NBA Draft: Asbjorn Midtgaard provides unique upside

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Draft prospect Asbjorn Midtgaard provides unique upside originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Asbjorn Midtgaard’s career at Wichita State, and in the United States, had a rocky start. 

Through his first three years as a Shocker, he started just four games and averaged a career-best 3.9 points per game in the 2018-19 season. So, with a change of scenery needed, he transferred to Grand Canyon for the 2020-21 season. There, he stepped into a big-time role. 

At Grand Canyon, he led the team with 14.2 points per game and 9.7 rebounds as the team clinched an NCAA Tournament appearance where it lost to Iowa in the first round. Midtgaard was the team’s leading scorer that day.

Now, he’s an NBA draft prospect who just worked out for the Wizards on Thursday. And while his game is still raw, his 7-foot frame is enticing to teams looking for a developmental prospect.

“I started sorta late, we don’t have high school like in the U.S., so it was probably more like between 15 and 16 years old when I started playing competitively,” Midtgaard said. “Before that I was playing soccer and handball, big sports in Denmark. I started late, but we had some good coaches over there who know how to guide players.”

If successful, he will be just the second Danish player to ever step foot on the floor during an NBA game. The first Danish player Lars Hansen, played in the league for just one season with 15 total games. 

“That would be the goal for my career,” Midtgaard said. “It would mean everything, not just for me, but for Danish basketball to get more exposure. I think we’ve got up-and-coming talent in Denmark and I would love to be able to show that Denmark is also a basketball country.”

With such a large frame, it’s not a wonder how Midtgaard became an NBA prospect. He led Division I in field goal percentage (70.74) and played well against Colorado and Iowa. He was  one of a handful of players in the country with more than 10 double-doubles. 

The Wizards have Thomas Bryant and Daniel Gafford to play in the frontcourt at relatively affordable contracts moving forward, but in terms of building for the future, Midtgaard has a raw skillset that could be a nice development project for an NBA team.

Still, he’s got a long way to go. With just one season of significant minutes at the college level and, comparatively, a very late start to his competitive basketball career, there’s still a lot he knows he has to learn. 

“It takes a lot of hard work just to play a high level of basketball, so I had a lot to catch up on,” Midtgaard said. “It was a lot of late nights and early mornings, but I love playing basketball so it wasn’t a problem. Of course, there’s a huge learning curve in basketball because it’s such a unique sport, you have to know everything, you have to play offense, defense, it’s not just scoring points it’s also helping the team in other ways. I’m still learning and I want to learn and I want to keep learning. I don’t think my ceiling is anywhere in sight so far.”

Midtgaard won’t be one of the top selections in the NBA Draft, and he may not even hear his name called at all. But he feels the future is bright, even if he doesn’t want to look that far ahead.

“I try not to look too far in the future, that’s unnecessary pressure I feel like,” Midtgaard said. “Just take it day by day.”