Keita Bates-Diop Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Keita Bates-Diop was the 22nd-ranked prospect in the 2014 high school class[1] but struggled to get on the court in his first year at Ohio State, logging just 327 minutes over 33 appearances as a freshman[2].

He did a lot better as a sophomore, earning 1,040 minutes and averaging 14.9 points per 40 minutes[3], but instead of going pro, the six-foot-seven wing opted to return for his junior season, looking to improve his 54.9% true shooting.

Bates-Diop logged only nine games due to a stress fracture and was forced to redshirt that season, though.

He returned for his fourth year and, looking 100% from a physical-standpoint, the 22-year-old[4] has lived up to expectations, leading Ohio State to 24 wins in 31 games against the 48th toughest schedule in the country[5].

He’s averaged 23.6 points per 40 minutes on 57.7% true shooting and posted a 27.8 player efficiency rating this season, which has resulted in ESPN currently ranking him 27th on its top 100.

Bates-Diop projects as a combo forward who can space the floor reasonably well and offer some shot creation against switches on offense. That’s how he’s operated at Ohio State this year and figures to be how he’ll be viewed in the pros, though to a lesser extent, as it seems impossible to think his 29.1% usage-rate would carry over to the NBA.

On the other end, Bates-Diop seems on the surface like the exact sort of versatile defender every team is looking for these days. He proved himself able to defend smaller players regularly in college, not just switching onto them midway through the shot clock but starting possessions on them and having to track them around full time too.

Given his upright stance, there’s some skepticism over how much of his prolificacy in one-on-one defense will translate against the elite athletes he will be matching up against in the pros.

POST UP OFFENSE

Posting up is the most advanced part of his skill-set at this point of his development. Ohio State often calls him sets to get him isolated in the post against smaller of similarly sized players.

Bates-Diop has a well-distributed 235-pound frame[6] but doesn’t play with a lot of toughness looking to set position for deep catches, as he is regularly pushed further away from the low post.

Once he gets the ball, Bates-Diop has shown to be reasonably resourceful working out of that area. He doesn’t have power moves and hasn’t shown much in terms of working his man out of position with shot-fakes, head-fakes or spin moves but uses his height and the high release on his jumper to shoot over his defender.

He mostly alternates between quick turnaround jumpers over either shoulder immediately upon catching the ball and a more deliberated approach where he turns, faces his man, sizes him up or jab-steps and rises to shoot over him.

Bates-Diop elevates with good balance, has a reasonably quick trigger out of a standstill, fully elevates himself for a high release and shows decent touch. He’s nailed 44.8% of his 190 two-point jumpers this season, with less than a third of his makes assisted[7].

Bates-Diop has also flashed a move to get a closer look where he backs down his man some, then twists his body around him and attempts a scoop layup off balance. Given his above average length, it can be somewhat effective.

What he hasn’t shown much is a knack for passing out of the post.

SHOOTING

Bates-Diop is only a capable open shot shooter at this point of his development.

Ohio State has him drifting to the corners, sprinting to the top of the key off pindown screens and taking quick jumpers after setting ball-screens in the pick-and-pop from time to time but he hasn’t yet shown much dexterity for nailing these more challenging types of shots.

Bates-Diop has a fluid shooting motion off the catch, with a pronounced but quick dip for rhythm. His release is OK quick for someone his size and he fully extends himself to launch the ball from a high point, making it challenging for defenders to closeout to him effectively.

Bates-Diop has nailed an average 35.1% of his 322 three-point shots over his time at Ohio State but has hit 76.7% of his 258 foul shots, suggesting that a more steady diet of spot-up looks instead of being asked to take shots on the move would result in a more comforting percentage for someone who will earn the bulk of his money on how well he shoots three-pointers.

OFF THE BOUNCE

Bates-Diop profiles as a ‘shoot it-or-move it’ player when he is not in the post.

He is not very smooth putting the ball on the floor out of triple threat position, doesn’t have an explosive first step to blow by his man as he’s scrambling, doesn’t play with any force using his strength to bully his way to the rim and is prone to having the ball stripped in traffic.

Bates-Diop also doesn’t have the side-to-side quickness and hasn’t yet developed the handle, the dribble moves or the court vision to create good offense for himself or others in isolation or out of the pick-and-roll – taking just 23.7% of his shots at the rim, with almost half of his makes there assisted, and assisting on just 10.8% of Ohio State’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season.

DEFENSIVE VERSATILITY

Ohio State switched aggressively and Bates-Diop found himself matched up against smaller players late in possessions regularly. They’ve also felt comfortable with starting possessions on true guards from time to time.

