7-footer, Post Scorer

Dusan Ristic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

With Kaleb Tarczewski finally gone, Dusan Ristic has stepped up to a more prominent role as Arizona’s starting center this season. After logging just 869 minutes in his first couple of seasons, the seven-footer born in Serbian is already up to 518 minutes in 21 appearances this year and has averaged 24.7 minutes per game.

Unfortunately for Ristic, the game is going away from old school throwback types like him – who can’t defend pick-and-rolls beyond the foul line or pick up smaller players on switches and can only substantially contribute on offense from the post but without doing so in a dominant manner.

Because of that, Draft Express does not rank Ristic in its top 100.

POST GAME

Ristic uses the strength in his 245-pound frame well to get deep seals against just about every center he’s faced at the college level. He doesn’t have particularly fluid footwork or a diverse set of shot fakes and relies mostly on his general size to bully his way into short range attempts.

Ristic does have good touch on turnaround hooks over the defender’s left shoulder, though. And he’s even flashed a turnaround-fadeaway jumper in the game against UCLA (hiking his leg Dirk Nowitzki-style) but for the most part hasn’t shown to have that as a real asset he can go to regularly.

Ristic has also not shown much lately in terms of being able to pass with his back to the basket, assisting on just 3.7% of Arizona’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season – according to basketball-reference.

OFFENSE AT THE RIM

He is a good screener who looks to draw contact and whose picks are tough for on-ball defenders to navigate around but doesn’t have the athletic ability needed to act as a credible scoring threat out of the pick-and-roll consistently.

Ristic can’t roll hard to the basket, can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs and needs to catch and gather himself before going up strong, even out of the dunker’s spot. He does have great touch near the basket, though, converting 79.7% of his 64 shots at the rim this season – according to hoop-math.

Ristic doesn’t have great leaping ability or play with a high motor but he is able to set inside position on the offensive glass with some regularity and has length to rebound outside of his area – collecting 10.3% of Arizona’s misses when he’s been on the floor, which is not a difference making mark but a positive contribution nonetheless.

OFFENSE AWAY FROM THE BASKET

He has flashed the ability to make standstill shots from mid-range if given space to go through his methodical release and has even nailed eight of his 14 three-point shots over the last two-and-a-half years but rarely spots up in a shooting stance and doesn’t have the sort of dynamic release that suggests he could be used in the pick-and-pop.

Ristic has also flashed some ability to facilitate offense from the elbows but Arizona does not use him that way regularly.

DEFENSE

Just like on offense, he excels on areas where he can rely on his combination of size and strength.

Ristic is a stout post defender and tough to rebound or finish around, as he is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and has good awareness to rotate to the front of the rim and make himself a presence dribble drivers or cutters have to deal with.

But coming off the weak-side in help-defense is tougher because he doesn’t have any quickness and getting off the ground is a chore for him. Ristic can’t play above the rim as a shot blocker, picking up just 44 blocks in his 91 appearances in college. That lack of leaping ability also limits his impact on the glass. He’s collected 19.6% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor, which is a good mark but not dominant.

The biggest struggle for Ristic is defending outside the lane, though. Even in post defense, he needs to leave a cushion to face-up big men so he doesn’t get so easily beaten off the bounce and is vulnerable to having them burring jumpers in his face.

Against the ball-screen, Ristic is no option to switch or hedge high in the perimeter and needs to drop back. He actually shows some lateral mobility to contain dribble penetration when the ball handler snakes the pick-and-roll but can’t bend his knees to get down in a stance and has no shot keeping pace with dribble drivers when they get downhill.

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

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7-footer, Stretch Big

Lauri Markkanen Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Lauri Markkanen has been about what he was expected to be.

As I profiled prior to the season, the seven-footer born in Finland is an exceptional shooter who affects the game with his mere existence on the court, without even necessarily needing to touch the ball – as he leads the Pac 12 in offensive rating, according to basketball-reference.

Markkanen is also not a good enough defender at this point of his development to unlock the lineups that would stretch opponents to their breaking points, the ones with him at center, because he cannot protect the rim or control the defensive glass.

But he hasn’t been that severe a liability when paired up with a center. Markkanen has the third worst defensive rating on the team but it’s not as if Arizona is hemorrhaging points with him out there. He averages 31.3 minutes per game but hasn’t prevented the Wildcats from fielding the 12th best defense in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.

