Isaiah Briscoe Scouting Report

CONTEXT

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Thursday that Orlando signed Isaiah Briscoe after he impressed in their veteran mini-camp late last month. Basketball Insider’s Eric Pincus has since reported that Briscoe agreed to a three-year deal worth the minimum, with just $500 thousand guaranteed this season.

The 22-year-old[1] surprised many by accepting an offer to play in Estonia straight out of college, instead of trying the G-League route first, but that decision appears to have paid off, as he was able to score a guaranteed commitment from an NBA team in his second year as a pro, even if the amount doesn’t necessarily set in stone that they expect him to make the team.

The six-foot-three combo guard averaged 27.6 points per 40 minutes on 56.3% true shooting in 39 appearances for Kalev-Cramo in the VTB United League and the Estonian KML[2].

Naturally, his numbers were better in the domestic league than in the stronger multi-country competition, which features Russian teams with far superior budgets than their opponents from other former Soviet Union regions.

Nonetheless, Briscoe impressed enough to be named Young Player of the Year in the VTB United League, despite the fact Kalev-Cramo finished tied for last with 18 losses in 24 games. In the Estonian KML, the side won 31 of its 32 games on its way to the title and Briscoe was named to the All-KML Team.

The New Jersey native spent a few possessions off the ball at the start of halves but was the top shot creator on the team – logging a jaw-dropping 33.1% usage-rate and assisting on 27.5% of Kalev-Cramo’s scores in his 1,041 minutes. He did most of his work in isolation and got his touches out of ball reversals or against switches.

On the other end, the Kentucky product didn’t show the same level of intensity and tenacity he was known for during his time in Lexington. He used his athletic ability and remarkable length for someone his size to fly around getting into passing lanes but his impact in other areas left something to be desired, considering his reputation as an impact defender.

SHOT CREATION

Briscoe had the chance to show he is a very resourceful player operating off the dribble and looked closer to the player he was in AAU than the one in college.

He has a tight handle and can keep the ball in a string as he changes speed or directions, pivots into a well-coordinated spin move and goes behind the back in a pinch to shake his defender off balance, creating a lane to drive or separation to pull-up.

Briscoe also impressed with his burst off a hesitation move to blow by his man out of a standstill and his head-fake is remarkable, though he needs to improve his decision making in terms of where he is going, as he was often seen driving into traffic and challenging rim protectors from a position of weakness.

In pick-and-roll, Briscoe usually looked to back down and isolate against switches but showed he is a very capable shot creator for others against conventional coverage. He can split doubles at the point of attack and get downhill or play with pace and unleash an in-and-out dribble to destabilize the big defender.

Besides basic drop-offs and kick-outs against a collapsing defense, Briscoe can make well timed pocket passes, rise up in a pinch for jump-pass kick-outs to the opposite wing and launch hammer passes from under the rim to the corner off speed drives.

Operating off the ball, he also proved to be a willing ball mover making the extra pass around the horn.

Briscoe turned it over on just 13.9% of his possessions, which is a decent mark for someone with such high usage and assist rates.

SCORING

Briscoe improved a lot as a shot maker. His jumper is a lot more fluid, as he is now able to launch a variety of good-looking shots off the dribble:

  • Stop-and-pop pull-up;
  • Crossover into his pull-up;
  • Go between the legs into his pull-up;
  • Go behind the back into his pull-up;
  • Fake one way, pivot to the other into a turnaround fade-away jumper off a hiked leg.

Within close-range, Briscoe is not an explosive leaper off one foot or two feet in traffic but has shown righty and lefty finger-roll finishes, the flexibility to adjust his body in the air, some ability to absorb contact and finish through thanks to his bulky 210-pound frame for someone his height and a floater to finish over length from the in-between area with so-so touch.

That said, the ball doesn’t go in at an appealing rate on his pull-ups just yet, his length hasn’t translated into an ability to complete reverses among the trees and his strength hasn’t translated into an ability to finish on his way down regularly, as he ended up making just 51.2% of his 441 two-point shots last season.

What kept his true shooting at an average .563 percentage was his development into a more capable catch-and-shoot three-point shooter. Briscoe is still only an open shot shooter but looks much less mechanical than he did at Kentucky, possessing a compact release out in front but managing to get his shots of comfortably over closeouts thanks to his high elevation.

