Keldon Johnson Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Keldon Johnson was the seventh-ranked prospect in the 2018 high school class[1] and was considered the 14th-ranked prospect in the 2019 draft[2] prior to Kentucky’s preseason tour in the Bahamas but after his performance in the Caribbean island, he is expected to rise up the boards.

Listed at six-foot-six and 211 pounds[3], Johnson looks the part of a 3&D wing from a physical-standpoint and based on how he was used last week, it seems this will be the role the 18-year-old[4] will be asked to fill in Lexington as well – given the depth of options the Wildcats have to handle in the perimeter and the more modern motion offense they appear to intend to install for this year.

Only nine of his 40 shots were three-point attempts but he regularly spot-up beyond the arc as a weak-side floor-spacer in the half-court and got most of his touches on the side of the floor – via Iverson cuts and running pick-and-rolls off dribble-handoffs to keep the offense moving.

Johnson averaged 22 points per 40 minutes on 52.5% shooting in the four games against the Bahamas National Team, San Lorenzo, Mega Bemax and a team built with a group of free agents from Toronto.

On the other end, the teenager showed to be a solid individual defender at this stage of his development and impressed with his ability to execute the scheme away from the ball. That said, athletes of his caliber are usually expected to be disrupting forces flying around to create events but that’s not what Johnson showed during this four-game set.

OFFENSE

The Oak Hill Academy alum shot well from long range – nailing four of his nine three-point attempts.

He took a couple of shots off jogging to the ball for dribble-handoffs and sprinting to the top around a pindown screen but looked best as an open shot shooter with his feet already set prior to the pass.

Johnson doesn’t yet have particularly impressive fluidity in his release but it’s not as if getting the ball out is a chore for him either. He rises up in perfect balance, gets good elevation and got a high arc on his shot frequently – launching comfortably over closeouts against the level of competition he faced last week.

As he shot well, Johnson demanded closeouts and opponents playing up on his catches off handoffs or Iverson cuts. The South Hill, Virginia native is very smooth putting the ball on the floor out of triple threat position but didn’t show an explosive first step or to be all that fast with the ball. Nonetheless, he manages to get dribble penetration by maintaining his balance and his momentum forward through contact thanks to the strength in his chiseled frame.

Johnson didn’t show to be an ambidextrous finisher just yet, struggling with his touch when forced to try laying it in with his off hand, but proved to be an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic off momentum, strong enough to finish on his way down and adept at using his length to over-extend for righty finger-roll layups.

He also flashed a running floater to finish over length from the in-between area.

Johnson didn’t exhibit consistent shiftiness or a tight handle when he didn’t take his man on a straight line drive but did show glimpses of very interesting resources here and there: crossing over his man into a pull-up, unleashing an in-and-out dribble pushing the ball up the court in transition, pivoting into a well-coordinated spin move and euro-stepping to maneuver his way through a crowded lane.

He showed to be a capable passer against a scrambling defense on drop-offs and making a pass over the top or a pocket pass in side pick-and-roll against a blitzing defense but nothing just yet in terms of particularly special court vision – recording only three assists in his 96 minutes in the Bahamas.

DEFENSE

Johnson bends his knees to get down in a stance and puts in the effort in individual defense. He is unable to slide over picks at the point of attack cleanly and doesn’t use his strength to contain dribble penetration through contact regularly but can keep pace stride-for-stride on straight line drives and uses his length to try reaching around for strips.

Johnson also made an impact with his ability to stunt inside to clog driving lanes, closeout to the three-point line and stay balanced as he forced the opponent to put the ball on the floor.

His post defense was stout as well and he was active looking to pitch in on the glass – collecting 6.2 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes during the four games.

His most impressive work was probably as a help defender, though. Johnson showed to be attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme – rotating in off the weak-side to crowd the area near the basket and scramming when the opponent tried to post up switches.

On the flipside, Johnson didn’t leverage his athleticism and his length to create a lot of events – other than defensive rebounds. He is an easy leaper off two feet to contest shots effectively at the rim and showed decent instincts looking to make plays on the ball but really only had two blocks and two steals in 96 minutes.

OUTLOOK

The NBA is starved for wings and Johnson absolutely looks the part of a 3&D type.