OUTSIDE SHOOTING

Markkanen has had a historic shooting season for someone his size at the collegiate level. According to hoop-math, he’s taken 74.5% of his shots away from the basket, which makes his .637 effective field goal percentage even more impressive, as he’s nailed 50% of his 96 three-point attempts and 40.3% of his 62 two-point jumpers.

The types of shots he’s taken is perhaps even more impressive than his raw percentages, though. Markkanen has a quick trigger and a dynamic enough release that helps him get the sorts of looks that opposing big men have a hard time defending.

Arizona has done very well getting him open with pindown screens, which are tough for big men to navigate around and then try running him off his spot or contesting him. By the time they get there, Markkanen has let it fly already.

His biggest impact has been in the pick-and-pop, though. When he sets a ball-screen, Markkanen immediately erases a defender for his teammate to deal with, as that big assigned to him is told to have no help responsibility trying to contain the dribble driver. That was evident in the game against UCLA last weekend, when TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh would stick to him and not worrying about Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen getting downhill.

INTERIOR SCORING

Markkanen is very fluid off the bounce, attacking closeouts from the top of the key all the way to the basket. He can’t blow by his man on speed but has pretty good core strength in his 230-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact and sometimes pivots into a very well coordinated spin move.

Just like the Finnish junior national team did, Arizona has gotten Markkanen some ball-screens from time to time and he’s proven himself able to drive to the rim against this higher level of competition as well. He always goes left and hasn’t shown anything in terms of being able to pass on the move yet, though, assisting on just 6.9% of Arizona’s scores when he’s been on the floor.

In isolation, Markkanen has a decent handle for someone his size[1] but hasn’t developed any dribble moves to shake his defender side-to-side as of now. He has, however, flashed the ability to dribble between his legs to gain separation for a step-back jumper.

With Dusan Ristic or Chance Comance always in the game with him, Markkanen rarely has space to roll hard to the basket in the pick-and-roll. But in the few times he’s been able to, he has shown soft hands to catch the ball on the move and touch on non-dunk finishes – converting his shots at the rim at a 70.4% clip. That said, Markkanen can’t finish through contact and hasn’t flashed the ability to play above the rim as a target for lobs.

Due to his role as a floor spacer and creating his own shot[2], he’s made no impact in the offensive glass.

Markkanen also hasn’t done a ton in the post. That doesn’t matter for now because his college opponents have not been aggressive attempting to defend him with smaller players or switching against him aggressively but that’s something that will surely come up when he gets to the pros.

DEFENSE

Markkanen steps in to the front of the rim to draw some charges from time to time but can’t elevate off two feet explosively to play above the rim as a constant shot blocking threat – picking up just 10 blocks in 20 appearances so far this season. And he hasn’t shown to be the most aware help defender to begin with, often failing to rotate when a mere step or two was needed to for him just be a presence near the basket.

With that as the case, Markkanen has always matched up against the smaller big man. When he’s needed to guard in the perimeter, Markkanen has proven able to bend his knees to get in a stance and has even shown some lateral mobility not to get beaten off the bounce badly.

He hasn’t done well closing out to shooters at the three-point line, though, unable to run them off their spot.

But the biggest concern is when he gets to match up against bruising old school types. Despite his size, Markkanen isn’t very tough. In the game against Berkeley, Arizona doubled immediately whenever Ivan Rabb (not exactly known for his power moves) caught the ball against him in the low post.

Markkanen is attentive to his boxout responsibilities but doesn’t get very physical and lacks the standing the reach and leaping ability to rebound in traffic, collecting just 17.3% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor – which is a disappointing mark for someone his size.

[1] His 7.7% turnover rate is low in general but is even more appealing in the context of his 22.4% usage rate

[2] Just 24 of his 63 two-point baskets (38%) have been assisted

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

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Shot Creator

Xavier Rathan-Mayes Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Xavier Rathan-Mayes finished 27.2% of Florida State’s possessions with a shot, foul shot or turnover when he was on the floor in his first year at Tallahassee, according to basketball-reference. That usage rate went down to 22.7% last season to accommodate the arrivals of Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon and is down again this year, to 20.2%, with Jonathan Isaac joining the team, even with Beasley already gone to the NBA.

