Mohamed Bamba Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Mohamed Bamba is known for his physical profile and athletic ability. The 19-year-old[1] measured at seven-feet and 216 pounds with a remarkable seven-foot-nine wingspan at this year’s Nike Hoop Summit, where he looked like the prototypical center for this pick-and-roll driven era of basketball due to his explosiveness leaping off the ground in a pinch to finish lobs and block shots.

But the Harlem, New York native used Texas’s preseason trip to Australia to show people his skill level is ahead of expectations as well. He was very aggressive unleashing jumpers from the elbows on post-ups and from three-point range out of the pick-and-pop, showed to have some feel for the game in terms of helping facilitate offense and looked to bring the ball up himself whenever he could after collecting a defensive rebound.

These long bombs don’t go in the basket a whole lot yet and he isn’t really one of these new age big men who can initiate offense from the perimeter but Bamba did quite a bit in that four-game trip to suggest his ceiling now goes beyond the easy comparison to DeAndre Jordan that most people like to make.

Defensively, he is a very impactful player close to the basket due to his physical prowess and hinted he might offer his coach flexibility in terms of how to defend the pick-and-roll, given his level of comfort shuffling his feet out in space but hasn’t yet developed into the sort of player who can lift his unit above its means, as Texas got lit up by two of the three Australian NBL teams it faced during the trip.

SKILL LEVEL

What Bamba did the most during preseason was catch the ball on the elbow area on either side of the floor, as Texas entered it to him on post-ups a fair amount. Unable to set deep position as of now, he showed a strong preference for turning and facing his defender. Most opponents sagged off him, unaware or unafraid of his potential to hurt them from range, and Bamba responded by being quite an aggressive shot taker when given the space.

His release is a bit methodical and a bit mechanical but Bamba elevates with decent balance and has enticing touch on his shot.

When his defender played up on him, Bamba often tried to drive around him. His handle is very decent for someone his size and he’s well coordinated but lacks the strength to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact.

The few times here and there that Bamba tried to back down his man, he worked to set up a turnaround right-handed hook over the defender’s left shoulder. His footwork was not particularly impressive but Bamba at least showed he doesn’t have cement feet. His touch is only OK, though.

But in the game against Melbourne, when a defender forced him to turn to his off hand, Mamba attempted a right-handed push shot in awkward balance, instead of opting for a left-handed hook or a turnaround, fadeaway jumper, suggesting he doesn’t yet have these assets in his arsenal at this point of his development.

His passing is a lot more advanced than expected, though. Texas played through him a little bit in the high post, on plays designed for him to catch, turn, face his man and then enter the ball to a perimeter player cutting to the area near the basket made vacant by Bamba drawing his man out. He also flashed some ability to hit cutters out of doubles with his back to the basket and kick-out to spot-up shooters out of the short roll.

He’s projected as a pick-and-dive threat out of the pick-and-roll but whenever Bamba set ball-screens in Australia, he mostly popped out the three-point line and wasn’t shy of letting it fly. He needs to speed up his release but proved he can take open shots rather comfortably. He also made a habit of hanging back changing ends, so he could get an open three up as the trailer in the transition.

Much like his no-dribble jumper out of triple threat position, his catch-and-shoot release looked a bit mechanical and methodical, though his touch seemed very decent. He gets off the ground a decent amount for a seven-footer, it’s not a set shot, but lets the ball go from the side, instead of out in front.

Though the threes he made and how confident he was at taking them were a bit stunning, the most surprising skill Bamba showed was the ability to grab and go off a defensive rebound. His handle is OK and he looked well coordinated bringing the ball up. He even flashed a light hesitation dribble to get by his man in transition and tried to take it end-to-end a couple of times but his touch on non-dunk finishes is only so-so at this point of his development.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

Bamba didn’t roll to the basket a whole lot and when he did, a weak-side defender rotated in to take away the lob but he had chances to finish a couple of alley-oops sneaking behind the defense. Bamba can explode off the ground with some space to take flight and has a massive nine-foot-six standing reach to play above the rim.

But from an athletic-standpoint, Bamba struggles in plays that require strength and physicality of him due to his lean frame. He can’t set deep post position in the post, has no power moves and lacks force to go up strong through contact off a standstill after collecting offensive rebounds.

