3D wing

Sam Dekker Scouting Report

(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)

Despite being rated a likely first round prospect with potential to rise into lottery status, Sam Dekker opted out of the draft for the second straight year last June. That seems like a puzzling decision on the surface but, born in May, he will still be a 20-year old junior all of next season, one with 1,914 minutes of college ball already under his belt. Showing up to the LeBron James Skills Academy with a six-foot-nine, 229-pound frame, Dekker seems in line for a great season and should join the pros more prepared than he felt the past two summers.

He has tremendous size for a wing, which translates best on his abilities to contain dribble penetration through contact, finish through contact and post up smaller players.

Dekker has shown decent lateral quickness to keep pace with smaller players without allowing much separation at the collegiate level. He is a great athlete who plays above the rim, not just help defending off the weak side but also capable of erasing shots guarding on the ball. Dekker ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total blocks among small forwards last season.

But while his size helped him overwhelm smaller opponents in isolation, it led to struggles navigating screens. Dekker showed difficulties going around the pick and then forcing the opponent out of the catch-and-shoot. Despite his six-foot-10 wingspan, he wasn’t much of a factor working the passing lanes to manufacture turnovers, stealing just 1.6% of opponents’ possessions while he was on the floor.

He posted strong numbers on the glass, ranking fifth in the Big Ten in defensive rebounds, grabbing 18% of opponents’ misses in conference play. Wisconsin didn’t play Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes together a lot, so part of it was circumstance; Dekker was pretty much always the team’s second biggest player on the court. But he also has the body type to box out true big men and is a high leaper.

He has decent speed off the bounce on straight line drives, mostly favoring going to his left. Dekker has flashed interesting instincts passing out of dribble penetration. His height provides him a high vantage point that is helpful in traffic. But he was not responsible for shot creation on the ball, in part because of the nature of Bo Ryan’s system but also because he’s limited working in isolation and out of the pick-and-roll. He struggles when forced to change directions and is a below average pull-up shooter, hitting just 23.1% of his shots from the mid-range area last season. His first step is nothing exceptional but quite effective when he attacked closeouts without hesitation, so though he didn’t dribble the ball consistently low on the move, his turnover rate was still very low (8.8%).

Where Dekker excelled the most was around the basket. He is a menace recognizing opportunities to cut to the hoop on the weak side and in the baseline. Dekker has soft hands to catch the ball on the move and plays above the rim on this end as well. He is great in transition, sprinting hard to fill the lanes on the break and make himself a target for lobs. Dekker also showed great instincts tracking Wisconsin’s misses on the glass, ranking 10th in the conference in offensive rebounds. According to hoop-math.com, 40% of his shots were at the rim and he finished them at a 70% clip. Due to all of this pressure he puts on the defense, Dekker averaged almost five free throw attempts per 40 minutes but shot 68.6% on them.

He’s been able to balance his superb interior scoring by being a legit threat from deep rage. He is a pretty good set shooter, with a smooth stroke and a quick enough trigger. 36% of his shots were from three-point range. Though he hit them only at a 32.6% clip, Dekker made 42 three-pointers, only eight fewer than on his freshman season, when he shot 39.1% from beyond the arc. Wisconsin averaged 117.3 points per 100 possessions with Dekker on the floor, the fifth best offensive rating among players in the conference.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard
7-footer, Post Scorer, Shot Creator, Stretch Big, Tall Passer

Frank Kaminsky Scouting Report

(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)

Frank Kaminsky is one of the most interesting players in college basketball due to the versatility of his skill-set on offense. Wisconsin’s seven-foot tall center took over a fifth of his shots from three-point range last season, according to hoop-math.com, and hit his 98 attempts from beyond the arc in 38 appearances at a 37.8% clip. Kaminsky doesn’t elevate off the ground much but has a high point in his release because of his height and decent speed on his trigger in the context of his frame. His accuracy was particularly impressive considering Kaminsky has more room to improve as a shooter, as he doesn’t consistently keep his off-hand pointed up in his follow through.

