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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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

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

John Collins Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

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.

The six-foot-nine big man shot up the boards in the last few months after leading the NCAA in PER and guiding Wake Forest to an NCAA Tournament berth, averaging 1.68 points per shot[1] and leading a team in offensive rating that ranked seventh in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency[2].

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[3] on 30.4% usage while being responsible for creating most of his own shots, as 51.5% of his field goals were unassisted[4]. He did so while playing the entire season at age 19, given his September birthday, despite being a sophomore.

POST GAME

Collins impressed with a good understanding of the importance of seeking a deep seal early in the shot clock but even if his teammates couldn’t dump the ball off to him quickly, looking to feed the post was the focal point of the offense at Wake Forest, so there were a lot of opportunities for him to showcase his skill-set.

He was strong enough to get consistently good position in the low block at the collegiate level and often had decent room to work with because his frontcourt partner, Kostas Mitoglou, could space the floor out of the three-point line.

Collins did very well on quick turnaround hooks and hopping into short-range jumpers, proving himself able to get his shot off from either side of the block when he operated quickly.

When he was forced to be more deliberate, Collins showcased some strength to back his man down, fluid footwork and nice touch on right-handed turnaround hooks. He also flashed a face-up jumper. Overall, Collins hit 44.8% of his 154 two-point field goals away from the basket and earned 10 foul shots per 40 minutes.

It’s questionable how much of his post scoring will translate in the pros, though. He’ll not be as imposing physically at that level and even if his shot fakes remain as effective as they were in college, NBA defenders have more length to make for getting unset and Collins hasn’t yet developed particularly impressive dexterity operating from a position of weakness, struggling to finish over bigger types.

He also struggles against more complex coverages, doing poorly when crowded and showing no instinct for recognizing double-teams midway through his move or from an unexpected angle, aside from the fact he’s a black hole at this point of his development – assisting on just 4.4% of Wake Forest’s scores in his 878 minutes last season.

MODERN OFFENSE

Collins is more likely to produce on offense as an energy guy, relying on his athletic ability, in the immediate future.

He excels in transition and projects as a threat to play above the rim as a target for lobs in the pick-and-roll – averaging 1.61 points per possession[5] on such plays last season. Collins doesn’t have a massive standing reach but is an excellent leaper off two feet, which aside from finishing also manifests itself on the offensive glass. He has a quick second jump to fight for tip-ins and 50-50 balls – collecting 16.4% of Wake Forest’s misses when he was on the floor.

Collins has flashed a catch-and-shoot mid-range jumper off the pick-and-pop and though he is yet to show range out to the three-point line in games, there’s a good base in place for him to develop that resource down the line, at least as far as him becoming a threat on spot-ups go. He has a low release but his mechanics are decent and the touch on his shot looks good often.

Collins doesn’t project as someone who will participate in the offense handling the ball from the perimeter, though. Despite the fact he’s well coordinated for someone his size, he hasn’t yet developed the ability to take his man off the bounce and is not at all an option to help facilitate offense from the elbows or the high post.

DEFENSE

Collins has agility to hold up well enough defending above the foul line when he puts in the effort – as he flashed the ability to keep pace with smaller players on straight line drives and block some shots guarding on the ball.

He has also impressed with his ability to block shots leaping off two feet when he’s well positioned near the basket, as he averaged 2.4 block shots per 40 minutes last season.

His biggest strength is on the defensive glass, though. Collins had his moments of inattention to his boxout responsibilities but for the most part proved himself able to hold his ground under the basket and showed a good deal of toughness, collecting 25.7% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

But despite these encouraging signs, Collins can’t be considered a good defender at this point of his development.

His effort left something to be desired, as he rarely bent his knees to get down in a stance out on the perimeter and left himself vulnerable to getting beat by some big men who would never get the chance to dribble in the NBA.

He also didn’t show a lot of urgency executing the scheme. Wake Forest called for him to hedge-and-recover on side pick-and-rolls and dribble hand-offs a ton but Collins wasn’t always committed to containing the point of attack and recovering to his initial assignment in a timely manner.

Given he’s likely to play mostly center due to the proliferation of four-out offenses in the NBA, Collins’ lack of ideal size for that position is a concern, though the biggest one is probably his lack of awareness identifying fake action designed to take his attention away from focusing on protecting the basket against cuts and dribble drives, aside from the fact he struggles with foul trouble – averaging 4.5 personal fouls per 40 minutes last season and 7.4 as a freshman.

