Offense: Dedmon is one of the more intriguing prospects in all of college basketball. He is a legitimate 7-footer with athleticism and agility. Despite being a junior, Dedmon is as raw as it gets; he only started playing basketball at age 18, and still does not really have much of an idea what he is doing
Dedmon has no real offensive game to speak of, but with his phenomenal length and quick jumping ability he has the potential to be a beast on the interior. He moves quickly and actually has decent footwork, but never strays very far from the paint and his 6.6 points per game come mostly off of offensive rebounds and dunks.
Dedmon has developed well offensively while at USC, and while he still has a long way to go he has earned crunch time minutes for the Trojans this season, even getting touches during key offensive sets down the stretch of close games.
He is (slowly) developing a back to the basket game, and has gotten significantly more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He has yet to develop any efficient moves that allow him to attack the rim, but has shows the ability to turn and face, pivoting with either foot to assess the defense.
However, Dedmon still lacks the vision or playmaking skills to pass effectively out of the post, and has no sort of game off the bounce. His offensive game lacks any signature skill aside from the ability to elevate and dunk, but he does have soft hands and as a result the capability to develop a set of post moves. Dedmon does seem to show some ability, albeit an inconsistent one, to shoot the ball, and has a decent release for a big man. Even though his shot often comes out flat, he gets good rotation on the ball and has a consistent follow through, somewhat of a rarity for developing big men.
He shoots infrequently, and the best gauge of his shooting form right now is the free throw line, where he shoots a respectable 71%. He lacks fluidity, but this will come with time as he develops. He appears more comfortable shooting the ball when facing up than with his back to the basket.
Despite spending most of his time in the paint, Dedmon only shoots 47.5% from the floor this season, down from 55% last year. This discrepancy is a reflection of Dedmon attempting to expand his offensive game, and also of the struggles he has had doing so. His shot selection is not good, and often taken off-balance, low percentage shots when he tries to make plays off the dribble.
Dedmon sets screens well, keeping his shoulders wide and body set. He is still improving his rolls, and often struggles to roll to the rim quick enough, jamming up the middle of the Trojans offensive sets. He is involved in more on-ball screens than off-ball, and is still learning the offensive; he looks to the bench for direction at least once and often twice during most offensive sets.
Dedmon runs to floor well and has incredibly long strides, he needs to get better at keeping his head up and being a target in transition, but runs to the rim well and catches the ball better than a lot of more developed big man. He also has the dunk everything mindset I like to see from athletic bigs.
- Size, length, and athleticism—potentially great finisher around the rim
- Untapped potential—decent footwork already, and soft hands
- Has shown good year-to-year improvement
- No offensive game to speak of
- Still very uncomfortable within the flow of an offense; no real feel for the game yet
Defense: Dedmon has the physical tools to be a top-level rim protector, but again is a long ways away. He does not possess any type of quickness, but is long and athletic, and has greatly improved his physicality over his college career. He gets low in his box outs and bodies up aggressively, which has led to his team-leading 7 rebounds per game in only 22 minutes per contest.
Dedmon elevates well and uses his wide base to clear out space and secure rebounds. He has the potential to be especially effective on the offensive glass, where his constant activity and improving physicality, combined with his long and athletic frame, make for a potentially lethal combination.
Dedmon is still figuring out post defense, and has a lot of room for improvement as Dedmon continues to fill out his 7-foot frame. He does not get low enough in his on-ball post defense, allowing opponents to easily get him off-balance.
One area of post defense where Dedmon is more effective is ball denial, where he uses his tremendous wingspan to cut down passing angles and deny entries into the post; he gets most of his deflections this way.
He has active hands, shows good hustle and clearly takes coaching well as his fundamentals are developing nicely; this is especially noticeable on the defensive side of the ball, where earlier in his career he seemed especially lost.
Dedmon still struggles in many areas, the most concerning of which is when he is involved in pick and rolls. He cannot guard on the perimeter and always requires help, but also lacks the lateral quickness to recover after hedging ball-screens; he ends up guarding a guard on a forced switch more often than not, which is almost always a mismatch and kills USC defensively. For this reason Dedmon is often the target of screening action, and in general he struggles to guard any opponent who pulls him away from the hoop.
Dedmon still lacks discipline on the defensive end; while he does average over 2 blocks a game—a reflection of his superior size and length—he too often makes failed attempts for blocks or deflections; He gets most of his blocked shots from the weak side, when he is free to be more aggressive in going for blocks, with fewer consequences should he be unsuccessful.
Dedmon easily falls for pump fakes, and is generally overaggressive on defense, leading to his whopping 3 fouls per game in 22 minutes, over 5 per 40 minutes. He is a quick enough jumper that he should be a more efficient shot-blocker, waiting for his opponent to go up before elevating; his susceptibility to pump faking is the cause of many of Dedmon’s fouling issues.
He is still learning how to rotate and play defense off the ball; his only effective role is as a weak side shot blocker, and is prone to watching the ball on cross-court passes and winding up out of place. One area he is more effective is
- Rebounding, especially offensive
- Shot blocker; length and quickness
- Potentially top level level interior defender
- Lack of defensive integrity
- Still learning how to play (on both ends); over 5 fouls per 40 minutes is a manifestation of this
- Very vulnerable on p-n-r
- Long way to go
Overall: Dedmon is clearly a long-term project who will undoubtedly return to the Trojans for his senior season; obviously his performance next year will go a long way towards determining his draft stock, but he should be worth a risk even in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft.
7-footers with Dedmon’s combination of length and athleticism simply are not very abundant, and if he lands in the right situation—with a patient, smart organization-- he has the potential to be a rotation guy. He is still so early in his development that it is impossible to say what his ceiling may be, but if a team is willing to take a long-term approach with Dedmon the sky could very well be the limit.