7-footer, Catch&Score Finisher

Ante Zizic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Ante Zizic hasn’t yet signed with Boston but his transfer to the United States is considered a near-certainty at this point. Given the new CBA now assigns first round draft picks a cap charge of 120% of the rookie scale, there is no longer an incentive for teams to hold on signing these players until the last possible minute, so an announcement should be coming soon enough.

After starting last season with Cibona Zagreb in the Adriatic League, the 23rd pick in the 2016 Draft transferred to Darussafaka mid-year, which afforded him the opportunity to earn 811 minutes of EuroLeague and Turkish BSL experience under the tutelage of David Blatt.

The 20-year-old, who only turns 21 in January, not only held up well against the higher level of competition but even established himself as a reliable contributor on a team that made it to the EuroLeague quarterfinals and took a game out of Real Madrid in Spain, before eventually losing in four. According to OverBasket, Darussafaka was +7 with him on the floor and -22 with him on the bench.

Zizic got a steady diet of post touches with Cibona, logging a 25% usage-rate in his 655 minutes with the Croatian club last season – according to RealGM. Though he wasn’t the focal point of the offense with Darussafaka, which featured ball dominant guards Scottie Wilbekin and Brad Wanamaker running the show, he still got the ball down low a fair amount against lighter centers.

But the athletic seven-footer projects more as a catch-and-finish energy big in the NBA, at least for the immediate future. Zizic should have the strength in his 254-pound frame to set decent position at that level as well but hasn’t yet developed the sort of versatility in his post moves that suggests a team will search opportunities to dump the ball down to him frequently.

On the other end, he has potential to develop into an impact defender, possessing the sort of agility needed to guard pick-and-rolls two-on-two. That said, with more and more lead ball handlers rapidly developing pull-up three-pointers out of the pick-and-roll, there might not be a place for big men who can’t switch onto guards pretty soon and Zizic will be one of the behemoths forced to adapt, as he hasn’t yet developed dexterity in one-on-one defense out on an island.

DEFENSE

Zizic is well coordinated for someone his size and leverages his athleticism to cover a lot of space. He has fluid footwork to extend pick-and-roll coverage way above the foul line and slide laterally or backwards to prevent the ball handler from taking it straight to the basket as he turns the corner.

Zizic has also impressed with his burst, proving himself able to keep pace with smaller players when they did challenge him to a race to the basket and stop-and-step up to contest mid-range jumpers reasonably well, doing so against the highest level of European basketball.

But the flashes of intelligent split-second decision making is what’s probably the most encouraging sign regarding his transition to the next level. He’s shown the ability to recognize the best use of his effort, at times letting go of low percentage shots someone his age is often seen selling out to try contesting hastily and prioritizing boxing out his man instead.

Zizic is a big hope Boston has for solving its defensive rebounding problems but it’s unclear if that will be the case. He is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and getting off the ground to rebound in traffic is not a chore for him but Zizic collected just 22.1% of opponents’ misses in his 437 EuroLeague minutes last season, which is not a particularly impressive mark for an athletic seven-footer with a nine-foot-three standing reach.

It’s fair to point out Darussafaka rebounded better with him in the lineup rather than on the bench, according to OverBasket, but maybe that says more about Furkan Aldemir and Marcus Slaughter.

Zizic is also yet to develop into a player who can make a tangible impact in help-defense. His block rate declined with the jump to the higher level of competition and his individual defensive ratings were higher than Darussafaka’s overall defensive ratings in both the EuroLeague and the Turkish BSL, meaning the team defended better without him on the floor.

Though his short area quickness and lateral movement draw attention, the perimeter still seems like a foreign habitat to him for the most part. Zizic can keep pace with smaller players on straight line drives but isn’t a very good option to switch onto these types out on an island regularly because he doesn’t bend his knees to get down on a stance, which makes him vulnerable to getting shook side-to-side.

Zizic also hasn’t shown an inclination for closing out to pick-and-pop big men at the three-point line and to shooters who can take pull-up three-pointers out of the pick-and-roll or sprint to the ball for shots off dribble hand-offs.

OFFENSE

Given the fact he is a white European player, many will presume Zizic is a ‘skills’ big man but that is necessarily the case.

He’s a decent post scorer who relies on running and dribble-in hooks with either hand, going from one side of the block to the middle of the lane against overmatched defenders one-on-one, but hasn’t yet shown power moves, a turnaround jumper or shot fakes.

