Boise State’s James Webb III journey to the NBA Draft wasn’t an easy one. Webb spent a season at North Idaho College after receiving little, if any, attention from division one schools across the country.
However, it did not take long for Webb to impress head coach Leon Rice and the rest of the Mountain West in two seasons in Boise. Webb was named Newcomer of the Year after his fantastic redshirt sophomore season, and continued to be an impact player and team leader during his redshirt junior season.
In April, Webb announced that he would forego his final season in Boise and would sign an agent. Webb received an invite to the NBA Combine and also participated in workouts with 20 NBA teams.
Basic: 15.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 30.5 MPG, 49.4 FG%, 24.8 3P%, 68.4 FT%
Advanced: 111.5 ORtg, 94.2 DRtg, 25.4 Usg%, 53.3 eFG%, 56.7 TS%, 26.4 DR%, 11.8 TO%
Career-highs: Points - 31, Rebounds - 18, Assists - 3, Steals - 5, Blocks - 3, 3-pointers - 7
Athleticism - Webb, listed at 6’9” and 202 pounds, is as athletic as they come. He is quick, light-footed, possesses great vertical leaping ability, and shines in transition. Without a doubt Webb is one of the most athletic players from this draft class, which is a reason for general managers to keep his name on draft boards.
Defensive rebounding - Energy is the driving force of Webb’s defense, and it has helped translate into impressive rebounding numbers. Webb ranked 26th in KenPom’s defensive rebounding percentage, an incredible 98.8th percentile. It won’t be nearly as easy to grab 10+ rebounds a night in the NBA on pure athleticism, but Webb has built a strong rebounding foundation and has a nose for the loose ball.
Inside scoring - Webb does not own a number of polished post moves, but he is extremely active around the painted area, especially with putback opportunities. In two seasons with BSU, Webb led the Broncos with 58 putbacks. No other Bronco recorded more than 27. Webb also finished in the 97th percentile in 2-point field goal percentage last season, according to KenPom.
Perimeter shooting - The biggest question mark with Webb’s game is his perimeter scoring ability. As a sophomore, Webb drained 40.9% of his threes, but the number plummeted to 24.8% as a junior. As the season progressed, it seemed as if Webb had lost confidence in his ability to knock down deep jump shots. However, after spending a great deal of time working on his mechanics, he seemed to return to his sophomore shooting form during the team workouts.
Frame - Although Webb’s developing skill set is a tremendous fit with his height and wingspan, NBA front offices will be looking for Webb to fill out his frame by gaining 15-20 pounds. Webb figures to be a stretch four in the NBA, which means that a larger frame is imperative to defending larger matchups.
On-ball defense - Because of his lanky body, Webb struggles against formidable post players. Surprisingly enough, Webb is not much of a shot blocker, logging a modest 20 blocks in both seasons with BSU. At times, Webb can be caught trying to rely on his athleticism to “catch up” with plays, rather than consistently being in position.
“My shooting was the biggest thing. Everybody wanted to know why I dropped off so drastically, but this whole month I’ve been down here getting my shot right. I’m even better than I was the year I shot well.”
“I’m used to [being snubbed], and I have chips on my shoulder and they keep adding up so I’ll keep doing what I do and what I know I can do.”
“I have faith in myself and the things I’ve been doing, so they can sleep on me all they want.”
“The negative comments and things that people say, if that’s all I have to deal with right now that is fine by me.”
There is a lot to like about what James Webb III brings to the table. NBA scouts ooze over his athleticism and budding potential, but there are still a number of aspects that can be touched up prior to becoming a role player in the pros. As for draft night, most experts are saying that they would be surprised if Webb’s name is called, but many teams have appeared to be interested in his services throughout the combine process. Even if Webb goes undrafted, he will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent and work ethic, whether it be in the NBA D-League or overseas.