He nailed 39% of his 118 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 4.5 such attempts per 40 minutes – a decent mark considering how much work he did on the ball. However, his 70% foul shooting on 184 free throws still doesn’t offer much comfort to the assumption that he has turned the corner as a capable shooter.

DEFENSE

As he shared a lot of his time on the court with smaller players like Branko Mirkovic and Stek Sokk, Briscoe more often than not acted as a weak-side defender.

Though he was regularly seen flat-footed off the ball, he leveraged his quickness into well timed reactions. His closeouts were only so-so, as someone with his athletic ability was expected to run shooters off their shots more often than he did, but Briscoe did well using his six-foot-nine wingspan[3] to get into passing lanes – averaging 2.4 steals per 40 minutes.

He proved he is able to execute the scheme as well – attentive to his responsibilities coming off the weak-side to help crowd the area near the basket. Briscoe is not an explosive leaper off two feet to act as a shot blocking threat but showed to be a very willing charge drawer.

Kalev-Cramo had him picking up bigger wings on switches from time-to-time and Briscoe put up very pleasing effort fronting the post to prevent easy entries or holding his ground in stout post defense if the opponent did manage to enter the ball over him.

His struggles were navigating off ball picks, as he might not be suited to chasing shooters around the floor in one of the few instances where his bulky frame works against him. His contributions in the defensive glass were also somewhat disappointing, as he collected just 12.9% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season. Even if he is a guard, he was expected to stand out a bit more from an athletic-standpoint.

The biggest disappointment was in individual defense, though. When he did guard the point of attack, Briscoe didn’t go over picks regularly and struggled to slide them cleanly when he did go over. But perhaps more concerning, he didn’t hustle in pursuit to challenge shots and passes from behind all that often. Someone with his length is expected to make a big impact in this area but that didn’t materialize.

And though he has the length to matchup with wings regularly and a bulky frame that suggests he should be able to, Briscoe hasn’t yet developed enough strength to contain dribble penetration through contact against these types of players often.


[1] DOB: 4/13/1996

[2] According to RealGM

[3] According to NBA.com/stats/

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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Josh Okogie Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Josh Okogie was the 182nd-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1].

In two seasons at Georgia Tech, the 19-year-old[2] accumulated 2,014 minutes of college basketball experience. But other than that, he has just 90 minutes at the 2015 Nike Global Challenge and 93 minutes defending the United States National Team at the 2017 U17 FIBA World Cup under his belt[3].

Most recently, the six-foot-four off guard averaged 20 points per 40 minutes[4] on 55% true shooting and compiled a 21.3 PER in 24 appearances last season.

Georgia Tech played the 51st-toughest schedule in the country[5] and had a +8.8 pace-adjusted point differential with him on the floor[6].

Okogie logged 27% usage-rate and had the opportunity to show a somewhat diverse skill-set in terms of the ways he can contribute to an offense; bringing up the ball to trigger motion offense, isolating out of ball reversals and late in the shot clock, curling off pindown screens, attacking off dribble hand-offs and spacing the floor on spot-ups. He took about a third of his shots from each of the three levels and was assisted on less than half of his field-goals[7].

The native of Lagos, Nigeria had the chance to showcase his versatility on the other end as well, as Georgia Tech often ran a matchup zone that tested its players’ recognition skills and switched a little more aggressively towards the end of the season. Okogie impressed with his ability contribute as a help defender, especially in rim protection, but his individual defense was only so-so, which is somewhat disappointing for someone with his physical profile.

Okogie measured really well and turned up his intensity during the scrimmages at the 2018 Combine, though. And after a strong showing in Chicago, he appears to have consolidated his status as a late first rounder, unless the grade 1 right adductor strain he suffered while working out for the Grizzlies[8] turns out to be a bigger problem than it’s currently known.

HELP DEFENSE

Okogie doesn’t stay in a stance off the ball but proved to be attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to crowd the lane and coming off the weak-side to aid in rim protection as a shot blocking threat. He can leap off two feet in a pinch without any struggle and has an eight-foot-six standing reach[9] that is above average for someone his height – averaging 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes last season.

As Georgia Tech often screwed up the follow/pass it up exchanges in their matchup zone, Okogie flashed the recognition skills to step up on the fly and pick up a dribble driver when a teammate got beat. Not consistently, but more than a few times. He also showed a knack for using his seven-foot wingspan to get into passing lanes – averaging 1.9 steals per 40 minutes.