He’ll need to get three-pointers up at a higher pace than he did in the Bahamas to confirm that, as well as develop more fluidity in his release to take the sorts of shots on the move that Kentucky appears to want to get him.

Though he did get a few touches in isolation and on side pick-and-roll, the four-game tour wasn’t enough to see how much star potential Johnson has in terms of being able to create on the ball against a set defense.

He has the frame and the lateral mobility needed to perhaps become an ace individual defender against big wings down the line. For that, Johnson needs to start leveraging his strength to cut off dribble penetration more regularly. But for now his commitment trying to keep pace and contest shots is quite pleasing.

Away from the ball, his attention executing rotations and advanced strategies against mismatches at such a young age suggests Johnson is in line to become a potentially special team defender. If his frame continues to grow, maybe that intelligence could be leveraged by having him play a more central role for stretches – which could be a difference making nature.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to ESPN

[3] According to Kentucky’s official listing

[4] DOB: 10/11/1999

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

Sekou Doumbouya Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Sekou Doumbouya is the top-ranked European prospect born in 2000[1] and currently considered the third-ranked prospect in the 2019 draft class[2].

The 17-year-old[3] exploded into the scene 16 months ago, when he averaged 21.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per 40 minutes at the 2016 U18 FIBA European Championships while he was yet to turn 16 at the time of the tournament.

Since then, the teenager hasn’t played for the French National Team at the youth level these past two summers due to injury but has already become a full time pro in the meantime.

INSEP loaned him to Poitiers 86 these last two seasons and Doumbouya logged 59 appearances in the French Pro B[4]. Poitiers didn’t move up to first division, losing 23 of its 34 games last season, but Doumbouya is transferring to CSP Limoges this offseason and will experience the French Pro A this next year.

The Conakry, Guinea native of French citizenship is very well developed for someone his age from a physical-standpoint – sporting a chiseled 230-pound frame[5]. Thanks to that, he was a legit rotation player at Poitiers – starting 24 of his 28 appearances and averaging 23.2 minutes per game last season.

He was developed as a wing for the most part, which was surprising considering he excelled at that 2016 U18 FIBA European Championships playing as a big man – leveraging his athletic ability as a threat near the basket on both ends.

The six-foot-nine combo forward spent most of his time as a weak-side floor-spacer, taking 38.8% of his shots from three-point range last season, but was also given a few chances to isolate on catches off dribble-handoffs on the side of the floor and even run the eventual middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense.

He is an inefficient scorer and unreliable shot creator for others at this point of his development – averaging 14.6 points per 40 minutes on 45% effective shooting and assisting on just 8.3% of Poitiers’ scores when he was on the floor last season. But his jumper looks better than his percentages suggest and he remains an impressive athlete on lob finishes.

On the other end, Doumbouya was asked to defend in a multitude of ways. He can execute the scheme as a weak-side help-defender and is capable enough in isolation defense against similarly-sized players out in space but disappointed in terms of flying around to create events and doesn’t seem suited to pick up smaller players on switches regularly.

OFFENSE CREATED BY OTHERS

Doumboya gets decent elevation off the ground, rises up in great balance, fully extends himself for a high release on catch-and-shoot attempts and gets great arc on his jumper more often than not.

He is only an open shot shooter as of now and doesn’t yet have a particularly quick trigger but can launch his shot prior to or over closeouts well enough for the most part and has even flashed the ability to catch it, keep it high and let the ball go without needing to dip for rhythm.

Doumbouya looks like a very capable spot-up shooter but the ball hasn’t gone in a whole lot lately. He nailed just 29.4% of his 136 three-point attempts with Poitiers over the last two seasons, at a pace of 4.4 such shots per 40 minutes. His 69% foul shooting on 126 free throws over the same span also doesn’t offer a lot of comfort.

Doumbouya looks extremely fluid putting the ball on the floor off triple threat position, not just taking good-looking one-dribble pull-ups off an escape dribble against flyby closeouts but getting all the way to the basket on straight line drives thanks to his long strides and his ability to high-step his way through traffic. He is an explosive leaper off one foot and can finish with power going up off momentum.

He is not very strong with the ball, though, and is quite prone to having it stripped from him in traffic – averaging 2.8 turnovers per 40 minutes last season, which is quite high for someone with only a 21.2% usage rate.

