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Draft Profile: What NBA teams can expect from Kobe Bufkin

Bufkin is a talented two-way wing who could have a long NBA career ahead of him.

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Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan Wolverines will be without one of their best players moving forward, with Kobe Bufkin forgoing his remaining college eligibility and entering the NBA Draft.

After not playing much his freshman year, Bufkin was a stud as a sophomore, averaging 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 48.2% from the field, 35.5% from three and 84.9% from the free throw line. He was an All-Big Ten third-team member by the coaches and was an honorable mention by the media.

A lot of NBA draft outlets consider Bufkin a first round pick; he was predicted to be taken 26th overall in a recent mock draft by Jeff Zillgett at USA Today and is ranked 14th on Bleacher Report’s Big Board.

Let’s discuss what Bufkin is good at, what he needs to work on and what teams could be a good fit for him.


We see a lot of young players take a leap their sophomore season, and that’s exactly what Bufkin did. His draft stock steadily rose all season long, especially during Michigan’s eight-game stretch where it went 6-2 in conference play. Bufkin had 13 points or more in every one of those games, including a career-high 28 points in the OT win over Wisconsin.

Bufkin wasn’t your usual sophomore, though. He was actually the youngest player on Michigan’s roster, which I probably make NBA teams even more fond of him.

Offensively, Bufkin was easily Michigan’s best guard at getting to the rim. He was able to do that by using his shiftiness to get ahead of his defender before finishing reliably.

Bufkin also got better at knocking down threes, picking his spots and thriving from mid-range as the year went along. There were a lot of second halves this past season where his offensive outbursts would wake up Michigan’s offense, or be the only source of it.

Michigan couldn’t close games well last season, but Bufkin hit a lot of clutch shots and was a big reason the Wolverines were in those games in the first place.

He is also very solid defensively. You could make a case Bufkin was Michigan’s best defender, especially on the ball. His long arms and quick foot speed helps him stay in front of ball handlers before swiping the ball away. He led the Wolverines with 43 steals (1.3 each game). He’s an intelligent defender who communicates quite a bit, two things that have helped Michigan get stops.

Bufkin is a two-way guard who can score at all three levels and defends the ball. I would think every NBA team would want as many of those types of guards as possible.

What he needs to work on

One of the great things about Bufkin as a prospect is he doesn’t have a lot of clear weaknesses.

He doesn’t really do anything at an elite level, which is nitpicking but it’s also why he probably won’t get picked in the lottery. You’d like to see his three-point shooting climb a couple percentage points. Michigan couldn’t win close games because of late game struggles; those struggles entirely weren’t his fault, but he has to shoulder at least a little bit of the blame there.

Defensively, he did take a lot of gambles trying to go for steals, so he’ll have to get more disciplined when it comes to that. Offensively, he’s not a true point guard and will have to play with another guard, so at 6-foot-4, he’s technically a smidge undersized. I’d also like to see him get better as a shot creator for other guys.

Good destinations for Bufkin

Considering Bufkin is not a point guard, I’d love to see him go somewhere where he could play with an elite point guard. The Portland Trail Blazers make a lot of sense for him; playing off Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons could help him out a lot.

At his very worst, Bufkin could be a bench player who provides solid defense and make a few shots on the other end. Some playoff teams drafting in the 20s, like the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets, could use more guards like that.

I’d be a little surprised if he falls past the Miami Heat, who are projected to pick somewhere in the late teens or early 20s. He fits the work ethic that comes with Heat culture. Miami could use another reliable guard, and I’m sure Juwan Howard has already told his buddies on that staff all about him.

With how versatile he is, Bufkin could fit in with a lot of teams. I hope he gets drafted into a situation that’s good for his development because if that happens, he could be in for a long, successful NBA career.