Yves Missi aims to be the next great basketball player from Cameroon to make it in the NBA, joining Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid.

Like Pascal Siakam, Yvse Missi’s first love was soccer but he eventually got hooked on hoops. His parents played for the Cameroon national basketball team and as Missi grew taller while growing up it was only natural to see him on the basketball court rather than the pitch.

Standing 7 feet tall (6’11 without shoes) and 230 pounds, that decision to focus on basketball has paid off so far. He came out of high school as one of the top prospects in the country and was rated as a five-star recruit from Prolific Prep in California. After one year at Baylor University where he averaged 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 61.4%, Missi declared for the NBA Draft. He was named to both the Big 12 All-Freshman and All-Defensive Teams and was an all-conference honorable mention. Missi has a great build, upside, and the physical tools to succeed in the NBA, but is still a raw product overall. What can we expect from the Baylor big man?

Strengths

Finishing: When Missi gets the ball inside or around the basket, watch out!

He loves to finish with a strong dunk and get some highlight plays at the basket. Missi has great hands and athleticism to rise up and slam down lob passes.

While he’s a great dunker, he also has a great touch to make close-range shots. Missi doesn’t shy away from contact and is confident and poised enough to make shots in traffic.

He shot 61.4% this past season, with a vast majority of his shots being up close. Even with his build, Missi is an explosive athlete; far from those slow-moving big men. He plays with a lot of intensity, so he’s adept at getting and converting on those second-chance putback opportunities.

According to KenPom, Missi had an offensive rebounding rate of 14.4%, which was good enough to rank in the top 35 for the entire country.

Rim protecting/defense: His athleticism easily carries over to the other end of the court. Blessed with a 37-inch vertical and a 7’2 wingspan, Missi has the physical tools to be impactful on defense.

Although he’s had some vicious slam dunks that gained plenty of replays and social media hits, he prides himself on his defensive work.

Missi is a pogo-stick, he has plenty of upside on defense and could develop into a true defensive anchor in the NBA.

He had one of the highest blocking rates in the country this past season, ranking 66th out of all Division I players according to KenPom, Missi averaged 1.5 blocks per game and was also the only freshman to land on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. He also has great mobility for someone of his size, so if he gets switched onto a smaller and quicker opponent he’ll be able to hold his own. His imposing size, quick twitch leaping ability to block, and long wingspan help when forced to deal with guards.

Athleticism/intangibles: It’s already been touched on but it can’t be ignored how well he moves for a 7-foot big man. Missi is a legitimate rim-runner and, his athleticism pops on both ends of the court. He is a strong player, with good footwork and explosive leaping ability.

He led the Big 12 with 63 dunks this past season. He’s played organized basketball for less than three years, which certainly comes with some deficiencies when it comes to basketball IQ, but it’s been impressive to see what he’s been able to do and how far his athleticism has taken him.

It hasn’t solely been athleticism, either. Missi also has a great motor on the court and isn’t someone who takes plays off. He plays hard, is determined, and is eager to learn. While some areas of his game still need to be developed, he can easily reach his ceiling or unlock his potential with the right coach and system.

Weaknesses

Limited offensive game: Missi attempted just one jump shot this season, which is alarming for any big man attempting to make the jump for the modern NBA.

As good as he is around the basket, he is very one-dimensional offensively and does not stretch the floor in any way.

He doesn’t have a mid-range game, and he provides no three-point shooting.

Missi will need plenty of work on this end. As a result, he doesn’t provide much floor spacing and opposing defenses rarely have to worry about Missi being a threat if he’s not up close.

Poor free-throw shooting: It goes hand-in-hand with lack of shooting in Missi’s offensive game. He shot just 61.4% from the free-throw line this past season.

It is worth noting that Missi showed tremendous improvement as the season went along.

Over the last 17 games of the season (second half), Missi shot 74.3% from the charity stripe, after shooting 48.5% during the first half of the year, according to Sports Reference.

It does speak to his coachability in improving his shooting form and perhaps the fact that there is an underlying shot that is waiting to be tapped into. However, he’ll need to show more consistency and confidence in-game. The NBA season is long, and hopefully, for Missi’s sake, it wasn’t just a hot stretch over 17 games.

Basketball IQ: Overall, Missi is a relative newcomer to the sport and from watching him play, some immediate areas for improvement will come with coaching, further development, and more experience on the floor.

As good as Missi is defensively, he is prone to biting on shot fakes or being caught out of position. He also has problems with fouling too much and getting in foul trouble, which may contribute to the fact that he only averaged 23.0 minutes per game.

According to KenPom, he committed 4.2 fouls per 40 minutes. The college game only has five fouls before a player is disqualified, and while the NBA provides some extra cushioning in that sixth foul, he’s going to have to stay more disciplined defensively and stay on the court.

One final area for immediate improvement would be his lack of playmaking and passing abilities. Missi doesn’t look to kick it out or find the open man. When he gets an offensive rebound, he will almost always look to put the ball back up, even if he’s heavily guarded or there is an open teammate around. He had a 0.36-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this past season.

Outlook

Not everybody has to be a stretch big with a three-point shot, although it’s become more prevalent in the NBA. After all, players like Clint Capela and Mitchell Robinson have been able to stick in the league, and those are two players to whom Missi has drawn comparisons. Missi has also been compared to the likes of Nic Claxton. Missi is raw, but he has the physical tools and mindset to be successful. He can probably be used as a rotational piece in the meantime, providing minutes here and there. Missi has been projected to go somewhere in the mid-to-late first round of the 2024 NBA Draft. He peaked with a top 10 mock projection by Bleacher Report in late January, but more recent mock drafts have Missi going somewhere in the 20s. The Knicks have the No. 24 and 25 picks and Missi may still be on the board with a chance to draft him.

As for his fit with the New York Knicks, he can easily slot in whether or not Isaiah Hartenstein decides to stay, or if they’d like to move on from Jericho Sims. Mitchell Robinson has had a tough time trying to stay on the court in recent years, and Missi could potentially fill that role of an athletic, defensive big man. Especially with the Knicks’ backcourt talent and the way their big men have been used, he wouldn’t be expected or pressured to produce offensively and could chip in the putback or occasional alley-oop as he works on his offensive game.

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