Doumbouya wasn’t put in the pick-and-roll as a diver but has shown he can play above the rim as target for lobs while filling the lanes in transition and figures to be an option to offer vertical spacing by at least sneaking behind the defense a little more often if put in a different situation.

SELF-CREATED OFFENSE

Doumbouya got to create shots via catches on dribble-handoffs on the side of the floor, off pindowns at the top of the key and even the eventual middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense, as he’s shown potential to grab-and-go off collecting a defensive rebound and initiate offense himself.

He doesn’t have an explosive first step against older people just yet, has a loose handle and hasn’t developed a set of dribble moves to get by his man on shiftiness. Doumbouya doesn’t have a whole lot of burst and speed with the ball either, even with the aid of a pick, as he is often struggled to turn the corner and get downhill.

He is able to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact in isolation or against a scrambling defense thanks to his core strength but still has room to improve the versatility of his finishing off the bounce – having shown iffy touch on lefty attempts and scoop layups while dealing with a rim protector parked between him and the basket.

Doumbouya is also yet to show many instincts as a passer on the move – recording just 28 assists in his 28 appearances last season.

As is, he’s shown a reliance on setting himself up for jumpers operating off the dribble and off movement. Doumbouya looks great taking one-dribble pull-ups off handoffs and has flashed the ability to crossover into his pull-up in isolation and hang-dribble into a three-pointer in middle high pick-and-roll. He struggles when forced to take multiple dribbles into step-back and side-step pull-ups, though.

WEAK-SIDE DEFENSE

Doumbouya stays in a stance away from the ball, can stunt-and-recover fluidly, doesn’t help one pass away and helps crowd the area near the basket.

He’s also proven he is attentive enough to his responsibilities executing the scheme – rotating in to pick up the roll man and coming off the weak-side to pick up the eventual block going up off two feet with some space to load up.

Doumbouya is not as attentive to his boxout responsibilities but is quite instinctive chasing the ball off the rim while taking advantage of teammates doing the dirty work – collecting 19.9% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season.

He is a teenager, though, so of course there were miscues and areas for improvement. Doumbouya can get caught ball-watching from time-to-time, flies by on closeouts and sells out to try blocking shots every now and again.

He also didn’t leverage his length and athleticism into flying around to create events in volume the way you’d expect from an athlete of his caliber – averaging just 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks per 40 minutes last season.

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

Doumbouya bends his to get down in a stance, has multiple lateral slides in him to stay in front in isolation defense and works to contest pull-ups, though he is prone to biting on shot fakes from time-to-time.

He also rarely leverages his bulk to contain dribble penetration through contact and can’t go up off two feet without loading up to block shots defending on the ball.

Doumbouya hasn’t shown to be an option to pick up smaller players on switches or cross-match onto them for entire possessions. Guards can just get by him out in space without much trouble and he is too big to go over picks at the point of attack, aside from not hustling in pursuit to challenge shots or passes from behind.

That inability to disentangle himself from picks also showed as he struggled to chase shooters around staggered screens.

Defending pick-and-rolls as a big man in drop back coverage, Doumbouya hasn’t yet developed the ability to keep the ball out in front but used his long strides to keep pace with dribble drivers getting downhill from the foul line down and effectively challenge or intimidate shots at the basket.

OUTLOOK

Doumbouya is the rare 17-year-old big and strong enough to log minutes in the pros as a rotation regular.

His résumé isn’t as impressive as Luka Doncic’s because the French Pro B isn’t as a strong as the Spanish ACB, let alone the Euroleague, and Doumbouya has simply fit in rather than starred the way Doncic did.

But the fact he has already logged consistent minutes against players a decade older than him is impressive nonetheless.

Whether or not this has been good for his development remains to be seen.

In the pros, Doumbouya has been a pure role player on offense – logging low usage and acting as a weak-side floor-spacer for the most part. He seems like a more capable shooter than he did 16 months ago but the ball doesn’t go in a whole lot just yet.

He’s had some chances to stretch his wings as a shot creator but probably not as much as he would if he were still playing against others in his age group. As is, I don’t think many teams still view him as having the same star potential, especially as he didn’t show much potential as a difference maker on defense either.

We’ll see what happens as he moves on to Limoges.


