Rumor has it sharpshooter Alex Abrines has agreed to join the NBA’s Thunder. Contract details have not yet been reported but given Oklahoma City has not signed anyone in free agency since losing Kevin Durant to Golden State, it has plenty of cap space available to offer the 22-year-old enough to make it worthwhile for him to handle his buyout with FC Barcelona and transfer to the United States.
After leaving Unicaja Malaga in the summer of 2012, Abrines has been a rotation cog for Barcelona these last four seasons but never really developed into much more than that, always averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game. He’s had good stretches and finished games at those times but more often than not sat late in high leverage situations, as head coach Xavi Pascual had better options in Juan Carlos Navarro and Brad Oleson as shot creators and Kostas Papanikolaou and Deshaun Thomas as more athletic 3D on the wings.
SHOOTING OFF THE CATCH
Abrines’ meal ticket is his shooting. He’s not only a very good open-shot shooter but has also proven able to make shots on the move – coming off side screens, setting his feet quickly and letting it fly.
Barcelona didn’t run plays for him but he got these opportunities within the flow of their motion offense, which often initiated with the shooters sprinting around picks on the second side.
There should be skepticism regarding Abrines’ ability to gain as good seperation to get the ball at the NBA level, given he’s a so-so athlete at best, but he’ll probably be fine thanks to aid of great screeners like Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.
Abrines doesn’t have a lot of length but stands at six-foot-six, elevates with good balance, has a quick release and fully extends himself, so he can get his shot off without any struggle off a clean catch.
According to RealGM, Abrines nailed 39.2% of his 811 three-point shots playing for Barcelona over the last four years, at a pace of 7.1 such attempts per 36 minutes.
OFF THE DRIBBLE
Abrines plays with the sort of rhythm that helps him shoot well off the bounce as well, proven able to stop on a dime and elevate in balance. His one-dribble pull-up shot out of the shot-fake escape to the side to free himself from a closeout looks almost as good a proposition as his release off the catch.
But he struggles getting good shots off working out of several dribbles, though. His handle is OK but Abrines doesn’t have any sort of explosiveness or advanced moves to get separation on straight isolations.
He can run side pick-and-roll to keep the offense moving but can’t turn the corner to get to the basket, lacking speed to lose his man and strength to maintain his balance through contact.
Abrines can get into the lane attacking closeouts on straight-line drives but lacks burst to attack length at the rim with any sort of explosiveness, though he’s flashed a floater to finish from the in-between area. He’s shown to be a willing passer on the move but not any type of adept shot creator for others, topping a 10% assist rate in only one of his four seasons at Barça.
Abrines puts in the effort in individual defense and has proven himself an attentive team defender. But his athleticism also limits how much of an impact he can make on that end of the court as well.
He gets in a stance and works to keep pace with other wings on straight-line drives but lacks strength in his 190-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact and length to contest shots from mid-range or at the rim particularly effectively.
Guarding opposing shooters, Abrines struggled navigating picks and might lack breaking speed to chase NBA-caliber athletes around the floor.
He doesn’t offer much optionality either. This isn’t clear for sure, since he was never assigned to defend different position, but Abrines probably lacks lateral quickness to guard smaller players and doesn’t play with the sort of physicality needed to match up with bigger guys on smaller lineups or pick them up on switches.
He was attentive to his help defense responsibilities crashing inside but lacks athleticism to do anything other than just taking up space. His contributions through blocks, steals and defensive rebounds have always been below average.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara