Chet Holmgren Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Fourth-ranked prospect in the 2021 high school class[1];
  • Aged 17;
  • Listed at seven-feet tall and 190 pounds[2];
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota native who played his first couple years of high school basketball at Minnehaha Academy;
    • Played a key role in the school’s back-to-back title winning campaigns at the Minnesota state championship class 2A these past two seasons;
  • Played AAU ball with the Grassroots Sizzle in the Under Armour Association last offseason;
    • Statistical profile: 22.6 points per 40 minutes on 64% shooting, 49% three-point shooting on 4.6 such attempts per 40 minutes, 8.6 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes, 7.3 blocks per 40 minutes in 14 appearances[3];
  • Projects as a modern center who can space the floor on one end and protect the rim on the other;
  • Is developing some versatility to his release and has flashed the ability to put the ball on the floor against hard closeouts;
    • Extremely thin frame for someone his height makes him a very mobile big man and Minnehaha even called some plays for him to catch off running around screens;
  • Lack of strength is a factor in the more physical areas of the game but plays with energy and intensity in pick-and-roll defense and as a help defender.

HELP DEFENSE

  • Blocked 63 shots in 373 minutes in the Under Armour Association, which averages out to 7.3 blocks per 40 minutes;
  • Aggressive rotating across the lane off the weakside;
    • Not impressively explosive elevating off one foot but seems to have superior length to block a shot even when he’s not in the immediate area of the finisher;
  • Attentive to his responsibilities stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense;
    • Quick leaper off two feet to block shots in volume or challenge them via verticality – does not need to load up to go up off a standstill;
    • Gets knocked back at times when trying to challenge shots via verticality due to lack of core strength;
  • Showed glimpses of very good awareness making preventive rotations that intimidated ball handlers from driving all the way to the rim;
  • Shadows isolations and is aggressive coming to the rescue of teammates getting beat out in space.

PICK-AND-ROLL DEFENSE

  • Was most often asked by Minnehaha Academy to go up to the foul line and drop-back in pick-and-roll defense;
    • Nimble and agile enough to move sideways, intimidate the ball handler from turning the corner, then turning around to contest the roll man effectively;
    • Coordinated and fluid while dropping back but doesn’t leverage his length into making plays on the ball going for strips or challenging feeds to the roll man;
  • Can keep pace with smaller players on straight line drives foul line down;
    • Can block a shot defending on the ball;
  • Picked up smaller players on switches from time-to-time;
    • Bends his knees to get down in a stance;
    • Mobile enough to stay in front of less shifty types out on an island;
    • Puts in the effort to contest pull-ups.

OTHER AREAS OF DEFENSE

  • Not always diligent with his boxout responsibilities and isn’t very physical when he does put a body on whoever is close by but plays with decent activity chasing the ball off the rim and can reach it at a higher level than other high schoolers in Minnesota;
  • Can execute the scheme and make a difference as a weakside defender on actions in the middle of the floor;
    • Agile enough to stunt inside, take away a driver’s path to the basket, and then recover into blocking a three-pointer on a hard closeout thanks to his combination of long strides and length;
    • Flashed some awareness to switch on the fly;
  • Struggles to hold his ground in the post but does guard with his arms up near the basket, which often intimidates the opponent from trying to finish over him;
  • Hustles back in transition defense and can pick up the occasional chase-down block.