[1] According to Eurospects

[2] According to ESPN

[3] DOB: 12/23/2000

[4] According to our stats’ database

[5] According to SLAM Magazine

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

Luka Samanic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Luka Samanic is the second-ranked European prospect born in 2000[1] and currently considered the 14th-ranked prospect in the 2019 draft class[2] but has dealt with a lot of ebbs and flows over the last year.

The 18-year-old[3] led Croatia to a first-place finish in the 2017 U18 FIBA European Championship Division B, earning MVP honors along the way, but the season with Barcelona didn’t go as well.

He not only didn’t get any opportunities with the Catalan powerhouse in the Spanish ACB, let alone the Euroleague, but went on to average just 12.7 minutes per game in his 22 appearances with the second team in the Spanish LEB Gold[4].

In his limited 280-minute sample against that level of competition, the six-foot-10 stretch big averaged 21.2 points per 40 minutes but on just 43.2% effective shooting, while compiling a 9.2 PER.

Needing a little bit of a pick-me-up midway through that run, he was put on the junior squad that participated in the Cuitat De L’Hospitalet regional portion of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament and killed it against his age group.

Samanic averaged 34.2 points per 40 minutes on just 42.1% effective shooting but while logging 35% usage and compiling a 31.8 PER in 108 minutes, earning MVP honors and leading Barcelona to three wins in four games – falling just short of qualifying to the Final Four that is played during Euroleague Final Four weekend.

Displeased with his lack of opportunities with the first team, the Zagreb native surprised many earlier this summer by not re-signing with Barcelona and transferring to Union Olimpija instead – where one assumes he was promised a real chance of earning minutes in the Adriatic League, the FIBA Basketball Champions League and the Slovenian SKL.

His fortunes haven’t completely turned just yet, though. Samanic finished a reasonably strong appearance at the 2018 U18 FIBA European Championships Division A this weekend, where he averaged 25.6 points per 40 minutes on 57% effective shooting and compiled a 28.7 PER but couldn’t lift Croatia any higher than a 11th-place finish, as the team was minus-19 in his 159 minutes[5].

Samanic did most of his work with his back to the basket, as Croatia played an offense designed to get three-pointers out of posting up its big men, drawing double teams and then swinging the ball around the perimeter. He struggled to get particularly impressive looks for himself but did very well creating for others – assisting on 18.7% of Croatia’s scores when he was on the floor[6].

His two-point percentage stayed close to 50% thanks to a few finishes near the basket and catch-and-shoot long-twos but other than passing, Samanic was at his most effective as a three-point shooter when he got a few shots out of spacing out to the three-point line and on pick-and-pops. He was also an effective presence in the offensive glass.

On the other end, Samanic was asked to defend pick-and-rolls in a multitude of ways and showed a lot of versatility in terms of being able to execute the many coverages, as he is quite mobile and nimble for someone his height. Samanic also showed to be an effective rim protector when well positioned.

INTERIOR OFFENSE

He has a slight 210-pound frame in the context of his height and struggles to get a deep seal in the low post, often getting pushed further close to the three-point arc.

Samanic hasn’t yet developed any power moves and has a hard time knocking his defender back in order to create space for basic turnaround hooks. He is great at feeling double teams and has very good court vision, though. Besides igniting passing sequences on quick touch passes, Samanic also launched some impressive passes across the court to the opposite end.

He has a decent head-fake to try getting his defender out of position and pretty good touch on his right-handed hook when he does manage to get a shot off but his best work making a move out of a post touch was via turning it into a face-up isolation or pivot-moving into a quick baseline drive.

He is well coordinated for someone his height, has light feet pivoting into putting the ball on the floor and has a rip-through move into burst to get an advantage in his first step.

Even in these instances, the best outcome was often him finding teammates against a collapsing defense on shovel passes over the top to the other big at the dunker spot or drop-offs to perimeter players on diagonal cuts and hammer passes across his body from under the rim to the corner.

Samanic also has a third dimension to his passing, as he proved himself able to catch the ball on the move, cut his roll short and kickout to a spot-up shooter in a pinch – assisting on 18.7% of Croatia’s scores when he was on the floor.

He is not an explosive leaper off two feet without some space to load up but showed great touch on non-dunk finishes – on righty finger-roll finishes off a jump-stop and righty scoop finishes dealing with a rim protector parked between him and the basket.