[1] According to our stats’ database

[2] According to kenpom.com

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to research by Draft Express’ Mike Schmitz

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

Malik Monk Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

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[1]. Able to profit of the space he created with his presence, Kentucky averaged 118.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor[2].

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[3]), 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.

SHOOTING

47% of his shots were three-pointers, at a pace of 8.6 attempts per 40 minutes. His role was not as a mere spot-up threat, as Monk proved himself able to make shots on the move, running around staggered screens from one side of the court to another and sprinting to the ball on dribble hand-offs. Able to plant his feet against full momentum, rise in balance and pull the trigger in a pinch with his quick release, Monk averaged 1.0 point per possession coming off screens[4].

In instances where the opponent ran him off his shot or he got to create his own look off a live dribble, off ball reversals and in the secondary break, Monk also impressed with his ability to hit shots off the bounce. Though he didn’t show much in terms of advanced dribble moves to get his defender on his heels, Monk managed to get his jump-shots off consistently well by crossing over into his pull-ups or step-backing to create separation.

He nailed 39.7% of his 262 three-point shots and 37.9% of his 182 two-point jumpers, with 55 of his 69 mid-range makes unassisted, while averaging 1.01 point per possession on pull-ups.

OTHER AREAS OF OFFENSE

Monk looked good getting to the basket in transition and on free paths to the goal in the half-court when his defender sold out to run him off the three-point line and the help-defender didn’t rotate.

He is an explosive leaper off one or two feet with some space to take flight and is an option to play above the rim as a target for lobs on cutting behind the defense. Stretch big Derek Willis started the last nine games of the season and averaged almost 27 minutes per game during the stretch, which opened up some space for backdoor cutting and Monk flashed some instinctive diving baseline in more than a few opportunities.

But with the ball in his hands and a set defense in front of him, Monk struggled to get all the way to the basket a whole lot. Despite his reputation from high school, he didn’t show a particularly diverse set of dribble moves to get by his man with craftiness in isolation or the ability to play with pace in pick-and-roll. The handle he showed in college was only OK, though the fact he turned it over on just 10.4% of his possessions despite his 27.3% usage rate is something in his favor.

Monk can be very smooth on catch-and-go’s attacking closeouts but instead of putting consistent pressure on the rim, he stopped midway through his drives to rise up for floaters and stop-and-pop short-range jumpers more often than not. His shot selection was at times suspect.

Monk made just 41 shots at the basket in his 38 appearances at Kentucky, while averaging 5.9 foul shots per 40 minutes[5] – a mark that is not poor but also not substantially impressive for someone with his athletic ability.

His passing on the move was better than expected, though. Monk is not quite the second coming of Manu Ginóbili but he proved himself unselfish on kick-outs and drop-offs when he managed to suck in an extra defender – assisting on 13.3% of Kentucky’s scores in his 1,218 minutes on the floor. That said, there isn’t enough evidence to envision him as someone responsible for creating for others reliably in the immediate future.

DEFENSE

As it tends to be case with most 19-year-olds, Monk is an inconsistent defender at this point of his development, having shown some promise but mostly a lot of concerns as of now.

Playing alongside Fox, a plus-defender who didn’t need to be hidden off the ball, he wasn’t asked to guard on the ball a whole lot. As a wing defender, Monk was often late chasing shooters off the same type of screens he does so well working his way around on offense and his closeouts were suspect, rarely running spot-up shooters off the three-point line.

Despite his athleticism, he also didn’t do much in terms of creating events – rarely putting himself in position to challenge shots at the rim or breaking on the ball making plays in the passing lanes and displaying very little toughness mixing up on the glass. His contributions through blocks, steals and defensive rebounds were marginal or unimpressive at best.

But against teams with multiple ball handlers, Monk flashed some potential in pick-and-roll defense. He is not yet great navigating over ball-screens but did a reasonable job a decent amount when Endrice Adebayo prevented the opponent from turning the corner immediately, giving Monk a chance to come back to his man in time not to compromise the integrity of the scheme behind him.

His isolation defense was poor, though. Given the quickness he demonstrates on offense, his reactions defending in a stance out on an island were disappointing. Against high quality competition, Monk not only didn’t often show enough toughness to contain dribble penetration through contact but even struggled shuffling his feet laterally to stay in front one-on-one and it was also rare to see him contest or block shots from behind when he managed to keep pace.