He was a willing shooter but not a gunner, displaying very good shot selection. Kaminsky proved himself very comfortable putting the ball on the ground to attack a closeout. He is not particularly fast off the dribble but passed intelligently to shooters rotating to the open spot in the perimeter, assisting on over a tenth of Winconsin’s field goals when he was on the floor, which is above average for his position. Kaminsky has a high vantage point thanks to his seven-foot height but also showed a good understanding of where to look for his teammates, as his low turnover rate was not merely a product of Bo Ryan’s offense.

Kaminsky did a lot of his work from the perimeter, with jump-shots accounting for 70% of his attempts. Ryan utilized the threat of his shooting and his passing skills to open up the interior for Traevon Jackson to penetrate off the dribble and the post for Sam Dekker to bully smaller defenders, so Kaminsky mostly floated to an open spot behind the arc when he screened for the ball-handler. He was generally a poor screener, often more concerned in slipping to the wing than drawing contact. When he dove to the basket, Kaminsky flashed the potential to play above the rim but wasn’t a consistent target for lobs. Nonetheless, he looked natural filling open vacancies around the basket, showed soft hands to catch the ball on the move, and good touch to finish at rim level.

Where he most impressed with his footwork was in the post, though. Ryan’s offense provided him a lot of opportunities to operate from either side of the block. Kaminsky doesn’t have a wide body, with his 234 pounds well distributed on his frame, but mostly proved himself able to gain good position with his back to the basket. There were also times he set up from the mid-post area, which can in part be attributed to the nature of the offense. Kaminsky did not bully opponents into submission, but flashed a variety of unusual moves to protect his shot against lengthy defenders. He took 36.4% of his shots at the rim and finished them at a 72.6% clip, leading the nation in post scoring according to Synergy.

He was also a factor on the glass. Over one-tenth of his shots at the rim were off putbacks, and Kaminsky ranked seventh in the conference in offensive rebounding rate. He showed good instincts tracking the ball off the rim and was able to reach the ball at a higher point than the average opponent due to the combination of his height and leaping ability. As a result of the wide range of things he brought to the table, Kaminsky ranked second in the conference in offensive rating, with Wisconsin averaging 127.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.

Kaminsky was less of a difference maker on defense. Despite his size, he was moved on the post and often worked to front the opponent. Though he did an adequate job switching onto perimeter players, Ryan preferred to have him guarding the pick-and-roll flat. Opponents took 40.6% of their shots against Wisconsin from the mid-range area. Kaminsky showed good timing in his rotations from the weak side to protect the rim, blocking 6.1% of opponents’ shots while on the floor, which ranked him sixth in the Big 10. He can get off the ground well for someone his size, but that actually worked against him at times, making him prone to being burned on up-and-unders. His instincts tracking misses also translated on this end, where he ranked eighth in the conference in defensive rebounding rate.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard
Pure Passer, Shot Creator

Jeremy Lin Scouting Report

Though he will only count $8.374 million against the Lakers’ cap, Jeremy Lin will actually earn close to $15 million next season. As a result, the pool of teams interested in acquiring him from the Rockets probably wasn’t as big as it should have been. Perception is Lin is nothing close to the player who broke out with the Knicks three years ago; while reality is he was much closer than the underwhelming amount of media hype would have you assume. The context was simply different; Lin didn’t get enough possessions with James Harden and Dwight Howard around last season. But a closer look indicates Lin could be in line for a return to stardom with a Lakers team starved for high end shot creation.

That would have been a near certainty if Mike D’Antoni was still the coach. Lin continues to excel the most out of the pick-and-roll, the bread and butter of D’Antoni’s system. He has good speed off the bounce, both on straight line drives and when forced to change directions. 28.7% of his attempts were at the rim and Lin finished them at a 63.7% clip, with only a third of his two-point field goals assisted. He does not play above the rim but has great balance in the air and touch to score at basket level, even against length as only 45 of his 293 shots in the restricted area were blocked. Lin also possesses great instincts passing out of dribble penetration, with the Rockets averaging over 10 points per game off his assists last season.

His role in Houston required him to be a threat off the ball and Lin took a significant step forward in that area. He posted a 60.8% effective field goal percentage on approximately 177 catch-and-shoot attempts in the regular season, hitting 40.5% of his catch-and-shoots from three-point range. Only 17.5% of his three-point attempts were from the corner but Lin hit them at a 45% clip.

