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

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