Amir Coffey always was a standout for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He was the lead recruit in the Golden Gophers’s 2016 class and then averaged in double figures for each of his three seasons in Minneapolis.
After the 2018-19 season, a year in which Coffey averaged 16.6 points per game and led the Golden Gophers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, he declared for the NBA Draft. He is looking to be the first Gopher drafted since Kris Humphries in 2004.
With draft night approaching, let’s take a look at where Coffey fits within the NBA landscape.
Coffey’s strengths are mostly around his build and skill in transition play.
The 6-foot-8, 210-pound wing punished smaller college defenders by muscling his way to the basket and earning short baskets or trips to the free throw line. Coffey was seventh in the conference at free throw rate and shot 74 percent.
Coffey also excelled in the open floor. Richard Pitino likes to push the ball in his style of play and found a well-suited player to carry out that plan. Coffey was good at distributing the ball in this situation too. In conference play, he was 12th in assist rate.
Shooting, plain and simple. Coffey struggled from three-point range throughout his three-year career. His sophomore season was the high-water mark at 36.5 percent on 57 attempts. This year was particularly brutal from long distance. Coffey increased his attempts to 135 for the season, but his percentage dropped to 30 percent on the season.
It’s a shooters league and so this is a huge weakness on the NBA level.
It is hard to project need for a wing in the NBA without excellent defensive abilities and a credible three-point shot. With that said Coffey has worked out for the Timberwolves, Bulls, Raptors, Hornets, and Pelicans.
A team that has excellent shooting could be a good fit for Coffey to allow him the space on the floor to drive and score or find open shooters. Among those teams he’s worked out for the Raptors would seem to offer the best of those options. I think the Celtics would be a good fit as well due to their coaching staff’s ability to develop players.
Does Coffey’s game translate to the NBA-level? Coffey won’t have the luxury of smaller defenders in the NBA. They will probably be taller and longer. Coffey might have more transitional opportunities, but without a reliable outside shot, Coffey will struggle to make an NBA roster.
This view of Coffey is reflected in the NBA mock drafts available. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie had Coffey at no. 80 on his top 120 players available. No other mock draft has Coffey listed.
Coffey’s best bet will be to impress a team into a two-way deal in the G-League. This will allow him to prove himself and get some financial stability.