At 70 and 260 pounds, Aaron Gray
certainly has the size one would want out of an NBA center. He is below average athletically, not having much leaping ability, lateral quickness, or explosiveness, but he definitely possesses enough coordination and fluidity for a player his size to have success in the league. Grays game is still developing, as he only saw significant minutes for the first time this past year, but he delivered well in his 28 minutes per game, to the tune of 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Offensively, Gray has a versatile post game with a good foundation of skills. His go-to move is definitely the right-handed hook shot, but he also has shown the ability to hit the turnaround jumper from seven to eight feet and occasionally a drop-step. He can spin either way with his back to the basket, and has shown flashes of using both hands to put up lay-ups, but his results with his left are inconsistent.
Gray has a lot of good moves in the post, but his game could use a little fine tuning, as he doesnt always use them as well as he could. He needs to become both more decisive and deliberate with his moves. At times he takes too long to get into his motions, giving weak-side guards ample time to come over and double team him. Yet at the same time, once he goes into his motion, he has a tendency to rush his shot, sometimes seemingly just throwing it in the direction of the rim rather than actually aiming it. Because of this tendency, sometimes it will look as if Gray doesnt have much touch around the rim at all, and others it will look like he has great touch.
Gray does a good job at establishing position on the low block without the ball, and really makes defenders pay when they front him. He doesnt use his body much to his advantage when he gets the ball with his back to the basket, relying on mostly finesse, which isnt necessarily a bad thing. Opposing teams dont always have a player with capable size to defend him, though, and hes shown signs of trouble when matched up with players who project as NBA centers, such as Bradleys Patrick OBryant
in the NCAA Tournament.
Gray has shown flashes of a spot-up jumper with range out to 15 feet, but he rarely goes outside of eight to 10 feet, where still he is not yet incredibly efficient. This is something he should definitely work on improving, as while its questionable how his post game will translate to the NBA, being able to shoot a 15-foot jumper at 70 most certainly will translate.
Gray also shows flashes of nice vision and passing out of the post, though he logged 2.7 turnovers per game to his 1.8 assists, having troubles with footwork in the post and handling double-teams in general. He does show the ability to see the floor and make strong kick-out passes to the perimeter, though.
Gray may not show much tenacity with his finesse-oriented post game, but he looks like a different man when one of his teammates puts a shot in the air, always working relentlessly to attack the offensive boards. He establishes good position down low to take advantage of his size in this aspect of the game, and when hes out of position, hell fight to get around his man without fouling too often. Just as in his post game, though, he has a tendency to rush his shots once he gets a hand on the ball, and it happens in this area very frequently. He needs to really work on his accuracy with his put-back attempts. He also does a good job running the floor as a trailer to attack the offensive glass on missed transition lay-ups.
Defensively, Gray is equally effective with his rebounding, establishing good position and effectively boxing out his man most of the time. Gray also is a pretty aware defender, always paying attention to the entire offense and understanding where he needs to be on the floor. He is mobile enough to make all of the rotations, though he doesnt have much prowess as a weakside shot-blocker. As a man-to-man defender, Gray does well in the post, effectively using his body to force his man into difficult shots, while not using his hands much to avoid fouls. He also does a good job using his length to prevent entry passes by reaching in front of his man while still establishing dominant position. Gray will have some problems in the NBA against perimeter-oriented centers, though, not possessing great lateral quickness and preferring to defend down low.
Gray is now a senior, thus he will be in the draft come the end of the season. He briefly tested the waters last season, but didnt participate in either of the pre-draft camps, and there were question marks about whether hed definitely land in the first round. Gray certainly has a lot of room to improve, and one would expect he will in this, just his second season in a starting role. If he improves his mid-range jumper as well as his conditioning and becomes quicker and more deliberate with his post moves, he should probably be a first-round pick this season. It will be tough to crack the lottery, given the classs expected tremendous depth, but it is not out of the question if he makes the right strides in his game.