Rathan-Mayes’ transition into more of a lead ball handler looked appealing given his six-foot-four, 208-pound frame but his production hasn’t really improved a whole lot over the years. His assist and turnover rates have been about the same each of the last three seasons, though his true shooting percentage has gone up a bit because he’s getting to the rim a little bit more and shooting the three-pointer a little bit better.

Given the lack of a particularly impressive statistical profile and the fact he’s about to turn 23 in April, Draft Express does not rank Rathan-Mayes in its top 100 at the moment.

OFFENSE

Rathan-Mayes’ top skill is his collection of dribble moves. He has a nice handle and a lot of body flexibility to shake his defender off balance – able to crossover side-to-side, hesitate-and-go, dribble in-and-out and split double teams at the point of attack.

Rathan-Mayes hasn’t shown a lot of explosiveness turning the corner out of the pick-and-roll or blow by his man in isolation but has strength in his 208-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact against opposing point guards and get all the way to the basket or earn foul shots. According to hoop-math, he’s taking 30.5% of his shots at the rim this season, while also averaging 5.4 free throws per 40 minutes.

Rathan-Mayes has consistently finished well at the basket each of his three seasons in college, currently converting 66% of his attempts this year. That’s very impressive considering he lacks explosiveness to elevate off one foot to go up strong in traffic and length (six-foot-five wingspan) for overextended finishes against rim protectors. I think what this shows is that Rathan-Mayes has great feel for when he can attack the basket safely and when launching a floater from the in-between area or pulling up from mid-range is a better option.

Rathan-Mayes has nice touch on his floater and has proven himself a credible threat taking jumpers off the bounce, stopping-and-popping in rhythm out of the pick-and-roll, even from three-point range. He’s nailed 41.5% of his two-point jump-shots and eight of his 23 three-point makes have been unassisted.

As a weak-side threat, Rathan-Mayes has often looked hesitant to let it fly off the catch. A true jump-shooter off the dribble, he’s looked kind of a set shooter off the catch this season, getting little elevation and releasing from a low point. The ball is getting out clean, though, and Rathan-Mayes has made those shots at about an average clip – as he’s nailed 34.8% of his 66 three-point shots.

As a passer, Rathan-Mayes has flashed the ability to pass across his body to the opposite end of the court and can play with pace in the pick-and-roll, showing the ability to hang dribble and then lobbying to his screener rolling to the rim behind the defense on slower developing plays. But he’s collected most of his assists on simple drive-and-kick’s instead of making advanced passes on a consistent basis, though he’s been an above average shot creator for others, assisting on 28.8% of Florida State’s scores when he’s been on the floor.

That said, his 17.2% turnover rate is sky high in the context of his 20.2% usage rate.

DEFENSE

Rathan-Mayes is only so-so on the other end of the court.

He can defend in space well when he is engaged, unable to contain dribble penetration through contact but possessing enough lateral quickness to stay in front and acting as a credible threat to pickpocket smaller opponents thanks to his reach – as he’s averaged 1.5 steals per 40 minutes.

Rathan-Mayes can go over screens in the pick-and-roll but doesn’t often show a lot of urgency looking to track his man back quickly. And he often loses his man chasing him off side screens, exposing their entire defense.

As a weak-side defender, he can closeout to shooters and run them off the three-point line but sometimes sells out to do so and gives up an easy escape dribble. Rathan-Mayes also hasn’t shown any ability to make plays at the basket in help-defense, though he has collected 10.5% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season – which is a decent mark for a point guard.

Given his built, Rathan-Mayes might be strong enough to credibly pick up bigger players on switches from time to time but Florida State plays a conservative style that hasn’t provided any opportunities for him to show if that’s something he can do, though that’s probably not the case given he doesn’t play with a lot of tenacity.

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

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Stretch Big

Jonathan Isaac Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Jonathan Isaac is perceived as the prototypical big wing for this Era of versatility-driven basketball. On the surface, the six-foot-10 combo forward can spot up on the weak-side, run offense against big men who aren’t used to guarding in the perimeter and shoot over smaller players in the post, then make plays at the rim defending close to the basket and pick up smaller players on switches.

But that’s mostly potential for now.

