Jacob Evans Scouting Report

Jacob Evans helped himself as much as any other prospect at the 2018 Combine. The reactions coming out of Chicago regarding his performance in the event were extremely positive and should elevate him into the discussion for a lottery spot.

He was a catalyst for Cincinnati, anchoring one of the best defenses in college basketball while leading the team in scoring average.

To me, Evans is still a bit limited offensively, especially as a shooter, but he is a hell of a defender, perhaps one of the best in the class.

Yes, he’ll get caught ball-watching from time-to-time and give up a weak-side spot-up three-pointer but his on-ball defense is very sound. Evans has the athleticism and agility to stay in front of most guards, stays low in a stance, consistently forces tough shots and rarely fouls – only committing 72 of them 36 games[1].

He has great awareness as a team defender, as he is able to make plays getting into passing lanes with his six-foot-nine wingspan[2].

Evans is a heck of a rebounder for someone his size, averaging 6.1 rebounds per 40 minutes, and has shown some phenomenal ability on switches. He can box-out bigger forwards and even get physical matching up with a few centers, as he knows how to utilize his body well and goes up to secure the ball with both hands. His motor also plays a role in his productivity on the glass.

On offense, I don’t believe in his potential as much as others but I do see the upside.

Evans has a solid handle and though he is not creative with his dribble moves, his basic crossover is quick and he is able to create for himself or others in a pinch. He is not an effective shooter off the bounce at this point of his development but does well finishing at the rim – converting 67.1% of his attempts there last season[3], thanks to good body control, dexterity with both hands and touch through contact.

Evans is a capable shooter but I think it’s a concern for him moving forward. He nailed a respectable 37.7% of his 462 three-point shots over his career at Cincinnati but only 42.9% of his overall field goal attempts.

Evans can make defenders pay with his shooting, at least enough to demand a closeout and set up his driving, but I saw him clank too many open jumpers to believe he will be a viable shooting threat in the NBA in the immediate future.

He seemed to make adjustments to his form and improved as the year progressed. But his shot still comes out flat most of the time, as his elbows tend to flare out and he doesn’t stay square to the rim before the release. He seems to extend the ball outward in front of his face, instead of upwards.

Shooting may be the easiest thing to teach in the pros but there is definitely a lot of work for him to do. Once again, I don’t buy the notion that he is a good shooter, but a mere adequate one at this point.

I like his upside. Defensively, he is the sort of player you are going to want in your rotation, given his ability to guard multiple positions, lock down in isolation and elevate the level of execution in team defense.

His offensive limitations worry me. The main cause for this concern being the bad shooting I’ve seen from him. But I do think his ability to create off the dribble, attack the rim and finish will force the defense to at least work to contest him.

His two-way potential is valid and it will be interesting to see if Evans can become a dual threat as his career progresses in the NBA.


[1] According to sports-reference

[2] According to the measurements at the 2018 Combine

[3] According to hoop-math

Editor’s Note: Evan Wheeler is a regular contributor to ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Denver Sidekickswhere he is also a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @EvzSports

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Jaylen Hands Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Jaylen Hands was the 20th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].

In his first year at UCLA, the 19-year-old[2] accumulated 781 minutes of college basketball experience. Other than that, he has 210 minutes at the 2015 and 2016 adidas Nations and 77 minutes at the 2016 adidas Eurocamp under his belt[3].

Most recently, the six-foot-two lead guard averaged 15.7 points per 40 minutes[4] on 49% effective shooting and compiled a 14.7 PER in 31 appearances last season.

UCLA played only the 63rd-toughest schedule in the country[5] but still had a -0.3 pace-adjusted point differential with him on the floor[6].

Hands was one of the triggermen of UCLA’s motion offense, often creating off the dribble on pick-and-rolls on the side of the floor and out of ball reversals, though there were still plenty of instances where he ran middle high pick-and-roll late in the shot clock. UCLA offered pretty good spacing on most of those, at least for a college team, so the limitations he showed in terms of getting to and finishing at the rim feel particularly more relevant to him than some of the other lead guard prospects.

As he shared most of his minutes with Aaron Holiday, part of his role was to space the floor as well.