OFFENSE

  • Played mostly as a floor-spacer with Minnehaha Academy, clearing the lane for Jalen Suggs to post up smaller guards or get downhill in isolation;
    • Has a fluid release and a fairly quick trigger for someone his height;
    • Compact mechanics without that much of a dip for rhythm, launching the ball from out in front and off little elevation, but managing to get his shot off prior to or over closeouts consistently comfortably due to his height;
    • Doesn’t always get the greatest arc on his shot;
    • Guide hand discipline could use some work;
    • Nailed 49% of his 43 three-point shots in the Under Armour Association, at a pace of 4.6 such attempts per 40 minutes;
  • Got some catches sprinting off screens on the side of the floor: not yet an aggressive shot taker on the move but has enough of a handle and coordination to put the ball on the floor curling around pindowns;
    • Has long strides to get from the three-point line all the way to the rim in one dribble;
    • Can go up strong off one foot if left unchallenged;
    • Tucks the ball to protect it from getting stripped of him in traffic;
    • Despite thin frame and lack of strength, showed some ability to play through contact in high school;
  • Was involved in pick-and-pop a little bit;
    • Slip screener only;
    • Can get quick looks off from midrange;
    • Glimpses of being able to roll into a face-up isolation: showed a quick first step to get by the level of competition he played against in high school, flashed a euro-step to maneuver his way through traffic and exhibited decent touch on a lefty finish over the crowd;
  • Good cutter;
    • Can catch the ball on the move and go up strong off two feet with a little bit of room to load up;
  • Struggles to set deep position in the post due to lack of strength;
  • Can grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and take it end-to-end if left unchallenged but hasn’t shown a lot of dexterity triggering offense in the half-court;
  • Willing passer over the crowd but yet to show anything particularly impressive in terms of court vision, either on the move or facing the defense or operating with his back to the basket;
  • Doesn’t often crash the offensive glass in high school due to role as floor-spacer but has flashed a quick second jump when does mix it up around the rim.

[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to USA Basketball

[3] According to uaa.io

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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Victor Wembanyama Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Seven-foot-two French center who emerged as a surprise standout performer at the FIBA U16 European Championship last month, where France placed second;
    • Is said to have struggled during preparation and started the tournament as the third center in the rotation but eventually became the most productive player on the team;
    • Statistical profile in that event: 34.5 PER, 15.3 points per 40 minutes on 51% effective shooting, 27.1% defensive rebounding rate, 16% offensive rebounding rate, 11.5% assist rate, 20.2% turnover rate, 9.0 blocks per 40 minutes, 2.2 steals per 40 minutes in 165 minutes[1];
  • Turned 15 in January[2], which meant he matched up against players on average a year-and-a-half older than him;
  • Nanterre, Ile-de-France native currently being developed on Nanterre 92’s youth system;
  • Exceled on defense, not only due to his combination of supreme height and length for someone his age but by showing remarkable quickness going up off two feet to put a lid on the basket and dominate the defensive glass;
    • Led the tournament in defensive rating;
  • Acted as a constant threat to score around the rim on catch-and-score finishes and, despite a very thin frame for someone his height, on a few deep seals posting up within close range;
    • Helped facilitate offense by flashing to the foul line or as a reset mechanism at the top of the key;
    • Flirted with some outside shots and his release looks quite projectable but it’s more theoretical than real for now.

RIM PROTECTION

  • Active stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense and coming across the lane in help defense;
    • Quick leaper off one foot on longer rotations and off two feet out of a standstill position;
    • Averaged a jaw-dropping 9.0 blocks per 40 minutes;
    • Without fouling – averaged just 1.9 personal fouls per 40 minutes;
  • Showed great awareness shadowing isolations and post-ups;
    • Can leverage his length to block or alter shots even without being in the finisher’s personal space;
  • Can keep pace with smaller players getting downhill from the foul line down and proved himself quick enough to block shots defending on the ball;
  • Struggles to boxout all that well due to lack of strength and gives up inside position at times but still managed to dominate the glass due to massive rebounding area, length to rebound outside of his area and supreme quickness chasing the ball off the rim;
    • Collected 27.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor;
  • Can’t hold his ground in post defense due to lack of strength but guards with his arms up to wall off and intimidates opponents from trying to shoot over him.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

  • Asked to venture above the foul line regularly, showed some versatility in pick-and-roll defense;
    • Dropping back: showed a good deal of nimbleness sliding laterally to intimidate the ball handler from turning the corner but not yet fluid back-pedaling and let the roll man get behind him a couple of times;
    • Hedging: so-so at influencing ball handlers with his hedges, moves OK in recovery and leverages his length into deflecting passes or generating steals on his way back – averaged 2.2 steals per 40 minutes;
    • Switches: hunches rather than bends his knees getting down in a stance but proved himself able to stay attached on straight line drives well enough to block shots defending on the ball;
  • Sprints on closeouts to the three-point line and isn’t just effective contesting shots but can even block a few jumpers.