Samanic is rumored to have only a six-foot-10 wingspan[7] and isn’t a particularly high leaper but played with a decent motor looking to create second chance opportunities in the offensive glass – collecting 12% of Croatia’s misses when he was on the floor. He is not a powerful leaper off two feet in a crowd but has a quick second jump to make an impact on tip-ins and fight for 50-50 balls.

PERIMETER OFFENSE

After nailing just 28.2% of his 71 three-point shots with Barcelona last season, Samanic shot the ball very well this summer.

He gets little elevation off the ground but dips for rhythm, rises up in great balance, has fluid mechanics, fully elevates himself for a high release and regularly gets a high arc on his shot.

Samanic offered gravity as a weak-side floor-spacer on spot-ups and drifting around the wing but also proved he is able to hit quick bombs out of the pick-and-pop and as the back-screener in Spain pick-and-rolls – nailing nine of his 19 three-point shots in the tournament, at a pace of 4.7 such attempts per 40 minutes.

He is a so-so screener who looks to draw contact but whose thin frame isn’t all that challenging for tenacious on-ball defenders to slide around. Nonetheless, Samanic showed he can adjust his feet quickly and pull the trigger comfortably enough prior to or over contests more often than not.

As was, he demanded hard closeouts and was able to put the ball on the floor a lot on straight line drives. Samanic has long strides to get all the way to the basket against a scrambling defense, can mix in a spin move to weave his way through traffic and is an explosive leaper off one foot going up off momentum.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

Samanic was asked to defend pick-and-rolls in a variety of ways and proved he is at least capable of executing each of the many different coverages.

He is nimble enough to show-and-recover – blitzing at the three-point line against a pull-up threat and backpedalling to hustle back to the roll man quickly enough for the weak-side rotations not to get terribly exposed.

Samanic can hedge and influence ball-handlers way high in the perimeter as well – forcing dribble drives to go sideways and then hustling back to even the matchups behind him quickly.

He is also an option to pick up smaller players on switches – bending his knees to get down in a stance and showing he has several slides in him to stay in front of shifty players out in space, at least against the level of competition he faced in Latvia.

And last but not least, Samanic is also effective in drop back defense – keeping pace with ball-handlers getting downhill on straight line drives, using his eight-foot-10 standing reach to contest pull-ups effectively and even flashing quick leaping ability off two feet to block close-range attempts defending on the ball.

INTERIOR DEFENSE

Samanic logged some of his time at center and did well as a help defender for the most part. He has developed decent recognition skills and awareness coming off the weak-side or stepping up to the front of the basket as the last line of defense, putting himself in position to challenge a lot of shots.

Some opponents managed to score through him, as his lack of above average length and bulk hurt him in a few instances. But he was also fairly effective impacting shots via verticality and still managed to pick up more than a few blocks – averaging 2.7 blocks per 40 minutes in the event.

Samanic is attentive enough to his responsibilities putting a body on an opponent close by but isn’t very physical with his boxouts. Nonetheless, he was able to rely on his quickness chasing the ball off the rim quicker than this level of competition – collecting 25.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

OUTLOOK

After a disappointing season with Barcelona, Samanic wasn’t necessarily dominant at the 2018 U18 FIBA European Championships, at least not in a way that elevated the level of his team.

He showed more than enough to remain one of the most interesting prospects of the 2019 draft class, though.

Samanic projects as a good shooter, who could offer floor spacing at the point of attack, can put the ball on the floor to drive against closeouts and has shown to be a versatile passer – capable of creating for others on the move and as a hub to facilitate offense.

In a time where teams like to create three-pointers off movement while posting up to give time for these actions to work themselves out or having perimeter players get a head-start by darting around big man on handoffs, Samanic figures to be an excellent fit for what the NBA is looking for in its big men right now.

That’s also the case because he’s shown to be capable of guarding the pick-and-roll in a multitude of ways, most importantly by being able to bother ball-handlers way out in the perimeter – which is quickly becoming a must in a league where pull-up threats are multiplying by the day.

That said, his frame needs to develop for him to belong from a physical-standpoint, especially considering that most of the potential he offers as a difference maker relies on his ability to eventually play center full-time.


