Kobe Bufkin NBA Draft Analysis

May 9, 2023, 3:56 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2023, 3:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz own three first-round selections in the 2023 NBA draft, and one of the players they’ll consider in June is Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin.

With a top 10 pick, the 16th pick, and the 28th pick in the first round, the Jazz will work out an enormous swath of players projected to be selected throughout the draft.

Let’s look at how draft riser Kobe Bufkin performed in his second season at Michigan.

Kobe Bufkin Strengths

Averages: 14.0 ppg | 4.5 RPG | 2.9 APG | 48 FG% | 35 3Pt % | 84 FT%

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 195 lbs, Kobe Bufkin has rapidly climbed up NBA draft boards after a strong finish to the season for the Wolverines.

Playing as Michigan’s third option behind Hunter Dickinson and Jett Howard, Bufkin was a talented three-level scorer using his strong first step to get into the paint where he finished at an elite level, pulled up from the mid-range, and developed into a knockdown shooter late in his college career.

Over his last 17 appearances at Michigan, Bufkin knocked down 40 percent of his threes on 3.8 attempts per game after shooting just 22 percent as a freshman.

The left-handed guard flashed the ability to play both backcourt positions for the Wolverines and rebounded well despite his relatively limited size.

Defensively, Bufkin is a willing competitor who uses his length and speed to disrupt plays both on and off the ball and didn’t back away from a challenge.

The sophomore was regularly the first player on the floor diving for loose balls, and has the type of on-court demeanor that teammates will feed off of.

Bufkin’s game was slightly restricted in college due to Michigan’s post-heavy offense and talented backcourt. With better spacing and a more defined role, the sophomore guard could develop into one of the more dangerous offensive players in the draft.

Kobe Bufkin Weaknesses

Bufkin’s biggest weaknesses at the moment are largely based on his size where at under 200 lbs he’s likely to get pushed around by stronger NBA guards, and doesn’t initiate contact like the league’s best scorers.

He is by no means a pure point guard, but lacks the size of the best two-guards in the NBA, making him a bit of a tweener, even in today’s more positionless game.

Because he’s such a good finisher at the rim, Bufkin often resorted to difficult finishes, rather than earning trips to the charity stripe. As a result, he shot only 2.6 free throws per game, despite knocking them down at a healthy 84 percent rate.

The sophomore is a willing passer, but doesn’t have elite vision, nor is he the type of ball handler that will probe a defense until he can create a play for others.

Unlike some of the other guards projected to be drafted in the lottery, Bufkin likely won’t ever be an elite defender in the NBA, though he should be adequate at worst.

Kobe Bufkin Overall

Overall, Bufkin is a relatively safe bet to stick in the NBA as a versatile scorer who gives it his all on both ends of the floor.

Like Tyrese Maxey at Kentucky, Bufkin’s exact role won’t directly mirror what he did in college, but his talent, energy, and attitude will allow him to carve out an important role on a good roster.

Though he was a career 32 percent three-point shooter in college, don’t be surprised if that number climbs to near 40 percent with better looks and a more defined shot selection at the next level.

While he’s wirey and thin, he uses his leverage well a la Jordan Clarkson, and shouldn’t be seriously hindered by his size.

Bufkin is a sophomore, but is only 19 years old and won’t turn 20 until he’s in training camp with an NBA team. The Michigan native enrolled in college at age 17 giving him significant experience competing at a high level despite his young draft age.

Where Will Kobe Bufkin Get Drafted?

Due to his young draft age and strong overall game, Bufkin is a candidate to get selected in the lottery as high as pick nine to the Utah Jazz, to as low as pick 19 to the Golden State Warriors.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Kobe Bufkin NBA Draft Analysis