Zizic has flashed some passing facilitating offense from the elbows and the high post or out of the short roll but nothing substantial yet, assisting on just 7% of his teams’ scores when he was on the floor last season.

He took a catch-and-shoot long two now and again but nothing that is a true asset at this point of development because of his methodical release, though his decent mechanics and 73% foul shooting suggests there’s something to be worked on there.

Some glimpses of ball skills as he took it from the top of the key to the rim on a straight line drive also appeared here and there but those are probably only for emergency situations in the immediate future.

Where Zizic truly excels on offense is near the basket. He is a so-so screener who at times makes his screening area smaller rather than bigger but can dive down the lane fluidly, has soft hands to catch the ball on the move and sweet touch around the basket on non-dunk finishes.

His coordination shows in his ability to catch, dribble and go up to finish in balance and he’s even proven himself flexible enough for some reverses and up-and-unders to score around rim protectors.

It’s unclear to which extent Zizic can act as vertical threat playing above the rim a target for lobs in middle pick-and-roll, given he mostly preferred operating as a basket-level finisher in traffic. But he is certainly able to do so sneaking behind the defense and can go up strong off two feet in a crowd, so that should be there if his guards look to get him the ball there.

Aside from finishing dump-offs, Zizic also translated his athleticism into production in the offensive glass. He is a constant tip dunk threat and has a seven-foot-two wingspan to rebound outside his area, collecting 13.8% of his teams’ misses when he was on the floor last season.

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 Shooter, Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Bogdan Bogdanovic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

After leading Fenerbahçe to EuroLeague and Turkish BSL titles last season, Bogdan Bogdanovic is said to be considering a transfer to the United States.

Sacramento owns his NBA rights at this point and is expected to make a competitive offer to try convincing him to join the team this summer, as the 27th pick in the 2014 draft is no longer subject to the rookie scale after spending three years in Turkey.

Already a highly regarded shot creator and shot maker at Partizan, his offensive prowess translated to the highest caliber of European basketball and he was a key part of the Serbian National Team that reached the Gold Medal game in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics as well.

With the move to a title contending powerhouse, the combo guard was expected to settle into more of a floor spacing pure shooter role but that was not the case. Zeljko Obradovic preferred pairing him with smaller scoring guards who mostly operated off the ball and off a live dribble these last three years[1], which made Bogdanovic the one responsible for triggering the offense.

But his NBA prospects look brighter than at the time he was drafted due to his improvements on defense. The soon-to-be 25-year-old was an up-and-down defender in Serbia but his effort was a lot more consistent under the guidance of the legendary Obradovic, who relied on the lengthy six-foot-four, 205-pounder as his top on-ball defender in high leverage games.

OFFENSE

Bogdanovic’s top skill remains his catch-and-shoot three-point shot. Aside from having gravity as a standstill spot-up threat, his quick release is dynamic enough for him to stress the defense working off screens, relocating off ball movement or offensive rebounds and sprinting to the ball on dribble hand-offs as well.

According to RealGM, he nailed 38.9% of his 827 three-point shots over the last three seasons, getting them up at a pace of 6.9 attempts per 40 minutes.

He is at his most valuable operating on the ball, though.

Bogdanovic does well running pick-and-roll. He doesn’t have the speed to just turn on the jets turning the corner off the ball-screen on the side of the floor but plays with great pace, using his craft to put his man in jail and erasing him off the play as he penetrates the lane.

Bogdanovic uses craft for his finishes as well. He lacks explosiveness to go up strong off one foot in traffic but has floaters and wrong-footed tosses as a below-the-rim finisher against shot blocking threats, though it’s questionable how effective that will translate against NBA-caliber length.

He got all the way to the basket a fair amount for someone who can’t just leave his man behind, especially considering Fenerbahçe didn’t always provide optimal spacing[2], but didn’t show a lot of dexterity for drawing contact and earning trips to the foul line – averaging just 3.9 free throws per 40 minutes the last three seasons.

Bogdanovic doesn’t have an explosive first step to just blow by his man one-on-one but has shown decent suddenness in change of direction, shaking his defender side-to-side with nifty crossovers and using hang dribbles to freeze him so he can get his shot off.

He is able to rise up for stop-and-pop pull-ups in balance or step-back fade-away jumpers and hit tough shots with a hand in his face, aside from showcasing the ability to step into three-pointers off the pick-and-roll when the opponent leaves him uncontested from time-to-time.

