Catch&Score Finisher, Stretch Big

Daniel Theis Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Boston is said to have agreed on a deal to import German center Daniel Theis to the United States. The 25-year-old[1] accumulated 3,995 minutes of EuroLeague and German Bundesliga[2] experience playing for Brose Baskets of Bamberg in Deutschland the last three years, helping the powerhouse earn three straight domestic titles, leading the league in individual defensive rating last season.

Andrea Trinchieri runs a diverse offense that relies on swinging the ball around the perimeter to move the defense in order to find an opening to attack off pick-and-roll. Therefore, the six-foot-nine, 215-pounder didn’t have much shot creation responsibility and is adapted to the defined role as a finisher and floor spacer that he’ll be asked to play in the US.

But whether or not he has a legitimate chance of cracking the rotation will depend on what level of defense he brings to the table. Theis is quite athletic, challenged a lot of shots near the basket at the European level and posted very strong defensive rebounding numbers in each of the last three seasons. The concern regards his ability to extend coverage beyond the foul line.

DEFENSE

Ball handlers who are threats to pull-up from three-point range off the pick-and-roll are in vogue these days, stressing the need for big men to become more of an asset defending the perimeter.

Brose Baskets asked Theis to hedge-and-recover beyond the arc. He is not a stiff by any means but also didn’t impress with his agility defending out in space, able to defend stretch big men on straight line drives but ineffective closing out to three-point line[3].

Theis doesn’t figure to be an option picking up smaller players on switches either. He flashed some ability to keep pace with less athletic, less resourceful types on straight line drives in Deutschland but doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance, which makes him vulnerable to getting shook side-to-side.

Theis makes most of his impact defending close to the basket. He is attentive to his responsibilities coming off the weak-side in help-defense and goes up off two feet with ease to challenge shots via verticality or play above the rim as a shot blocker – averaging 2.2 blocks per 40 minutes over the last three years.

More impressive, perhaps, is how Theis often does preventive work as well, slowing down the development of plays by using his mobility to slide laterally and put his big body in the way to discourage immediate drives to the basket by opposing ball handlers turning the corner or attacking downhill off pick-and-roll.

Theis will be considered undersized for a center in the US but held up well from a physicality-standpoint in Europe. He showed to have a strong base to hold his ground in the post and boxing out opposing behemoths under the defensive glass – collecting at least 24% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor in each of the last three years, according to RealGM.

OFFENSE

Despite not being a post player, Theis logged 23.2% usage-rate last season. That’s the case because Brose Baskets spaced the floor really well, which afforded him many good looks for finishes near the basket out of the pick-and-roll and from three-point range as a floor spacer. He should enjoy similarly healthy conditions in Boston if he gets some burn.

Theis is a so-so screener who likes to slip the pick to get a head start diving down the lane but has good hands to catch the ball on the move and can play above the rim as a target for lobs. He also has pretty good touch on non-dunk finishes in instances where he had to catch, get down and go up again, showcasing second jump-ability that also manifests itself as he fights for tip-ins and 50-50 balls in the offensive glass – where he collected 12% of Brose Baskets’ misses when he was on the floor last season.

Theis has a decent looking catch-and-shoot jumper from mid-range off the pick-and-pop. He even flashed some ability to hit such a shot from three-point range when the ball handler sucked in the defense long enough for him to have time to set his feet. But his three-pointers tended to come from spot-ups for the most part and he showed to be only a capable open shot shooter who needs some time to get his shots off – nailing 36.4% of his 321 three-point shots over the last three years.

He is fluid enough to attack closeouts on free straight-line paths from beyond the arc to the basket and even flashed some ability to take an escape dribble and rise for a stop-and-pop mid-range pull-up. But Theis is by no means a playmaker off the bounce and struggles to protect the ball in traffic due to his high dribble, turning it over on 14% of his possessions last season – a high mark for someone with his role.

He has decent enough ball skills to help facilitate offense on dribble handoffs but didn’t show much in terms of particularly instinctive passing – assisting on just 7% of Brose Baskets’ scores when he was on the floor last season.

[1] Who only turns 26 next April

[2] Which Next Step Basketball ranks as the sixth best domestic league in the continent

[3] Which was shorter than the distance he’ll face in the US

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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