Kofi Cockburn has finished up his first run of NBA action as the Las Vegas Summer League has come to a close.
The Las Vegas portion of the NBA Summer League ran from July 7-17, and it featured one of the biggest puzzles in the game of basketball right now in Kofi. The former Illini big man would have obviously been a first-round NBA Draft picks 20 years ago, but the game today is played more on the perimeter, so it is harder for traditional big men to make a living in the game they once dominated.
I would venture to say most people probably think Kofi will fail at his attempt to make an NBA roster. I am not one of those people. I am rooting for the big man to succeed and, so far, it looks like he has done a good job of showing the NBA decision-makers that he is a viable option.
Kofi played in three of the possible five summer league games the Utah Jazz participated in during the Las Vegas session. He would end up averaging 6.7 points and 9.0 rebounds while going 9-of-19 from the field and 1-of-1 from the free throw line.
While the points don’t jump off the page, Kofi did finish No. 8 in the entire summer league in rebounding. You have to be really good at something to stick in the NBA, and if Kofi can rebound with the best of the best, then he will always have a spot on a roster.
Kofi Cockburn showing signs of fixing his perceived NBA flaws.
What are two of the biggest perceived issues Kofi is facing heading into the NBA? I would say they are mobility and free throw shooting.
The shots from the charity stripe are still a little shaky. While Kofi hit his lone free throw in the Las Vegas Summer League, he was just 37.5% from the free throw line in the three games of the Utah Summer League. That is an area that is and will probably always be a work-in-progress.
But I do think Kofi has shown some positive signs when it comes to mobility. When it comes to the NBA, there are a lot of switches on screens around the three-point arc. This is usually to pair a big man on a small guard. Kofi dealt with that challenge quite a few times in the summer league, and I believe he did well guarding smaller players. He kept his feet moving, hands up, and hips square to the offensive player. He impressed me in this area.
I think there are a lot of positives to take away with Kofi’s mobility on offense too. He started running the court better. He was sluggish to start the Utah Summer League but started getting better in Las Vegas. I also liked his ability to pick and roll to the basket. As an Illinois fan, I saw a lot of this in Champaign, but doing it at the next level is another thing. Kofi can see the play developing and knows when to roll to the basket.
At this point, do I think Kofi is a future NBA All-Star? No, but I truly believe he can be a role player for a team for the next 10-15 years. I think he can, realistically, have a career that of Meyers Leonard. Kofi will make a living in the NBA.