OFFENSE

  • Flashed some ability to grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and even ran a break when left unchallenged but doesn’t appear to have the sort of dexterity bringing the ball up to be expected to develop into a capable ball handler;
  • Decent screener for someone his age: has a thin frame but widens his stance to try seeking contact and set some clever moving screens;
  • Can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense and going up in traffic diving down the lane in pick-and-roll;
  • Active on the glass, not just to generate second chance opportunities with his ability to rebound outside of his area or reach the ball higher than most of his opponents within his age group, but acting as tip-in and tip-dunk threat as well;
    • Collected 16% of France’s misses when he was on the floor;
  • Iffy touch on non-dunk finishes and is unable to finish through contact at this point of his physical development;
    • Shot just 54.5% on 44 two-point shots, which is pretty low for the sort of close-range looks he got;
  • Flashed to the foul line to facilitate high-low action on occasion and often acted as an escape valve floating to the top of the key to aid the ball reversal process but attempted some reckless passes at times;
    • Assisted on 11.5% of France’s scores when he was on the floor;
    • Averaged 3.6 turnovers per 40 minutes, which is a sky-high rate for someone with a 20% usage rate;
  • Got some deep post-ups against overwhelmed opponents on occasion but lacks the strength and physicality to get such a seal regularly;
  • Took six three-point shots in this tournament, not all of them in emergency situations, showing a fairly projectable stroke on spot-ups;
    • Hopped into his shot, got some unexpected elevation for a seven-foot-two guy and went through comfortable mechanics with good guide hand discipline and follow through;
    • Touch is questionable, though – made just 12 of his 21 free throws.

[1] According to RealGM

[2] DOB: 1/4/2004

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

Evan Mobley Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Top-ranked prospect in the 2020 high school class[1];
  • Temecula, California native who played his sophomore and junior seasons at Rancho Christian School;
  • Turned 18 last month[2];
  • Listed at seven-feet tall by the Compton Magic[3] with a thin frame for someone his height, speculated to be around the 192-pound range[4];
    • Measured with a seven-foot-four wingspan[5];
  • Has the potential to become a very dynamic center who can draw opponents out to the perimeter and drive by them out in space;
    • Rancho Christian even flirted with the idea of sending him a ball-screen to operate in 5-4 pick-and-rolls at the top of the key;
  • Gets most of his offense from the post at this point;
  • One-dimensional defender as of now but moves with a lot of fluidity for someone his height and might develop into a more versatile defender down the line;
    • Pretty good shot blocker at the high school level thanks to proactivity as a helper, quick leaping ability and standing reach but hasn’t shown much other than basic rim protection;
  • Was part of the US team that won the U19 FIBA World Championships in Crete earlier this month but played very little due to injury.

INTERIOR OFFENSE

  • Rarely put in the pick-and-roll;
  • Gets most of his touches in the post: doesn’t yet have the physicality to get a deep seal consistently and hasn’t yet developed a lot of versatility but has shown to be an effective scorer with his back to the basket in high school;
    • Doesn’t shy away from contact and plays with some physicality looking to bump back the opponent on attempted power moves;
    • Has very light feet for someone his height and can spin around stiffer defenders with ease;
    • Flashed the ability to face-up and go around his man off a rip-through move;
    • Hasn’t yet developed a patient approach trying to get his defender out of position on shot fakes, head fakes or pivot moves;
    • Showed glimpses of quick reactions on touch passes against hard double teams;
  • Good finisher out of the dunker spot or roaming around the lane to present himself as a drop-off option;
    • Coordinated enough to catch within close range, take a dribble for balance and go up with power off two feet;
    • Showed glimpses of being able to go up without needing to load up;
    • Has the quick leaping ability and the standing reach to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense;
    • Doesn’t yet have enough strength to knock back the defender and create space to go up without an effective challenge;
    • Showed some power going up off two feet in a crowd;
    • Capable finisher through contact;
    • Adept at using a head fake to bait rim protectors into leaving their feet and exposing themselves under the basket;
    • Showed of glimpses of being able to find a corner shooter from under the basket;
  • Decent activity in the offensive glass;
    • Has great length to rebound outside of his area;
    • Has an impressive second jump to fight for 50-50 balls or play volleyball at the rim;
    • High leaper off two feet, which helps him reach the ball higher than most opponents at the high school level;
    • Can go up with enough explosiveness to act as a tip-dunk and put-back threat from time-to-time;
    • Collected 15.2% of his team’s misses in 109 minutes with AAU squad Compton Magic at the adidas Gold Gaunlet[6] last season;
    • Does get boxed out by smaller players from time-to-time;