Okogie didn’t often run the shooter off his shot on closeouts but can contest very effectively due to his length. And when the opponent did put the ball on the floor, he proved he is able to stay balanced and move his feet laterally to stay attached.

His contributions pitching in on the glass were good but not particularly impressive, as he collected 13.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor over his time at Georgia Tech.

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

Okogie didn’t always bend his knees to get down in a stance and mixed moments of higher intensity with low energy defending on the ball. But when he turned it, he showed he has multiple lateral slides in him to stay in front in isolation, can leverage his reach to try getting strips and use the strength in his thick 210-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact.

Against smaller players, he struggled to slide cleanly over picks at the point of attack but hustled back in pursuit to block, challenge or deflect shots and passes from behind.

That struggle negotiating screens cleanly also materialized when Okogie was tasked with chasing shooters and he lost his man from time-to-time.

Picking up bigger players on switches, he impressed with his tenacity attempting to front the post and prevent an easy entry. But while he was attentive to put a body on the opponent under the glass, Okogie wasn’t all that physical with his box-outs and more active big men didn’t have much trouble rebounding against him.

SPOT-UP SHOOTING

Catch-and-shoot jumpers off weak-side spot-ups are his most efficient way to contribute on offense at this point of his development.

He shoots almost a set shot, getting very little elevation, and has a low release, launching the ball out in front. His trigger also has plenty of room to get sped up. But his compact mechanics are pretty fluid and his touch is nice.

Okogie nailed 38% of his 173 three-point shots in his two years at Georgia Tech. But he is only an open shot shooter for now, taking long bombs at a pace of just 3.4 such attempts per 40 minutes. That rate went up to 4.6 last season but is still below average for someone who projects as a wing in the pros.

Okogie hasn’t yet developed a dynamic enough release to be leveraged as a threat to make shots on the move but his 77.7% foul shooting on 403 foul shots does create the expectation that he will continue to be at least a capable set shooter as he moves up a level.

OFF DRIBBLE OFFENSE

He operated off the bounce curling off pindown screens at the top, sprinting to the ball for dribble hand-offs in the high post area and in isolation on the side of the floor out of ball reversals or against a set defense in emergency situations late in the shot clock.

Georgia Tech didn’t offer great spacing, as it ranked 341st in the country in the three-point shots and 325th in three-point shooting, so a good chunk of his work off the dribble ended up in pull-up jumpers.

Okogie doesn’t have a lot of shiftiness but managed to create good separation for his step-back fadeaway pull-ups by going between the legs into his step-back or leaning into his man to push him off without extending his arm. He struggled on stop-and-pop jumpers, though, due to his low release. Defenders with NBA-caliber length like Theo Pinson and Bruce Brown blocked his attempts to shoot over them.

Okogie missed 70 of his 99 two-point shots away from the rim last season.

But he managed to battle adverse conditions and get all the way to the basket a fair amount. Okogie is not very fast with the ball and doesn’t have a deep set of dribble moves to work his defender off balance but relies on his strength to bully his way forward against similarly sized players and has a low dribble to protect the ball reasonably well in traffic – taking 37.8% of his shots at the rim and averaging 7.4 free throws per 40 minutes last season.

He can use his length to over-extend around rim protectors and flashed the ability to finish with his left hand as well but can’t hang in the air and struggled scoring in a crowd for the most part – converting just 54.5% of his 121 shots at the rim.

Okogie brought the ball up to trigger motion offense from time-to-time but wasn’t put in the pick-and-roll a whole lot. That said, when he did get a ball screen, he showed glimpses of appealing court vision.

Other than executing basic drop-offs and kick-outs to the strong-side off deep dribble penetration, he flashed the ability to make well-timed pocket passes and passes over the top to the roll man – assisting on 14.9% of Georgia Tech’s scores when he was on the floor last season.

There is a chance more than a few teams view him as a point guard prospect, or at least as the sort of wing who might be able to develop the ability to run offense in a pinch and unlock jumbo personnel in the perimeter.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 9/1/1998

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to our stats’ database

[7] According to hoop-math

[8] According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony

[9] According to the measurements at the 2018 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

Khyri Thomas Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Khyri Thomas was unranked out of Fork Union Military Academy in 2015[1] but has managed to build over his three years at Creighton a résumé worthy of first round consideration in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Through 101 NCAA appearances, the six-foot-three wing has accumulated 2,735 minutes of college ball experience up until this point.

