With the NBA playoffs in full swing, one can’t help but look ahead to what’s to come in next month’s NBA Draft. For the second year in a row, InsideTheACC will be running their NBA Draft Profile series, previewing the group of professional prospects within the ACC who are most likely to find themselves on an NBA roster this summer.
Up first in our 2016 edition: C Zach Auguste, Notre Dame
- Class: Senior
- Age: 22
- Height: 6’10”
- Weight: 242 lbs.
- 29.6 minutes per game
- 14.0 points per game
- 10.7 rebounds per game
- 1.1 blocks per game
- 56% shooting (63% from the free throw line)
When you take a look at Zach Auguste in person, he looks like a professional power forward. Standing at 6’10” and a healthy 242 lbs., Auguste dwarfs opposing power forwards down on the block. Sure, this sounds great, before you realize that his game models that of a back-to-the-basket center, rather than a power forward who can stretch the floor and shoot mid-range jumpers.
Up until last season with the Fighting Irish, Auguste was not a great rebounder or shot blocker. Over his first three years at Notre Dame, he averaged a mere 4.5 boards per contest, with 0.5 blocks. Coming into the 2015-2016 campaign, those stats, along with the lack of a consistent jumpshot, were major knocks against him when evaluating him as a professional prospect.
Alas, this is why Auguste does not project as a first round draft pick; and in all likelihood, he took the criticism to heart. All he did as a senior was post career-highs in points (14.0), rebounds (10.7), and blocks (1.1), as he helped lead Notre Dame to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. He has been an excellent athlete throughout his entire time in South Bend, as he displayed an ability at times to artistically pirouette through the paint around opposing defenders to finish at the basket. Around the hoop, Auguste shows his strengths with a soft touch and above average footwork.
For Zach Auguste to reach his full potential at the professional level, he will need to continue to elevate his game on the offensive end of the floor, much like he did during his senior season at Notre Dame. Free throw shooting continues to be a sore spot for him, as he shot 63% from the line in his final two years with the Irish. Additionally, with the NBA game continuing to evolve into a jumpshooting league, Auguste will need to work on his face-up game as well so that he can better develop his mid-range jumper.
As for his defense, Auguste has only gotten better each and every year. His positioning under the basket has been key to his recent success, as he developed a knack of putting himself in better spots down on the block where he could alter opposing shots, as well as grab key rebounds to get the Irish out on the break. Since he is a bit undersized for his playing style at the NBA level, he should continue to hone in on his footwork and positioning on the glass, as this, coupled with an improving offensive game, will be key to his long-term sustainability in the NBA.
While Auguste could develop into a successful NBA player, his age, coupled with questions about his offensive game translating to the Association, may make it difficult for him to get drafted. Ultimately though, his track record of being a high-motor player, along with his obvious athleticism, should be more than enough to get him some workouts with NBA teams and an opportunity to contribute down the road.
Draft Projection: Late Second Round to Undrafted