Can Zach Edey’s game translate to the NBA?

Yahoo Sports’ Jason Fitz, 3-time NBA champion Danny Green and NBA draft analyst Krysten Peek debate if the Purdue Boilermakers center can carry his game over to the pro level.

Video Transcript

JASON FITZ: Purdue has advanced to the Sweet 16, and as much as the conversation is about the team, it's also about their superstar Zach Edey. The question is, what's his game look like at the next level? Krysten Peek, Danny Green, I'm Jason Fitz. This is something I know KP's passionate about. We're sitting with Danny Green. You played in the league. You've watched a lot of him over the last few days, particularly. What do you think of his game at the next level?

DANNY GREEN: I like him. I know the game has changed a lot, but I do like him. He has good footwork. He's gotten in better shape. His conditioning is better from last year. They're obviously more mature as a group. He's led that group to not getting knocked out in the first round, so he's proven a lot of people wrong. But he has good touch around the rim. Could be a little bit better protecting the rim, you know, I guess, getting more blocks.

But I could see him being, like, a Rudy Gobert type to complement another big or a backup center that can give you some minutes to bang with guys like a Joel Embiid or a Jokic.

KRYSTEN PEEK: The track record speaks for itself, and I've seen it time and time again with players like Zach Edey, where they dominate the college space, they get to the pros, and they just disappear because the game is faster, it's positionless. You look at Luka Garza, Player of the Year, four-year player from Iowa. What is he doing now? Averaging four points per game. Tacko Fall-- very big, effective in the paint, not doing anything. Udoka Azubuike, who the Utah Jazz drafted with the 30th overall pick-- he's disappeared.

So I have a hard time believing that Zach Edey is going to be the exception of the rule with the track record that we've seen over the years.

DANNY GREEN: And yes, we never know-- and by the makeup and the change of the game, it doesn't look like it's in his favor. But I do think he can beat the odds with-- depends on where he goes and where he matches up with. Like, you know, Los Angeles Lakers, they hate the fact that they have to play AD-- AD doesn't like playing the 5 and have to guard Nikola Jokic. So they're looking for somebody that can bang with him. He could be a weak side help like the Rudy Gobert/Karl-Anthony Towns tandem. I could see him being in Memphis with Jaren Jackson, Jr. He could kind of replace Steven Adams type thing. So there's certain fits for him that he can beat, defy the odds. But like I said, I don't know. It's tough with the game changing. So you do make a valid argument, but I do like him.

JASON FITZ: I mean, and I'll say, averaging 26.5 points, 18 boards in the first two games of the tournament, that's impressive, KP. But to your point of who he's guarding, have we seen that level of athleticism from him to be able to have the necessary speed to handle those guys?

DANNY GREEN: There's some unathletic guys in the league that can do it. And mind you, said he has moms cooking with him in West Lafayette. He could probably bring her to keep him in shape and maybe get him-- he's still young. He's a younger senior.

JASON FITZ: She's saying no.

DANNY GREEN: He's a younger senior that can still develop a lot of the footwork things and some more athleticism if he gets more in better shape.

KRYSTEN PEEK: If I am a team, and Zach Edey is on the board, and I got Zach Edey or a young center like Yves Missi from Baylor, someone that I can bring in that I can draft and stash and develop as a pick-and-pop big-- because let me tell you, Zach Edey is going to get in the league. He has no shot creation. He's attempted and banked in one 3 over four years, his entire career. OK, whatever. 1 for 1. He has no shot creation. He's going to be targeted defensively in the pick and roll countless times.

I think he's just someone if he's on the court, it's not going to be like, oh my gosh-- it's not going to be like Victor Wembanyama. He's at the rim. Oh my gosh. We can't get a shot up. They are going to try to extend him out defensively and target him in the PNR and go after him.

DANNY GREEN: Well, he has-- he's young enough the upside to develop those things in the pick-and-roll situation. He does have the touch as a shooter to shoot the mid-range. I don't know if he can stretch the 3, but he is very much similar to a Yao Ming type player. I don't know if it'll translate, but I'm sure we'll see. With the draft not being as strong, I think he'll get an opportunity to get drafted.

KRYSTEN PEEK: Agree to disagree at this point.

JASON FITZ: We know Purdue is having a great year. We don't know if that's going to translate to success for Edey.