On the other end, the odds are against him due to his measurements. He is unable to contain dribble penetration due to his 179-pound frame and contest shots effectively due to his eight-foot-two standing reach[7]. But Hands proved he can execute the scheme and is instinctual enough to create some events making plays in the passing lanes and contributing in the defensive glass.

OFFENSE

For a small player, he doesn’t have particularly impressive burst but proved to be very resourceful getting by his man one-on-one or maneuvering him into the pick-and-roll. Hands keeps the ball in a string, is able to stop-and-start in a split-second, has a hesitation move and can shake his man side-to-side with shiftiness.

The results were mixed in terms of getting all the way to the rim. He is a powerful leaper off one or two feet with some space to load up in transition but lacks the same explosiveness to go up strong in traffic – taking just 23.4% of his shots at the rim[8] and averaging just 4.1 foul shots per 40 minutes.

When he did get all the way to the basket, Hands showed he can hang and adjust his body in the air and managed to finish through contact every once in a while but lacks strength to finish on his way down and length to complete reverses or up-and-under’s – converting just 59.3% of his 59 shots at the rim.

Given his body composition, Hands is probably best suited to try making a living from the in-between area as a scoring threat off dribble penetration but he struggled with his efficiency from mid-range as well – hitting just 30.8% of his 78 two-point shots away from the basket.

Hands has decent touch on his running floater but didn’t do well on stop-and-pop pull-ups. He can create decent separation crossing over into his pull-up, even proving capable of hitting some long bombs from deep range, but has a low release out in front when he brings the ball up off the dribble and doesn’t always get a good arc.

That’s odd when you consider that his catch-and-shoot release is lot more textbook. Hands releases the ball from the top and, together with his good elevation, manages to shoot over closeouts comfortably – nailing a respectable 37.4% of his 115 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 5.9 such attempts per 40 minutes, though it’s fair to point out only a little more than half of his makes were assisted, so his pull-up stroke working or not might just be a matter of how much space the defender gives him.

Hands is an adept passer off dribble penetration on kick-outs and drop-offs and flashed some advanced work in terms of being able to engage the help defense by going up and then deliver wraparound passes.

But he is not the sort of passer who anticipates passing lanes before they come open and didn’t do anything particularly impressive in the pick-and-roll – assisting on just 18.7% of UCLA’s scores when he was on the floor and posting a lousy 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.

As a consequence of his low efficiency and average of 2.9 turnovers per 40 minutes (displeasing for someone with a low 21.8% usage rate), Hands had the worst offensive rating on the team among rotation players[9].

DEFENSE

He has no strength to contain dribble penetration in isolation defense, can’t contest shots effectively due to his short standing reach and can’t put up much of a fight when the opponent posts him up.

But Hands checks all the boxes that are possible for him to, at least in terms of trying, if not necessarily being able to make a real positive impact.

He gets skinny navigating over picks at the point of attack and hustles back to try bothering or challenging the ball handler from behind.

As a weak-side defender, Hands can run a spot-up shooter off his shot and stay in front as the puts the ball on the floor, rotates off the weak-side to help crowd the area near the basket and will even go up to try “protecting the rim” via verticality in instances where he finds himself stepping up to the front of the goal as the last line of defense. He is also instinctual getting into passing lanes, though his six-foot-five wingspan prevents him from being a real difference maker getting steals and deflections.

More impressive of all, though, are his contributions on the glass. Taking advantage of excellent boxout work by Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman, Hands showed a knack for chasing the ball off the rim and collected 14.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season – a great mark for a lead guard.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 2/12/1999

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to RealGM

[7] According to the measurements at the 2018 NBA Combine

[8] According to hoop-math

[9] According to RealGM

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

Thomas Welsh Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Thomas Welsh was the 36th-ranked prospect in the 2014 high school class[1].

In four years at UCLA, the seven-foot center accumulated 3,295 minutes of college basketball. Other than that, he has 61 minutes with the United States National Team at the 2015 U19 FIBA World Cup and 61 minutes at the 2015 adidas Nations under his belt[2].

Most recently, the 22-year-old[3] averaged 15.2 points per 40 minutes[4] and compiled a 19.4 PER in 33 appearances last season.