Defensively, Bamba struggles to hold his ground in the post and though he is attentive to his boxout responsibilities, it was rare to see him completely erase an opponent out of a battle under the glass.

But while he doesn’t grow into his body, Bamba can rely on that massive standing reach to contest shots effectively defending the post, even when the opponent knocks him back some, and he’s proved to have quick instincts chasing the ball off the rim, aside the fact he has that remarkable seven-foot-nine wingspan to rebound outside his position.

That said, what’s enticing about Bamba’s agility is his potential defending the pick-and-roll extending above the foul line and covering a lot of ground in help-defense. When these pro teams ran pick-and-roll with the center as the screener, Texas didn’t ask Bamba to go meet the ball-handler at the point of attack but had him step up to prevent the opponent from turning the corner right away, which he proved very comfortable doing out in space.

Texas didn’t have him picking up smaller players on switches at any moment but Bamba seems to be the exact sort of big who has a shot of keeping pace with such types out on an island, though it’s unclear if that’s truly the case yet.

What it’s clear is that Bamba will be a constant shot blocking threat near the basket, elevating out of two feet stepping up to protect the front of the rim and out of one foot coming the weak-side in help-defense. The expectation is he should average about three blocks per 40 minutes at the college level.

[1] Who turns 20 only in March

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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Mohamed Bamba Scouting Report

  • Bamba scored 14 points on 14 minutes on Texas’ 96-84 win against the Dandenong Rangers — a team from Australia’s second division, on Tuesday.
  • His first score was on a catch-and-shoot three-pointer off a pick-and-pop on Texas’ second offensive possession of the game. His release looked a bit mechanical and methodical, though with very decent touch. He gets off the ground a decent amount for a seven-footer, it’s not a set shot, but lets the ball go from the side, instead of out in front.
  • Bamba was very aggressive pulling the trigger from the outside.
    • He took another three-pointer after making sure to space beyond the arc against Dandenong’s zone that missed;
    • Then he missed an uncontested turnaround right elbow jumper off the catch in the middle of Dandenong’s zone;
    • Then he made a no-dribble jumper from the left elbow turning and facing his defender on a post-up;
    • Then he missed a one-dribble pull-up fading to his left on the right side of the mid-post area after also turning and facing his defender.
  • Bamba got most of his touches in the post and showed a strong preference for turning, facing his defender and launching a jumper[1], with the exception of one possession at the start of the second quarter when he set decent position in the mid-post, took a dribble to set himself up and launched a right-handed turnaround hook over the defender’s left shoulder that went in. His footwork was not particularly impressive but Bamba at least showed he doesn’t have cement feet.
    • There was also a play where Bamba caught in the elbow area, turned and faced his defender, spot a cutter working baseline and delivered a nice pass that his teammate bobbled and lost out of bounds.
  • Texas did not put him in the pick-and-roll but Bamba proved himself able to play above the rim as a target for lobs with his massive nine-foot-six standing reach on a play where he sneaked behind the defense and finished an alley-oop.
  • Bamba’s most impressive plays from a skill-standpoint were when he drove from the top of the key to the rim and earned two free throws attacking out of triple threat position after trailing behind a play in transition and when he collected the ball after a deflection and took it end-to-end for a short jumper from just outside the restricted area. The exciting part of that grab-and-go is that it wasn’t on a straight-line; Bamba had to escape a steal attempt at half-court and then contain his momentum not to commit an offensive foul when an opponent challenged his shot. His coordination on both plays were equally as impressive as his ball-handling.
  • Bamba was only stressed in pick-and-roll defense once, showcasing decent agility for someone his size showing-and-recover to his man in a timely manner.
  • He proved himself a proactive help defender coming off the weak-side to act as a shot blocking threat, able to come off the ground with ease, aside from having such a giant reach.
  • Bamba also put his length[2] to use rebounding outside of his area, which will be key for him on the defensive glass as much as on the other end because while he seemed attentive to his boxout responsibilities, Bamba only plays with so-so physicality and sometimes doesn’t completely erase the opponent off the play or gets pushed out of his position.

