As active as I was looking for players during the 2022 NBA draft cycle, Gabriele Procida was not a name I knew or a player I had researched. So when Troy Weaver and the Detroit Pistons were on the clock at No. 36, I REALLY hoped to see them pick a guy like Jaden Hardy, Bryce McGowens, EJ Liddell or even Ryan Rollins. As it stands, Weaver decided to go with the “draft and stash” and selected the 6-foot-7 wing in Italy. As you know by now, that means it was time for me to hit the theaters, and I’m excited to share with you what I found. Sure, he might be a guy “hiding” overseas for a year, but Procida is a legit prospect with shot potential, size and vertical pop. Yes, he has limitations in his game, but he’s young and he’s got some solid basics to work on.
The first thing you’ll hear about with Procida is filming. He shot 38% on 3 last season on 60 attempts and is just slightly above at 39% for his career on 146 attempts.
An important caveat to be made about the young prospect upfront, Procida only played 18.5 MPG last season and even less in previous seasons. He’s absolutely a guy you’re going to trust when left open, but I think what immediately caught my eye was his shot coming off the screens and with 1 or 2 dribbles. One aspect I’d like to see improve over the next 12 months is transitioning from that no-rebound shot to mid-range to develop his all-out shooting game.
Once you get past the shot, you immediately start wondering about Procida’s attacking play. Although he showed a few possessions where he was able to attack a fence and pressure the rim, in general it was not something he was successful with. His overall 2-point percentage last season was 68%, BUT if you take out transition, throwbacks and cuts, he only made 32% of his shots “around the edge” (via inSTAT). More directly, when trying to score the ball in Isolations or as a PnR handler, he just wasn’t that effective. I honestly didn’t come out of my video study with clips that gave me a ton of hope in that area of his game and it has a lot to do with a loose grip that needs improving.
Because he wasn’t a player who put a lot of pressure on the rim, I didn’t really get a sense of what kind of passer he is or could be. He had a VERY isolated possession where he attacked the rebound and dropped it to the big one for a dunk, but one possession in five games doesn’t make you feel like that’s something he does well at this stage of his career.
Before moving on to his defence, I want to mention a few aspects of his game that gave me confidence. First off, it absolutely has some vertical pop like me and others have highlighted and cut out on Twitter for everyone to see. Because of that vertical pop, I think he’s a guy who will be able to burn out in transition and be a game finisher. has not always obtained the reward of a pass from his teammate. I also think his offensive rebound is better than the 0.6 per game number shows. He was constantly taking the opportunity to run into the lane when a shot was coming up, and I think with more minutes throughout a game it could show up in the box score even more.
As we move on to his defense, I want to start with the biggest disadvantage he has at this end of the court, defending ball screens. This area of his game came up again and again, and countless times he would bump into the screen or hang on to it, putting his teammates in a tight spot. There were a few isolated possessions where it was better but I don’t think that’s an area of his game that needs improvement before he gets into the league.
The good thing is that other than navigating the ball screen, I came away pretty happy with everything I saw of him at that end of the pitch. I think he does a good job turning his hips around and using his length to stay ahead of ball handlers when he’s not involved in a ball screen, and his overall basketball IQ allows him to to be a good defender off the ball. I think he did a really good job performing ‘simple’ defensive actions like ‘icing’ a ball screen and ‘scraping’ switching, and was a really good communicator for a 20 year old playing in the one of the best professional leagues in Europe. At the moment I would say he can only fit with wings but as he gets stronger I wonder if there is some positional versatility to keep the 4s where he could hold on if they wanted to try posting it. .
Ultimately, Procida is probably a prospect we’ll forget about for the next 12 months (out of sight, out of mind) and maybe he’ll never adapt to the Pistons in the end. I think I would have always liked to see a player like Jaden Hardy selected who would have been incredible value with the 36th pick, but maybe the roster spots just won’t be there. I will say I’m more intrigued by Procida than when he was drafted and I’m VERY excited to see how he develops over the next 12 months playing abroad. I know fans are often skeptical about the profitability of these types of moves, and that’s understandable, but I believe this young prospect has the foundation to eventually be a rotation player for the organization down the road.