Chris Tadjo is an interesting prospect. Aside from the unique nature of his game, he is originally from Montreal, Quebec, and plays for the NBA Academy Latin American Team. There has not been much domestic exposure for him, which leads to good reason why he is not yet a household name. Here at On3, we are higher than the industry on the 6-foot-8 forward ranking him as the No. 38 player in the updated 2024 On3 150.
On3 leaves nothing to question when we talk about the objective of our rankings. The goal is to assess a prospect’s long-term potential, ultimately manifested by the NBA Draft. Our ranking does not assess who had the best high school career or who will be the best college player. This is why we will shoot to end each cycle with 14 five-star prospects, following the lead of the NBA Draft Lottery. This can be different from others, but our vision when creating our rankings is draft night.
On3 has Tadjo ranked No. 38. He is ranked No. 149 by 247 and remains unranked by Rivals and ESPN. Tadjo is the No. 86-ranked player in the 2024 On3 Industry Ranking. Criteria can be different across the industry when it comes to players and the order they are ranked. So let’s break down why On3 is higher on Chris Tadjo than the industry.
When sitting courtside to watch Chris Tadjo, the first thing you notice is the frame. He is listed at 6-foot-8 and around 225 pounds. He has a lengthy wing span as well which allows him to play bigger than his listed height. What really sets Tadjo apart is his quick-twitch and explosive athleticism.
Even with a frame this big, Tadjo is a quick leaper off the floor. He anticipates well for his first jump, but his second jump has him at its peak before others are even in their load to take off. This helps him on the defensive side of the ball, especially when rebounding.
For players this size, it can be somewhat rare for them to be both quick and explosive. The two are different when talking about a player’s athleticism. For me, quick talks more about how fast you accelerate, going from a standstill to full speed. Quick is mostly brought up when talking about changing direction or acceleration.
For me, explosive is talked about more with jumping. How high are you, or how fast are you going when you have a full head of steam?
With his size and length, Tadjo carries both quickness and explosion, which leads to the central piece to the success of his game. He is unique in the sense that he is bigger and stronger than wings and quicker and more explosive than bigs, with a motor and physicality.
Tadjo’s superpower is rebounding
I am going to address Chris Tadjo’s defense in this section as well, because he had a huge upside there, but the Quebec native might be the best natural rebounder in this class. And, as the long-time saying goes, rebounding travels.
A lot of this goes along with the frame and the physical nature of how he is put together. However, there is an instinct involved as well with Tadjo. He is able to see the ball and simply go and get the ball off the rim. He reads caroms off the rim and simply beats others to the ball.
Tadjo’s defensive upside is also intriguing. He is capable of sliding his feet with perimeter-based forward or banging down low with on-the-block bigs. His strength, length, and athleticism allow him to be very versatile on this end of the floor. While he will need to continue learning proper footwork and angles to take, his versatility on the defensive end could lead to a lot of different looks and scheme changes in-game. He is also capable of masking mistakes.
The offense is developing
It is safe to say the defense is ahead of the offense at the current stage for Chris Tadjo, but that is not to say he does not have any offense game. Right now, Tadjo is at his best when looking to score within 10 to 15 feet of the basket.
He is capable of lining up at different levels or from different areas. Tadjo is comfortable with his back to the basket where he can use his quickness on the block to get a go-to move he has to get over his left shoulder. His explosive athleticism helps him finish at the rim and through contact.
Tadjo is also comfortable facing the basket, lining up from the high post or from the three-point line to face up and rip through. When he gets downhill, Tadjo takes long strides and is aggressive to find the rim. His NBA Academy Latin America team runs dribble hand-off sets with him as well as high-low sets where they have a 7-footer on the block playing off Tadjo.
He will need to continue working on the jump shot. As things stand, he is not a threat from beyond 15 feet. Watching him shoot, it seems to be more of a confidence issue than a touch or a mechanics issue. Naturally, he will need to continue working on the mechanics. Tadjo is a solid to good, free throw shooter.
Long-term Outlook for Chris Tadjo
Looking at the highest levels of basketball, players need to have certain physical traits. The average NBA player for the 2023-24 season, is 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds. In a Nov. 2023 article, The Sporting News tells us that there are only six players in the NBA this season under 6-foot-0 tall and there are 13 who are exactly 6-foot-0 tall. So, there are less than 20 players currently in the NBA that are 6-foot-0 tall or below.
Of course, being short does not matter much when speaking on Chris Tadjo, however, it helps to illustrate the point that physical stature does matter when it comes to the highest levels of basketball. Along with the physicality aspect, positional versatility helps as well. Tadjo’s ability to guard multiple positions is sought-after at the highest levels.
Where Tajdo will need to continue growing is on the offensive end. As an 18-year-old, he can be a matchup problem with the ball because of his strength and quickness. He will need to continue adding to his range, adding to his handle, and developing some counters on the block.
Of course, all of the previous conversation is about the highest levels of basketball. A look directly ahead for Tadjo, and you can see a lot of skills that should translate to the college game. Especially when playing in a system that spaces the floor like Fran McCaffery does at Iowa. He will bring a toughness factor to the paint and show capable of doing multiple things on the floor.
With Tadjo it will be about his development. Being sure to continue to focus on the things he already does well, while fine-tuning and adding pieces that will translate to how the game is played looking ahead.