Just like the average NBA player, his efficiency substantially dropped off the bounce, as he hit just 33% of his 184 pull up shots. That was specifically the case when Lin was forced to settle for a jumper out of the pick-and-roll. He also continues to struggle taking care of the ball. His 18.4% turnover rate was very high in the context of him finishing only 20.4% of Houston’s possessions with a shot, shooting foul drawn or turnover in his 2,054 minutes. Lin is a risk taker with his passes and at times tries forcing assists that aren’t there. 114 of his 190 turnovers in the regular season and the playoffs were classified as bad passes.

On the other end, Lin has developed into an underrated defender at this point. He held opponents to just 0.88 points per possession and a 13.3 player efficiency rating per 48 minutes last season. Lin was not the shutdown specialist Patrick Beverley is but proved himself capable of keeping pace with even the elite types of his position, like Tony Parker and Damian Lillard. Opponents averaged just 0.79 points per possession in isolation. At six-foot-three and 200 pounds, he has a size advantage on most point guards and is able to contain dribble penetration through contact.

Lin also displayed the lateral quickness to navigate screens and recover well, ranking in the top 100 in scoring allowed per possession on pick-and-rolls. He was below average playing passing lanes to manufacture turnovers and contributing on the defensive glass among position peers but his individual defense impacted Houston positively. The Rockets allowed 102 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor (a rating that would have had them ranked seventh in defensive efficiency) and 104.3 when he hit the bench.

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched on basketball-reference, NBA.com/stats/, 82games.com and My Synergy Sports.

Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard
7-footer, Post Scorer, Shot Creator

Nenad Krstic Scouting Report

Much maligned Nenad Krstic remains one of the best scorers at the center position in all of Europe. Though he lost some space in CSKA Moscow due to the addition of Kyle Hines and the consistent performance of Sasha Kaun, the Serbian veteran still posted a highly productive age-30 season as far as scoring per shot and shooting percentages per shot location are concerned.

His top skills are as a post scorer and a midrange jump-shooter off drive-and-kicks. Krstic is able to set deep post position due to his seven-foot, 267-pound frame. He favors finishing over his right shoulder but continues to exhibit excellent footwork to neutralize his defenders and release his hook from a high point difficult for the average European center to block.

Krstic is an above average catch-and-shoot jump-shooter off dumpoffs at this point. He doesn’t elevate off the ground much, as players of his size usually don’t, but has a high release due to his height and a natural shooting stroke with decent speed. Had he come up in this Era, Krstic would have probably been encouraged to develop into a stretch five. He hit 41.7% of 120 two-point jump-shots in 521 Euroleague minutes and 40.2% of 77 midrange attempts in 559 VTB United league minutes.

He also remains a decent option finishing out of the pick-and-roll. Krstic is an average screener who doesn’t always make sure to draw contact but whose size forces defenders to put in the effort to navigate around him. He is no longer much of a target for lobs, unable to dive hard down the lane to play above the rim but can still catch the ball on the move due to his soft hands, has touch to finish at basket level and is able to score through contact. He shot 65.1% on 83 attempts at the rim in the Euroleague and 62.7% on 129 attempts in the lane in the VTB United league, aside from averaging 5.6 free throws per 28 minutes and hitting them at a 74.6% clip.

Krstic improved his assist rate in comparison to the previous two seasons but continues to be an average passer at best. He was below average on the glass, grabbing just 6% of CSKA’s misses when he was on the floor, which can be attributed to his decline in athleticism and because he shared a lot of minutes with Kyle Hines, a far more capable player of rebounding outside of his area at this point. His impact on CSKA’s offense was mixed; the team scored nine points per 100 possessions more without him on the court in the Euroleague but averaged 122.6 points per 100 possessions in the VTB United league with him in the lineup.

For a comprehensive look at the state of Krstic’s defense, here’s Rod Higgins at in-the-game.org.

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at in-the-game.org, vtb-league.com and basketball.realgm.com.

Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard
Pure Passer, Pure Shooter, Shot Creator

Milos Teodosic Scouting Report

Milos Teodosic is a gunner with great passing instincts. 58% of the Serbian’s 429 shots in 47 appearances in the Euroleague and the VTB United league were three-point attempts and he assisted on almost 31% of CSKA Moscow’s field goals while on the floor. Teodosic is an aggressive shooter and a very good one, hitting 39.4% of his 249 three-pointers and 39% of his 100 mid-range attempts in both leagues. He just barely elevates the ball a couple of inches over his head but releases it very quickly and with a very natural stroke, both off the catch and off the bounce. His confidence can lead to iffy shot selection, though.

