One of the highest impact freshman in the country last season, Luke Babbitt
has picked up right where he left off as a sophomore, upping his numbers across the board and just playing outstanding basketball for the Wolf Pack.
On the offensive end, Babbitt possesses an extremely high skill level to go along with an outstanding feel for the game, assets which allow him to score easily and efficiently from all over the floor. The smooth left-handed shooter is hitting with deadeye accuracy from the free-throw (89%) and three-point lines (41%), while also showing strong ability off the dribble, namely with his mid-range jumper.
Using a combination of ball fakes and jab steps along with rangy strides with the ball and excellent footwork, Babbitt does a very good job getting separation for his jumper in spite of his limited athletic ability. Getting open inside the arc, he shows very good ability to hit jumpers on the move, going left and right, with a hand in his face, and fading away from the basket.
Babbitts shot has consistent mechanics and a high release point, while he also has NBA three-point range. His ability to hit shots in a variety of situations if very impressive for a player his age, though there are concerns about how his off-the-dribble shots will translate to the next level against longer, more athletic defenders.
Attacking off the dribble, Babbitt has an underwhelming first step and not much of a second gear, but he makes up for it at this level with craftiness, long strides, and a good understanding of angles and floor spacing, knowing when to pick his spots. His handle is more than adequate in space and isolation situations, but he definitely struggles a bit in crowds, not really having the low-to-the-ground, tight handle needed for those instances.
In the lane, Babbitt does a good job recognizing openings, knowing when to go all the way to the rim and when to pull up for the floater, both of which he is capable of doing. At the rim he is aggressive in finishing while doing a good job using his body to create space and angles, allowing him to finish at a high rate in spite of his physical limitations. He definitely shows trouble when matched head to head with a weakside shot blocker, which will make his floater more important projecting to the next level.
Babbitt also has somewhat of a unique mid-post and high-post game, not playing like a conventional power forward but more so relying on finesse from the 10-15 foot range, where he is very accurate with turnaround jumpers off either shoulder. This aspect of his game is not a given to translate to the next level, however, as its questionable whether hell have the size and athleticism to consistently separate against high level athletes.
On the defensive end, Babbitt works hard and shows excellent focus, running out to contest shots and doing all he can to stay with his man, but his lateral quickness on the perimeter just isnt up to par and it doesnt help that he just looks uncomfortable in his perimeter stance, not getting his center of gravity down and looking awkward moving his feet.
In the post, he actually shows very good fundamentals and a good understanding of how to use his length to bother shots, but he is severely lacking in lower body strength, allowing him to be backed down at will. Babbitts real redeeming quality on defense is his ability to attack the boards, a real testament to his hustle and high motor, as he pulls in an impressive (for his size) 10 boards per game, most of which come on the defensive end.
Looking forward, Babbitt is a tough player to project to the next level, as there are many aspects of his game that have question marks in terms of how theyll translate, while there also isnt an ideal position for him to defend. That said, with his incredibly high skill level, excellent feel for the game, and considering the way he keeps improving, itd be foolish to count him out, as many other small forwards with similar physical profiles have achieved success in the NBA.