His statistical profile features a dip in a few areas in comparison to last season but it’s still pretty strong across the board for someone with his role, as the 21-year-old[2] has averaged 19.3 points per 40 minutes on 65.5% true shooting this season[3].

Thomas was not responsible for running offense on a regular basis, as his 21.2% usage rate and 14.9% assist rate attest[4]. He did most of his work on the second side, spotting up or coming off screens, though there were also times where he had a more active role in shot creation by taking smaller matchups into the post and running middle pick-and-rolls in emergency situations late in the shot clock.

But Thomas is more highly thought of for his defense. He is Creighton’s primary on-ball defender, consistently tasked with guarding opposing point guards. Thomas is not perfect, as there are times where opponents without particularly impressive athleticism have blown by him at the point of attack, but he puts in the effort to stay attached to his man more often than not in individual defense and has shown he is aware of his responsibilities executing the scheme as well.

In an Era where the biggest stars in the league are mostly wings who handle the ball often, there is an increase in demand for point guard-sized shooters who can supplement these ball handling wings by providing spacing on one end and defending smaller types on the other. So, Thomas will be entering the league at a time where teams are looking for someone with his exact skill-set. As is, ESPN currently ranks him 21st in its top 100.

SECOND SIDE

Thomas’ top skill on offense at this point of his development is his jumper, as he’s proven to have a versatile enough release to take shots on the move as well as on spot-ups.

And Creighton has leveraged his quick trigger in several ways; having him jog around staggered screens from the restricted area to the wing, run off a pindown screen to the top of the key, sprint to the ball for dribble-handoffs and even wheel around pick-and-rolls to confuse zone defenses.

Thomas is obviously no JJ Redick yet but he is the sort of prospect who has a real chance of eventually becoming that level of a shooter down the line. He does excellent shot preparation catching it on the hop, exhibits fluid mechanics consistent enough to withstand the need to stop on a dime and rise up in a split-second against the momentum of his body, gets very good elevation for a high release and has a quick trigger.

And even in instances where the opponent managed to prevent him from shooting off the catch instantly, Thomas has shown a knack for creating enough space to rise up for no-dribble jumpers with a combination of jab-step and rip through move.

He has nailed 40.9% of his 320 three-point shots over his three years at Creighton, at a pace of 4.7 such attempts per 40 minutes, though that rate is up to a more pleasing 5.9 average this season. He’s also hit 72.1% of his 208 foul shots.

Thanks to the prolificacy of his jumper and the effect that it had on Creighton’s offense even when he wasn’t shooting it, Thomas ranks second in offense rating among rotation players[5] in a team that ranks 22nd in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency[6].

ATTACKING CLOSEOUTS

Thomas is not an explosive player off the dribble and when opponents have switched shooting actions at the top, he’s struggled to blow by big men on a straight line. His handle is very rudimentary as of now, especially going to his left, and he hasn’t shown a whole lot of quickness changing directions on the move.

Thomas can get all the way to the basket against similarly sized players maintaining his balance through contact and he’s shown to be an effective finisher against size around the basket. He’s flashed a euro-step in the secondary break to weave his way through traffic and has a six-foot-10 wingspan to over-extend on finger-roll finishes, which he’s proven to be ambidextrous at.

Thomas is not as versatile a finisher as he is a shooter; he can’t finish through contact, isn’t an explosive leaper out of one or two feet, hasn’t shown much flexibility to hang or adjust his body in the air and hasn’t yet developed a knack for drawing contact – averaging just three foul shots per 40 minutes throughout his college career.

But he was pretty efficient in college, converting his 330 shots at the rim at a 67.8% clip, with just 90 of his 224 layups/dunks assisted[7].

SHOT CREATION

Other than moving off the ball, Thomas contributes the most with the shot creation process by taking smaller players into the post every now and again.

He has a strong 210-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-three height and while he doesn’t use it to get deep seals consistently, he offers his teammate enough of a window for the post entry regularly and then goes to work.

His preferred move is turning, facing his man, jab-stepping once or twice, rip-through and then rise up for a no-dribble jumper. He’s been very effective with his sequence, nailing 44.6% of his 83 two-point jumpers this season, with most of his makes coming out of the post, given Thomas hasn’t shown to be much of a pull-up jump-shooter so far.