[1] Bamba has a lean 216-pound frame in the context of his seven-foot height, so it’s understandable why he doesn’t look to play a physicality-oriented style

[2] Seven-foot-nine wingspan

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

Marvin Bagley, III Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Marvin Bagley III announced on Monday that he’s reclassifying to the 2017 high school class and joining the Duke Blue Devils for next season. The six-foot-11 big man might have to wait a little bit before the NCAA rules him eligible, given he made his decision to move on to college really late in the process, but ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tweeted his father is said to have been keeping his documentation diligently in order and everything should work out in the end.

The expectation is for the 18-year-old[1] Bagley to be one-and-done and join what’s already viewed as a highly touted 2018 NBA Draft class, at least at the very top. Givony released his first mock draft on Tuesday and the lefty is ranked second.

At Sierra Canyon, Bagley had plenty of opportunities to create a shot from the post and the team spaced the floor fairly well around him. But though he flashed his ball skills and coordination on a few face-up drives and in transition, he was not given any chance to create from the perimeter against a set defense in the games against Oak Hill Academy and Nathan Hale – which this evaluation is based on.

Bagley was also not put in the pick-and-roll a whole lot in this game, which was disappointing.

Defensively, his energy and intensity were nice to see. He contested a lot of shots near the basket and worked hard on the glass. Bagley also even flashed some intelligence switching on the fly, which Sierra Canyon did a little bit of – a matchup zone of sorts. There’s still room for him to improve as a positional defender, though, rotating preemptively to keep opponents from getting to the basket to begin with.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

Bagley’s biggest appeal at this point of his development is his agility and coordination, which are above average for someone his size.

Those translate on offense in:

  • his fluid footwork in the post
  • his nice first step and long strides on face-up drives
  • his explosiveness going up to finish strong off one foot or two feet with some space to take flight
  • his ability to adjust his body in the air for reverse finishes
  • his handling of the ball or filling of the lanes on the fast-break
  • his second jump on putback attempts

Defensively, Bagley was very proactive stepping up to protect the front of the basket going up vertically off two feet and coming off the weak-side to block shots off one foot in help-defense. According to d1circuit.com, he blocked 60 shots in 20 appearances for Nike Phamily in the Nike EYBL circuit last month.

Bagley also proved himself attentive to his boxout responsibilities and showed excellent instincts and quickness chasing the ball off the rim — collecting almost nine defensive rebounds per game in the AAU event.

In high school, Sierra Canyon had him hedging-and-recovering against the pick-and-roll and Bagley proved himself quick enough to prevent the ball-handler from turning the corner right away and then getting back to his man in a timely manner.

When he dropped back against dribble drivers who got downhill, Bagley showed he’s able to keep pace with smaller players on straight line drives thanks to his long strides and intimidate or effectively contest shots at the basket.

He wasn’t asked to switch often but has proven when matched up against stretch big men on face-up drives that he can bend his knees to get down in a stance and shuffle his feet laterally to stay in front, so there’s potential for that.

But Bagley doesn’t have elite reach for someone his height. The Draft Express’ archive lists him with only an eight-foot-nine standing reach measured three years ago but given there is no record of him getting taller, it’s fair to assume he hasn’t gotten longer either. And that figures to be a concern as he moves up through the ranks.

His measurements are out of his control, though. An area that needs improvement and he can work on as his body matures is his strength. Bagley has a lean 225-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-11 height. As a result, he gets pushed out of deep position in the post and needs to front the post on the other end.

SKILL LEVEL & BASKETBALL IQ

Without any power moves to speak of as of now, Bagley relies on his skill operating from the low block.

He’s flashed a face-up jumper off a jab-step and a lefty hook off a jump-stop but for the most part likes to face his defender and attempt driving around him. Bagley has a loose handle and is prone to getting the ball stripped from him in traffic but can go around his man due to his quick first step, maintain his balance through contact and shows some nice touch on non-dunk finishes.

There’s plenty of room for refinement, though. Bagley didn’t show much diversity to his post game, in terms or shot fakes or a turnaround fadeaway jumper, and he is extremely left-hand dominant. In an instance where Billy Preston forced him to his right in the game against Oak Hill, Bagley still try a left-handed hook, despite the fact his momentum was against his strong hand and Preston wouldn’t be able to contest him if he had shot with his right hand.

But Bagley is viewed as a potential star prospect because of the glimpses of perimeter skills he’s flashed, which at his combination of size and agility could be difference makers.