[1] According to Eurospects

[2] According to ESPN

[3] DOB: 1/9/2000

[4] According to RealGM

[5] According to FIBA

[6] According to RealGM

[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

Zion Williamson Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Zion Williamson was the second-ranked prospect in the 2018 high school class[1] and is currently considered the seventh-ranked prospect in the 2019 draft class[2].

The 18-year-old[3] has a remarkable frame for someone his age, as Duke currently lists him at 285 pounds[4]. All that mass is reasonably well distributed within his six-foot-seven height and led to him consistently overwhelming competition at the high school and AAU levels.

Williamson looks like he could be dropped into an NBA game right now and belong just fine from a physical-standpoint, though all that bulk at his young age does raise concerns over his conditioning for the near future.

On top of that general size, he is very nimble for someone his weight and an explosive leaper off two feet, without needing to load up to go up. Thanks to that ability to act as a constant threat above the basket on both ends and his strength, Williamson projects as a big man at higher levels.

However, the lefty had quite a few opportunities to handle the ball at Spartanburg Day and with SC Supreme, flashing some very intriguing potential as a shot creator from the perimeter – invoking comparisons to LeBron James on some corners of the internet.

Williamson is well-coordinated for someone with his body type and very few players in his age group were able to contain his bulldozer drives. But his skill level is still early in its development and the teenager hasn’t yet shown the flashes of geniality we’ve seen from James, so those comparisons appear to be misguided and unfortunate.

As is, his time at Duke should offer more clarity in terms of what can be reasonably expected of Williamson once he fits into a team that also has to worry about accommodating all the other high end talent around him. It will also illuminate us on his true level of commitment to defense.

He looked quite bored more often than not and rarely played with the sort of intensity you’d like to see from an athlete of his caliber.

With his combination of size and athleticism, Williamson has the potential to be a dominant defender, both on the ball and acting as a weak-side helper. But regular effort and attention to his responsibilities executing the scheme are also part of the equation, and in those areas he still has plenty of room to improve.

ATHLETICISM

Williamson is an explosive leaper off two feet and looks his most impressive as a finisher. Spartanburg and SC Supreme didn’t have him diving to the basket off pick-and-roll but he’s proven he can play above the rim as a target for lobs while filling the lanes in transition and sneaking behind the defense on backdoor cuts.

He’s also a constant threat on the offensive glass, having shown a very versatile rebounding profile:

  • Despite possessing an unimpressive six-foot-10 wingspan[5], Williamson has flashed the ability to rebound outside of his area;
  • He can highpoint the ball over his opponents due to his quickness getting off the ground and his high leaping ability;
  • He’s shown impressive instincts chasing the ball off the rim for some emphatic tip dunks on putbacks;
  • He has a quick second jump to fight for tip-ins and 50-50 balls;
  • He can go back up in a crowd for immediate putback attempts off gathering himself, showing he’s strong enough to finish through contact.

But it’s his potential as a shot creator that has everyone fascinated. Williamson has a decent first step but isn’t very fast with the ball. He is a wrecking ball driver who gets all the way to the basket by maintaining his balance and his momentum forward through contact thanks to his strength and body control.

However, though he was mostly a north-south driver for the most part, Williamson flashed some side-to-side quickness when he opted for trying to get by his man via shiftiness and dribble moves.

He also impresses with his flexibility going up off one foot in traffic, as he is able to adjust his body in the air for acrobatic finishes among the trees and uses his strength to finish through contact or on his way down.

That said, the bulk of his productivity as a slasher still comes via his ability to live at the foul line, as his large frame invites a lot of contact when he bulldozes his way through traffic.

On the other end, Williamson leveraged his athleticism into making an impact close to the basket when well positioned, not only blocking shots but intimidating attempts by high school kids half his size as well. Despite having only an eight-foot-seven standing reach, he can explode off the ground in a pinch and has potential to become a volume shot blocker, if his motor and recognition skills develop.

Williamson can also leverage that explosiveness into highlight chase-down blocks hustling back in transition defense from time-to-time.

SKILL LEVEL

He was given the chance the handle the ball in the perimeter against a set defense somewhat regularly – in middle high pick-and-roll and jogging around staggered screens for catches on the side of the floor.