Another tangible advantage he brings to the table is an inclination for posting up smaller defenders in a pinch, as he’s able to hit turnaround jumpers over them or back his way into close-range attempts.

Yet, his most impressive development has been as a passer. Bogdanovic is not just a ball mover who makes the extra pass around the horn and can kick-out to the strong side when he drives into the lane attacking a closeout but has proven himself a reliable shot creator for others against a set defense as well.

He is able to pass across the defense to the opposite end of the court on the move and make well-timed pocket passes in traffic, assisting on 26.9% of Fenerbahçe’s scores when he was on the floor last season, at the cost of him turning it over on 16.9% of his possessions, which is reasonable in the context of an above average assist rate combined with his 26.8% usage rate.

DEFENSE

In order to hide Bobby Dixon off the ball, Bogdanovic was responsible for guarding the point of attack and impressed with his lateral quickness in isolation defense often. He got down in a stance consistently and proved himself able to keep pace with smaller players side-to-side at the European level. His eight-foot-11 standing reach is a huge asset for him to contest shots effectively on most instances as well.

Bogdanovic wasn’t as impactful in pick-and-roll defense, though. He puts in the effort to try navigating over picks and does a decent enough job negotiating poorly set slip screens, returning to his man in a timely manner if he gets good help from his big man coming over way above the foul line. But he’s too big to slide over well set screens seamlessly.

At times when he struggled to make his way around some behemoths or crafty types who held him up expertly[3], Bogdanovic switched onto these big men but didn’t do a particularly impressive job. He puts in the effort to try holding his ground, raising his arms to try walling up and was attentive to his boxout responsibilities but lacks strength to do these things effectively. More concerning, perhaps, is how he was also vulnerable to getting posted up by big wings.

As a weak-side defender, Bogdanovic proved himself attentive to his assignment chasing shooters off staggered screens but lacks the speed to track these types of players and prevent a good catch-and-shoot look if the pass is well delivered, needing to find shortcuts to make his way across the court in time to run the shooter off his shot, though he did impress with his ability to closeout, stay well balanced to keep pace off the bounce and contest a pull-up jumper decently.

Bogdanovic stays on his stance off the ball and can execute the scheme but hasn’t shown a knack for making plays in the passing lanes and lacks the athletic ability to act as a shot blocking threat rotating off the weak-side in help defense. His contributions through steals and blocks have been consistently marginal, though his 14.5% defensive rebounding rate is a nice mark for a two-guard.

[1] Andrew Goudelock the first year, Bobby Dixon over these last two

[2] Obradovic played Ekpe Udoh and Jan Vesely together quite a bit towards the end of the season, as his confidence on Pero Antic waned and Luigi Datome’s defense limited his minutes in high leverage games

[3] Like Khem Birch in the EuroLeague championship game

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

Milos Teodosic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

After six years at CSKA Moscow, Milos Teodosic is said to be seriously considering a transfer to the NBA. It’s possible this is simply a negotiation tactic to incentivize the Russian powerhouse to cough up what will probably be one of the richest contracts, if not the richest, ever given in European basketball. But the mere thought of the Serbian making the jump to the United States is tantalizing.

The six-foot-five combo guard is a magician who combines genius passing with above average gunning — excelling both out of middle high pick-and-roll and as a secondary shot creator. He also tosses breath-taking passes in transition, which could materialize more often in the NBA due to the higher level of athleticism he will have around him.

Given his height and 196-pound frame, Teodosic offers some flexibility on defense, at least in the sense that no matter where he’s put he’ll be a negative contributor, mostly because of his lack of athleticism, though his general level of engagement is what’s questioned more often. Because of that, Teodosic isn’t always a good option to finish games, despite of all the value he adds on offense.

I’m not one for raising up concerns about intangibles, given the lack of available information regarding how these players behave in settings closed to public consumption and just how they think overall, but Teodosic’s general demeanor on defense draws the assumption that he just does not gives a shit.

I also try not to overvalue appearances in single-elimination games but it must be brought up Teodosic was part of several teams that endured a number of EuroLeague Final Four failures during his tenure at CSKA and that his performance in many of these instances were consistently disappointing, before breaking through with a title in 2016.

OFFENSE

Teodosic is one of those remarkable assist men who can anticipate passing lanes a split-second before they come open. His court vision is incredible and he can create three-point shots and alley oops to teammates without necessarily needing to attack the lane – just noticing on pure instinct a defensive breakdown before actually running the play.