UCLA had a +22.1 pace-adjusted point differential in his 1,096 minutes[5] this past year, though it played only the 63rd-toughest schedule[6].

Welsh took most of his shots out of the pick-and-pop. He is still more comfortable looking for a spot in mid-range to launch his jumpers but showed improvement in his ability to take these shots from further out as a senior. He also managed to space out to the three-point line on spot-ups more regularly.

On the other end, the Loyola High School product makes rotations, plays good position defense and dominates the glass but lacks elite length for someone his height and offers no versatility in terms of being able to extend pick-and-roll coverage above the foul line.

OFFENSE

Welsh doesn’t roll hard to the basket off the ball screen and doesn’t make much of an impact in the offensive glass, as he has just a seven-foot wingspan[7] and is thus unable to rebound outside of his area – taking just 16.5% of his shots at the rim and collecting just 9% of UCLA’s misses when he was on the floor last season.

His best contribution comes via the gravity he offers – both as a weak-side floor-spacer and at the point of attack as well, thanks to a fluid shooting motion and quick enough trigger for someone his size, even flashing the ability to keep the ball high and shoot it without needing to bring it down to dip for rhythm. He has compact mechanics and a low release that at times seems like a push shot but manages to launch over closeouts due to his height.

Two-point jumpers accounted for 50% of his live-ball attempts and he nailed them at an excellent 46.7% clip last season[8].

From deep range, Welsh proved he can make shots on standstill spot-ups at an above average clip – nailing 40.2% of his 112 three-point shots, at a pace of 4.1 such attempts per 40 minutes, which is a pretty good mark for a center.

His 79.8% shooting on 173 free throws over his time at UCLA offers comfort that the touch and base shooting motion are there for him to be expected to be this good a shooter in the pros as well.

He doesn’t yet have a dynamic enough release to be asked to take long bombs coming off pindown screens and off the Spain pick-and-roll as well, given the back-screener usually has to set his pick around the foul line area before a short sprint to the top of the key. But Welsh has taken three-point shots as the trailer in transition, so he offers a little bit of versatility as a shooter.

He is not any sort of a threat to put the ball on the floor and attack a closeout, though.

Welsh figures to be an automatic switch in the pros but can post up a mismatch if need be. He doesn’t play with force looking to get deep seals but usually doesn’t have to due to his general size. And when challenged by more tenacious defenders, he has light enough feet to spin around his man and get position a couple of steps deeper.

Welsh has flashed turnaround lean-in, face-up and step-back fadeaway jumpers but has a basic post game for the most part, having not shown much in terms of being able to work his man out of position with head fakes, shot fakes or pivot moves. He is more often than not looking for hooks and his touch in these instances is only OK.

He can scan the floor with his back to the basket and spot cutters or open shooters when they are evident but hasn’t shown particularly impressive court vision creating for others – assisting on just 7.7% of UCLA’s scores when he was on the floor last season.

DEFENSE

Welsh does best in the most physical aspects of the game. He improved his toughness, became a stout post defender thanks to the strength in his 255-pound frame and is attentive to his boxout responsibilities – collecting over 25% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor these last two seasons.

Second best is his movement is short areas. Welsh proved he is able to contain the ball dropping back in pick-and-roll defense and can keep pace with smaller players from the foul line down to effectively contest or intimidate shots within close range – logging 33.2 minutes per game on a team that allowed opponents to take just 30.2% of their shots at the basket[9].

He also did well putting himself in position to challenge at the rim coming off the weak-side in help-defense and stepping up to the front of the basket acting as the last line of defense. Welsh is not an explosive leaper off two feet but can go up a decent amount to contest shots with his nine-foot-three standing reach, though his average of 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes over his time in college doesn’t inspire confidence he’ll be a difference-making level of rim protector in the pros.

He is not as asset to extend to guard out in the perimeter either. Welsh doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance and is generally uncomfortable out in space, whether it’s picking up smaller players on switches, hedging-and-recover, showing up way above the foul line or closing out to stretch big men at the three-point line out of the pick-and-pop.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 2/3/1996

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to RealGM

[6] According to Ken Pomeroy

[7] According to Draft Express

[8] According to hoop-math

[9] 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

Udoka Azubuike Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Udoka Azubuike was the 22nd-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1].