He’s proven himself able to grab a defensive rebound, take a few dribble and pass ahead to speed up the pace of the game or go end-to-end and drive at his man one-on-one. He even flashed some passing ability, from the post hitting a cutter off a double team in the game against Oak Hill and on a drop-off against Nathan Hale.

Bagley didn’t run any pick-and-rolls against a set defense or show the ability to shake his defender side-to-side with dribble moves in these two games, though.

The same dynamic is true of his outside jumper. Bagley spaced out to the three-point line when Cody Riley set a ball-screen or posted up, which suggests he has shown such range in practice, and he hit a smooth looking stop-and-pop corner three-pointer off the bounce as his defender eased up his stance against Oak Hill. He elevates off the floor with decent balance, has decent quickness in his release for someone his size and pretty good touch in his shot.

But other than taking a catch-and-shoot corner three relocating off ball movement against Nathan Hale, Bagley wasn’t given the chance to show if he has any versatility to his shot, as he was not put in the pick-and-pop or run off pindown screens, and there is no tangible evidence he is on pace to develop into a real long-range threat in the immediate future, as Bagley hit just 20.9% of his 67 three-point shots and 62.3% of his 199 free throw shots in the EYBL circuit last month.

[1] Who turns 19 only in March

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

Miles Bridges Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Every team is looking for a Draymond Green these days; a big wing who can not only aid the shot creation process on dribble hand-offs, out of the short roll and handling in the secondary break but also draw opposing big men 25-feet away from the basket and force them to defend big-small pick-and-rolls out in space in a way they are not used to, while simultaneously providing excellent defense from a big position on the other end — whether it is via expert help or providing switch-ability.

That’s obviously a very difficult player to find. Green would be very valuable if he did just one or two of these things but the fact that he does them all is why he’s probably the most special non-volume scorer ever, given the way he unlocks Golden State’s most powerful lineup.

Miles Bridges hasn’t yet materialized into someone who can check all these boxes but there is no other prospect out there who looks like he is on his way to becoming something close to that sort of player down the line. And add to it that the 19-year-old[1] combo forward chose the perfect place to develop a similar skill-set to Green’s in Michigan State.

Bridges had a very productive first year in East Lansing, posting a 22.2 PER and averaging 21.1 points per 40 minutes on 56.3% effective shooting — according to our stats’ database.

He impressed with the versatility of his dribble moves and his passing on the go in instances where he was afforded shot creation opportunities, while also carrying his weight reasonably well when he was needed to spot-up off the ball.

Defensively, the six-foot-seven 230-pounder was not asked to switch onto smaller players all that frequently and operated mostly as a big man whose top responsibilities was defending the interior, impressing not just with the use of his athletic prowess to create events near the basket but also flashing recognition skills in rotations that prevented drives to the rim from happening.

SHOT CREATION

Often operating as the second tallest player on four-out lineups, Bridges was mostly guarded by big men and consistently drew them to the perimeter to force them to defend out in space.

Even against these slower types, he didn’t show much explosiveness with the ball to just blow by them on speed but showcased many resources to get around them most of the time. He has an in-and-out dribble and can hang dribble into crossovers to shake his defender side-to-side, aside from nimbleness pivoting into a well-coordinated spin move to just charge his way forward.

But despite playing on a team with five other rotation players who shot 35% or higher from three-point range, Bridges was unable to get all the way to the rim in high volume. According to hoop-math, just 37 of his 87 makes at the basket were unassisted and he averaged just 4.1 free throws per 40 minutes — not particularly impressive marks for someone with a 27.3% usage-rate.

Aside from the fact he doesn’t have above average quickness with the ball, his shot selection also looked a bit iffy. Bridges opted for a number of floaters and step-back pull-ups that seemed ill-advised but he converted 40% of his 85 mid-range shots — which is not awesome but is about as efficient as you can expect on such looks.

His decision making also needs improvement in the pick-and-roll. Bridges proved himself able to play with pace and make pocket passes and passes across his body to the opposite end of the court maneuvering his man into a ball-screen, assisting o 14.5% of Michigan State’s scores when he was on the floor.