On a Florida State team that has won 18 of its 20 games so far and currently ranks 14th on Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency margin, Isaac’s role is as a floor spacer without a lot of shot creation responsibility against a set defense, as he’s posted only a 21.9% usage rate – according to basketball-reference. That’s why he hasn’t done enough tangibly to reach the top five on Draft Express’ top 100 yet.

That said, Isaac has shown flashes of the player he’s dreamed of eventually becoming, even playing some center in a few situations Florida State was trying to come from behind. The consensus expectation among draftniks seems to be that he will eventually establish himself a top five pick during the period of workout sessions.

WEAK-SIDE OFFENSE

Isaac’s top skill at this point of his development is spotting up away from the ball and working against a scrambling defense as a stretch four.

He has a long dip on his catch-and-shoot jumper, which slows down his release a little and makes him mostly an open-shot shooter as of now. But the touch in his shot is great and he fully extends himself for a high release that makes it tough for opponents to contest him effectively. Isaac has nailed 38.5% of his 52 three-point shots this season, while averaging 4.9 attempts per 40 minutes.

He’s also shown a great-looking stroke on one-dribble pull-ups after pump-faking to escape a closeout, nailing 48.3% of his 29 two-point jumpers – according to hoop-math.

Isaac hasn’t shown anything in terms of being able to come off screens, sprint to the ball to launch long bombs off dribble-handoffs or in the pick-and-pop, though.

Off the bounce, he has flashed a nice first step on side isolations attacking off ball reversals and has long strides to get all the way to the basket. Isaac’s taken 41.7% of his attempts at the rim and drawn 6.4 foul shots per 40 minutes, in large part in the half-court via opportunities to drive off these catch-and-go’s.

At the basket, he can’t finish through contact and hasn’t shown much ability to adjust his body in the air but has flashed an euro-step to navigate traffic in the lane and does use his seven-foot-one wingspan fairly well for extended finishes against rim protectors – as he’s converted his shots within close range at a 70.7% clip.

SHOT CREATION

Isaac hasn’t yet developed the ability to get to the rim handling the ball against a set defense.

He can’t get by his man on speed, doesn’t have any dribble moves to shake his defender side-to-side, can’t maintain his balance through contact on straight line drives and has a loose handle that makes him prone to getting the ball stripped in traffic. His 14.5% turnover rate is quite high in the context of his 21.9% usage rate.

Isaac also struggles creating his own shot out of the pick-and-roll. He isn’t able to turn the corner when he is forced to his left and hasn’t shown much in terms of changing speeds or being able to make stop-and-pop jumpers in rhythm.

Isaac has, however, flashed some very appealing passing off the ball-screen. He’s played with nice pace against big men able to defend above the foul line and proved himself able to hit his screener diving to the lane with good timing. But as a reflection of how little he runs offense, Isaac has assisted on just 7.2% of Florida State’s scores when he’s been on the floor.

For the most part, whether it’s in isolation or out of the pick-and-roll, Isaac looks for step-back pull-ups when he’s handling the ball. Given his length, few wings and even big men at the college level can contest him that well.

He has not been given any real opportunity to show whether he can burn switches in the post.

DEFENSE

Isaac has defended mostly close to the basket in college and he’s been an impact defender in this role.

He’s proven very attentive to his rotation responsibilities coming off the weak-side in help defense and can elevate off two feet with some explosiveness to make plays above the rim, as he’s averaged 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes.

Though he doesn’t have enough strength to be very physical due to his thin 210-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-10 height, Isaac is also very attentive to his boxout responsibilities, can leap off the ground quickly and has a nine-foot standing reach to high point the ball – collecting 24.8% of opponents’ misses when he’s on the floor.

His ability to rebound and bring the ball up the court to initiate offense is exactly what teams are looking for in their big men these days.

The issue is when Isaac is forced to matchup against old school bruising types. He’s unable to play stout post defense at this point, gets happy feet to try making up for his inability to hold ground and is prone to biting on fakes and making himself vulnerable to fouling.

Florida State doesn’t switch all that aggressively but Isaac has found himself guarding smaller players from time to time. He can bend his knees to get low in a stance, has shown enough lateral quickness to stay in front of wings in space and is a legit threat to pickpocket them thanks to his reach – as he’s averaged 2.1 steals per 40 minutes.

