It wasn’t that long ago Rafael Hettsheimeir had such a tremendous season for CAI Zaragoza that he generated NBA interest. A serious knee injury late in that 2011-2012 campaign tanked that opportunity but Real Madrid remained and signed him regardless of that. That injury held him back a couple of years, though, as Hettsheimeir didn’t do well with Madrid and Unicaja Malaga in the subsequent season.
He returned to Brazil last year and transformed his game. Hettsheimeir then showed at the Pan American Games he might be back to a potential impact player for a mid-tier team in Europe, though differently than what he looked like at Zaragoza three years ago.
After leaving Spain, Hettsheimeir developed his three-point shot and can be considered a legit stretch-five at this point. Half of his shots last season were from beyond the arc and that three-point rate rose to 72% in five appearances with the Brazilian national team last week.
He doesn’t get much elevation off the ground and has a methodical release but has decent if unorthodox mechanics (keeps the ball high, doesn’t always dip for rhythm). He is mostly an open-shot shooter rather than one with gravity, who can open up driving lanes for guards out of the pick-and-pop, but has nailed these open shots consistently the last couple of years.
According to RealGM, Hettsheimeir converted 38.1% of his 302 three-point shots in the Brazilian league, the South American league and the FIBA Americas for teams with Bauru. In the Pan Am games, he hit 12 of his 26 such shots.
This sort of three-point shooting at that position is a huge asset. Bauru averaged 124.3 points per 100 possessions with Hettsheimeir in the lineup and Brazil’s offense looked unstoppable at the Pan Am games.
Due to his decline in athleticism, Hettsheimeir is only a so-so interior scorer now.
He is able to establish deep position with his back to the basket but is quite mechanical with his post moves and exhibits iffy touch on turnaround jump-hooks. The jump-shot is his best option even here, as he looks more natural taking step-back fadeaway jumpers than trying to back opponents down.
Hettsheimeir is a black hole, unable or unwilling to pass out of the post – assisting on just 5% of Bauru’s scores in his 1,640 minutes on the floor last season and recording just one assist in 89 minutes in Toronto last week.
He is not built to attack closeouts, even with escape-dribbles to set up one-dribble pull-ups, and is also not much of a good option out of the pick-and-roll, lacking the quickness to dive down the lane with the sort of speed that sucks in attention and can potentially open up shots for others around the perimeter. He also can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs at this point of his career.
Due to his role as a floor spacer, Hettsheimeir doesn’t bring anything to the table as an offensive rebounder either. He collected just 6.5% of Bauru’s misses when he was in the lineup last season.
Due to his lack of general agility, Hettsheimeir is best suited to guard close to the basket. He cannot keep pace with smaller players on switches or big men with a face-up oriented skill-set and does not contest perimeter shots very well.
His frame (six-foot-10, 265 pounds) helps him hold position in the post and, while he isn’t particularly quick rotating off the weak-side in help-defense, he does OK stepping in to the protect the front of the rim – not as a shot blocker but by drawing charges. Bauru allowed just 101 points per 100 possessions with him manning the lane.
Hettsheimeir is an inconsistent defensive rebounder, though. He doesn’t box out diligently and doesn’t elevate off the ground to track the ball off the rim with ease. He collected just 18.5% of opponents’ misses last season and barely averaged three rebounds per game last week – below average marks for someone his size.
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