Despite having been exposed to some high level basketball, he is still fairly inexperienced. The 18-year-old[2] accumulated just 990 minutes in his two seasons at Kansas, the first of which was lost after the first third due to need for a wrist surgery. Other than that, he has just 124 minutes at the 2015 adidas Nations and one appearance at the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit under his belt[3].

Azubuike averaged 22 points per 40 minutes[4] on 77% effective shooting and compiled a 26.9 PER in 36 appearances last season.

Kansas played the second toughest schedule in the country[5] and had a +26.9 pace-adjusted point differential with him on the floor, which led the team among rotation players[6].

A seven-foot, 273-pound bruising center, he got his touches in the post, sneaking behind the defense on slower-developing pick-and-rolls and crashing the offensive glass – logging 22.8% usage rate. Azubuike has a massive frame and remarkable length, so even though he still has plenty of room to develop in terms of skill, he manages to produce at a pretty good level due to his general size.

On the other end, the native of Lagos, Nigeria is a positive presence near the basket for the same reasons why he is effective on offense. He is also a little more nimble than his frame suggests but doesn’t figure to have the agility needed to defend out in space in this day and age.

OFFENSE

Azubuike can get deep seals in the post due to his size and strength. He doesn’t play with a lot of force trying to get position but doesn’t have to. Most of his shots come via backing his man down and setting up basic hooks. His feet are only so-so. But Azubuike has flashed glimpses of a more advanced skill-set to work his man out of position with shot fakes and head fakes. His touch on these hooks is pretty decent, as he shot 58.3% on his 60 two-point shots away from the basket[7] last season.

Azubuike hasn’t yet developed very good feel for dealing with more challenging approaches by the defense trying to get the ball out of his hands, though – averaging three turnovers per 40 minutes.

He is a good screener who sets his feet and makes it tough for the on-ball defender to get skinny around him, more often than not creating the head-start for the ball-handler that the pick-and-roll is designed to do.

Azubuike isn’t an explosive leaper off two feet diving down the middle of the lane in traffic but proved he is able to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense on slower-developing pick-and-rolls. He isn’t a high leaper but has a nine-foot-four standing reach[8] to catch the ball in a different stratosphere. His touch on non-dunk finishes is pretty decent too, as he’s shown he’s able to score in a crowd when needed – finishing his 214 attempts at the rim at an 82.2% clip.

He doesn’t have particularly impressive reaction instincts chasing the ball off the rim but made a tangible impact on the offensive glass because he is a tough body to boxout and has a seven-foot-seven wingspan to rebound out of his area – collecting 12.2% of Kansas’ misses when he was on the floor. His second jump isn’t all that quick but he can catch, gather himself and go back strong to finish in a crowd – converting 76.5% of his 21 putback attempts into scores.

As far as more proactively aiding the ball movement process, Azubuike can only assist others on pre-arranged reads, as he hasn’t yet developed court vision to act as a hub to facilitate offense from the high post and doesn’t have the sort of quick instincts to pass out of short rolls – assisting on just 5.7% of Kansas’ scores when he was on the floor and posting a lousy 0.3 assist-to-turnover ratio last season.

DEFENSE

Azubuike is an effective rim protector when he is able to hang back and patrol the lane – averaging three blocks per 40 minutes. He moves well enough in tight spaces and goes up quick enough to challenge shots but his blocks materialize more thanks to his massive standing reach rather than his leaping ability, though they came at the cost of him often putting himself in foul trouble, as he averaged 5.1 personal fouls per 40 minutes.

Azubuike flashed some decent awareness with his positioning as well, clogging up driving lanes and shadowing isolations when he felt his teammates might get blown by – averaging 23.6 minutes per game on a team that allowed opponents to take just 28.8% of their shots at the basket[9].

He proved to be attentive to his boxout responsibilities and did it with some nice physicality too, which also manifests itself in post defense. He struggles some reacting to the ball off the rim, though – collecting just 20.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

The problems are when he is forced to leave the general area near the basket.