Isaac can’t stay in front of point guards out in an island but uses his long strides to keep pace with them on straight line drives and his length to contest them near the basket trailing from the back.

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

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3D wing, Shot Creator

Dwayne Bacon Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Dwayne Bacon is the most prominent player on a Florida State team that has won 18 of its 20 games so far and currently ranks 14th in adjusted efficiency margin – according to Ken Pomeroy. But despite the fact he’s managed to stand out over the last couple of seasons even with another projected first round pick on the team each year, the six-foot-seven wing is considered only a mid-tier pro prospect – with Draft Express ranking him 40th in its top 100.

Bacon is averaging 24.7 points per 40 minutes but on an average 55.5% true shooting and a high 29.2% usage rate. He is also older than average for someone with his level of experience, as he’ll already turn 22 in August despite the fact this is only his second year of college ball. Aside from that, though he has great size for his position, Bacon has below average reach (six-foot-eight wingspan) for someone his size and isn’t a particularly impressive athlete.

But the biggest concern regards his lack of meaningful improvement from his freshman season to his sophomore year. Bacon is a reasonably polished scorer but hasn’t shown much in terms of being able to make an impact in other areas of the game.

INTERIOR SCORING

Bacon’s top skill at this point of his development is his scoring close to the basket.

He’s very fluid attacking closeouts and on catch-and-go’s off ball reversals. In isolation, Bacon has not yet shown a very diverse set of dribble moves and doesn’t often blow by his man on speed but can maintain his balance through contact and often pivots into a well-coordinated spin move to get all the way to the basket on straight line drives or draw contact – as he’s averaged 5.9 free throws per 40 minutes, according to basketball-reference.

Bacon has also handled the ball in pick-and-roll a decent amount and showed appealing skills splitting double-teams at the point of attack, playing with some pace to wait for driving lanes to develop hedges or soft traps and changing speeds to turn the corner.

At the basket, he’s impressed with his ability to finish, converting 63.3% of his attempts – according to hoop-math. Bacon is not very explosive elevating off one foot in traffic but can euro-step to navigate rim protectors in front of the rim, hang in the air, adjust his body mid-flight and score on up-and-unders or reverses.

OTHER AREAS OF OFFENSE

But Bacon mostly prefers to pull-up for outside jumpers, as almost two-thirds of his shots have been taken away from the basket.

He elevates in pretty good balance and has proven himself capable of making step-back jumpers with a hand in his face from time to time but he’s not a particularly special shot maker as of now, in large part because his shot selection is very suspect. In such cases, Bacon has nailed just 36.9% of his two-point jumpers this season.

He’s flashed some ability to pass on the move, mostly on simple drive-and-kick’s and passing ahead in transition, but never demonstrated much in terms of court vision and being able to make advanced passes against a set defense. Bacon has assisted on just 11.9% of Florida State’s scores when he’s been on the floor, which is a disappointing figure given how often he has the ball in his hands.

The fact he is not out there looking to pass a whole lot and mostly jacks up outside jumpers makes his 11.1% turnover rate less impressive.

Bacon’s biggest contribution in a team-oriented manner is his ability to act as a credible threat spacing the floor away from the ball. But though he has improved in comparison to last season, he is still only an average catch-and-shoot gunner at this point of his development, nailing 36.3% of his 91 three-point shots so far this season. Bacon has a quick release off ball reversals but lets the ball go from a low point and hasn’t yet shown anything in terms of being able to come off screens or sprint to the ball for dribble-handoffs.

He doesn’t mix it up on the offensive glass.

DEFENSE

Bacon has the size and strength to be expected to eventually develop into at least a zero defender[1].

He has enough lateral quickness to stay in front of similarly-sized wings and can contain dribble penetration through contact due to his 221-pound frame. Bacon doesn’t have reach to pickpocket opponents but has shown decent instincts making plays in the passing lanes, as he’s averaged 1.7 steals per 40 minutes.

More interestingly, Bacon has flashed potential of being able to chase shooters around screens and then getting in front of them on the catch. He doesn’t show that sort of tenacity all that frequently, though.

Bacon doesn’t offer switch ability at this point of his development. He can’t stay in front of smaller players in space and often crashes his way into picks defending the pick-and-roll. Given his size, he might develop into someone who can match up against bigger players but Bacon doesn’t have the explosiveness to make plays near the basket.

