Scouting Report: Kylor Kelley

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Kylor Kelley Scouting Report

By: Alex Brown @AhbAnalytics

Player Profile

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2020 Draft Age: 22.9 Years (August 26, 1997)

Measurements: Listed 7’0, likely closer to 6’11/6’10, 7’3 Wingspan, 230 lbs.

Background: Kylor Kelley transferred from Lane Community College to Oregon State University after averaging 8.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game. He transferred to OSU due to the proximity to home despite the fact that OSU’s system didn’t emphasize him much offensively. He was expected to make an immediate impact, and he did. Kylor finished second in the NCAA in blocks in two consecutive seasons, averaging 3.4 and 3.5 blocks with unreal block rates of 16.2% and 13.4% (per SportReference). He reportedly has stronger fundamentals and a broader skillset then he uses on the court. As a low usage option at Oregon State, he was primarily used as a rim protector and play finisher. He has a good family pedigree as well, as both of his parents received high major D1 scholarships.

Public Injury Report: Left Foot Stress Fracture (October 2017)

Personality: Spoke with Kylor’s agent, and from what I gathered Kylor is the type of guy that ‘stays in his lane’, does what he has to do, keeps his head down, blinders on, and focuses on his goals. He is a worker and a professional who buys in to the role programs have for him, which is valuable. He is not shaken much by the pressure of big games, performing well against projected draft picks such as Isaiah Stewart.

Athleticism: Kelley is an intriguing athlete, as he is a vertical threat, spring jumper, is not as stiff as he seems, and is a bit more shifty than he seems. He is still filling out a bit, and certainly has room to add muscle, especially in his legs. He has reportedly been working on improving his athleticism recently, and would really benefit (and likely buy in) working with a higher level training program. He has excellent upper body coordination, but his lower body (from hips down) could stand to improve should he want to be more versatile on both ends.

Projected Draft Landing: Undrafted

Statistical Profile:

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Career Projections:

  • High: Two-Way/Bottom Rotation –  Athletic improvements (especially lower body) allow Kelley to defend 4/5, hedge effectively, and improve his rotation speed with limited masking. Frame and footwork improve with NBA coaching and training programs, allowing him to see NBA minutes as a 3rd center. His borderline elite rim protection and low usage play finishing/roll-man/rim-runner value will contribute to winning. Not much value as a rebounder, but potential to improve.
  • Medium: Two-way/Euroball StarterSome footwork and athletic improvements help Kelley see NBA minutes on a two-way contract. His defensive versatility is still relatively limited to drop defense and hedging with recoveries needing masking, but the small footwork/frame improvements help reduce the negative impact. His rim protection allows him to produce a high block rate. Provides value as a low usage play finisher, roll man, and rim-runner offensively. Not much rebounding value.
  • Low: G-League/Euroball Starter– Lack of footwork/athletic/frame improvements limit his defensive versatility and value. His best fit will be overseas, where he can play more drop defense and retain his high level rim protection while using his size and bounce to the fullest. He will need to be masked on recoveries, but can hedge effectively. Retains value as a low usage play finisher, roll man, rim-runner offensively. Low rebounding value.


Projected Roles: Rim-runner, Screener, Roll-Man, Play Finisher.

Synergy Profile:KK O

Shot Chart:

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Via InStat (Incl. post-ups)


  • Play Finishing: Kylor Kelley has value as a play finisher, as he can finish strongly through contact or dunk the ball effortlessly and quickly with either hand. If he gets downhill, his ability to load and finish powerfully is matched by very few big men in the class. Kylor also does a good job of sealing his man for positioning should he get an opening in the low post. He does not get bumped off his spots down low easily, which is valuable. He also has a .509 FtR, which is not as high as other play finishers but shows he is not contact averse. He could be a 4/5th very low usage option in the post as well, as he has a bruising nature that could easily overpower mismatches.

  • Vertical Threat: Kylor is an effective lob target with great hands that can get up quite high when given space to load. This makes Kelley increasingly useful in downhill scenarios as a roll-man or cutter, and in other play finishing scenarios. His ability to finish powerfully above the rim in space often causes opposing defenders to not even try to contest him because they know they will most likely find a spot on his highlight reel. Jumping against a fully loaded Kylor Kelley is just not a good idea, and defenders know it.
  • Hands: Kylor catches the ball really, really well with strong, coordinated hands. Furthermore, he has pretty good touch and accuracy when finishing through contact, further adding to his play finishing value. I think Kelley’s hands are the most undervalued part of his offensive attack.

  • Improvements in Decision-Making: While Kelley is not going to be a playmaker or handler at all, he has flashed playmaking in the post. While it was mostly reactive, he had some flashes of proactivity that show he is understanding the game a bit better. He keeps his head up and reacts correctly in some instances to double teams and such in the post, but often makes the first read instead of the best read. While he in unlikely to do this often at the next level or pick apart anyone with his passing, improving his decision making is notable.

  • Efficiency: Plays within his role and finishes play at a very efficient level, ranking in the 97th percentile (overall) offensively in PPP, and in the 89th percentile as a cutter (82nd as roll man). Efficient, low usage play finishers are always valuable in the modern game, and Kelley certainly fits that mold without needing to play outside of his role.