[1] According to hoop-math

[2] According to our stats’ database

[3] According to Draft Express

[4] According to research by Draft Express’ Mike Schmitz

[5] According to sports-reference

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

Luke Kennard Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

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 as 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 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[1] despite the fact 81.6% of his live ball attempts were taken away from the basket[2], anchoring an offense that ranked sixth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency[3].

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.

SECOND SIDE

Kennard’s top skill at this point of his development is his catch-and-shoot jumper, as he averaged 1.14 points per possession on such looks last season[4].

But aside from being a deadly open shot shooter, he can also come off pindown screens working the second side of the floor. Duke didn’t put him in floppy action or have him run around staggered screens a lot but given the fluidity of his release, Kennard can be considered a valuable chess piece whose gravity can be leveraged by being moved around the floor. He consistently does good shot preparation and has a quick trigger – nailing 43.8% of his 201 three-point shots last season.

Kennard is not explosive enough to blow by closeouts or turn the corner on dribble hand-offs but relies on crafty moves to create a shot against a scrambling defense.

He doesn’t yet have enough strength to maintain his momentum forward through contact in order to get all the way to the basket but has enough of it to maintain his balance and be able to create separation with sudden step-backs or pivots into a well-coordinated spin move. Also able to elevate for stop-and-pop mid-range jumpers over smaller defenders and flashing neat touch on tear drops from the in-between area, Kennard converted 48.2% of his 195 two-point jumpers last season.

He can pass on the move as well – assisting on 13.6% of Duke’s scores when he was on the floor. Kennard doesn’t have particularly impressive court vision but has proven himself able to kick-out to a strong-side shooter relocating to an open spot and drop-off to a big man at the dunker spot when he manages to suck in the defense.

SHOT CREATION FROM THE TOP

Kennard didn’t run a lot of middle high pick-and-roll due to the nature of Duke’s motion offense but didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the instances where he handled the ball against a set defense.

He doesn’t have an explosive first step to turn on the jets on straight-line drives to the basket and hasn’t shown a particularly diverse set of dribble moves to get by his man in isolation or snake his way through traffic working off a ball-screen.

As he was able to generate just 18.4% of his shots at the rim despite his 24% usage rate and the fact Duke often provided him with exceptional floor spacing for the college level, Kennard too often relied on tear drops when he needed to figure something out against a defender set in a stance with help behind him.

When he managed to force the issue and reach the basket, Kennard showed he doesn’t have enough resources to score in traffic. He lacks explosiveness elevating off one foot to go up strong, doesn’t have length for over-extended finishes and hasn’t shown the ability to hang and adjust his body in the air for up-and-under’s – totaling only 45 unassisted makes at the basket in 37 appearances last season.

Kennard flashed some wraparound passing off dribble penetration to the corner but for the most part doesn’t seem to be a particularly advanced passer, rarely proving himself able to pass across his body to the opposite end of the floor.

DEFENSE

He can execute the scheme on the other end of the floor, showing consistent attention to his help responsibilities, but lacks the physical profile and athletic ability to make a real difference.

As a weak-side defender, Kennard rotates inside in time a decent amount to crowd the area near the basket and picks up the eventual steal/block slapping the ball but doesn’t have the hops to act as a constant shot blocking threat, lacks the length to contest shots effectively and hasn’t shown a lot of dexterity drawing charges. His only significantly tangible contributions were on the defensive glass.

His biggest weakness is as an individual defender, though. As of now, Kennard projects as someone who will forever need to hidden on someone who can’t dribble in the pros. He doesn’t have the lateral quickness to stay in front of smaller types one-on-one and needs to develop more strength to contain dribble penetration when bigger types drive right at him, as he was bullied by such types in college.

[1] According to sports-reference

[2] According to hoop-math

[3] According to kenpom.com

[4] According to research by Draft Express’ Mike Schmitz

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

Donovan Mitchell Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

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[1] 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 for 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[2].

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.

DEFENSE

Mitchell’s top skill at this point of his development is his defense.

He bends his knees to get down in a stance, has the lateral quickness to keep pace side-to-side in isolation, has strength in his thick 211-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact, often puts in the effort to press opposing ball handlers 40-feet away from the basket when asked to and has the reach to act as a constant threat to pick their pockets.

Mitchell is only so-so at navigating over ball screens at the point of attack but puts his eight-foot-one standing reach to good use deflecting or blocking shots and passes trailing the ball handler from behind.

Despite being Louisville’s best on ball defender, Mitchell often found himself as a weak-side defender due to the nature of their aggressive switching scheme and proved himself attentive to his rotation responsibilities, translating his athleticism into both creating events and shot prevention.