He contributed on the glass very well last season, collecting 17.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, but the arrival of Jonathan Isaac has limited his rebounding opportunities this year and his percentage is now average.

[1] Doesn’t help but doesn’t hurt.

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

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Undersized Big

Noah Dickerson Scouting Report

Noah Dickerson seemed at Montverde like he could develop into an interesting player; a potential stretch five with enough mobility to guard pick-and-rolls above the foul line regularly and protect the rim by leveraging his size, if not necessarily as a constant threat to block shots.

But this has not materialized in his time at Washington.

Dickerson has taken just five three-point shots in his 51 appearances in college and isn’t used to help facilitate offense from the elbows, despite the fact he’s flashed some semblance of ball skills that could be of use on dribble hand-offs.

Dickerson doesn’t have enough explosiveness elevating off two feet to play above the rim as a target for lobs but could do well enough as a finisher out of pick-and-roll because he’s a good screener who looks to draw contact, has nice touch around the basket and can finish through contact. But he’s spent most of his minutes this season with another big in the lineup, so there’s often not enough space for him to roll hard to the basket.

Dickerson’s post game hasn’t improved much either. Often matched up against power forwards, the 245-pounder can get a deep seal below the foul line and rely on power moves to bully his way into short attempts near the basket or draw fouls – averaging 7.1 foul shots per 40 minutes so far this season, according to basketball-reference.

His footwork can also look fluid at times but for the most part he’s quite robotic with his moves and hasn’t shown anything in terms of a turnaround jumper or passing out of the low post – assisting on just 6% of Washington’s scores when he’s been on the floor.

Dickerson is just fourth on the team in usage rate, finishing only a fifth of the team’s possessions when he is in the game. When he’s not screening for the ball-handler, Dickerson mostly spots up on the baseline and waits for drop-offs. As mentioned above, he doesn’t have a lot of vertical explosion to go up strong in a pinch but can finish through contact – converting his 66 shots at the basket at a 66.7% clip, according to hoop-math.

Positioned close the rim, Dickerson can also make an impact on the offensive glass. He could play with a higher motor to be more of a difference maker but can consistently set inside position against college power forwards and has a seven-foot-one wingspan to rebound outside of his area – collecting 11.2% of Washington’s misses when he’s been on the floor. Dickerson doesn’t have much of a second jump to go back immediately, though, transforming just 62.5% of his second chances into putbacks.

Defensively, Dickerson doesn’t always get low to defend the pick-and-roll in a stance but still has appealing mobility for a big man – able to extend his coverage beyond the foul line and wall off dribble penetration, though he still hasn’t developed enough quickness to pick up smaller players on switches regularly.

Dickerson makes his rotations from time to time but is not consistent enough making himself a presence to crowd the area near the basket regularly, can’t act as a credible shot blocking threat and is foul prone – as he’s averaged 4.5 personal fouls per 40 minutes.

His biggest impact comes on the glass, where he is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and shows good instincts tracking the ball off the rim, collecting 24.1% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor.

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

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Pure Passer, Pure Shooter, Shot Creator

Markelle Fultz Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Washington beat Colorado yesterday and picked up its second win over the first six games of conference play. The Huskies have won just half of their games so far this season and rank 124th in adjusted efficiency margin, according to Ken Pomeroy.

This could be viewed as wildly disappointing when you consider this team has in it the person expected to be picked first overall in the next NBA draft. But I think Dean Demakis did a good job offering context to Markelle Fultz’s lack of success carrying Washington into relevance.

From what I could tell, Fultz just doesn’t have good enough shot making and finishing around him. He plays a team-oriented style and doesn’t force anything[1], which is great – except for the fact his teammates haven’t played well enough to support his excellence.

On the other end, Washington ranks 249th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Fultz has been a part of the problem in the sense that he hasn’t been as dominant as his combination of physical profile and athleticism suggests he should. But their biggest problems are they foul a ton and don’t rebound very well, which are not really on him.

So when you analyze Fultz from an individual skills-standpoint, it’s actually simple to see why he remains the top prospect on Draft Express’ top 100 despite the fact he will probably miss the NCAA Tournament.