He bends his knees some but is for the most part a bit too upright in his stance defending on the ball. He is also too big to be able to get skinny over ball-screens, imposing on his team a mandatory switch if he’s put in the pick-and-roll.

Out on an island, Bates-Diop did well shuffling his feet side-to-side to stay in front of smaller players, guards with his arms up to try scaring away shots with his length and uses his strength to contain dribble penetration.

As a wing defender, he’s proven himself attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside to pick up the roll man and impressed with his ability to closeout, run more than a few shooters off their shots and stay balanced to keep pace with them as they put the ball on the floor. He’s also used his length to make plays in the passing lanes some, though his average of 1.2 steals per 40 minutes is a bit unimpressive.

His biggest contribution has been on the defensive glass. Bates-Diop is very active chasing the ball off the rim while Kaleb Wesson and Micah Potter do the dirty work, showing fairly impressive quick leaping ability off two feet in a crowd – collecting 25.7% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season.

Bates-Diop has also been deployed as the tallest player on five-out lineups every once in a while and as a big defender, he’s shown nice awareness coming off the weak-side in help defense and translated his quick leaping ability into effective challenges at the rim – averaging 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes over his 106 appearances in college.

He’s also proven himself aa asset against the pick-and-roll, able to contain ball handlers from turning the corner in drop defense and keep pace with them on straight line drives as they get downhill to challenge shots at the basket.

Where he’s struggled is in areas that demand a little more physicality. Bates-Diop is attentive to his boxout responsibilities but isn’t very tenacious in his attempts to erase his man out of the play. Defending the post, he uses his length well to try walling off the rim but gives up ground somewhat regularly.

Overall, his impact was tremendous. Bates-Diop posted the best defensive rating on a team[8] that ranked 13th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency[9].

[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to our stats’ database

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] DOB: 1/23/1996

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to Ohio State

[7] According to hoop-math

[8] According to our stats’ database

[9] According to Ken Pomeroy

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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Lonnie Walker, IV Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Lonnie Walker, IV was the 13th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1] but started his freshman year of college slow after undergoing knee surgery[2] in July.

He’s been heating up over the last month, though. Aside from getting his legs back under him, Walker has also gotten a more prominent role within the offense due to the absence of Bruce Brown, Jr.

The six-foot-five wing is currently averaging 17.2 points per 40 minutes on 54.1% true shooting and posting a 17.2 player efficiency rating through 27 appearances this season[3].

Walker projects as a weak-side spot-up shooter who has shown flashes of being able to take shots on the move as well. He’s also proven himself able to get his own look one-on-one late in the shot clock, though he is yet to show an advanced feel for the game that suggests he’s about to develop into someone who can run offense on an every-possession basis any time soon.

On the other end, the 19-year-old[4] has the size and the athletic traits to be expected to play at least average defense. In terms of execution, he’s alternated impressive awareness rotating in to crowd the interior with getting burned backdoor at times, which is not uncommon for someone whose only other meaningful experience prior to arriving at Miami was 97 minutes at the Nike Global Challenge in 2015[5].

A more pressing concern, perhaps, is that it remains unclear how much versatility he offers in an Era where being able to switch across multiple positions is becoming a necessity.

Nonetheless, Walker is ranked 17th on ESPN’s top 100.

OUTSIDE SHOOTING

His most immediate way of contributing is his outside shot, as 51.6% of his live-ball attempts have come from three-point range, some of them from real deep distance.

Though he is mostly only an open shot shooter at this point of his development, he’s made a few shots coming to the ball on dribble hand-offs and jogging around pindown screens.

Walker has compact mechanics, releasing the ball out in front of his forehead. He gets great elevation and rises up in balance, his motion is quite fluid too, so he’s been able to get his shots off comfortably at the collegiate level.

Walker needs to work on speeding up his release, though. His trigger is not necessarily slow, but not particularly quick either.

He’s nailed an average 35.6% of his 132 three-point shots so far this season, at a pace of 7.4 such attempts per 40 minutes. That said, he’s also hit 78.3% of his 60 foul shots, which suggests potential for him to become a better shooter than that with better shots created for him down the line.

CATCH-AND-GO OFFENSE

Walker has been enough of a threat on catch-and-shoot’s that he demands hard closeouts, creating opportunities for him to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket against a scrambling defense. He can lose his man in a split-second when he makes a decisive move off the catch and has long strides to get all the way to the basket in a couple of dribbles.