PERIMETER OFFENSE

  • Can grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and take it end-to-end or slow transition into an isolation;
  • Was given the freedom to isolate against opposing centers way out on the perimeter a fair amount;
    • Doesn’t have a quick first step to just blow by his defender on speed;
    • Can’t power through similarly heighted players;
    • Can pivot on the fly into a spin move with so-so coordination;
    • Looks to gallop into a two-foot leap in traffic, yet to show he is able to attack the basket off one foot regularly;
    • Has shown flashes of smooth pull-up shooting when given the time and space to go up in rhythm;
  • Has not yet shown the ability to trigger offense in the half-court or run pick-and-roll against a set defense;
  • Rancho Christian flirted with the idea of sending him a ball-screen at the top of the key for 5-4 pick-and-rolls every once in a while, but it’s not yet clear he could be that dynamic a shot creator;
    • Doesn’t have a quick first step or much speed with the ball to turn the corner with decisiveness;
    • Hasn’t shown a lot of side-to-side shake;
    • Hasn’t yet developed an advanced handle manipulating the on-ball defender into the pick and stressing the big defender into overplaying or the ability to play with pace;
    • Hasn’t shown much in terms of court vision hitting the roll man or making passes across to the court to the opposite end;
  • Underdeveloped as a screener;
    • Jogs to screen;
    • Often unable to disrupt on-ball defender due to thin frame at this point of his physical development;
    • Hasn’t shown anything in terms of widening his stance, flipping the screen, re-screening, setting moving picks or slipping the pick;
  • Spaces out to the three-point line when his brother is posting up;
    • Usually sets up to elevate off 1-2 footwork, rises with great balance off the catch, launches it from the top and goes through his shooting process with good fluidity for someone his height;
    • More of a shot taker than a real shot maker at this point;
    • Often shows good touch on foul shots;
  • Can attack closeouts on straight line drives;
    • Doesn’t have a quick first step but has long strides to get all the way to the basket and enough ball skills to drive through soft contact – even going to his left;
    • Can adjust his body in the air and flashed an extended finish with his strong right hand to deal with a rim protector parked between him and the basket;
    • Shows good touch on non-dunk finishes for the most part;
    • Can make basic reads on drive-and-dish’s and drive-and-kick’s off drawing two to the ball;
  • Showed decent court vision reading the defense out of standstill position from the perimeter and inside a zone;
    • Might develop into an asset facilitating offense from the elbows and out of the short roll;
    • Assisted on 15.5% of Compton’s scores when he was on the floor at the adidas Gold Gaunlet.

DEFENSE

  • Often shows diligence with his boxout responsibilities but lacks the strength to be physical protecting his rebounding area;
  • Active stepping up to the front of the rim acting as the last line of defense and quick leaper off two feet to block shots;
    • Showed glimpses of being able to challenge shots via verticality as well;
  • Active coming across the lane in help-defense;
    • Hustles to contest or block shots shadowing isolations or post-ups;
  • Hasn’t yet developed the proactivity to switch on the fly and make up for breakdowns on the defense;
  • Often flat footed in drop-back pick-and-roll defense but agile enough to profile as capable of venturing above the foul line;
    • When engaged, can move his feet to completely prevent ball-handlers from turning the corner at the high school level;
    • Can show and recover to contest the roll man;
    • Can contest mid-range jumpers out of the pick-and-pop;
    • Puts in decent effort to contest pull-ups by the ball-handler and has the standing reach to be somewhat effective;
    • Can keep pace with ball-handlers from the foul line down and block a shot defending on the ball;
  • Found himself crossmatched on a smaller player on occasion;
    • Can’t stay in front but stayed attached well enough and leveraged his length into discouraging shots defending on the ball;
  • Hasn’t shown killer speed to run the shooter off his shot on closeouts but hustles to contest catch-and-shoot’s, though with only so-so effectiveness.