Azubuike is not suited to extend pick-and-roll coverage beyond the foul line. He just doesn’t have the foot speed for it, whether it’s picking up smaller players on switches, hedging-and-recovering in a timely manner, closing out to stretch big men at the three-point line out of the pick-and-pop, showing up to the level of the screen and trying to keep action in front. He even struggled to keep pace with dribble drives when tasked with only having to engage from the foul line down.

Azubuike puts in the effort to contest mid-range pull-ups but at times sells out to do so, needing to develop a better understanding of when it’s best to contest and when it’s best to prioritize getting a head-start getting position for a possible miss.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 9/17/1999

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to RealGM

[7] According to hoop-math

[8] According to the measurements at the 2018 Combine

[9] 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

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is remarkably experienced for a 20-year-old[1], having already accumulated in his brief career:

  • 3,070 minutes in 135 appearances at Kansas over the last four years;
  • 470 minutes defending the Cherkasy Monkeys in the Ukrainian Superleague in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons;
  • 92 minutes at the 2016 adidas Eurocamp;
  • 33 minutes with the Ukrainian National Team at the 2014 FIBA World Cup;
  • 1,160 minutes with the Ukrainian National Team at the 2012 U16 FIBA European Championships A, 2013 U16 FIBA European Championships A, 2014 U18 FIBA European Championships B, 2016 U20 FIBA European Championships A and 2017 U20 FIBA European Championships A.

Most recently, he averaged 16.9 points per 40 minutes[2] on 55.6% effective shooting and compiled a 16.1 PER in 39 appearances last season[3].

Kansas played the second toughest schedule in the country[4] and had a +11 pace-adjusted point differential in his 1,346 minutes[5].

The six-foot-seven sniper took some shots out of screening for the pick-and-pop but wasn’t moved around much for the most part. His primary role was as a weak-side floor-spacer on spot-ups. He put the ball on the floor a little more last season, due to the respect opponents showed him on closeouts, but still took 54.9% of his shots from three-point range and was assisted on almost two-thirds of his field goals[6].

Mykhailiuk is responsible for shot creation when he plays with the Ukrainian National Team at the youth level. He has never shown to be particularly great at creating high quality looks for himself due to a lack of explosiveness but proved to be a much better passer off pick-and-roll than he had the chance to show in his time at Kansas. It’s possible he is able to run a functional offense in a pinch.

On the other end, the native of Cherkasy, Ukraine has a rough time making a positive impact. He puts in the effort to execute the scheme but lacks the length, athleticism and instincts to create events in off ball defense and the reach, strength and tenacity to get stops in individual defense – he had the worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players[7]. He also offers no versatility.

OFFENSE

Mykhailiuk has a quick trigger and a high release, can get his shots off prior to or over closeouts, and gets good arc on his shot – nailing 40.9% of his 579 three-point shots over his four years at Kansas, at a pace of 7.5 such attempts per 40 minutes. His touch is pretty good too – hitting 74.5% of his 134 foul shots over the span.

He wasn’t asked to come off pindown screens and sprint around staggered screens but figures to have a dynamic enough release to be leveraged in such ways. The shots he took on the move came from sprinting to a spot in transition and acting as the screener in the pick-and-pop, which makes one assume he should be a great asset as the back-screener in Spain pick-and-rolls as well.

Mykhailiuk could side-step around fly-by closeouts more often, as he often dribbles in for pull-up for lower value mid-range jumpers in these instances.

When he had to isolate against his man late in the shot clock, Mykhailiuk still has a rudimentary handle, lacks a first step to blow by his man on speed and doesn’t have the shiftiness to shake him side-to-side.

Aside from being unable to get to the rim in volume and seek contact in traffic, taking just 26.9% of his shots at the basket and earning just 1.7 free throws per 40 minutes last season, he also lacks the length and flexibility to finish around rim protection when there – converting his attempts at the basket a 52% clip.

Mykhailiuk is prone to getting the ball stripped in traffic as well – averaging 1.9 turnovers per 40 minutes, despite his low 20.9% usage rate.