Williamson hasn’t yet developed a tight handle and is prone to having the ball stripped in traffic. He’s also shown a strong preference for going left, even if it results in him driving into a crowd.

Besides a basic kickout when the open man is quite evident, he is not a particularly impressive passer off the dribble either at this point of his development.

But Williamson has flashed the glimpses of a very resourceful arsenal of dribble moves to get his shot off or get downhill in isolation or off pick-and-roll.

He can crossover into rejecting the pick, pullback behind it into a jumper, hang dribble into a stop-and-pop pull-up, in-and-out dribble to create separation for a side-step pull-up, go behind the back or between the legs in pinch, pivot into a well-coordinated spin move and pick up his dribble into high-stepping his way through traffic with his long strides.

Williamson can make a shot but is far from an efficient shot maker as of now.

So his effectiveness operating off the bounce also comes as a finisher. He has pretty good touch on non-dunk finishes, often relying on finger-roll layups but rarely attempting anything with his off hand. Williamson has also flashed a scoop finish and a running floater off 1-2 footwork from the in-between area when forced to deal with a rim protector parked in front of the basket.

He was sent into the post some but more often than not relied on his pure physical advantage on throw-ins over or through weaker opponents, yet to show much in terms of a patient approach or a set of moves working with his back to the basket – though he did flash a pivot move into a kickout to the opposite wing that showed he does have some court vision to potentially burn opponents that double him hard.

SC Supreme had him spacing out to the three-point line when he was off the ball and Williamson attempted a few catch-and-shoot three-pointers on spot-ups, with poor results. He rises with decent balance and has a compact release with a launch point out in front, getting the ball out reasonably fluidly and fairly quickly, but his elbows are all over the place and he rarely gets a good arc on his shot.

EXECUTION

Spartanburg played a 3-2 zone and had Williamson at the top of it during the start of halves. He hunches rather than bends his knees, just barely getting down into a soft stance sometimes, and plays with very little intensity – offering zero ball pressure and rarely sliding laterally more than a couple of times to cut off dribble penetration when an opponent really tried to get into the arc off the dribble.

Then when the Griffins moved him to the backend during the latter parts of halves, Williamson didn’t play with much of a motor looking to make the corrections needed as the last line of defense. He was rarely in a stance off the ball and rarely sought a body to boxout, completely relying on his athletic edge to make up for his lack of polish – which worked out fine at the levels he played at but will become more challenging as competition gets tougher.

SC Supreme had him defending as a weak-side defender and Williamson was equally unimpressive – rarely rotating in to pick the roll man, helping one pass away on dribble drives and putting up weak effort on closeouts.

He’s shown to have only a couple of lateral slides in him in isolation defense as well, regularly offering no challenge for an opponent to get by him.

OUTLOOK

Williamson is a remarkable athlete who has shown glimpses of a very appealing skill-set as a shot creator from the perimeter. The question now becomes how exactly does he fit in a team that doesn’t exist with the sole purpose of giving him the ball and getting out of his way – which was the situation he enjoyed at Spartanburg Day and to a lesser extent with SC Supreme.

There is absolutely a role in the NBA for players who can defend closer to the basket on one end and take their man out to the perimeter on the other. There’s, in fact, a premium on such types right now. Williamson’s time at Duke will offer more clarity on how good he really is at doing these things.

Most of his star potential revolves around his development as a shot creator. To get there, he needs to improve his handle, his court vision and his pull-up jumper. But even if he doesn’t become that player, Williamson might still be a difference maker on offense by offering vertical spacing. He certainly profiles as the sort of athlete who could fill that role and be expected to be great at it.

With all of that said, the bigger uncertainties right now concern his fit on defense.

In theory, Williamson is someone who should offer tremendous versatility. He is strong enough to hold ground against taller players in the post or on the glass and can play above the rim as a shot blocking threat. He is also so nimble that one assumes he should be able to guard out in the perimeter – picking up smaller players on switches, flying around to create events as a weak-side defender or blitzing at the three-point line to play effective show pick-and-roll defense against pull-up shooters.

However, Williamson hasn’t often played with the sort of intensity that offers comfort to the assumption that he will fulfill all of this potential.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to ESPN

[3] DOB: 7/6/2000

[4] According to Duke’s official listing

[5] According to nbadraft.net

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