which is now so sought after in NBA offenses across the league. The potential is there for him however, to become a defensive specialist and perhaps a better offensive player down the road if he is given time to develop. At the very least, Atkins will have to improve his free throw shooting, where he was only able to make 57% of his attempts in his career at Virginia. That number will certainly not get the job done in the NBA.
Despite his lack of a definitive NBA offensive game, Atkins remains intriguing to many pro scouts. Although he did not participate in the NBA combine, he has already landed a series of private workouts in advance of the draft with teams such as the Phoenix Suns, and the Utah Jazz. There will be more private workouts to come, and more opportunities for Atkins to raise his draft stock before June 25th rolls around. Whether or not these workouts and his body of work to date will be enough to get him drafted remains to be seen, but with his work ethic and defensive prowess, it is likely that he will get some sort of NBA opportunity regardless of what happens on draft night, as there is always a team that will be in need of a specialist that they could develop.
NBA Draft Projection: Late Second Round to Undrafted Free Agent