Walker has shown to be a very resourceful finisher, not only able to explode off one foot going up strong in traffic but also hang and adjust his body in the air, showing a lot of dexterity having the ball change hands mid-flight and proving himself capable of finishing with either hand on up-and-under’s and on his way down. Walker has also flashed a floater to score over length from the in-between area.

His touch is not always that great, though. As is, despite the way he looks on his best finishes, Walker’s converted a very so-so 57.9% of 76 shots at the rim[6].

Another area for improvement would be developing a knack for drawing contact. For all his wild takes to the goal, with over 60% of his two-point shots coming at the basket, Walker has earned just 3.3 foul shots per 40 minutes.

ONE-ON-ONE OFFENSE

But Walker is considered an appealing mid-first round prospect due to the flashes he’s shown of being able to create his own shot late in possessions.

He’s not very explosive going to his left and his handle isn’t very tight but Walker can turn on the jets in a split-second going to his strong hand and has displayed a fairly deep arsenal of dribble moves to shake his man off balance and create separation to launch pull-ups; in-and-out dribble, spins and euro-steps to weave his way through traffic, side-to-side suddenness and crossover into step-back jumper.

But though he’s been able to make a few tough shots, Walker is not yet a particularly efficient shot maker. He has just 15 unassisted three-point makes in 27 appearances this season and missed 32 of his 48 two-point jump-shots so far.

Operating pick-and-rolls, Walker can change directions in a pinch to try losing his man around the ball-screen as he looks to set up a pull-up and can make a basic pass over the top against soft-doubles but hasn’t shown much advanced work tying up the help to open up the pocket pass or spotting weak-side breakdowns – assisting on just 13.3% of Miami’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season.

DEFENSE

Walker’s effort on the ball is quite pleasing. He bends his knees to get down in a stance, works to go over ball-screens and hustles to recover. Though he doesn’t use the strength in his well distributed 204-pound frame[7] to contain dribble penetration, he shuffles his feet laterally well to stay attached in isolation and uses his length to contest shots effectively.

Away from the ball, Walker can get caught ball watching and gives up cuts from time to time but has proven himself aware of his responsibilities rotating in to pick up the roll man and contributing on box-outs, though the fact he doesn’t translate his explosive leaping ability into more tangible events near the basket is somewhat disappointing – rarely blocking shots at the rim and collecting just 9.3% of opponents’ misses when he’s on the floor this season.

He could also use his six-foot-11 wingspan[8] to make more plays in the passing lanes – as his average of 1.5 steals per 40 minutes isn’t particularly impressive for someone with his combination of length and quickness.

Walker has been a mixed bag chasing shooters around staggered screens, alternating instances where he’s struggled to negotiate picks with highlights where he covers a lot of ground in a split-second and explodes off two feet to block jumpers – saving final possessions in the games against Florida State and Louisville.

But where Walker has impressed the most in terms of leveraging his athleticism into effectiveness is on stunt-and-recover’s, proving himself able to run shooters off their shots and stay balanced to keep pace with them as they put the ball on the floor regularly.

Though his individual defensive rating is only fifth on the team among rotation players[9], Walker has logged the second most minutes in a team that ranks 24th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency[10], signaling he can be fit into a scheme that executes at an above average level.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] It was not reported if he opted to repair or remove his torn meniscus

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] DOB: 12/14/1998

[5] According to our stats’ database

[6] According to hoop-math

[7] According to Miami

[8] According to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz

[9] According to our stats’ database

[10] According to Ken Pomeroy

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

Daniel Gafford Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Daniel Gafford was only the 47th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1] but after 569 minutes logged in his first year at Arkansas, the six-foot-11 center has quickly risen to the top 15 on ESPN’s top 100.

Through 26 appearances, Gafford is averaging 21 points per 40 minutes on 61.3% effective shooting and posted a 26.5 player efficiency rating[2].

The 19-year-old[3] has the best pace-adjusted plus-minus[4] on a team that has won more than two-thirds of its games and ranks 44th in the country in adjusted efficiency margin[5].

Gafford profiles as a catch-and-score finisher/rim protector who leverages his athleticism into making an impact near the basket via vertical spacing, second chance opportunities and shot blocking.

The upside is in his potential as a switch defender. He is a very agile player for someone his size and has proven himself able to exchange into smaller players out in space in a pinch, which is quickly becoming a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have” skill for a center these days.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

Gafford is an explosive leaper off two feet, which best materializes in his ability to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense in transition or out of the pick-and-roll and in the dunker spot.