Teodosic is not an explosive athlete and doesn’t go deep into the lane a ton these days but can at least consistently offer the threat of dribble penetration in pick-and-roll by playing with pace and exploring his craftiness to turn the corner around ball screens. Especially if he gets the chance to work off a live dribble, which he got to do a fair amount given Dimitrios Itoudis’ preference for two-point guard lineups.

Flexible enough to pass across his body to the opposite end of the floor off dribble penetration and toss wraparound passes in traffic, Teodosic assisted on 43.6% of CSKA’s scores in his 1,255 minutes last season – according to RealGM. His aggressive style of squeezing tough passes through tight windows came at the cost of him turning the ball over on almost a quarter of his possessions, though.

He’s declining from an athletic-standpoint and doesn’t get all the way to the basket a lot nowadays, lacking the lift to finish against length. But his dexterity, or perhaps simply his inclination, for drawing contact improved a lot lately. After averaging just 3.6 free throws per 40 minutes from 2013 to 2015, Teodosic averaged 5.8 foul shots per 40 minutes over the last two seasons.

The vast majority of his scoring still comes out of his jump-shooting, though. The owner of a quick trigger, he has a diverse arsenal of pull-up jumpers – able to hang dribble into his shot, stop-and-pop in a pinch, crossover into step-backs over average-sized point guards. But it’s questionable how much of that can consistently translate against longer defenders in the NBA, given his low release.

Teodosic can also step into uncontested pull-up three-pointers to make sure the opponent consistently overplays him at the point of attack; going over screens or even hedging-and-recovering, which is a doomed strategy against someone with his court vision spotting weak-side breakdowns. But it’s questionable how much of that can translate to the further out three-point line.

His catch-and-shoot stroke is expected to be fine, though. Teodosic has proven himself an excellent open shot shooter and should offer his potential NBA team the same flexibility he did CSKA, and Olympiacos before that, in terms of sharing the floor with another ball-handler, nailing 39.8% of his 1,725 three-point shots over the last six seasons. He’s even able to shoot on the move some, coming off pindown screens and operating as the back-screener on Spain pick-and-rolls a fair amount.

DEFENSE

Teodosic is a very poor defender at the point of attack. He consistently fails to bend his knees to get down in a stance, lacks the lateral quickness to stay in front of his man in isolation and rarely puts in enough effort to navigate over ball-screens then track his man back with urgency in order not to compromise the integrity of the scheme. Given his general size, he should be able to act as a threat to get into his man’s air space and bother shot attempts but that doesn’t materialize often.

As a weak-side defender, Teodosic is committed to executing the scheme. He does sprint to run shooters off the three-point line, positions himself well to try guarding two players when CSKA packs the strong-side and proved himself attentive to his rotation responsibilities crowding the area near the basket when he was called upon to act as the last line of defense.

Teodosic lacks the athletic ability to make a real impact, though. Opponents often have a clean straight-line path to the lane when he closes out to them, he doesn’t have the lift or the length to act as a deterrent around the rim and generally doesn’t play with the sort of energy that results in events that finish possessions. His contributions through steals, blocks and defensive rebounds are marginal.

CSKA allowed 110.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor last season, which was his worst defensive rating in six years with the team.

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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Post Scorer, Undersized Big

John Collins Scouting Report

CONTEXT

John Collins was not perceived as a draft prospect at the start of last season. His first appearance on a mock draft at Draft Express was in January and he was slotted 35th. Six months later, he’s now ranked 12th on the website’s top 100 and projected to be drafted in the lottery tomorrow night.

The six-foot-nine big man shot up the boards in the last half-a-year after leading the NCAA in PER and guiding Wake Forest to an NCAA Tournament berth, averaging 1.68 points per shot and leading a team in offensive rating that ranked seventh in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency.

His measurements are unimpressive for a big man prospect and he played a back to the basket style that is unlikely to translate to the pros. His awareness on defense is also a serious concern for someone who will almost surely be viewed as a center in today’s game, given he’s yet to develop perimeter skills.

But Collins is an impressive athlete and posted a really strong statistical profile last season – averaging 28.8 points per 40 minutes on 30.4% usage while being responsible for creating most of his own shots, as 51.5% of his field goals were unassisted. He did so while playing the entire season at age 19, given his September birthday, despite being a sophomore.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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3D Point Guard, Pure Shooter

Malik Monk Scouting Report

CONTEXT

After that remarkable first month-and-a-half of the season that I profiled in December, Malik Monk came down to Earth a little bit the rest of the way but nothing happened to dissuade most people from the notion that he is the most potent scorer in this draft class – currently ranked sixth in Draft Express’ top 100.