Thomas has also done well mixing in a power move, backing his defender for a couple of dribbles, demanding a double team and passing out of that double.

His passing is also his best attribute off the dribble, whether it’s handling from the top against a set defense or attacking a scrambling defense out of kickouts or ball reversals, as he’s shown to be very coordinated on shot-fake, drive, drop-off sequences and also impressed with his court vision hitting to the opposite corner when he’s got to the basket but couldn’t finish.

When he’s had to run middle pick-and-rolls late in the shot clock, Thomas has shown a light hesitation dribble to try creating a driving lane for himself and can make bounce passes against soft doubles and passes to the opposite end facing that way – assisting on 14.9% of Creighton’s scores over his 1,009 minutes this season.

He hasn’t yet developed the handle and the ability to play with pace to be asked to create offense for himself or others more often, though. Thomas has a loose handle, doesn’t have much in terms of dribble moves to shake his man off balance in isolation and hasn’t shown the ability to tie up the last line of defense until the last possible split-second before hitting the roll man.

ON BALL DEFENSE

Thomas is a good defender on the ball.

He bends his knees to get in a stance, puts in the effort to stay attached to his man one-on-one, ices ball-screens, works to get over picks at the point of attack and uses his rumored six-foot-10 wingspan to reach around opposing point guards and make plays on the ball in volume – averaging 2.1 steals per 40 minutes this season.

He is not without flaws, though.

There were multiple times where guys like Jalen Brunson and Bryant McIntosh, who won’t exactly rate as elite in terms of first steps in the NBA, just blew by him out in space, which was a bit disconcerting to see. His lateral reaction isn’t always as elite as you’d like to see from someone who will earn a bulk of his money based on his ability to defend the strongest position in the league out on an island.

Thomas also can’t cleanly navigate picks, almost always brushing on the opposing big man, needing his big teammate to prevent the opponent from turning the corner or pulling up right away in order to make it back in front. And despite his strong frame, he doesn’t contain dribble penetration often.

OFF BALL DEFENSE

That said, Thomas does leverage that strength to offer versatility picking up bigger players on switches. Aside his length, he’s proven himself an asset to matchup with bulkier types with his tenacity fronting the post to deny the feed and boxing out.

Operating as a weak-side defender, Thomas stays in a stance off the ball and even faceguards players he deems more challenging. He’s shown to be attentive to his rotation responsibilities crashing inside to pick up the roll man and closing out to the corner when the teammate responsible for that corner helped at the basket.

Thomas has also impressed in plays that demand multiple efforts; stunting-and-recovering, closing out-and-staying balanced as the opponent puts the ball on the floor and sprinting to crowd the area near the basket on desperate scrambles. In these instances, he leveraged his length to make plays in the passing lanes and proved himself willing to draw charges.

Another way Thomas makes a tangible impact is as an active contributor in the glass, exhibiting quick leaping ability off two feet and instincts reacting to the ball – collecting 13.6% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor in college, a nice mark for someone his size.

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 5/8/1996

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] According to our stats’ database

[5] According to our stats’ database

[6] According to Ken Pomeroy

[7] 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

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

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the 35th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].
  • Through the first 13 games, the six-foot-six combo guard has averaged 16.2 points per 40 minutes on 55% effective shooting and assisted on 24.9% of Kentucky’s scores over his 372 minutes[2].
  • Gilgeous-Alexander has alternated between running point when Quade Green is out of the game and playing off the ball alongside him.
    • The native of Hamilton, Ontario can make an open jumper and is a quick decision maker putting the ball on the floor off the catch but his best work has been done running middle high pick-and-roll.
  • On the other end, the 19-year-old[3] has also alternated between defending the point of attack and as a wing defender while accommodating Green.
  • He has great assets in terms of height, length and quickness to be expected to develop into an elite defender who offers his coach a lot of flexibility on how to place him in the lineup and the fact that he already puts in the effort is a great sign. He needs bulk up, though, possessing a weak 182-pound frame at this point of his development.
  • ESPN ranks him 47th in its top 100.