Teodosic is not particularly fast turning the corner, especially when forced left, and doesn’t look to attack off the ball-screen much these days, rather preferring to look for teammates moving to open spots. He can see over smaller defenders thanks to his six-foot-five height and is quite aggressive with jump-passes. A risk taker and at times sloppy with his ball handling, Teodosic turned it over on almost 17% of CSKA’s possessions while on the floor. He posted the 10th highest turnover percentage in the Euroleague among point guards.

Of particularly great use attacking off curls, Teodosic has decent speed on straight line drives and uses his 210-pound frame to protect the ball in traffic but is mostly looking to pass out of dribble penetration. 47 of his 87 assists in the Euroleague were to scores at the rim. He took just 22 shots at the basket in 21 Euroleague appearances and 51 shots in the lane in 24 VTB United league appearances, aside from averaging fewer than 2.5 free throws per game. Teodosic doesn’t have the athleticism to play above the rim and had mixed results finishing within close range last season; 75% at the rim in the Euroleague but 39.2% in the lane in the VTB United league.

Overall, his passing and shooting positively impacted CSKA’s scoring. It averaged 3.6 points per 100 possessions more with Teodosic on the floor in the Euroleague, as it posted a higher assist rate and effective field percentage. CSKA scored 115.3 points per 100 possessions overall in the VTB United league but 117.5 with him in the lineup.

Teodosic does put in the effort in isolation defense; getting in his stance, displaying decent lateral quickness and overwhelming smaller opponents with his size advantage. But he is very poor fighting screens on the pick-and-roll, just crashing into the big and erasing himself out of the play. Towards the end of the season, Ettore Messina had Andrey Vorontsevich and Kyle Hines switching on Teodosic’s man to try neutralizing his deficiency. He was not active trying to manufacture turnovers, posting an average steal rate, but contributed on the glass, ranking in the top 15 in defensive rebounding rate among position peers in both leagues. He was still a minus on that end, though. CSKA allowed 4.7 points per 100 possessions fewer when he hit the bench in the Euroleague and it gave up 100.3 overall in the VTB United league but 104.9 with Teodosic on the floor.

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at in-the-game.org, vtb-league.com and basketball.realgm.com.

Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard
Catch&Score Finisher

Sasha Kaun Scouting Report

Nenad Krstic earned one of the highest salaries in the continent and Kyle Hines is a fan favorite because he overcomes his short height in order to make a true impact as a big man. Yet Sasha Kaun was the best center CSKA Moscow had last season. A long time removed from his serious knee injury years ago, Kaun looked like the type of athlete suited for the NBA.

His purpose on offense is to catch-and-score out of the pick-and-roll and he is quite good at that. Kaun finished 106 attempts at the rim in 499 Euroleague minutes at a 75.5% clip and his 169 shots in the lane in 470 VTB United league minutes at a 66.8% clip. He is a good screener who looks to draw contact, dives to the basket naturally and has soft hands to catch the ball on the move. Kaun is a great target for lobs as he can play above the rim, leaping off the ground in a pinch.

He can set good post position due to the strength in his six-foot-11, 265-pound frame and has a decent but not money turnaround baby hook, as he is comfortable finishing over either shoulder. His athleticism and seven-foot-six wingspan didn’t translate much in the glass, though. Kaun posted average offensive rebounding rates among position peers in both leagues. And he hit just two thirds of his 233 free throws. Kaun doesn’t have a natural shooting motion as he mostly pushes the ball towards the basket with his right arm.

Kaun might have been average on most areas of his offense but his one elite skill significantly impacted CSKA’s production. It averaged 117.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and 110.9 without him in the Euroleague; 115.3 overall in the VTB United league but 128.2 with Kaun in the lineup.

