Fall 2020 Scouting Report
Micah Potter is a 6’10”, 248lb inside-out big man who is poised to have a huge senior season for the Wisconsin Badgers. After sitting out a year due to transferring, it was clear that Potter found the perfect role in 2019-20 to maximize his offensive abilities as a roll man, floor spacer, and rim protector – a rare and coveted skill combination for modern basketball. Poised to be just over 23 years old at the time of the 2021 NBA Draft, Potter needs to prove that he has the NBA athleticism and upside to match his well-rounded skills at the collegiate level.
While Potter has improved massively during his time in college as a player, it’s painfully obvious from looking at his game how badly he was misused before transferring to Wisconsin. He excels so far in a featured offensive role off the bench where teams have no answers to his multifaceted attack. Per 40 minutes played during his two seasons at Ohio State, he received a pass as the roll man in pick and roll just 2.7 times, took just 4.0 three-pointers, and posted up only 2.6 times. He saw nearly all of his primary modes of attack expand during his season with Wisconsin per 40 minutes, receiving the pass as the roll man 5.0 times (85% increase), taking 5.5 three-pointers (38% increase), and posting up 7.5 times (188% increase). Potter’s emergence is a big reason why the Badgers went from the 52nd best opponent-adjusted offensive rating in 2018-19 to the 37th best in 2019-20.
He has always been a strong finisher and offensive rebounder. He was in the 89th percentile of finishers at the rim in 2019-20 shooting 72.2% and has been in the 83rd percentile for his entire college career. Standing out even more for his energy on the offensive glass, Potter secured 5.6 offensive rebounds per 100 possessions for the Badgers rating in the 95th percentile in the country. Clearly, he can do the dirty work as an energy big, especially when paired with his high volume of pick and roll possessions and post-ups.
The truly differentiating factor in his offensive game is of course the floor spacing potential. No returning player for the 2020-21 NCAA season who was at least 6’10” or taller shot a better percentage from behind the arc than Potter. His 45.1% was in the 80th percentile overall and he shot in the 89th percentile of all players on catch and shoot attempts. While he was an average shooter in his first two seasons, shooting 32.4% on 71 attempts, he has flushed out his ability to properly space the floor while also dominating on the inside.
Now a player who can space the floor, crash the glass and create for himself in the post, and as the roll man, there are only two real holes left in his offensive game: passing and decision making. While he did a better job in 2019-20 converting his gravity as a roller and shooter into open attempts for teammates, he still is in just the 14th percentile of all players for assists per 100 possessions played. And related to that, his massive jump in usage with the Badgers as compared to Ohio State also saw a massive jump in turnovers. He turned it over 5.6 times per 100 possessions played, rating in the 7th percentile of all players, in 2019-20, compared to 2.7 times, rating in the 78th percentile, during his two seasons before transferring. Now a bump in turnovers is inevitable with an increase in usage, but Potter needs to focus on making smart decisions with the basketball when he doesn’t have a clean shot attempt. Improvements in his passing willingness can play a huge role in limiting any forced shots while improving his overall impact on offense and making sure he isn’t a black hole.
Overall on offense, the proper utilization and growth he has shown over his career are evident in his statistical impact on winning. Using Offensive Player Impact Plus-Minus, a per 100 possession estimate of how much better or worse a player make their team’s offense when they are on the court, Potter took a huge leap from being a negative impact offensive player at Ohio State(-0.4 O-PIPM, 41st percentile) to one of the best off the bench punches in the country (+2.4 O-PIPM, 91st percentile). With another year of familiarity with the Badgers’ system and growth as a decision-maker, he can be one of the very most impactful offensive players in the country and prove to NBA teams that he has the offensive game to be an immediate impact player in the NBA.
Micah Potter is far more than just an offensive stud – his rebounding translates to the defensive side of the court and he has shown palpable improvements as a shot blocker and rim protector. Potter has good size for the college big man, standing at 6’10” with a sturdy 248-pound frame. His defensive rebounding took an incredible leap last season, pulling down 16.7 defensive boards per 100 possessions played rating in the 99th percentile of all NCAA players and doubling what he did in his two seasons at Ohio State (average of 8.1 defensive rebounds per 100 possessions). He was amongst the 10 most prolific defensive rebounders per possession in the entire country.
He has also shown impressive growth as a rim protector, learning how to use his size to not just block shots but also alter them consistently. Potter has grown from the 77th percentile as a shot-blocker and 45th percentile in opponent field goal percentage at the rim as the closest defender when with Ohio State to 99th percentile as a shot-blocker and 81st percentile in opponent rim field goal percentage. All that being said, he is used a little more as a help defender at the rim rather than a true solo rim protector which likely makes him appear a little stronger than he is.
Further evidence of the numbers slightly overstating his defensive rim impact is found in his high foul rate. While he has shown improvement over time, Potter was still in the 29th percentile of all players committing 6.1 fouls per 100 possessions in 2019-20. Improvement for sure over the 3rd percentile he was in at Ohio State, but a clear place for focus in the 2020-21 season. Along with his offensive decision making, his high defensive foul rate is indicative of needing to tighten his defensive decision making to truly maximize his defensive impact.
Even with just the foul improvement in 2019-20, Potter rated in the 96th percentile of all players in his Defensive Player Impact Plus-Minus improving the defense by 2.3 points per 100 possessions when he was on-court. He has always been a good defensive player, but rated more in the 60th percentile at Ohio State.
Micah Potter is a player who brings so much of what is coveted among bigs for the modern NBA to the floor. Improving his decision making on both ends, as a passer and limiting fouls, will push him over the top for NBA evaluators. Committing fewer fouls will allow him to stay on the floor even longer and show off what he can do over an entire game rather than in a feature role off the bench. Already one of the best two-way bigs in limited minutes, Potter proving he can do it over extended minutes will put him in a great position as a floor-spacing, rim-rolling, rim-protecting modern-day big man.