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 6/18/2001

[3] An AAU squad that plays the Adidas Gauntlet circuit

[4] According to Draft Express

[5] According to ESPN, during the broadcast of Rancho Christian’s game against Memphis East

[6] According to RealGM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

James Wiseman Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Top-ranked prospect in the 2019 high school class[1];
  • Nashville, Tennessee native who played his last two years of high school basketball at Memphis East High School;
  • One of five top 100 recruits joining the University of Memphis, with coach Penny Hardaway landing the top-ranked class in the country[2];
  • Turned 18 last March[3];
  • Listed at seven-foot-one and 240 pounds[4];
    • Measured with a seven-foot-four wingspan at the U16 USA Basketball Training Camp a couple of years ago[5], might be lengthier by now;
  • Profiles as a modern center on offense who could offer vertical and horizontal spacing down the line;
    • Had the freedom to step out to the three-point line at Memphis East and even flashed some versatility to his release;
    • Wasn’t put in the pick-and-roll often in high school but has the combination of leaping ability and standing reach that suggests he will be asked to play above the rim more regularly at higher levels;
    • Tries to make plays off the bounce but hasn’t yet shown the handle and coordination needed to project he will become that dynamic;
    • Underdeveloped shot creator from the post as well, though did show glimpses of appealing court vision;
  • Impressed with his activity as a rim protector and rebounder on defense, making the sort of multiple effort plays that aren’t always a given for players of his stature;
    • Might offer the versatility to pick up smaller players on switches;
  • Currently ranked first on ESPN’s way-too-early 2020 mock draft;

ATHLETICISM ON OFFENSE

  • Can grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and take it end-to-end at times but doesn’t have the handle and the coordination needed to initiate offense in the half-court;
    • Doesn’t always sprint up the court in transition but can change ends in impressive fashion when he does do it;
  • Might need to work on his conditioning – was seen putting his hands on his knees and resting during live-ball play;
  • So-so screener who walks or lumbers into setting picks but does widen his base to try drawing contact and disrupt the on-ball defender, though his teammates often didn’t know how to use him;
    • Hasn’t yet developed or wasn’t asked to deploy more advanced techniques like flipping the screen, re-screening, slipping the pick or setting moving picks;
  • Wasn’t put into pick-and-roll regularly and hasn’t shown how capable he is of diving hard down the lane but can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense in transition and out of the dunker spot;
    • Has flashed some ability to catch the ball high, keep it high and go up with quickness without ever bringing it down;
    • Has shown glimpses of powerful leaping ability off two feet without needing to load up;
  • Doesn’t play with particularly impressive intensity crashing the offensive glass but is a put-back threat when he goes for it and has a quick second jump to fight for the ball in scrums or play volleyball at the rim;
    • Does get physical trying to push smaller players out of the way when they are tasked with boxing him out on switches;

SKILL LEVEL

  • Lefty shooter who feels more comfortable facing up and sizing up his man in the post;
    • Doesn’t play with a lot of intensity trying to set up a deep seal against similarly sized players and at times lets himself get pushed out to the elbow extended area in order to face up against his man with a little more space to operate;
    • Does get physical trying to get deep position against switches;
  • Hasn’t yet developed a patient approach or a diverse set of moves operating with his back to the basket;
    • Despite his large frame, hasn’t yet developed power moves or the ability to create space via physicality;
    • Hasn’t shown anything in terms of being able to get his defender out of position with skill via head fakes, shot fakes or pivot moves;
    • Mostly looks for quick turnaround hooks or hooks off a jump-stop with his left hand over the defender and is yet to show he can go to his right hand at all;
    • Did show flashes of court vision throwing darts to the opposite corner over the crowd;
  • Spaced out to the three-point line a fair amount and showed some versatility to his release taking shots on the move – out of the pick-and-pop, as the trailer in transition and jogging to the top of the key;
    • Doesn’t have an impressively quick trigger but has a fluid enough release for a seven-footer, launches the ball from the top and gets a good deal of elevation for someone his size, so manages to get his shot off over closeouts somewhat comfortably;
    • Hit eight of 16 three-point attempts in 10 appearances with AAU squad Bluff City Legends at the Nike EYBL Circuit last season[6];
    • Tends to miss short;
    • Uneven foul shooter at this point – touch looks fine but hit just 58.5% of 41 free throw attempts at the Nike EYBL Circuit;
  • Can shot-fake into straight line drives attacking closeouts;
    • Has long strides to get all the way to the basket off the bounce;
    • Can attack the rim with explosiveness elevating off one foot;
    • Flashed decent touch on a lefty finger-roll finisher but hasn’t yet been forced to show the extent of his finishing ability in traffic and most often shows so-so touch on non-dunk finishes;
    • Showed glimpses of impressive passing on the move – on drop-offs off engaging the last line of defense on straight-line drives and darts to the corner on quick catch-and-throw’s in transition;
  • Isolated from the perimeter from time-to-time;
    • Doesn’t have a quick first step out of a standstill;
    • Can’t power through contact against similarly sized players;
    • Can pivot into a not-all-that-fluid spin move on the fly;
    • Tries to go between the legs on occasion, doesn’t have that level of ball skills for advanced dribble moves at this point;
    • Has a loose handle for the most part and isn’t strong with the ball on the go – prone to getting it stripped of him in traffic;