He’s also very effective crashing the offensive glass. Gafford has a seven-foot-two wingspan[6] to rebound outside of his area and a quick second jump to fight for tip-ins or 50-50 balls – collecting 10.2% of Arkansas’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season[7] and converting his 23 putback attempts at an 87.3% clip.

Gafford doesn’t yet have the physicality and the coordination to create his own offense out of the post, though. Despite his chiseled 234-pound frame[8], he hasn’t yet developed strength to set deep position near the basket and has no power moves to back his way into easy lay-ups. Gafford is also not very smooth putting the ball on the floor on face-ups and struggles to maintain his balance through contact.

He has averaged 8.7 foul shots per 40 minutes, in part because he is such a threat near the basket that stresses the defense at all times but also because more physical defense can knock him off his balance and college officials have been largely in his favor.

On the other end, Gafford translates his length and explosive leaping ability into rim protection stepping up to the front of the basket as the last line of defense and coming off the weak-side in help defense – averaging 3.7 blocks per 40 minutes.

On top of that, he has impressed with his agility as a perimeter defender. Gafford is an asset to pick up smaller players on switches, whether it’s wings or guards. He has flashed some side-to-side quickness but mostly does well in these instances by keeping pace with ball handlers on straight line drives, staying attached close enough to block or intimidate shots from behind.

Where Gafford struggles at this point of his development is holding ground near the basket, whether it’s on post defense, attempting to wall off an opponent who is forced to lower his shoulders before going up and on box-outs – collecting just 21.8% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season.

EXECUTION

He is a mixed bag in terms of execution, which makes sense given his lack of meaningful experience prior to the minutes he’s logged at Arkansas this year.

Gafford’s effort is pleasing more often than not. He sprints back in transition defense, tries to deny easy post entries with some tenacity, has proven himself willing to draw charges in instances where he felt like he couldn’t/shouldn’t elevate and looks to challenge a lot of shots via verticality.

There are some areas for improvement, though. Gafford hasn’t yet developed a knack for making preventive rotations that keep the opponent from getting to the rim, doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance regularly defending on-on-one in the perimeter, gives up inside position in the defensive glass, jogs to screen and only sets slip screens for now.

But the detail Gafford needs to work on rather immediately is his tendency to bite on shot-fakes and put himself in danger of fouling. He’s averaging 6.3 personal fouls per 40 minutes, which has limited his playing time to just 21.9 minutes per game.

SKILL LEVEL

Most of the threat Gafford is as a scorer is due to his dunking prowess but he has shown soft touch on finger roll finishes as well and flashed some appealing coordination in instances where he’s had to catch, take a dribble to balance himself and then go up strong off two feet – finishing his 105 shots at the rim at an 89.5% clip.

With his back to the basket, he has only shown a basic post game. Gafford has flashed an interesting floater off a jump-stop on a face-up drive but more often looks for running hooks without doing a particularly good job working his defender out of position to contest it. His touch in these instances is also only so-to – missing 73.3% of his 86 shots from two-point range away from the basket.

Gafford is not a black hole, as he has flashed some quick passing out of double teams in the post and can spot cutters on pre-arranged reads. That said, he is yet to show instincts that suggests he’s a particular special passer and Arkansas does not use him as an asset to help facilitate offense often – assisting on just 5.7% of Arkansas’ scores when he’s been on the floor this season.

Gafford has flashed a mid-range jumper off the catch once or twice. He gets little elevation but fully extends himself for a decently high release. The motion, while somewhat fluid, is pretty slow and the touch needs a lot of work, though – Gafford has nailed just 52.4% of his 124 foul shots, signaling he is not very close of developing into any sort of a real threat outside the lane.

On the other end, a skill Gafford needs to develop is making more of an effort to have his blocked shots stay inbounds. He’s still shown to be very into the idea of spiking the ball into the third roll at this point of his development.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 10/1/1998

[4] According to our stats’ database

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to USA Today

[7] According to our stats’ database

[8] According to Arkansas

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

Bruce Brown, Jr. Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Bruce Brown, Jr. was the 26th-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1].

In a year and a half at Miami, the 21-year-old[2] has accumulated 1,693 minutes of college ball experience. Through his time there, the Hurricanes have won two thirds of their games and looked like a reasonable Elite Eight hopeful each year.

Through 19 games this season, the six-foot-five combo guard has averaged 13.5 points per 40 minutes on 48.8% true shooting and posted a 16.6 PER[3].

Brown is not the one tasked with triggering the offense every possession but gets a fair amount of responsibility creating out of high pick-and-roll against a set defense. The presence of career 40.8% three-point shooter Anthony Lawrence, II as a stretch four offers decent spacing for him to work with but Brown isn’t having a particularly impressive season as a scorer, though the flashes of tantalizing reads on the move as a passer are still there.