After some head scratching effort on closeouts earlier in the season, Mitchell was more consistent later in the year, proving his ability to run shooters off the line, stay in balance to prevent a free path to the goal on a straight line and contest pull-up jumpers effectively.

He uses his six-foot-10 wingspan to make some plays in the passing lanes, averaging 2.6 steals per 40 minutes last season, but impressed the most with his rotations to the front of the basket as the last line of defense. Mitchell is an explosive leaper who can pick up the eventual shot block from time to time but doesn’t sell out to try doing so all the time, proving his willingness to draw charges as well.

But his biggest appeal is as someone able to pick up bigger players on switches. He is physical enough and savvy enough to front them in the post and prevent a direct entry pass. He is also tough enough and attentive enough to box them out in the glass, collecting 13.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season[3].

OFFENSE ON THE BALL

Defense is nice, especially intelligence and versatility on defense, but teams search for offense in the lottery and Mitchell is considered to have some star potential because of the flashes he’s shown of shot creation ability against a set defense.

He has a combination of handle and burst that make him look really impressive splitting double teams at the point of attack, driving to the basket on a straight line off the ball-screen. At the rim, Mitchell isn’t explosive enough to go up strong off one foot in traffic but can hang in the air and use his length for some over-extended finishes around rim protection.

He finished his 118 shots at the basket at a 55.9% clip last season, which is a disappointing mark for someone with his athletic prowess, but did a lot better the season before, converting such looks at a 67.3% clip, with 23 of his 37 makes unassisted[4].

Mitchell hasn’t yet developed a more polished skill-set operating in more imperfect conditions, though.

Louisville didn’t space the floor well, so the opponent could consistently pack the lane and prevent him from getting downhill often. As was the case, Mitchell didn’t show the ability to play with pace in pick-and-roll – waiting for driving lanes to open up with the movement of his teammates on slower developing plays or midget dribbling under the basket to try creating new opportunities with his own movement.

He is also unable to stretch the defense with the threat of his passing. Mitchell is a good passer who can find shooters on kick-outs to the strong-side or dunkers on drop-offs, assisting on 16% of Louisville’s scores when he was on the floor last season. But he hasn’t shown particularly advanced instincts passing across his body to shooters relocating on the opposite end of the floor or good timing on pocket passes or lobs to roll men – though it’s fair to point out the screeners at Louisville couldn’t dive hard to act as vertical targets because the spacing wasn’t good.

With a crowd always in front of him when he had to create against a set defense, Mitchell more often than not relied on pull-ups to get his shot off – as 73.4% of his shots were taken away from the basket and he averaged just 3.9 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

He can dribble in-and-out to traffic cone his way to the basket but more often than not opted to hesitate or crossover into a pull-up, which he did in impressive fashion but often led to questionable shot selection. His stroke off the bounce looks good but he nailed just 35% of his two-point jumpers and made just 17 unassisted three-pointers in 34 appearances last season.

OFF THE BALL OFFENSE

Mitchell has a higher chance of becoming a meaningful contributor on offense operating off the ball. That poor start hid the substantial improvement he made in his outside shot. He finished the season nailing 35.4% of his 226 three-point shots for the year but his 40% accuracy against ACC competition does not appear to be a fluke.

One real issue provides a legit concern that this might just be one long hot shooting streak: some of his misses on open looks are pretty horrendous.

But three factors suggest his development into a potentially elite shooter is real. First, Mitchell hit that 40% mark on 130 attempts through 18 games, at a pace of 7.2 attempts per 40 minutes. Second, his foul shooting percentage also improved, which suggests some minor tweak in his mechanics did the trick. Third, the types of some of the shots he took encourage you to believe he is in line to become the sort of shooter who can moved around the floor to stress the defense in multiple ways.

Mitchell has a quick release and the ball looks good on its way out when he catches it in rhythm on catch-and-shoot opportunities off spot-ups. More impressive, though, is how he’s also proven himself able to sprint to the ball or around pindown screens, plant his feet in a pinch and let it fly off the hop in great balance.

As somebody who demands a hard closeout, Mitchell opens up straight line drives for himself and can explode off two feet with some space to take flight, also prominent in instances where he cuts behind the defense. Louisville ran a nice play to take advantage of his leaping ability where he used to give up the ball at the top of the key, run a semi-circle route around an elbow screen and get a lob.

[1] According to sports-reference

[2] According to kenpom.com

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] According to hoop-math

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