SHOT CREATION

  • Gilgeous-Alexander has an almost complete package in terms of athletic abilities running pick-and-roll:
    • Speed turning the corner or getting downhill to drive deep into the lane;
    • The ability to play with pace, mixing in change of speeds to wait for driving lanes to clear on slower developing plays;
    • A height advantage over the average opposing point guard, which helps him to make passes over the top.
  • But he still has a lot of room to refine his actual skill level working off a ball-screen:
    • Being prone to having the ball stripped in traffic – turning it over on 19.2% of his possessions;
    • Having not yet developed dynamic enough pull-up jumpers or floaters to force opponents to play up on him – missing 26 of his 39 two-pointers away from the basket up until now[4];
    • Able to make a kick-out and a drop-off pass against the defense collapsing to him but yet to show advanced court vision in terms of making passes across his body to the opposite end of the court.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander can breakdown the defense without the aid of a screen. He has dribble moves (crossover, in-and-out, behind the back, hesitation) and side-to-side shake to get by his man and attack the basket in straight isolations or on catch-and-go’s off ball reversals and dribble hand-offs.
    • He’s taken 43% of his 100 live-ball attempts at the rim and averaged 5.1 foul shots per 40 minutes.
  • Given his height, it’s tempting for a coach to play him as a wing but Gilgeous-Alexander is a legit point guard, having shown good feel for controlling the rhythm of the game, in terms of finding the right balance between passing ahead to speed up the pace or walking the ball up to run organized half-court offense.

SHOOTING & FINISHING

  • Gilgeous-Alexander is a below-the-rim finisher at this point of his development, lacking explosiveness off one foot to go up strong in traffic. But he’s flexible enough to adjust his body in the air and finish around length on reverses or stretching out his long arms on side toss-ups.
    • He’s converted 69.8% of his 43 attempts at the rim, even proving himself able to finish with his left hand.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander is only an open-shot shooter at this point of his development. He is almost a set shooter, getting little elevation and launching the ball from a low point. His release is also slow and mechanical as of now. But his mechanics seem like a decent foundation to build upon and he certainly has touch on his shot.
    • He’s nailed eight of his 18 three-point attempts and 87.2% of his 47 foul shots so far this season.

DEFENSE

  • Gilgeous-Alexander has shown to be a disciplined individual defender. He bends his knees to get down in a stance and can slide laterally several times to stay in front. He lacks strength to contain penetration but uses his length to contest shots effectively.
  • He has also shown to be an excellent pick-and-roll defender:
    • Able to get skinny to go over the pick;
    • Showing a sense of urgency to hurry back to his man in order not to compromise the integrity of the scheme behind him too much;
    • Using his seven-foot wingspan[5] to block, deflect and effectively challenge shots and passes from behind as the trailer.
  • His height and length suggests he could be an option to pick up bigger players on switches but he is not strong or tenacious enough for that just yet.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander has shown a knack for using his length making plays in the passing lanes and reaching around to strip opposing point guards of the ball in individual defense – averaging 3.2 steals per 40 minutes.
  • His contributions in the defensive glass or coming off the weak-side to crowd the area near the basket have been marginal.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 7/12/1998

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to the measurements on Kentucky’s Combine

READ MORE: Trevon Duval | Collin Sexton | Cassius Winston

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

Cassius Winston Scouting Report

CONTEXT

While checking up on Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston caught my attention. Michigan State’s six-foot lead ball handler is not a potent scorer, magic passer or a difference maker on defense but plays very intelligent basketball on both ends.

The soon-to-be 20 year-old[1] sophomore is the trigger man of an offense that is mid-post oriented, focusing on the wings getting their catches sprinting around down screens or playing through the big men in the elbows.

As is, Winston’s role is more controlling the pace of the game, keeping things moving and spacing the floor than creating off the bounce but when he’s been needed to drive, Winston has proven himself a very good passer on the move.

He doesn’t have the physical traits to be an elite defender but executes the scheme down to a tee. Unable to create events in volume, Winston brings value to the table by being someone who will be in the right place at the right time.

QUARTERBACKING

He has impressed a lot with his feel for the game, in terms of understanding the right moments to pass ahead and speed up the pace or to walk the ball up the court and prioritize running some half-court offense, which he subsequently continues to aid by keeping the ball moving.

When asked to breakdown the defense out of the pick-and-roll, he’s shown a lot of craft maneuvering his way in the two-man game. Winston can’t just turn on the jets to turn the corner on explosiveness but manipulates his man expertly around the screen to put him in jail and uses head fakes to tie up the helper and create a window to hit the roll man with a bounce pass or a lob toss.