The pick-and-roll is also where he excelled on defense. CSKA guarded the two-man action flat, with the big man hanging back to contain dribble penetration. It allowed the fourth fewest shots at the rim per game in the Euroleague and also the second lowest shooting percentage at the basket. Kaun was great, sliding his feet quite comfortably with above average lateral quickness for his height and making his presence felt in the lane, also playing above the rim on this end. He ranked third in the VTB United league in block rate.

Kaun was a bad rebounder, though, controlling just 14% of opponents’ misses in the VTB United league and 15.4% in the Euroleague; below average defensive rebounding rates among position peers. Considering his physical profile, Kaun should be significantly better than that. But just like on offense, what he did well offset what he did poorly and CSKA allowed just 98 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor in the Euroleague, a rating that would have bested their league-leading mark in defensive efficiency by a couple of points.

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at in-the-game.org, vtb-league.com and basketball.realgm.com.

Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard
3D wing

Al-Farouq Aminu Scouting Report

With Shawn Marion perhaps bargaining for more than what the Mavericks are comfortable paying to a guy about to enter his age-36 season, Dallas signed Al-Farouq Aminu as his replacement on Thursday, a player 12 years younger and for just a bit more than the minimum. It was the second step the team took in order to get younger and more athletic on the wing, also replacing Vince Carter with Chandler Parsons. Considering his age, it is a bit odd Aminu didn’t draw more interest but I guess that’s what happens when you play your entire 7,000-minute career in teams just before and just after Chris Paul is there.

Aminu is yet to refine his offensive skill-set four years in the league, remaining solely a catch-and-score type around the rim at this point. He attempted 45.3% of his shots in the restricted area, finished them at a 66.1% clip and was assisted on over two thirds of his two-point field-goals. 135 of his 232 baskets (58.1%) happened via cuts, offensive rebounds and in transition, which accounted for 44.6% of his offense. Aminu has soft hands to catch the ball on the move and can play above the rim, with almost a fifth of his two-point makes coming on dunks as he can explode off the ground in a pinch, but struggled to finish through contact due to his thin 215-pound frame. His athleticism also translates on the glass, where he ranked ninth in offensive rebounding rate among position peers.

Aminu looked a bit more capable shooting the ball last season, displaying solid mechanics at times, keeping his off-hand pointed up and flicking his wrist properly when he got the chance to catch-and-shoot uncontested. But the production still wasn’t there. He hit just 32.1% of 140 attempts off spot-ups, which accounted for a quarter of his offense, and posted a 37.5% effective field percentage on 136 catch-and-shoot attempts. 62.5% of his three-point attempts were from the corner, yet he hit just a third of them. Aminu also posted just an average assist rate for his position and made fewer than half of tries on drives. As a result, New Orleans scored on average two points per 100 possessions more without him on the floor.

Dallas is the one of the few teams his inability to shoot (as of now) isn’t such a significant burden, as their success with Marion can attest. Marion had a resurgence from the outside last season (the magical effect of the contract year), hitting 35.8% of 162 three-point attempts, but that’s after hitting just 26.4% of 193 three-point attempts in the four years prior. Yet the Mavericks averaged fewer than 107 points per 100 possessions with Marion on the floor in just one of his five seasons in Dallas. That’s because Dirk Nowitzki’s excellence provides the opportunity for Rick Carlisle to play a non-shooter and maintain proper spacing. The idea is Aminu can be just plugged in on that same role.

Aside his productivity around the basket, the most intriguing aspect of his skill-set is his pick-and-roll defense on the ball. Aminu has great lateral quickness to navigate screens and recover in time to envelope smaller players on his seven-foot-three wingspan. He ranked in the top 10 in scoring allowed per possession defending pick-and-rolls two years ago and finished just outside the top-50 last season, as he is tremendous contesting shots due to his nine-foot standing reach. His impact was limited to that and crashing the glass, where he led the league in defensive rebounding rate among position peers, because Aminu isn’t as prolific defending in isolation. He can slide his feet and keep pace with anyone but doesn’t have the strength to contain dribble penetration from players his size through contact. Though long and quick, Aminu also was ineffective closing out of shooters, as opponents hit 39.8% on 118 three-point attempts off spot-ups, which accounted for a third of his defense. New Orleans allowed about the same scoring on a per-possession rate with or without him last season.

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched on basketball-reference, NBA.com/stats/, 82games.com and My Synergy Sports.

Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.

Standard