More troubling, perhaps, is the fact he has regressed as a spot-up shooter, with his foul shooting percentage supporting concerns over that decline.

On the other end, Brown has the strength, the length and the lateral quickness to be expected to develop into a dominant defender who creates events and offers his coach a lot of flexibility on how to deploy him.

So, he is ranked 19th on ESPN’s top 100.

SHOT CREATION

Brown hasn’t yet developed into an advanced ball handler but has shown to be somewhat resourceful operating in middle high pick-and-roll. He has a stop-and-start hesitation move to try losing his man around the screen and an in-and-out dribble to get downhill or snake his way to a spot around the elbow area.

Brown has an explosive first step, some burst going left and strength in his 202-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact in order to get all the way to the basket often. He’s taken 43.6% of his live-ball attempts at the rim[4] and averaged 4.4 foul shots per 40 minutes this season.

Brown is not an instinctive passer who can anticipate openings in the defense a split-second ahead of everybody and has a habit of picking up his dribble before he is certain a passing lane has materialized – turning it over on 16.1% of his possessions over his time at Miami[5].

But Brown has flashed some polished work in the pick-and-roll – showing some ability to pass over the top against the big playing up on him and make passes across his body to the opposite end or tie up the last line of defense to toss up lobs and deliver pocket passes after turning the corner – assisting on 20.4% of Miami’s scores over his 640 minutes this season.

SCORING

Brown is an explosive leaper with some space to take flight and can play above the rim as a target for lobs on baseline cuts or filling the lanes in transition but struggles going up strong in traffic. He’s a lot more confident as a two-foot leaper and rarely rises off one foot off the dribble.

He has also struggled as a finisher because he hasn’t yet developed dexterity using his length to over-extend or complete reverses around rim protectors. Brown can hang in the air and is strong enough to finish through contact but has iffy touch on non-dunk finishes among the trees, especially with his left hand.

He has converted just 58.5% of his 82 shots at the basket as a sophomore, with 20 of his 48 makes assisted, after shooting a so-so 62.3% on his 138 such attempts as a freshman.

That lack of touch also comes across in his jumper and his floater.

Brown has a fluid release and mechanics that look like a decent foundation to build upon but can’t put the ball in the basket, off the dribble or off the catch.

He doesn’t have a lot of side-to-side quickness to shake his defender off balance but aside from snaking the pick-and-roll, Brown can also get his shot off one-on-one hang dribbling into pull-ups. His shot selection is not superb but is not particularly subpar either.

Nonetheless, he has hit just 30.4% of his 46 two-point jumpers this season.

His regression as a floor-spacer is more concerning, though. Brown has gone from capable spot-up shooter in year one to guy opponents can help off entirely in year two – as he’s nailed just 26.7% of his 60 three-point shots this season, at a pace of 3.8 such attempts per 40 minutes, while hitting 62.9% of his 70 foul shots.

Due to his poor shooting percentages across all zones, Brown has the third worst offensive rating on the team among rotation players[6].

DEFENSE

Brown bends his knees to get down in a stance and though he doesn’t use his strength to contain dribble penetration, Brown has appealing lateral quickness to slide multiple times out in space, stay attached all the way and use his length to challenge shots at the rim.

He slides over picks at the point of attack reasonably cleanly and hustles to come back to his man in order to relief his big teammate in a timely manner.

Miami doesn’t switch as much this season as it did last year but Brown has proven he can defend bigger wings, thanks to his strength and his six-foot-nine wingspan[7].

Picking up big men on switches, he puts a body on them but hasn’t shown an inclination for getting very physical boxing them out. Brown impressed with his attentiveness acting as the last line of defense, though, making preventive rotations that kept the opposing ball handler from getting all the way to the basket after beating a teammate of his.

As a weak-side help defender, Brown steps inside to pick up the roll man regularly and has shown decent instincts using his length to make plays in the passing lanes – averaging 1.7 steals per 40 minutes over his time at Miami.

That said, his closeouts are bad – a mix of weak efforts and selling out to run the shooter off his shot, subsequently giving up an easy path to the lane off the bounce.

His most tangible contribution is on the defensive glass, where Brown has shown a knack for mixing it up in the scrum and chasing the ball quicker than the competition – collecting 18.8% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season, a remarkable mark for someone his height.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] DOB: 8/15/1996

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to our stats’ database

[6] According to our stats’ database

[7] 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