But he’s also still prone to getting the ball stripped away from him in traffic and consistently looks for risky passes on the move when settling for simpler ones would be wiser — as he averaged 2.9 turnovers per 40 minutes and posted a disappointing 58-to-66 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Bridges ventured into the post in occasions where he was guarded by smaller or similarly-sized players and the results were OK, if not inspiring. He didn’t show much in terms of power moves or shot fakes but can shuffle his feet fluidly and get simple hooks and runners off, though nothing that made any opponent fear him to the extent that they started sending double teams on subsequent possessions.

FINISHING & SHOOTING

So, while thinking of Bridges’ potential as a shot creator is tantalizing, he is still doing the bulk of his scoring as a finisher and a shooter, as almost two-thirds of his field-goals were assisted.

Bridges has a low release but his catch-and-shoot jumper looks comfortable and fluid and the ball goes out with ease and at decent speed. He even flashed some versatility to his release, flashing the ability to make threes as the trailer in transition, after screening in the pick-and-pop, coming off pindown screens and relocating to open spots around the perimeter. The only thing missing was seeing him coming off staggered screens sprinting from one side of the floor to the other, which is too much to ask for someone with his frame.

Bridges nailed 38.9% of his 144 three-point attempts, at a pace of 6.4 such shots per 40 minutes. Yet, there are still concerns over whether that sort of high level shooting can translate to the next level because a known indicator of future performance from long-range is foul shooting and Bridges was a surprisingly poor free throw shooter last season, converting just 68.5% of his 92 such attempts.

Nonetheless, Bridges commanded closeouts, which afforded him many opportunities to attack the basket out of triple-threat position. He is an explosive leaper out of two feet, who also proved himself a target to play above the rim as a target for lobs on cuts, and has also flashed the ability to hang in the air, adjust his body and over-extend himself for non-dunk finishes around rim protectors — converting his 135 field-goals at the basket on a 64.4% clip.

DEFENSE

Bridges led a team in minutes per game[2] that ranked 38th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency — according to Ken Pomeroy.

His biggest contributions were near the basket, where he translated his athletic prowess into rotations coming off the weak-side to the protect the rim in help-defense and boxing out bigger players with physicality. According to basketball-reference, Bridges averaged 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes and collected 23.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

He also put his agility to use running shooters off the three-point line in pick-and-pop defense and on closeouts as a weak-side defender, subsequently using his lateral quickness to slide side-to-side and stay in front as these shooters put the ball on the floor.

But his most promising aspect might be his intelligence. Bridges impressed with his technique in pick-and-roll defense as a big, getting down in a stance and walling off dribble penetration by rotating preemptively and manipulating ball-handlers into low-percentage mid-range pull-ups. He also proved himself attentive to his responsibilities switching assignments on the fly.

The biggest concern was when Bridges needed to guard true big men in the post. He can hold his ground in most instances but lacks elite length[3] to contest shots effectively and didn’t often try making up for it by playing with active hands to try stripping the ball as the opponent made his move — averaging less than one steal per 40 minutes.

[1] Who only turns 20 next March

[2] He missed seven games with a high ankle sprain in December

[3] Eight-foot-seven standing reach, according to Draft Express

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

Killian Tillie Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • 19 years old, turns 20 only next March
  • Listed at six-foot-10, 230 pounds
  • 17.8 points per 40 minutes on 47.6% effective shooting at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt last month
  • Tournament wasn’t necessarily the best that it could bebut still featured about a dozen guys who will for sure get a look in the NBA in the near future
  • France placed seventh in the tournament after winning the 2016 FIBA European Championships U18 last December but this was not really the same group, with Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya missing the event due to injury
  • 25.2% usage rate, according to RealGM: participated in the shot creation process from the post and on pick-and-drive’s but not as a modern big wing who can draw an opposing big 25-feet away from the basket and force him to guard his drives out in space
  • Logged some minutes at center in instances when France was trying to come from behind but mostly played as an old pure power forward
  • May still develop into a bruising type – has the frame for that – but relied mostly on his skills package
  • Did very well on the defensive glass and showed excellent instincts picking up steals in volume, which led to the second best defensive rating on the team at 84.8

