Since the 1946-1947 season, seven different Jamaican players have appeared on the court in a NBA game with not many being successful. However, the most successful has been without question seven-foot center Patrick Ewing. However, we are getting closer to seeing the eighth player for the island make their NBA debut in Kofi Cockburn. Today, we are going to be discussing how good he can be going up against some dominant players in the National Basketball Association.
Having a Jamacian NBA player feels like you are playing inside of an online casino due to the randomness of it officially happening. Without further ado, let’s dive into his collegiate and Summer League career and try to prognosticate how he will do in an actual NBA game.
How Did Kofi Cockburn Play in College?
Kofi Cockburn is listed at seven feet tall and weighing 293 pound according to NBA’s official website and is none to be a typical big man down low in the post as his prospect overview states that he is a “massive center who had a stellar season at the collegiate level imposing his will on the interior and cleaning the glass”.
He definitely lived up to that as he was a NCAA Consensus All-American during his junior year and was the only player in all of NCAA to finish in the top 20 nationally in scoring (11th) and rebounding (8th). He finished the season starting all 28 games he played in and averaged 30.7 minutes a night with 20.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, one block, and 0.8 steals per game. He played down in the post and shot 59.3 percent from the floor throughout the season as well as shooting 65.5 percent from the free-throw line as well.
He definitely continued to improve as his counting numbers from his freshman season back in 2019-20 to the 2021-22 season have all improved. He even did well in the NCAA Tournament last year as he averged 18 points, 10.5 rebounds, two blocks, and 1.5 steals while also going 12-for-17 from the charity stripe. Cockburn ended up going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, but was signed by the Utah Jazz as an undrafted free agent.
How Was Cockburn in Summer League?
Just as all the rookies do, Kofi Cockburn played in the Summer League totest his skills against some rookies as well as young NBA talent to get their first feels of game action with their team. Cockburn played three games with the Utah Jazz and played 17.9 minutes per game and finished with 7.7 points, seven rebounds, one assist, 0.3 blocks, 0.3 steals, and one turnover per game. He also had a -7 in terms of plus-minus on the court.
His seven rebounds per game was fifth in the Summer League and his 3.7 offensive rebounds only trailed Paul Reed and Xavier Tillman Sr, who both played in only two games. Cockburn feels like a raw prospect that can play in spurts at the NBA level right now but nothing more than a bench option.
There is an opening with the Utah Jazz at the center position if he continues to work as they traded away Rudy Gobert and are currently having rookie center Walker Kessler start at center. However, in the backup role was supposed to be Udoka Azubuike and he has just appeared in 32 career games and not been a factor in the NBA thus far so that role is up for grabs.
Cockburn would have thrived in the NBA 15 years ago with dominant center play down low, but he needs to extend to the perimeter if he wants to have a long career in the top basketball league in the world. We have seen centers like Brooz Lopez completely change his game, but Cockburn right now has a ceiling of a backup center with Utah as Walker Kessler is going to start. He can be solid if he continues to improve though and get a decent amount of minutes.