France disappointed and placed seventh at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt a few of weeks ago. This isn’t the quite same group that won the 2016 FIBA European Championships U18 last December, as the very prominent Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya were unavailable due to injury. But this team still had a couple of highly regarded prospects on it, including Abdoulaye N’Doye — currently ranked 27th on Draft Express’ top 60.
The six-foot-seven 19-year-old is being developed as a tall point guard and had the opportunity to run offense full time in Cairo with Ntilikina absent but was for the most part very underwhelming.
N’Doye is a decent passer for someone his size but struggles as a scorer from every area of the court at this point of his development, which makes it tough for him to draw two to the ball and get his teammates open consistently. According to RealGM, France averaged just 83.4 points per 100 possessions in his 172 minutes on the floor.
His potential on the other end seems closer to real, though. The vision is for him to become a defender who offers switch-ability. That’s how France used him and N’Doye responded by showing plenty of signs to suggest he might get there down the line. According to FIBA.com, France was +50 with him in the lineup and that profit was earned for the most part due to his positive impact in prevention.
N’Doye doesn’t consistently bend his knees to get down in a stance, which makes him vulnerable to getting shook side-to-side and led to him getting blown by in isolation defense a couple of times.
He also lacks the strength to contain dribble penetration by similarly sized players as of now, currently possessing a thin 198-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-seven height.
But N’Doye did impress with his ability to keep pace with smaller players on straight-line drives and using his length to contest shots effectively, even in instances where he had to pick them up out on an island, as his long strides help him cover a lot of ground very quickly.
And he also did a very good job using his reach to make plays on the ball and in the passing lanes, collecting 1.8 steals per 40 minutes at the Worlds U19.
That said, N’Doye’s most impressive plays in individual defense were against the pick-and-roll. He put in the work to go over ball-screens at the point of attack and did a reasonably good job navigating them cleanly enough, which is often tricky for big point guards like him. As is the case, N’Doye’s length makes a huge impact as he tracks his man from behind and acts as a threat to block shots or deflect passes.
It was also nice to see him already showing a decent understanding of how to ice side pick-and-rolls at such a young age.
N’Doye was asked to pick up big men on switches some and though he lacks the strength and toughness to hold ground against them, he put in the work to try fronting the post consistently, which often did the trick because players in that age group aren’t very adept at entering the ball to the low block from odd angles and just don’t even try when faced with such situations.
As a weak-side defender, N’Doye showed some burst and agility to run spot-up shooters off their shots with his closeouts and subsequently slide laterally to stay in front of them as they attempt to take him off the bounce. He also proved himself attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside when called upon to act as the last line of defense, though he didn’t show any explosiveness to help protect the rim — blocking no shots in his seven appearances in Cairo.
His effort on the glass was a bit disappointing for someone his size as well, as he collected just 12.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
N’Doye’s most developed skill on offense at this point of his development is his passing.
He’s proven himself a smart player who is naturally inclined to pass ahead in transition to speed up the pace of the game and move the ball quickly in the half-court when he’s operating off the ball.
The biggest appeal is his potential as a shot creator off dribble penetration, though. N’Doye isn’t one of those geniuses who anticipate passing lanes a split second before they come open but has some resources to get his teammates good looks when he is operating in pick-and-roll with a spaced floor or gets the chance to attack off a live dribble against a scrambling defense.
He protects the ball on the move (which is vital for tall dribble drivers who are in constant danger of getting it stripped from them in traffic), is inclined to post up smaller players in a pinch in order to try drawing double-teams and shows good court vision spotting breakdowns on a collapsing defense.
Aside from simple drop-offs to big men at the dunker’s spot or kick-outs to shooters spot-up on the strong-side, N’Doye can make well-timed pocket passes and pass across his body to the opposite end of the court in traffic — assisting on 24.5% of France’s scores when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19, though at only a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
He’s flashed the ability to play with pace as well, showing some dexterity for keeping his dribble alive on slower developing plays, changing speeds and making use of re-screens to try eating some ground as opponents consistently went under.
But ultimately, N’Doye’s inability to punish opponents for playing off him when he is on the ball prevents him from maximizing the potential of his passing.
He took a few stop-and-pop jumpers from the elbow area off snaking the pick-and-roll and didn’t look bad. N’Doye can get up in rhythm, fluidly and quickly but has no touch in his shot, which also proved to be a problem on floaters and non-dunk finishes as well — as he converted just 40% of his 40 two-point tries.
He flashed some ability to adjust his body in the air for reverses against rim protection but didn’t show much explosiveness elevating off one or two feet in traffic and lacks the strength to be able to finish through contact or on his way down.
N’Doye generally struggles to get good looks for himself to begin with — logging an unimpressive 20.1% usage rate on a team that needed him to be more aggressive. Equipped with only a hesitation move to get by his man one-on-one and having not yet developed much versatility to his handle, he lacks change of direction suddenness or a crossover to shake his defender side-to-side and strength to maintain his balance through contact.
His best hope for scoring at this point of his development is driving into a heavily packed lane and drawing contact, which he did do successfully in Cairo, as he averaged six free throws per 40 minutes. N’Doye missed 16 of his 26 foul shots, though, which is a bad sign for his development as an outside shooter as well.
His spot-up catch-and-shoot jumper does not look particularly broken or anything but he missed 13 of his 15 three-point attempts and consistently puts up bad percentages in every event he participates.
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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