Jordan Bell dominated down the stretch of the season and into the NCAA Tournament, leading the Oregon Ducks all the way to the Final Four. Bell is a 6’9″ big man with a wingspan of nearly 7′. His height makes him best-suited for the power forward position, but he is not very skilled offensively and plays more like a center. Whoever drafts Bell, is not drafting him for his offensive repertoire, but his superior defensive and rebounding capabilities.
Bell’s attention and effort on the defensive end is admirable. This will catch Coach Budenholzer’s eye rather quickly on tape, as Bell will come out of nowhere to help for a huge block. Bell averaged 1.8 blocks per game in just 28.9 minutes per game last season with the Ducks. His athleticism allows him to challenge even the biggest players’ shots and his speed gives him the ability to chase down players in transition.
Shot-blocking is Bell’s best defensive attribute, but he excels in all areas of defense. His smaller frame mixed with his athleticism for a front court player allows him to switch out onto the perimeter and defend guards effectively. He has great anticipation and will disrupt passing lanes, which can be seen in the 1.3 steals he averaged last season. This makes Bell a unique pick-and-roll defender that is highly valued around the NBA.
The only part of Bell’s game that can top his spectacular defense is his rebounding. He recorded a double-double in four of Oregon’s five NCAA Tournament games and grabbed at least twelve rebounds in each contest. His lanky body with his leaping ability make him a pest on the offensive boards. He is constantly keeping possessions alive, and much like he does on defense, Bell is always giving 110% trying to create an extra possession.
There is work to be done on his defensive rebounding, however. Bell often relies too much on his superior athleticism rather than focusing on boxing out. His size can make him a liability boxing out bigger players. Although, it should be something he can improve upon given his unlimited energy as he transitions to the NBA.
Bell’s real problems lie on the offensive end, where he is currently best-suited as a dunker or dump-off finisher at the NBA level. He does not seem very comfortable in one-on-one situations on the perimeter or in the post and showed and unwillingness to shoot his jump shot.
The bright spot here lies in the fact Bell improved on offense each season at Oregon. He averaged 10.9 points per contest on 63.6% shooting last season. But not only that, for the first time Bell began to show signs of an improving jump shot. He jumped from a 50% free-throw shooter to 70% and even stepped behind the arc and shot some threes. Now Bell only managed to shoot 3-14 (21.4%) on those three-pointers, but his willingness and improvement is encouraging for teams hoping he can develop into an offensive threat in the NBA.
Bell has a high floor, as his rebounding and defensive abilities are always going to be coveted in the NBA. As the league continue to transition to more small-ball lineups, there will be an increasing need for players like Bell. He can guard all five positions and excels at running in transition. His current limitations on offense will because him to fall into the late first-round, but he could turn out to be one of the steals of this draft.