DEFENSE

  • Attentive to his rotation responsibilities coming off the weak-side in help-defense; not an explosive leaper off two feet, blocking just one shot in 195 minutes, but has developed dexterity using verticality to challenge shots at the basket effectively
  • Had the lateral quickness to keep pace with stretch big men one-on-one at this level of competition and uses his hands well to make plays on the ball – averaged two steals per 40 minutes
  • Coordinated enough to closeout, run shooter off his shot, slide laterally to keep pace with him off the bounce
  • Coordinated and agile enough to be an asset hedging-and-recovering against the pick-and-roll
  • Not an asset to switch onto smaller players regularly; lacks lateral quickness to stay in front of these types out on an island and isn’t quick enough to block them from behind
  • Attentive to his boxout responsibilities and chased the ball off the rim very well against this level of competition despite lack of explosive leaping ability; collected 27.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, which ranked sixth in the tournament

OFFENSE

  • Can grab a defensive rebound and bring the ball up the court but isn’t the sort of modern big wing who feels comfortable initiating offense himself
  • Did about half of his shot creation from the post: doesn’t play with enough physicality to bully his way into deep post position consistently, which makes it not uncommon to see him get pushed out
    • Didn’t show a particularly diverse set of post moves, more often than not relying on simple turnaround hooks, and showed no power moves – earning just 2.6 free throws per 40 moves
  • Looked his best as a scoring threat on pick-and-drive’s against a scrambling defense; proved himself coordinated enough to catch, take a dribble and launch floaters or make a kick-out pass to the outside
  • Loves floaters, lives to take them; floaters off jump-stops, floaters off spin moves, runners. Has very nice touch on them, shot 51.2% on 68 two-pointers, despite a steady diet of these looks that tend to be low percentage on average
  • Doesn’t roll hard to the basket in pick-and-roll; isn’t an option to play above the rim as a target for lobs and can’t go up strong off two feet in a crowd
  • Took a pick-and-pop jumper from mid-range that looked good and also flashed a quick pop-to-three long bomb off faking to be preparing himself to set a screen, aside from a three-pointer relocating to an open spot around the wing
  • But for the most part was a very reluctant outside shooter; release looks fluid and reasonably quick for someone his size and he lets it go from a high point but takes some time to load his shot – averaging just three three-point attempts per 40 minutes in Cairo, missing 12 of his 15 attempts
  • Surprised in the offensive glass, collecting 11% of France’s misses
  • Tremendous asset to help facilitate offense, assisting on 21.2% of France’s scores when he was on the floor; excellent instincts on post-to-post passing, ball skills to act as a hub on dribble hand-offs, quick thinking on catch-and-go’s from the post, can make entry passes over the top from the perimeter when his team inverts the offense
    • It came at the cost of him turning it over on 20.6% of his plays; not some screaming absurdity given his high usage rate and assist rate but not something to be ignored either

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

Tadas Sedekerskis Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Tadas Sedekerskis led the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in PER, according to RealGM.

Despite consistently flashing some very appealing court vision, the six-foot-nine combo-forward has always projected as more of a floor spacing big wing who could make a play on the move when necessary rather than a shot creator who could run pick-and-roll against a set defense often but that’s what he did in Cairo last month.

Lithuania ran a motion offense that moved the defense side-to-side before getting into side pick-and-rolls rather than going with stagnant 1-5 flat pick-and-rolls at the top of the key on every play. And in this context, Sedekerskis proved himself a real asset to stress the defense and create for himself or others consistently.

But even when he grabbed a defensive rebound, brought it up and initiated offense himself, Sedekerskis looked very capable.

The 19-year-old[1] averaged 23.7 points per 40 minutes on 65.9% effective shooting and assisted on 34.2% of Lithuania’s scores when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19, which is even more impressive when you consider he struggled as an outside shooter and opponents didn’t have to play up on him.

He has a nice physical profile for a perimeter player, possessing a 211-pound frame and eight-foot-10 standing reach[2]. He didn’t show the same sort of appealing versatility in individual defense, disappointing as both a perimeter and interior defender, but did create plenty of events as a weak-side defender, which led to Lithuania allowing just 82.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.

SHOT CREATION

Sedekerskis has a so-so handle and no explosiveness to blow by his man in isolation or turn the corner off the pick-and-roll on speed but impressed with his craft operating off the bounce. He has an in-and-out dribble and some shiftiness, able to hang-dribble into a crossover to shake his defender side-to-side or maneuver him into a ball-screen.