He almost always ends up with a step-back pull-up creating on the ball, often off crossing over into his shot. Not much separation comes off it, though, and he struggled with shot making last season – hitting just 27.9% of his 86 two-point jumpers.

Mykhailiuk was not tasked with creating for others but has shown decent court vision on drop-offs and kick-outs when he did manage to draw two to the ball or the defense collapsed to him attacking a closeout, though most of his assists came off him making the extra pass around the perimeter – assisting on 13.4% of Kansas’ scores when he was on the floor.

DEFENSE

He’s proven he can execute the scheme, as he is attentive to his responsibilities switching on the fly, working hard to deny dribble hand-offs and rotating inside to pick up the roll man.

Mykhailiuk is not an asset to help finish possessions via events as a weak-side defender. He can jump a passing lane from time-to-time but has only a six-foot-four wingspan[8] and lacks quick leaping ability to contribute near the rim, unable to act as any kind of a threat to block a shot when crowding the area near the basket.

His contributions on the glass were marginal, despite the fact he was the second tallest player on smaller lineups at almost all times last season – collecting just 8.6% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

His closeouts are also poor. He can’t contest shots effectively due to his eight-foot-four standing reach and gets easily beaten off the dribble when he does manage to run the shooter off his shot.

Mykhailiuk has decent lateral movement to stay in front for more than a few slides against similarly-sized players but lacks strength in his 211-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact and the reach to contest stop-and-pop or step-back jumpers effectively.

He is not suited to guard wings who can handle from the top due to being unable to navigate over screens at the point of attack.

On top of everything, he offers no versatility; not suited to guard smaller players due to this inability to go over picks and bigger players because he doesn’t have the bulk or play with enough force.

Perhaps more concerning, Mykhailiuk figures to struggle chasing shooters off screens at the pro level, where the sprints are more decisive.


[1] DOB: 6/10/1997

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to Ken Pomeroy

[5] According to RealGM

[6] According to hoop-math

[7] According to RealGM

[8] According to the measurements at the last week’s Combine

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 Newman Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Malik Newman was the 10th-ranked prospect in the 2015 high school class[1].

After playing his freshman season at Mississippi State, he transferred to Kansas and was a key part of the team that went to the National Championship game last season.

The 21-year-old[2] has accumulated 2,037 minutes in 68 NCAA appearances. Other experiences include 286 minutes with the United States National Team at the 2013 U16 FIBA Americas and 2014 U17 FIBA World Cup and 57 minutes at the 2013 adidas Nations[3].

Most recently, the six-foot-three off guard averaged 17.9 points per 40 minutes[4] on 60.6% true shooting and compiled a 18.3 PER in 39 appearances this past year.

Kansas played the second-toughest schedule in the country[5] and had a +18.4 pace-adjusted point differential in his 1,234 minutes[6].

His role on offense was as a weak-side floor-spacer who also had some responsibility turning the corner off dribble handoffs and isolating against his man in emergency situations late in the shot clock – logging just 20.8% usage rate and taking 51% of his shots from three-point range.

But Newman also proved he is able to create shots in transition, especially with regards to half-decent capability on stop-and-pop pull-up three-pointers off a sprint.

On the other end, he acted as a weak-side defender for the most part – stunting in-and-closing out and rotating in to pick up the roll man or crowd the area near the basket. Newman didn’t show a knack for making a tangible impact creating events or offering versatility in terms of guarding different types of players, though.

OFFENSE

He took most of his three-point shots on spot-ups. Newman doesn’t have rigid up-and-down balance, showing a fondness for kicking his legs forward, but it works fine for him. He sets himself well catching it on the hop, launches the ball from a high release, has a quick trigger and gets pretty good arc on his shot – nailing 41.5% of his 205 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 6.6 three-point shots per 40 minutes.

His 83.5% foul shooting on 115 free throws also offers comfort that the touch and shooting base are there for him to be just as good a shooter in the pros as well.

Newman took some shots on the move; sprinting to a spot in transition, relocating around the wing, drifting to the corner and coming off pindown screens for one-dribble pull-ups. He wasn’t moved around all that often, though, so it’s unclear to which level he could be good at those.

