Deng Adel looks the part.
The six-foot-seven, 200-pound wing has proven himself able to make catch-and-shoot shots spotting up on the weak-side and has shown flashes of shot creation potential – passing on the move out of the pick-and-roll and making some tough pull-up jumpers in isolation.
A closer look reveals Adel is still far from a fully actualized player on offense and there are signals he won’t end up becoming the impactful defender his physical profile suggests he should. He’s also older than average for a sophomore, as he’s about to turn 21 in February.
But his development curve seems quite pleasing when you consider his level of experience. Given he’s logged just 267 minutes last year, this is his first full season at the collegiate level and he’s managed to be a steady contributor as the third-highest minutes earner on a team that has won 13 of its 16 games against a schedule Ken Pomeroy ranks the ninth toughest in college basketball.
Yet, Draft Express only ranks him 95th in its top 100, which suggests there might be something else to consider that we can’t easily be aware of from the outside.
Adel’s primary role on this year’s team is as a weak-side threat – spotting up or attacking a defense that has already been moved from side to side, posting only a 20.8% usage rate up until this point.
He’s made just 31.7% of his 60 three-point shots this season but has shown to be a bit better than his percentage suggests. His release is very smooth and he’s flashed some dynamism to it, as he’s made shots sprinting to the ball on dribble-handoffs and letting it fly quickly if the defender falls behind or gets stuck on the screen.
Adel has the handle and fluidity to attack closeouts and get into the lane against a scrambling defense. He can run side pick-and-roll not only to keep the offense moving but has also shown a hesitation move to turn the corner from time to time.
His court vision is decent at this point of his development, as he’s been able to make kick-outs to spot-up shooters or drop-off passes to big men at the dunker’s spot when he sucks in the defense – assisting on 13.4% of Louisville’s scores when he’s been on the floor, according to basketball-reference.
But he’s struggled finishing at the basket in traffic. Adel has some explosiveness elevating out of one foot, decent touch on non-dunk finishes and shown decent body flexibility to adjust himself in the air. But he lacks length (six-foot-nine wingspan) for reverse and extended finishes with rim protectors challenging him – converting just 51.2% of his shots at the basket this season, according to hoop-math.
Adel handles the ball some in transition and in a few occasions against a set defense when the offense breaks down.
He’s shown some appealing potential in the pick-and-roll, able to go side to side to maneuver his opponent around the ball-screen and get to the rim downhill on a straight line drive. His handle in traffic has improved, as his turnover rate has gone down from 24.3% last season to just 8.9% in this one.
But Adel hasn’t yet developed scoring ability in isolation. He doesn’t have any dribble moves or a whole lot of shake to force his defender off balance. He also lacks explosiveness to try blowing by his man on pure quickness, even big men on switches.
Adel elevates with pretty good balance on pull-ups from mid-range but hasn’t made enough shots to make defenders fear going under ball-screens or sagging off him, as he’s hit just 30.9% of his 55 two-point jumpers this season.
Adel has not defended well this season.
He does do a good job closing out to shooters, running them off the line and staying in balance to defend dribble penetration.
But, overall, Adel struggles to guard out in an island. He can’t bend his knees well enough to get low in a stance and lacks lateral quickness to stay in front. Louisville switches very aggressively but Adel isn’t a good option picking up smaller players on switches, as he’s unable to shuffle his feet well enough to keep pace with them.
Away from the ball, Adel has trouble chasing shooters around screens due to his large frame and his contributions making plays in the passing lanes and at the basket have been thoroughly disappointing. He is also just an average defensive rebounder, collecting only 12.8% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor.
According to basketball-reference, Adel has the third lowest defensive rating on the team among rotation players.
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