Hukporti the most ‘NBA ready’ player in the league says draft expert
Melbourne United Media
When looking around the league, it’s difficult to find a more impressive athlete than Melbourne United Next Star, Ariel Hukporti.
Coming off a season lost to injury, the man they call ‘Big A’ returned as a better, more powerful athlete, which has allowed him to outplay opposing centers.
The 21-year-old has once again established himself as the premier defensive big-man in the league, while flashing the tools to contribute right away on an NBA court.
His play has seen the Togolese/German skyscraper vault up NBA Draft boards, with some experts believing there is no more NBA ready player in the league.
One such pundit is The Athletic’s Sam Vecine, who went on NBL Overtime to talk about his latest 2024 Mock Draft.
“I think that he’s probably more NBA ready than maybe anybody else in this league,” he explained.
“The thing that Ariel does is he plays a very direct game, he’s running rim to rim, he’s protecting the rim, there’s no complication with it, it’s very simple.
“I think he’s better than a lot of guys that we’ve seen recently get drafted as stash guys, projects in the second round.
“I would expect that he will hear his name called (in the NBA Draft), it’s just more likely to be a second round situation… Teams look for guys that can be high-level rim protectors, that run rim-to-rim and who are able to impact the game without touching the ball, which is really valuable in the NBA.”
Vecinie currently has Hukporti placed at Pick 49 in his most recent Mock Draft, while ESPN’s Jonathan Givony vaulted the Next Star up to 44th in his rankings.
Melbourne fans will get another chance to see Hukporti take the court at home when United host the Sydney Kings on Sunday from 4pm at John Cain Arena.