Improvement Areas

  • Footwork Off-Screens: Despite Kelley being such a downhill finishing threat, he really struggles to get downhill quickly. He struggles to accelerate when pivoting off his set screen and diving, and as shown above, his footwork can be quite choppy for such a fluid runner. An NBA training program will focus on solving this issue, but it is worth noting that he has some untapped upside as a rim-runner and roll-man should he develop his footwork further.
  • Frame, Athleticism: Kelley would really benefit from an NBA training program, as his frame has the potential (and need) to add on functional strength and quickness in order to be more effective. If his footwork is cleaned up and he puts on muscle too, he could be an NBA center.
  • Range Shooting: I spoke with an NBA executive who stated that while “NBA teams likely will not expect Kelley to create spacing, but he has an effective shot in that 16-18 foot range”. There are relatively few indicators that project Kelley as a 3pt shooter, and he certainly does not utilize his jumper often as a result of his role. He has a decent shot with decent touch that has a small chance to extend to the 3pt line, but he is unlikely to be a low volume threat. He has a base that could be built upon, the upper body caters to a more flat shot, but it is far from irreparable. I personally like bigs that can be pop threats as they diversify the offensive attack and can create spacing, so I would invest in building his shooting to the point where he could at least hit an open straightaway 3. However, it is not imperative for his development.
  • Short Roll Passing: One area where Kelley has not been as productive as I believe he could be is his playmaking in short roll scenarios. I have emphasized his current instincts below in this example vs. Washington, in a situation he could easily exploit if he puts his mind to learning it. He tends to make the first read rather then waiting for the right read, but I think it can be cleaned up. While he is not going to get the ball in the post often at the next level, it is important to note his instincts are flawed here.

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Kelley’s Short Roll Passing Instincts Need Development

  • Impact: Kylor had quite a low offensive impact (statistically) compared to other high level collegiate play finishers. Comparatively, Nick Richards (who definitely had a better supporting cast of playmakers) sported a +4.1 OBPM and +32 NetRTG (on slightly higher volume) while Kelley had a +2.2 and +15.7 NetRTG. Kelley could do far better surrounded with playmakers with gravity that could free him up for lobs. However, it is important to note that Kelley’s offensive impact will be mostly reliant on the playmakers around him.


Projected Role: Shot Blocker, Drop Defender.

Synergy Profile (noise, but added info)

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  • Shot Blocking: Kylor posted an unreal block rate at Oregon State, posting block rates of 16.2% and 13.4% (respectively) in his last two seasons. He is comfortable using both hands to contest, block, and deter around the rim (and out on the perimeter). When he has time and space to load, he can be lethal when he is directly facing slashers or operating off of correctly anticipated rotations.
    • Rim Protection: Downhill vs. Slashers: When Kelley can get downhill when recovering, he can really make life difficult for slashers. While actually getting downhill can be a problem (and a correctable one), when he has the time and space to load he can protect the rim extremely well. Footwork improvements should help unlock some untapped upside defensively too…

  • Hedging: Kelley hedges rather effectively, although recovery can be an issue that needs to be masked (more on that below). His technique on the hedge itself is serviceable, and he has clearly put in reps regarding these situations. Improving his recovery time and footwork should be priority number one defensively.

Improvement Areas

  • Rebounding: Kelley’s rebound rate is quite low for a guy his size that primarily stays in the paint, as an 11.7% TRbR is not going to cut it for an NBA big that is limited on the perimeter. This surprised me about Kelley’s game, as he has pretty good anticipation, size, and hands. While part of this is can be due to block hunting as opposed to rebound hunting, it isn’t ideal when a 7 footer only pulls down 5 boards per game. However, as his frame has the potential to carry more muscle, there is a chance for him to clear out more space down low in time.
    • “Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle describes Kelley as long, skilled and athletic, a player who can handle the ball and score from inside and out. “Needs size and strength but has a great feel for the game,” said Tinkle, who attended last week’s game at Linn-Benton along with associate head coach Kerry Rupp. “I think he can be a dominating rebounder as well as he gains strength.” (Per Jesse Sowa)
  • Off-Ball Awareness: Kelley is rather slow in his reactions off the ball, occasionally losing sight of his man and getting out of position. Considering he is a reactive defender and will need to be a rotating rim protector to provide a lot of value, this could be an issue that holds him back from being a plus rim protector at the NBA level. Improving this aspect of his game will be imperative should he want to become a major plus as a rim protector.

  • Switch-ability, P&R Versatility: Kylor is not really able to contain quick guards from getting to the paint from the perimeter, and really had no chance when switching onto quick NBA level guards like Stanford’s Tyrell Terry and Arizona’s Nico Mannion. Although he can hedge rather effectively, his recovery time when turning and sprinting back is not ideal. In other recovery situations if he were beat off the dribble, he can occasionally recover against slower wings and 4’s that are straight line drivers, as he typically has a bit more time to load and correctly position himself. Furthermore, more craft-oriented slashers may also struggle vs Kelley in space. Also, longer, more agile 4’s in the Paul Reed type of archetype will likely get the better of Kelley if they attack from the perimeter. It will be difficult to switch Kelley in many situations without getting into trouble, and while he may not be as slow as a typical bruiser he is not currently quick enough to be a plus P&R defender in various situations. He is at his best when he can just roam the paint and play drop coverage, which is a role that is being utilized less and less in the NBA.

  • Standing Vertical Explosiveness: Kelley’s inability to explode from a standstill without loading reminds me of Josh Sharma, a 7’0 big I covered extensively last year that had similar issues. In space, both are quite bouncy and can cause major problems, but from a standstill their leg strength limits standing explosion. Their similar lack of elite length does not compensate for this either. While Sharma is not near the defensive presence that Kelley is, he still rebounded at a much higher rate.

Overall Outlook

In my opinion, Kylor Kelley has the potential to be a third center at the NBA level, and while he would have success overseas I believe he will stick to the two-way route. He has an NBA chance if he can sharpen up his footwork, recoveries, and frame. His value at the next level is in his play finishing, rim protection, and efficiency. Should he not see much NBA time, I expect he will have many suitors overseas.

Swing Factors: Footwork, Recovery Time, Frame, Strength (especially legs), Off-Ball Rotation Speed (+Reactions).

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