DEFENSE

  • Gets beat down the court by opposing big men in transition at times;
  • More of often than not attentive to his boxout responsibilities and gets physical defending his rebounding area;
    • Collected 22.7% of opponents’ misses in 202 minutes at the Nike EYBL Circuit last season;
  • Active stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line defense, quick leaper off two feet, guards with his arms up near the rim, has a nine-foot-four standing reach[7] to block shots and challenges shots via verticality;
    • Shadows isolations;
    • Impressed with multiple efforts stepping up to discourage a shot attempt by the ball-handler, then turn around and go up in a split-second to block a shot by his man roaming around the dunker spot;
    • Makes some of the mistakes you tend to see on teenagers – sells out for blocks at times, is a bit overaggressive leaving his man to try contesting a shot with a teammate between him and the opponent, and is prone to biting on head fakes;
  • Explosive leaper off one foot coming across the lane in help defense and has the length to make up for being a step late when needed;
  • Dropped back in pick-and-roll defense;
    • Agility out in space wasn’t tested all that much in high school;
    • Gets in a stance defending the two-man game;
    • Can slide laterally and backpedal fluidly to prevent the ball-handler from turning the corner right away off the pick;
    • Kept pace with smaller players from the foul line down to discourage shots at the rim;
  • Proved himself attentive enough to switch on the fly to make up for breakdowns on the defense;
    • Bends his knees to get down in a stance guarding out on an island;
    • Can move side-to-side some to stay in front, though the poor spacing at the high school level didn’t make it that challenging;
    • Reacts quickly to leverage his length into discouraging opponents from trying to attempt a shot with him defending on the ball;
  • Puts in the effort to closeout to the three-point line;
    • Flashed killer speed to run the shooter off the line on occasion;
    • Has the body control to contest a shot without crashing into the shooter, which is impressive considering his size;
    • Can stay balanced and defend on the ball when he does manage to force the shooter into putting the ball on the floor;

[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to ESPN

[3] DOB: 3/31/2001

[4] According to Memphis’ official listing

[5] According to Draft Express

[6] According to RealGM

[7] According to ESPN, during the broadcast of Memphis East’s game against Rancho Christian

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

Nicolas Claxton Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Claxton is a very unusual player. Despite being seven-feet tall and being listed as a center by ESPN, the Greenville, South Carolina native is essentially a pure perimeter player.

He’s taken almost two thirds of his shots away from the basket, gets touches curling off screens, takes three-pointers off some movement and clearly feels more comfortable facing up and taking his man off the bounce.

The Legacy Charter School product not only has grab-and-go ability off defensive rebounds and can trigger offense in the half-court but has proven he is capable of going end-to-end on fastbreaks.

Claxton has remarkable agility for someone his height – having shown a functional handle for isolations against less nimble defenders, side-to-side shake to crossover into pull-ups and light feet to spin into hooks off a jump-stop or euro-step his way through traffic in the lane.

He’s an explosive leaper elevating off one foot and can hang or adjust his body in the air, having also shown exceptional touch with his dominant left hand on non-dunk finishes and proved he is capable of scoring with his off right hand as well. He lacks strength to finish through contact and actively shies away from contact at times but cleverly uses fakes to get shot blockers off their feet – converting his 111 attempts at the rim at a 71.2% clip, with less than half of those assisted.