He is not one of those magicians who anticipate passing lanes a split-second before they come open and hasn’t yet shown an ability to make passes across his body to the opposite end of the floor.

But Winston consistently manages to keep his dribble alive if a shot opportunity doesn’t develop right away and has proven he is able to take advantage of defenders helping one pass away, make wraparound passes in traffic to a big close by deep in the lane or probe under the basket to stress the defense late into the shot clock.

He’s assisted on 46.1% of Michigan State’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season[2], a mark that currently leads the NCAA, on a 2.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

SCORING

Winston can create a decent look for himself in isolation. Though he can’t just blow by his man out on an island and hasn’t yet shown a particularly deep arsenal of dribble moves, Winston can get around or create separation with some side-to-side shake and stop-and-start hesitations.

He can make a step-back jumper from the elbow if the defender doesn’t manage to contest the shot effectively and has flashed a floater to finish over length from the in-between area, nailing 47.6% of his 21 two-point jumpers so far[3], but isn’t a particularly aggressive shot taker, as his low 20.3% usage rate attests.

When he’s had a path to the goal and took it, Winston has struggled as an interior scorer. A speed layup appears to be his only method of finishing, as he’s unable to attack the basket with any sort of explosiveness or complete up-and-under’s around rim protectors – converting just 50% of his 20 shots at the rim and earning just 15 free throws in 12 appearances this season.

Winston offsets the fact he can’t get easy baskets by shooting the crap out of the ball on catch-and-shoot bombs. He’s nailed 46.4% of his 112 three-point attempts over his 45 games in college, including a scorching 61% of his first 41 this season, at a pace of 6.2 such attempts per 40 minutes.

Michigan State has deployed him as more of a spot-up shooter, though, as we are yet to see him take many shots on the move, whether it’s sprinting around staggered screens or acting as the backscreener on Spain pick-and-rolls. Winston has a low release but gets quite a bit of elevation and some of the pull-ups he’s taken in transition suggest they could do a better job leveraging his quick trigger.

DEFENSE

Winston is not an elite individual stopper and doesn’t have the measurables or the athletic ability to create many events but has proven himself a very intelligent defender who can execute the scheme.

He is a proactive help defender who reads well when his teammate over-commits on a hedge or is about to get beat off the bounce, stepping up to pick up a roll man or clog up a driving lane.

On the ball, Winston works diligently to go over screens and hurry back to his man in a timely manner. Though he lacks the length to block shots or deflect passes from behind, Winston stays attached to his man all the way and is opportunistic looking for chances to poke the ball.

In individual defense, he gets down in a stance, has the lateral quickness to stay in front and some bulk in his 185-pound frame to contain dribble penetration by similarly sized players, though high end athletes have shown not to have that big an issue finishing around him.

[1] Date of birth: February, 28th, 1998

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] 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

Malik Monk Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

After that remarkable first month-and-a-half of the season that I profiled in December, Malik Monk came down to Earth a little bit the rest of the way but nothing happened to dissuade most people from the notion that he is the most potent scorer in this draft class – currently ranked sixth in Draft Express’ top 100.

A sick shot maker who proved himself a valuable chess piece that can be moved all over the floor to stress the defense, Monk averaged 24.8 points per 40 minutes on a .543 effective field goal percentage, while 79.6% of his attempts were taken away from the basket[1]. Able to profit of the space he created with his presence, Kentucky averaged 118.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor[2].

Viewed as a potential lead ball handler in high school, Monk didn’t have many opportunities to run half-court offense in Lexington. Even when De’Aaron Fox was out of the game, Isaiah Briscoe was the one responsible for bringing the ball up and triggering their sets at the point of attack.

Maybe there is more to Monk’s shot creation potential than he showed at Kentucky. Devin Booker and Jamal Murray are two recent examples of off guards who didn’t have enough chances to showcase their off dribble skills there. But in instances where he found himself in need of penetrating against a set defense, Monk didn’t impress a whole lot.

His defense was at best a mixed bag. At no point he flashed any ability to be an impact player on that end of the court and his awareness away from the ball is suspect but Monk did show some promise defending smaller players in the pick-and-roll when he got help from his big man, which was meaningful.

Because of his below average physical profile for a wing (six-foot-three height, 197-pound frame, six-foot-six wingspan[3]), Monk’s future in the pros very well could be as a 3&D point guard who supplements ball-dominant wings by guarding opposing point guards and spacing the floor on offense when those guys run offense.

