Tibor Pleiss has always been an interesting player due to his physical profile. Standing at seven-foot-two and currently listed at 269 pounds, the German center has very decent mobility for his size.
By age 24, that has translated best on his ability to finish out of the pick-and-roll, where he excels at an elite level. Pleiss is a good screener who looks to draw contact and whose large frame makes it difficult for defenders to navigate around his picks. He dives to the basket very fluidly, has soft hands to catch the ball on the move, is able to score through contact and can play above the rim as a target for lobs (25% of his points from the field in the Spanish league were off dunks). Pleiss ranked second in the Euroleague in scoring at the rim, finishing his 125 attempts at a 66.4% clip but while averaging 9.2 points at the basket per 28 minutes played.
His post game is merely average at this point. Pleiss can establish deep position with his back to the basket due to his wide body, move most defenders with the stength in his core and draw fouls at a high rate but is mechanical with his go-to move (a hook over his left shoulder after two dribbles), hasn’t developed passing instincts and has decent but not great touch to finish when forced to do so outside of three feet from the basket. Pleiss shot just 35.2% on 71 attempts away from the rim in 23 Euroleague appearances, though he did hit his 204 free throw attempts in 1,284 total minutes at a very satisfying 83.3% clip.
Pleiss finished 26% of Laboral Kutxa’s possessions with a shot, free throw or turnover – a very high usage rate among centers. That helps explain why he wasn’t a really strong factor on the glass, posting average offensive rebounding rates and ranking outside the top 10 in both leagues. Pleiss is no menace generating second chances but had been more of a presence in previous years. He is a difficult body to box out when he engages to fight for position, can get off the ground despite his size and reach the ball at a higher point than the average center in the European game. Baskonia scored at a higher per possession rate with him on the floor in both leagues.
Because of his mobility, Sergio Scariolo attempted using Pleiss to hedge-and-recover on the pick-and-roll. That didn’t lead to good results against the highest level of competition. Baskonia allowed over 107 points per possessions with him in the game in both leagues. Though he moves more fluidly than expected for his size, Pleiss isn’t particularly comfortable guarding in space, as few big men really are. He is probably best suited for a scheme that has him defending the pick-and-roll flat, limiting the range he is forced to cover and leveraging his size to protect the lane. As a result of being asked to go way high into the perimeter, his defensive rebounding rate also dropped under Scariolo.
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.