Claxton has also shown he is a capable shot creator for others off the dribble, able to deliver simple drop-offs and kick-outs against a collapsing defense – assisting on 12.2% of Georgia’s scores when he was on the floor.

That said, it’s his three-point shooting that will likely be his swing skill in the pros. Claxton spaces out to beyond the arc off the ball when Georgia ran middle pick-and-roll and took quick shots jogging to open spots around the perimeter from time-to-time. He gets a lot of elevation on his jumper and fully extends himself for a high release, though his mechanics at the top can improve – nailing just 28.1% of his 64 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 2.5 such attempts per 40 minutes.

His touch needs improvement as well, as Claxton has shown to be a more comfortable three-point shooter than foul shooter, which causes skepticism over his ability to develop into an above average threat from long range – hitting just 64.1% of his 192 free throws.

He lacks strength and doesn’t play with enough force to try setting deep position in the post against just about every opposing big man but has shown he has a functional enough post game to perhaps discourage opponents from switching smaller players onto him without any worry.

Defensively, Claxton struggles to contribute.

He hasn’t yet developed the ability to stop the ball dropping back in pick-and-roll defense and though his agility suggests he should be suited to pick up smaller players on switches consistently, Claxton doesn’t often play with the sort of intensity needed to do well in possessions that require multiple efforts.

He also tends to be soft on closeouts and can’t stayed balanced enough to defend off the dribble when he does manage to rush the shooter off his shot, although Claxton has shown a knack for using his seven-foot-two wingspan to make plays in the passing lanes – averaging 1.3 steals per 40 minutes.

He flashed proactivity helping on doubles near the rim when he was close by but was often late stepping up to the front of the rim in help defense and is prone to biting on shot fakes.

Claxton is quite soft on his boxouts, regularly giving up inside position. Though he is an explosive leaper off two feet and can reach the ball higher than his opponents – collecting 20.7% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season, the issue figures to become problematic in the pros.

He is hopeless defending the post as well with his underdeveloped 216-pound frame – desperately needing to front to deny post entries or be helped with hard doubles that immediately force his defense into scrambling mode.

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

Goga Bitadze Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Bitadze recovered very well from Kentucky’s destruction of Mega Bemax in the Bahamas in August, when he and the rest of the Serbian team looked undraftable.

The seven-footer started the season in dominant fashion in the Adriatic League and scored a transfer to Buducnost Podgorica in late December, where he had the opportunity to log 13 Euroleague appearances. With the Montenegrin club, Bitadze looked like a high level contributor among Europe’s elite – posting a 23.3 PER in 314 minutes against the best competition in the globe outside the NBA.

The Georgian center had a killer year as a scorer – averaging 1.7 points per shot on 408 total live-ball attempts – thanks mostly to his efficacy out of the pick-and-roll.

He is a good screener who looks to draw contact and his wide 251-pound frame makes it challenging for on-ball defenders to navigate him cleanly. Though he doesn’t have much lift going up strong off two feet in a crowd and can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs diving down the lane in traffic, Bitadze is well coordinated for someone his size and impressed with his agility on the move.

He can catch the ball around the foul line, take a dribble to gather balance and gain momentum before attacking the basket off one foot, besides flashing the ability to adjust his body in the air on non-dunk finishes around rim protectors and proving himself a capable finisher with his off left hand.

That said, the most eye-catching aspect of his development has been his evolution into a real threat as an outside shooter. The Sagarejo, Kakheti native nailed 40.9% of his 88 three-point shots in 50 total appearances with Mega Bemax and Buducnost last season, at a pace three such attempts per 40 minutes.

Most impressively, he didn’t just take long-range looks on spot-ups and as the trailer in transition but also out of the pick-and-pop as well. Bitadze has a high release and comfortable mechanics for someone his size, proving capable of getting these shots out without needing forever to load up.

He doesn’t play with enough force trying to establish deep position in the post but does use his strength when he does get the ball. He can back down his defender lowering his shoulder and can consistently create space to launch hooks off the defender’s left shoulder when he puts his mind to it but is yet to develop a particularly diverse arsenal of moves when forced to rely on skill.

On the other end, Bitadze is an uneven defender.