SHOOTING

47% of his shots were three-pointers, at a pace of 8.6 attempts per 40 minutes. His role was not as a mere spot-up threat, as Monk proved himself able to make shots on the move, running around staggered screens from one side of the court to another and sprinting to the ball on dribble hand-offs. Able to plant his feet against full momentum, rise in balance and pull the trigger in a pinch with his quick release, Monk averaged 1.0 point per possession coming off screens[4].

In instances where the opponent ran him off his shot or he got to create his own look off a live dribble, off ball reversals and in the secondary break, Monk also impressed with his ability to hit shots off the bounce. Though he didn’t show much in terms of advanced dribble moves to get his defender on his heels, Monk managed to get his jump-shots off consistently well by crossing over into his pull-ups or step-backing to create separation.

He nailed 39.7% of his 262 three-point shots and 37.9% of his 182 two-point jumpers, with 55 of his 69 mid-range makes unassisted, while averaging 1.01 point per possession on pull-ups.

OTHER AREAS OF OFFENSE

Monk looked good getting to the basket in transition and on free paths to the goal in the half-court when his defender sold out to run him off the three-point line and the help-defender didn’t rotate.

He is an explosive leaper off one or two feet with some space to take flight and is an option to play above the rim as a target for lobs on cutting behind the defense. Stretch big Derek Willis started the last nine games of the season and averaged almost 27 minutes per game during the stretch, which opened up some space for backdoor cutting and Monk flashed some instinctive diving baseline in more than a few opportunities.

But with the ball in his hands and a set defense in front of him, Monk struggled to get all the way to the basket a whole lot. Despite his reputation from high school, he didn’t show a particularly diverse set of dribble moves to get by his man with craftiness in isolation or the ability to play with pace in pick-and-roll. The handle he showed in college was only OK, though the fact he turned it over on just 10.4% of his possessions despite his 27.3% usage rate is something in his favor.

Monk can be very smooth on catch-and-go’s attacking closeouts but instead of putting consistent pressure on the rim, he stopped midway through his drives to rise up for floaters and stop-and-pop short-range jumpers more often than not. His shot selection was at times suspect.

Monk made just 41 shots at the basket in his 38 appearances at Kentucky, while averaging 5.9 foul shots per 40 minutes[5] – a mark that is not poor but also not substantially impressive for someone with his athletic ability.

His passing on the move was better than expected, though. Monk is not quite the second coming of Manu Ginóbili but he proved himself unselfish on kick-outs and drop-offs when he managed to suck in an extra defender – assisting on 13.3% of Kentucky’s scores in his 1,218 minutes on the floor. That said, there isn’t enough evidence to envision him as someone responsible for creating for others reliably in the immediate future.

DEFENSE

As it tends to be case with most 19-year-olds, Monk is an inconsistent defender at this point of his development, having shown some promise but mostly a lot of concerns as of now.

Playing alongside Fox, a plus-defender who didn’t need to be hidden off the ball, he wasn’t asked to guard on the ball a whole lot. As a wing defender, Monk was often late chasing shooters off the same type of screens he does so well working his way around on offense and his closeouts were suspect, rarely running spot-up shooters off the three-point line.

Despite his athleticism, he also didn’t do much in terms of creating events – rarely putting himself in position to challenge shots at the rim or breaking on the ball making plays in the passing lanes and displaying very little toughness mixing up on the glass. His contributions through blocks, steals and defensive rebounds were marginal or unimpressive at best.

But against teams with multiple ball handlers, Monk flashed some potential in pick-and-roll defense. He is not yet great navigating over ball-screens but did a reasonable job a decent amount when Endrice Adebayo prevented the opponent from turning the corner immediately, giving Monk a chance to come back to his man in time not to compromise the integrity of the scheme behind him.

His isolation defense was poor, though. Given the quickness he demonstrates on offense, his reactions defending in a stance out on an island were disappointing. Against high quality competition, Monk not only didn’t often show enough toughness to contain dribble penetration through contact but even struggled shuffling his feet laterally to stay in front one-on-one and it was also rare to see him contest or block shots from behind when he managed to keep pace.

[1] According to hoop-math

[2] According to our stats’ database

[3] According to Draft Express

[4] According to research by Draft Express’ Mike Schmitz

[5] According to sports-reference

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