Is Brittney Griner an NBA talent?
With a recent 50 point performance capping off a stellar career at Baylor, Brittney Griner’s profile for a women’s basketball player is as high as we’ve seen for some time. Jonathan Tjarks at RealGM.com wrote an article covering Griner’s dominance and unique talents among peers.
But while Tjarks focuses on her physical tools as what separates her, I believe it’s only a portion of what makes her unique for a women’s player.
What stands out as much to me, is Griner’s feel for the game. She’s smooth, natural and instinctually in the post, driving and turning for jumpshots – as well as anticipates well defensively. Griner’s feel for the game jumps off the screen. I’d argue Griner has world class feel – not just for women’s players, for ALL players – and I’d grade her above average in the category among NBA PFs.
Not only does she dominate with physical tools and feel, but skill. Although her post game wouldn’t translate to the NBA without the ability to hold position, shooting range to the edge of the paint is a valued skill, as well as general touch around the rim and the ability to put the ball on the floor. Locking down a midrange shot would give her a useable weapon in the NBA.
Griner’s great weakness is her strength among women, her physical tools. 6’8 may be huge for a women’s player, but is an undersized PF in the NBA. Albeit her 7’4 wingspan helps make up for that. She’s athletic and mobile for a PF and can play above the rim. Her weakness is her strength and frame, likely to be targeted by the stronger men in the NBA in the post. Furthermore she may be hapless rebounding in the pros. But what’s interesting about Griner is even if a huge disadvantage, for a woman her physical tools are so great that it’s not RIDICULOUS for her to hang physically in the NBA. She’s longer than most of them, she can play above the rim and she has mobility. The strength isn’t there but other than that she isn’t in a different plane physically than say, Tyler Zeller, Matt Bonner, Brian Scalabrine, etc.
In truth, my talent grading system ranks Griner as NBA caliber. Her skill and feel for the game in combination is above average for a 4, which my by system is enough for a player to stick in the NBA even with weak physical tools. Giving her a 7 or 8 in feel for the game, 5 or 6 in skill impact and 1 in physical impact, would put her at 13-15, rotation player caliber (with players above 10-11 typically sticking in the NBA.) Now this system be unreliable in that, Griner may be at such a disadvantage physically to wipe out the other strengths out completely.
What I do believe is she’d play on a NCAA Men’s team – in fact, I believe she’d start. In the future can also see her trying out or playing for a Men’s European team, following the lead of Hayley Wickenheiser.
But personally, I’d say she has the talent to be worth a look in summer league or training camp. And I believe Bill Simmons once suggested, if you’re a franchise like the Charlotte Bobcats putting up historically bad seasons and struggling to sell tickets or gain attention, what do you have to lose by inviting Griner to training camp? I certainly wouldn’t count out the chance of the impossible happening with Griner. A female NBA player.