He is not suited to defend pick-and-rolls above the foul line – often struggling to hedge-and-recover in an effective manner and unable to get down in a stance picking up smaller players on switches out in the perimeter, though he does have a good deal of length to block some three-point attempts if the opponent doesn’t manage to rock him off balance properly.

Bitadze is also only so-so at stopping the ball dropping back – nimble enough in short areas but yet to develop a good understanding of how to use his wide frame to clog driving lanes. He doesn’t regularly make preventive rotations to keep ball handlers from getting to the rim and can improve his timing stepping to the front of the basket in help defense, as he averaged 6.4 personal fouls per 40 minutes.

However, Bitadze is quite large, has a massive standing reach and shows good discipline guarding with his arms up around the basket, which makes it challenging to finish over him when he is well positioned, aside from the fact he’s an impressively quick leaper for someone his size off two feet – averaging 3.4 blocks per 40 minutes.

On the glass, Bitadze is physical and diligent with his boxouts but not quite dominant chasing the ball off the rim – collecting 23.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season.

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

Bol Bol Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Bol Bol was limited to just 268 minutes last season after undergoing left foot surgery in early January.

But Oregon did play the 21st-toughest non-conference schedule in the country, according to Team Rankings, which allowed him to face some decent level competition in his mere nine appearances, in which he piled up the numbers.

The son of Manute averaged 28.2 points per 40 minutes on 61% effective shooting and posted a 32.7 PER in 29.8 minutes per game.

He is viewed as a potential unicorn who can offer vertical and horizontal spacing on offense while protecting the rim on defense. But there are questions on if the seven-foot-two center is suited for the speed and the toughness of the NBA.

Bol can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense and his massive nine-foot-seven standing reach makes him capable of reaching the ball higher than most opponents in a crowd but he is often lackadaisical with his screening and rarely dives hard down the lane.

The 19-year-old also doesn’t play with much force with his back to the basket, as Bol is unable to set deep position and struggles to create separation on attempts to back his defender down at this point of his development. He hasn’t yet developed power moves, a left hand as an option on turnaround hooks or a patient approach trying to work his man out of position with shot/head fakes and generally shies away from contact.

But his general height and overwhelming length, together with soft touch on right-handed hooks and his shooting ability on turnaround fadeaway jumpers, sustained him putting up a credible attempt on just about every other post up touch, as he shot 44.6% on 56 two-point shots away from the basket.

What generates the most interest is his potential as an outside shooter, though. Bol nailed 13 of his 25 three-point shots in college and, as his 75.7% foul shooting (even if on only 37 free throw attempts) substantiates, he certainly has the touch. But his mechanics are quite unorthodox, as he has a low release, launching the ball from in front of his face, pushing the ball out.

The Findlay Prep product can make open looks on spot-ups and as the trailer in transition but struggles to get quick shots up out of the pick-and-pop and against effective closeouts.

Bol can put the ball on the floor against hard closeouts and shows decent coordination for someone his size. He’s even flashed some side-to-side shake on crossovers, spin moves and the ability to high step his way forward on straight line drives.

The Khartourn, South Sudan native of American citizenship lacks explosiveness elevating off one foot in traffic, hasn’t yet developed a stop-and-pop jumper and is prone to having the ball stripped of him on the move due to his loose handle but has shown he is a capable finisher from the in-between area on running floaters and floaters off a jump-stop.

Bol is not as versatile on defense, though.

He is very effective defending closer to the basket, with his nine-foot-seven standing reach making it tough to finish over him when he is well positioned. Thanks to his length and decent leaping ability out of two feet without needing forever to load up, Bol averaged 3.6 blocks per 40 minutes at Oregon.

That said, he is not very energetic coming off the weakside in help defense. Bol is also not consistently diligent and physical with his boxouts. It didn’t cost him in college, as his massive rebounding area helped him collect 25.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, but figures to become problematic in the pros.

That lack of intensity prevents him from being considered a good option to defend away from the rim as well. Bol is generally lackadaisical with his closeouts at the three-point line and often can’t do so with enough balance to stay in front when he does manage to force that shooter to put the ball on the floor.

Though he is mobile enough to stay close enough to drive drivers from the foul line down, Bol doesn’t figure to be suited to pick up smaller players on switches with any regularity – having rarely shown the sort of flexibility to get down in a stance and the side-to-side quickness needed to keep shifty types in front out in space.

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