Kel'el Ware NBA Player Comparison

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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Kel'el Ware's NBA draft stock definitely took a hit after being absolutely manhandled by Zach Edey in last night's lopsided L to Purdue. Regardless, the 7 foot, 240 pound big man still has the physical tools and versatile skillset that modern NBA scouts crave. It is clear that he needs time to develop an NBA frame, but that should come in time once he begins an NBA training + nutrition regime.

While traditional big men have slowly gone out of style over the years, Ware is much more than your typical big. For starters, his 7'7" (!!!) wingspan makes him an intimidating presence at the rim. Combine that with his agility and overall athletic ability, and you have all the makings of a defensive anchor in the NBA. Yet, the more tantalizing side of his game revolves around his offensive upside. He has definitely leveled off a considerable amount since showcasing his offensive prowess throughout the beginning phase of the schedule, but Ware has shown the ability to score the basketball in a plethora of ways. Whether it be backing his man down on the block, facing up down low, catching lobs or stepping out for a pick and pop 3, there is no denying his offensive appeal. In his 30.8 minutes of action per night for Mike Woodson in 2023-2024, he has put up 14.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists (to 1.4 turnovers), 1.6 blocks and 0.8 steals. He has also been extremely efficient offensively as evidenced by his steady shooting splits (54.5 FG%/41.7 3%/67.6 FT%).

In terms of professional comparisons, one name that Ware has been likened to is current Cleveland Cavs center Jarrett Allen. The Cavalier may have a similar physique (roughly 6'10", 240 pounds) to the Hoosier, but they are not exactly the same type of player. The defensive comparisons are certainly fair, as Allen is a strong rebounder (career 9 boards a game) and utilizes his 7'6" wingspan to deter opposing rim-attackers (career 1.3 blocks a game). However, he has always had an extremely limited offensive repertoire that consists almost exclusively of putback/lob dunks and buckets around the rim. That reputation has been with him since his college days at Texas, where he was never (and still is not) respected for any type of jumpshot. Ware's ability to stretch the floor already at the collegiate level bodes well for his future shooting stroke.

So if not Jarrett Allen, than who would be a more reasonable comparison for Kel'el Ware?