There were chances for him to turn the corner and get downhill off hand-offs into pick-and-rolls on the side of the floor.

Newman doesn’t have particularly impressive burst but moves very fluidly on a straight line, though with only so-so ability to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact, mostly dependant on if he was driving at a similarly-sized guard or a taller wing. Given his 189-pound frame, he could probably use some more bulk to absorb contact better.

Newman can euro-step to maneuver his way through traffic but mostly in transition and isn’t an explosive leaper off one foot going up in a crowd – taking just 29.1% of his shots at the rim[7] and earning just 3.7 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

He flashed some ability to finish on his way down and glimpses of dexterity using his left hand on speed layups if the rim protector forced him to but for the most part he was an up-and-down finisher unable to finish through contact who had a strong preference for shooting finger-roll or scoop layups with his right hand – converting just 59.8% on 117 attempts at the basket.

Newman didn’t show if he has a floater to score over length from the in-between area.

In isolation, he doesn’t blow by his man often but does a pretty good job of getting to his spots for stop-and-pop pull-ups. Newman has a decent handle, some shiftiness and has developed neat resources to create separation; left-to-right between the legs, behind the back in a pinch, suddenness with hang dribbles, crossovers, hesitation.

He is a decent but not great shot maker just yet – nailing 38.8% of his 80 two-point shots away from the rim last season.

Newman can make a drop-off pass, a pass over the top and a kick-out off dribble penetration but didn’t show to have anything special in terms of court vision at this point of his development – assisting on just 11.1% of Kansas’ scores when he was on the floor last season and posting a lousy 1.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

As is, it’s unclear if he could be tasked with creating for others off pick-and-roll more often, something that would help his career because at his size, most teams will probably prefer to have him run point.

DEFENSE

Newman proved to be attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme as a weak-side help defender via rotating inside regularly to pick up the roll man and crowd the area near the basket, though he was not an asset to help finish possessions through steals or blocks in volume or make an impact with deflections due to the fact he has only a six-foot-five wingspan[8] and isn’t an explosive leaper off two feet.

That said, he was a key contributor on the defensive glass, given Kansas played with a single pure big in the lineup on a given time for most of the season – collecting 15.2% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

Newman did a poor job on closeouts. They were either weak or he sold out to run the shooter off his shot, easily beaten by a shot fake and exposing the defense behind him.

On the ball, he bends his knees to get down in a stance and has a couple of lateral slides in him to stay in front in individual defense but doesn’t play with enough intensity to be considered any sort of an ace stopper. Newman also can’t get skinny to go over screens at the point of attack and doesn’t hustle back to try making an impact challenging or contesting shots and passes from behind.

As far as offering versatility, it’s hard to view him as an asset to switch or cross-match onto bigger players given his lack of bulk and length.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 2/21/1997

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to RealGM

[7] According to hoop-math

[8] According to the measurements at the 2018 NBA Combine

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

Mikal Bridges Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Mikal Bridges is a college basketball purist’s dream.

After redshirting his first year, the six-foot-seven wing improved year-over-year the next three seasons, graduated and now leaves Villanova as a two-time National Champion.

Most recently, he averaged 22 points per 40 minutes on 65.5% true shooting and posted a 25.2 PER in 40 appearances last season[1]. Villanova played the sixth-toughest schedule in the country[2] and had a +35.3 pace-adjusted point differential in Bridges’ 1,286 minutes[3].

Other than his 3,172 minutes of NCAA experience, Bridges also has 103 minutes at the 2017 adidas Nations under his belt.

The 21-year-old[4] had a few chances to isolate against his man out of ball reversals and sealing his man for catches in the extended elbow area. But for the most part he operated as a weak-side floor-spacer, while also flashing some ability to aid the shot creation with movement.

On the other end, Bridges started most possessions matched up on similarly sized wings, as a weak-side defender, but Villanova switched aggressively, not just on screens but on movement as well, and he found himself picking up smaller and bigger players quite often.

VERSATILITY

Bridges is a solid on-ball defender.

He bends his knees to get down in a stance and has multiple lateral slides in him to stay in front in individual defense. He doesn’t use the strength in his 210-pound frame[5] to contain dribble penetration regularly but uses his seven-foot wingspan[6] quite often to try reaching around for strips, which is effective even when he doesn’t get steals, as his ball pressure can be unsettling.

