NBA Draft Scouting: Brandin Podziemski
Brandin impressed at the Draft Combine earlier this week
Height - 6’5
Weight - 204 lbs
Wingspan - 6’6
In last year’s Draft, Sam Presti took the bold decision to draft Jalen Williams with the 12th pick. Williams was a late-riser whose performances at the Draft Combine impressed general managers and move him into the late first round. Even still, Presti taking Williams, a wing from Santa Clara, seemed like a reach.
The 2022-23 season has proved that was a wise decision. Williams acclimated to the Thunder seamlessly and played an integral role in the team’s first appearance in the postseason since 2020. Williams’ size and sweet scoring touch gave the Thunder another shot creator in the half-court who could feed off Gilgeous-Alexander.
In the run up to the 2023 Draft, there has been another player from Santa Clara University who has followed the same path as Jalen Williams and is now primed to move into the first round.
Brandin Podziemski started his college career at Illnois before transferring to Santa Clara in the summer of 2022. Podziemski wanted more playing time and Coach Herb Sendek needed a primary creator to replace Williams within his offensive system.
Sendek recruited Podziemski with the belief that Brandin’s scoring touch and relentless effort would go some way of filling JDub’s sized void in his offense. Podziemski responded brilliantly to his coach by averaging 20 points and torching the nets from the deep.
For the season, Brandin Podziemski shot 43.8% on three-point attempts and 51.8% on two-point attempts. The numbers are impressive but do not tell the full story of Brandin’s game, the film does a better job of outlining his impact.
His jump-shot is the basis of his offensive game and it is not difficult to see why. Podziemski’s jumper is effortlessly smooth and fast which allows himself to knock down shots with minimal space.
Coach Sendek maximised Podziemski’s skill by having him run off off-ball screens towards the break. Brandin would start the possession in the deep corner on the weak-side unengaged with the action on the strong-side of the floor. The big rotates down, sets the screen and Brandin is off in a flash.
Podziemski’s decisive running would earn him easy looks at the collegiate level quite easily and I think this skill would be translatable to the NBA. Movement off the ball is hard for a defense to track and recover onto. The encouraging aspect of Podziemski’s game in these situations is his counters.
On the occasions where the defender was able to navigate the screen, Podziemski did not get flustered. His film shows that Podziemski likes to pump fake, allow his man to fly by and then launch a jumper completely uncontested.
The other counter favoured by Podziemski was a hard dribble into the mid-range area. Brandin can knock down mid-rangers at will and will happily move into this area of the floor if the defense is pressuring him at the arc.
The pull-up mid-range jumper is another aspect of Podziemski’s game that deserves discussion. Last season, Coach Sendek had Brandin attack this space to get Podziemski’s easy buckets but also to bring others into the game.
At present, Brandin’s playmaking is limited to him making the right reads and keeping the offense humming. He did not get all that many on-ball reps as the lead initiator and as such lacks experience in creating breakdowns within a defensive coverage.
However, there have been promising early results with Podziemski as the pick and roll ball-handler. Brandin showed an aptitude for getting into the non-pained area and using the threat of his jumper to open up scoring opportunities for his teammates.
There were numerous times when Podziemski’s collapsed the defense and dumped the ball down into the rolling big instead of forcing up a jumper. He has displayed the desire to make the ‘extra pass’ and play unselfishly; qualities that would fit neatly on this Thunder roster.
His passing vision is also evident in a transition setting. Brandin is a voracious rebounder who will pull down boards and then immediately look for the kick-ahead pass to an open teammate.
These are not easy passes to execute and Podziemski can be guilty of trying a little too hard to throw the killer pass but he ably completes the majority of these long tosses. Over the course of the season, he developed a chemistry with Jaden Bediako in which Bediako ran the floor and Podziemski delivered a lob pass in transition to the big man. He has feel for offensive flow as a passer and I would not be surprised to see him develop further in the NBA.
Podziemski’s main weakness is that he is not an elite athlete who can make immense plays on acceleration and strength alone. Podziemski is a good athlete who currently boasts a 39 inch standing vertical leap but nobody would mistake him for Anthony Edwards.
This could be a limiting factor when it comes to inside scoring for Brandin, he may struggle finishing at the rim over taller players without having a reliable floater game. Podziemski’s floater is coming along nicely but he will need that tool to be reliable if he wants to score at all three levels in the league.
Podziemski’s athletic abilities lie in his stamina and agility. Brandin’s motor is quite impressive and he is very comfortable flipping his hips to change direction quickly. I believe that his stamina and work-rate is one of the reasons why he will grade out as an adequate or positive defender in the NBA.
Podziemski has the gas tank to stay attached to his assignment and be an irritant. He has the skill-set to pick up deflections and generally make life miserable for the opposing team. Off the ball, I actually think he will be an impactful defender for the Thunder to have.
The last point worth noting about Podziemski relates to his representation. Podziemski is represented by BDA Sports, the sports agency founded by Bill Duffy. Duffy currently represents two players on the Thunder roster, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren.
On the whole, Podziemski is a sleeper in this Draft and would be a solid pickup for the Thunder. His shot-making could boost the Thunder’s reserve unit even further and allow Coach Daigneault to be more creative with his lineups.