A sick shot maker who proved himself a valuable chess piece that can be moved all over the floor to stress the defense, Monk averaged 24.8 points per 40 minutes on a .543 effective field goal percentage, while 79.6% of his attempts were taken away from the basket. Able to profit of the space he created with his presence, Kentucky averaged 118.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.

Viewed as a potential lead ball handler in high school, Monk didn’t have many opportunities to run half-court offense in Lexington. Even when De’Aaron Fox was out of the game, Isaiah Briscoe was the one responsible for bringing the ball up and triggering their sets at the point of attack.

Maybe there is more to Monk’s shot creation potential than he showed at Kentucky. Devin Booker and Jamal Murray are two recent examples of off guards who didn’t have enough chances to showcase their off dribble skills there. But in instances where he found himself in need of penetrating against a set defense, Monk didn’t impress a whole lot.

His defense was at best a mixed bag. At no point he flashed any ability to be an impact player on that end of the court and his awareness away from the ball is suspect but Monk did show some promise defending smaller players in the pick-and-roll when he got help from his big man, which was meaningful.

Because of his below average physical profile for a wing (six-foot-three height, 197-pound frame, six-foot-six wingspan), Monk’s future in the pros very well could be as a 3&D point guard who supplements ball-dominant wings by guarding opposing point guards and spacing the floor on offense when those guys run offense.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Pure Shooter

Luke Kennard Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Luke Kennard started the season projected as a 2018 draft prospect on Draft Express and was first ranked in this year’s class in February, rated a late first rounder. Four months later, the six-foot-six sharpshooter is currently ranked 13th on the website’s top 100 and is generally expected to be picked in the lottery.

It’s been quite a rise for Kennard, who didn’t impress a whole lot in his freshman season but showed substantial improvement from the get-go as a sophomore. Duke dealt with a number of injuries earlier in the year and it was Kennard’s breakout as a college basketball star that kept the boat afloat through the non-conference part of Duke’s schedule.

But even as the highly touted Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles III were inserted into the mix and Grayson Allen eventually stabilized towards the latter part of the season, Kennard sustained his elite-level production, despite the ever growing competition for shots on a star-studded team.

He led Duke in scoring, averaging 22 points per 40 minutes on a .630 true shooting percentage despite the fact 81.6% of his live ball attempts were taken away from the basket, anchoring an offense that ranked sixth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Yet, Kennard has a really long path to stardom at the pro level. He’s not a special athlete, struggles to make an impact on defense and has not shown dexterity for creating shots against a set defense. Without some unforeseen development in athletic ability or creativity, he will need to translate his elite-level shot making or perhaps even improve on it in the pros to justify how high he’ll be drafted.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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3D Point Guard, 3D wing

Donovan Mitchell Scouting Report

CONTEXT

After a disappointing start to the season, when he hit just 36.4% of his shots through the non-conference part of Louisville’s schedule, Donovan Mitchell hit up the rest of the way, averaging 21.2 points per 40 minutes on 40% three-point shooting against ACC competition.

The six-foot-three combo guard had opportunity to run some offense towards the end of the year when Quentin Snider and Deng Adel missed some time due to injury but for the most part acted as an off guard, mostly preoccupied with creating looks from himself.

Louisville ran a motion offense that afforded him chances to catch the ball off a live dribble, with a head start on his man, but had two post players on the floor at all times, which combined with Mitchell’s suspect shot selection, resulted in fewer drives to the basket than his athleticism suggests he should be attempting.

But on instances where Mitchell was a little more committed to dribble penetration, he showed some traits of promise as a finisher and as a passer on the move. Some team enamored with the athletic prowess he exhibited at the combine is bound to dream of converting him into a lead ball handler down the line.

On the other end, Mitchell has the physical profile to play good defense, not just in terms of executing but as a difference maker, and has put in the effort to materialize such potential, as he led a team in minutes that ranked eighth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Mitchell’s statistical profile is not particularly impressive but he’s risen up the boards during workout season (currently ranked 11th in Draft Express’ top 100) because he is the sort of prospect teams can more easily dream reaching the highest of highs.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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