Sedekerskis consistently looks to pass off dribble penetration, logging only 21.7% usage-rate. He didn’t show particularly great timing trying to lob it up in traffic or much in terms of passing across his body to the opposite end of the court on the move[3] but proved himself able to pass over the top when the opponent prevented him from turning the corner and make a well-timed pocket pass[4], aside from basic drop-offs and kick-outs against a collapsing defense.

As a scorer, Sedekerskis can make the eventual step-in three-pointer off the pick-and-roll if left completely unchallenged and flashed a step-back jumper that didn’t look all that smooth but doesn’t yet have a stop-and-pop jumper off the bounce from mid- or deep range.

As is the case, he looks to drive off the pick. Opponents go under but Sedekerskis can maintain his balance through contact to get all the way to the basket. He can’t elevate off one or two feet to go up strong in a crowd but has an euro-step to navigate rim protectors, very good touch on non-dunk finishes and dexterity for drawing contact in traffic — converting his 44 two-point shots at a 77.3% clip and averaging 8.1 foul shots per 40 minutes in Cairo.

FLOOR SPACING

He didn’t bring as much to the table operating off the ball, though. Sederkeskis’ shot doesn’t look broken but he doesn’t shoot an easy ball either. His release is not methodical but he needs some time and space to get his shot off comfortably at this point of his development.

He hasn’t shown any sort of versatility to his shot, as he was not used as the screener in the pick-and-pop or coming off staggered screens, but the biggest concern is how hesitant he still is letting it fly even on spot-ups, as he averaged just 4.1 three-point attempts per 40 minutes and passed up some good looks.

Given he missed 15 of his 19 such attempts in the tournament, that was probably justified.

DEFENSE

Sedekerskis can run shooters off their shots with his closeouts a fair amount, then subsequently slide laterally to stay in front. He’s also proven himself smart enough to recognize instances where he needed to switch assignments on the fly and making plays in the passing lanes, averaging 2.4 steals per 40 minutes, despite a six-foot-nine wingspan that is below average for someone his height.

He is not very physical but does look to boxout and is active pursuing the ball off the rim, collecting 19.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19. His post defense is a similarly case, as he didn’t show much tenacity trying to front and deny an easy feed but did a solid job of holding his ground against soft bigs and made sure they had to finish over his raised up arms.

Sedekerskis didn’t often rotate inside to help with rim protection by crowding the area near the basket, though.

And he is unable to pick up smaller players on switches, having not shown any ability to go over screens in pick-and-roll defense or bend his knees to get down in a stance and stay in front in one-on-one defense out on an island.

[1] Who only turns 20 in January

[2] According to Draft Express

[3] Though he did have an awesome wrap-around pass to the opposite wing off a drive against Argentina

[4] Turning it over on just 15.9% of his possessions in Cairo

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

Arnoldas Kulboka Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Arnoldas Kulboka had a so-so appearance at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt last month.

The 19-year-old[1] wing, who averaged 20.8 points per 40 minutes on 27% usage-rate, was a key part of Lithuania placing sixth and showed some tangible development in terms of shot creation chops. He was not relied on to initiate offense against a set defense constantly but had plenty of opportunities to run side pick-and-roll or post-up within the flow offense, operating in a well-spaced floor.

The gunner shot poorly, though — 42.9% effective shooting on 92 field-goal attempts, according to RealGM. The types of shots he took and the fact he looked quite good taking them is an encouraging sign Kulboka is on his way to develop into the most valuable kind of shooter but the ball has to go in too, which was not the case in Cairo.

Defensively, the six-foot-nine, 206-pouder was up-and-down as well, showing some potential as a wing defender who can execute the scheme and provide some switch-ability exchanging into soft bigs. But he didn’t create any events, which is quite disappointing for someone with a six-foot-11 wingspan and some hops, and generally just doesn’t play with much toughness or intensity.

WEAK-SIDE OFFENSE

Despite putting up poor percentages in Cairo, Kulboka still projects to make his money out of working the second side of the floor. That’s the case because of his track record in previous events[2], the way he looks shooting and the types of shots he takes.

Kulboka has a quick release, fluid mechanics and does great shot preparation catching on the hop on spot-ups and relocating to an open spot around the wing.