Bridges also proved he is a good option against smaller players on switches, both out on an island and on the move, though it’s unclear if he’s suited to cross-match onto them for entire possessions. He can’t get skinny but does put in the work to go over picks at the point of attack. He hustles back to his man to try blocking, deflecting or challenging shots from behind but might not be as capable of tracking back speedsters.

When exchanged onto bigger players, Bridges has shown he can play stout post defense, get physical boxing out bigger players on most matchups and even elevate off two feet to challenge a shot stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense – averaging 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes last season[7].

It’s unclear if he’s suited to match up with true behemoths and steal some time at center, though. He doesn’t appear to be bulky enough for it.

EXECUTION

Aside from switching on the fly, Bridges also proved he’s constantly aware of his other responsibilities executing the scheme; rotating inside off the weak-side to pick up the roll man or just generally crowd the area near the basket and putting a body on an opposing big when his big teammate is engaged by a dribble penetrator.

Bridges also showed a knack for using his length to make plays in the passing lanes – averaging 1.9 steals per 40 minutes last season.

His closeouts are effective and he’s shown the ability to run the shooter off his shot, stay balanced and slide laterally to keep pace with him off the dribble.

Pitching in on the glass, he’s really only an average leaper chasing the ball off the rim and was somewhat disappointing considering his athleticism – collecting just 13.4% of opponents’ misses over his time at Villanova.

SHOOTING

Bridges improved as a shooter every year and by the end of his college career, he was not only a good spot-up shooter but also proved he’s able to take good shots relocating around the wing, drifting to the corner, as the trailer in transition, out of roll-and-replace, out of the pick-and-pop, coming to the ball on dribble hand-offs and coming off pindown screens for elbow jumpers.

Brides has a fluid release and a fairly quick trigger, fully extends himself out of the catch and launches the ball from a high point, getting his shot off over just about every closeout comfortably.

He nailed 43.5% of his 239 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 7.4 such attempts per 40 minutes, and 40% of his 428 three-point shots over his three seasons at Villanova, at a pace of 5.4 such attempts per 40 minutes. He also hit 84.5% of his 265 foul shots over his college career.

When forced to put the ball on the floor, Bridges doesn’t have an explosive first step but has long strides to get all the way to the basket on straight line drives and can elevate off one foot explosively with some space to take flight.

Though he is yet to show much flexibility adjusting his body in the air for acrobatic finishes in traffic or a floater to score over length from the in-between area, Bridges was an efficient finisher at the basket, especially on scoop finishes with either hand – converting 67.9% of his 159 shots at the rim last season[8].

SHOT CREATION

Bridges is not very shifty and hasn’t yet developed a wide arsenal of dribble moves to get by his man or create separation on craft in isolation. He has a loose handle, doesn’t have a quick first step to blow by on speed and is unable to bully his way to the rim.

But Bridges was reasonably effective at making shots in emergency situations late in the shot clock in college, as he is able to crossover into pull-ups and get a shot off over the top due to his high release – hitting 41.6% of his 77 two-point shots away from the basket last season.

Bridges isn’t an option to run offense in a pinch. He is adequate making a drop-off or a kick-out pass on the move against the defense collapsing to his drive but nothing advanced yet in terms of handling against a set defense and making passes across his body to the opposite end of the court  – assisting on just 10.5% of Villanova’s scores when he was on the floor last season.

But Bridges can run a side pick-and-roll to keep the offense moving. He’s able to play with pace, hit the roll man over the top, can take a dribble in three-pointer or an elbow pull-up if left open and keeps his dribble when well defended.

Bridges’ way to create a shot as of now is taking a smaller matchup into the post. He mostly relies on power moves and tries to generate space for side finishes.

Bridges can also aid the shot creation process with his movement, as he’s able to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense.


[1] According to our stats’ database

[2] According to Ken Pomeroy

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] DOB: 8/30/1996

[5] According to Villanova’s official listing

[6] According to Draft Express

[7] According to sports-reference

[8] 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