SCORING

His collection of dribble moves and shot making ability are remarkably impressive for an 18-year-old who will only turn 19 in May.

Fultz doesn’t consistently blow by his man on speed but has a nice handle and a lot of suddenness in his moves to lead his defender into some instability. He can go right or left, crossover his man to shake him off balance, change speeds, pivot into a well-coordinated spin in a pinch and go behind his back to split double teams at the point of attack in the pick-and-roll.

At the basket, he can finish with both power and finesse. Fultz has vertical explosion to elevate off one foot in traffic for some monster dunks and great body control to navigate rim protectors – using his length (six-foot-nine wingspan) for reverse, over-extended and up-and-under finishes and proving himself able to absorb contact and finish through it.

Fults has finished his 90 shots at the basket at a 63.3% clip – according to hoop-math.

He’s even flashed a floater to score from the in-between area when an opponent beats him to the spot and prevents him from getting all the way to the basket and draws contact very well despite the fact he doesn’t have that big a frame (six-foot-four, 185 pounds), as he’s averaged 7.9 foul shots per 40 minutes – according to basketball-reference.

But what Fultz truly does expertly well is pulling up from mid-range, with over 45% of his field goal attempts coming on two-point jumpers. He initiates contact to create separation, can step-back or side-step in rhythm to neutralize how well his defender can contest him, elevates with great balance, fully extends himself for a high point in his release and has great touch on his shot, nailing 44.3% of them so far this season.

In impressive fashion, Fultz has made some of these step-back pull-ups from the college three-point line out of middle high pick-and-roll. And he’s also flashed the ability to take smaller guards into the post as well and hit turnaround fade-away jumpers over them.

Perhaps just as key is the fact Fultz doesn’t need to monopolize possession of the ball to be effective, as he’s proven himself an above average catch-and-shoot gunner spacing the floor as a weak-side threat. Fultz has a quick release and can easily get his shot off before a closeout can affect him, nailing 40.3% of his three-point shots this season.

He can also play above the rim as a target for lobs cutting baseline behind the defense.

PASSING

Fultz might be just as great a shot creator for others as he’s a scorer himself.

As mentioned above, he plays a team-oriented style, passing ahead in transition to speed up the pace of the game and pretty much never pounding a hole into the ground or looking off a teammate.

Fultz handles traffic attacking the lane out of pick-and-roll very well, often maneuvering his way around defenders as if he were in a traffic cone drill and keeping his dribble alive waiting for slower developing passing lanes to come open.

He has shown pretty great feel for sucking in the help and finding teammates out of dribble penetration, assisting on 35.3% of Washington’s scores when he’s been on the floor – usually on simple drop-offs and kick-outs to shooters spot-up on the strong-side.

Washington doesn’t space the floor particularly well but Fultz has flashed the ability to make passes across his body to the opposite end of the floor and can see over the top of average-sized point guards, so he projects as a perfect fit for a conventional pick-and-roll-driven offense.

Fultz has averaged 3.4 turnovers per 40 minutes, which is not great, but his 12.9% turnover rate is not that problematic in the context of his 31% usage rate.

DEFENSE

As it tends to be the case with most teenagers, Fultz is not consistently engaged in half-court defense at all times, rarely keeping his stance away from the ball. But he has an elite physical profile for his position and can be reasonably expected to develop into least an average defender in time.

Fultz has the quickness to run shooters off the three-point line and the length to contest shots effectively as a weak-side defender, if he needs to be hidden off the ball or picks up wings on switches – which he could become a viable option to do regularly but probably needs to fill out his frame some more first.

But Fultz should be more of a difference maker defending opposing point guards on the ball. He has the reach to pick their pockets, has flashed the ability to navigate over screens and use his length as a threat to contest shots or deflect passes tracking his man from behind, though he’s mostly lacked the urgency needed to make these plays.

Nothing can be said about his urgency in transition, however, as Fultz has a number of chase-down blocks to show for his effort not giving up on plays. And he’s also leveraged his athleticism on the glass, collecting 13.5% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor – which is an excellent mark for a point guard.

According to basketball-reference, Fultz has the best defensive rating on the team among rotation players.

[1] Though his usage rate has gone up some in conference play, which has dragged his efficiency down against this higher level of competition

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

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