But the biggest value he provides is as someone who can make shots on the move. Lithuania got him open coming off staggered screens running baseline from one side of the floor to the other or from the corner to the top of the key, sprinting to the ball for dribble hand-offs, popping to the three-point line as the back-screener on Spain pick-and-rolls and off Iverson cuts out of horns.

Kulboka averaged 11 three-point attempts per 40 minutes in Cairo but struggled and nailed just 25.5% of his 51 such shots.

His reputation still carried gravity, though, and opponents closed out to him consistently. In these instances, he looked fluid attacking closeouts out of triple-threat position, able to blow by his man on a combination of quick first-step + burst and get all the way to the basket in a position to elevate in balance.

SHOT CREATION

Opponents also played up on him as he caught the ball on hand-offs and off ball-reversals, which opened up opportunities for him to attack a defense moving from side-to-side within the flow of the offense.

Kulboka proved himself able to run side pick-and-roll, not just to keep the offense moving but as an asset to stress the defense into a screw-up as well.

He operated mostly as a go-go driver attacking off the ball-screen and got all the way to the basket with either hand a fair amount, proving himself able to adjust his body in the air to finish around rim protection with reverses or up-and-unders, though he is still not strong enough to finish on his way down and hasn’t yet develop much dexterity drawing contact in traffic — finishing his 41 two-pointers at a 48.8% clip and averaging just 5.6 foul shots per 40 minutes at the Worlds U19.

But Kulboka also flashed some ability to work with pace, showing side-to-side shiftiness and an in-and-out dribble when he transitioned these side pick-and-rolls into isolations, getting decent separation for stop-and-pop jumpers he looked good elevating in balance for.

He also flashed some proficiency creating for others, showcasing a well-timed pocket pass when the defense gave him a clear window to hit and a pass over the top when the defense kept him from turning the corner but screwed up the help behind the play — assisting on 13.1% of Lithuania’s scores when he was on the floor.

That said, he doesn’t have above average court vision and is still just as likely to turn it over as he is to get a good look operating off the dribble, coughing the ball up 15 times as opposed to dishing out 14 assists in Cairo.

As it is, Kulboka’s most reliable resource for shot creation purposes is his inclination to take smaller wings into the post. He doesn’t have any post moves and doesn’t play with a lot of toughness trying to back these players down but can get a turnaround, fade-away jumper off.

DEFENSE

Kulboka is also a mixed bag as a defender. There is not one thing he does consistently well at this point of his development.

He was mostly used as a weak-side defender and looked good running shooters off their shots with his closeouts,  subsequently sliding laterally to stay in front and using his eight-foot-10 standing reach to contest shots effectively at times. Kulboka also showed some commitment rotating inside to bump the roll man or crowd the area near the basket coming off the weak-side in help-defense.

But there were plenty of times where his closeouts were plenty weak and he missed rotations as well, he doesn’t have much strength in his thin 206-pound frame to contain dribble penetration and he doesn’t create any events making plays in the passing or as a shot blocker, despite his length and athletic ability.

Kulboka found himself on smaller players from time-to-time and has a combination of enough quickness and long strides to keep pace with them on straight line drives but doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance and is too spaced out, so they are able to shake him side-to-side and get around him out an island or maneuver him into a ball-screen to lose him easily.

In pick-and-roll defense, he doesn’t put in the work to go over ball-screens and completely exposes his big teammate. As is the case, Lithuania had him switching and Kulboka did an adequate job trying to front the post to avoid giving up an easy post entry and raise his arms to contest shots effectively against big men who couldn’t just bully him.

He doesn’t figure to be a real option to play up a position in smaller lineups, though. The height and the length are there but the toughness and tenacity aren’t. Kulboka doesn’t get very physical with his boxouts and isn’t very active pursuing the ball off the rim, collecting just 13% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, which is a reasonably disappointing mark for someone his size.

[1] Who turns 20 in January

[2] Per RealGM, Kulboka nailed 34.6% of his three-pointers at the 2016 European Championships U18, 42.9% at the 2015 European Championships U18, 39.6% at the 2014 European Championships U16, 35.9% at German second division for Baunach last season and 45.2% at German second division for Baunach two seasons ago

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