Tyrese Haliburton Scouting Report

CONTEXT

After a steady but quiet first year at Iowa State, where he averaged just 8.2 points per 40 minutes on a staggeringly low 9.1% usage rate but while posting 66.6% true shooting and turning the ball over just 28 times in 35 appearances[1], Tyrese Haliburton was called for the United States’ squad that went on to win the U19 FIBA World Championships in Crete last month.

The six-foot-five lead guard excelled as one of the top shot creators on the team and made the All-Tournament squad. His percentages were as efficient against that level of competition as they were in his first year of collegiate basketball, with the 19-year-old[2] leading the tournament in offensive rating and effective field goal percentage while turning the ball over just eight times in 174 minutes.

Ranked 172nd in his high school class just a year ago[3], Haliburton is now viewed as a potential first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, as ESPN ranked him 25th in its way-too-early mock, which was released prior to his appearance in Crete, so he is expected to move up a bunch of spots in their next release.

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native profiles as a caretaker point guard who can fit on offense alongside a ball dominant wing due to his ability to nail open shots, despite his unorthodox release, and create for others in a more secondary role.

Though he has excelled at scoring efficiently this past year against multiple levels of competition, Haliburton is not viewed as a potential star because the volume hasn’t been there just yet. Even in Create, where he was often responsible for breaking down the defense first and then late in the shot clock when needed, Haliburton posted just 8.8% usage rate.

On the other end, he is pretty tenacious heating up the opposing ball handler and has shown a knack for creating events, not just reaching around for strips or jumping passing lanes but even picking up a block per 40 minutes on average.

But despite his height, Haliburton doesn’t offer a lot of versatility as a defender just yet because of his thin 172-pound frame, which restricts him to being viewed as more of a one-position defender at this point of physical development.

SHOT CREATION & SCORING ABILITY ON THE BALL

His top skill as of now is his court vision and the accuracy of his deliveries.

Haliburton excels at creating for others out of pick-and-roll, proving himself able to turn the corner off the ball screen and deliver well-timed pocket passes, engage the big defender before dropping off the roll man on slower rolls, hit the roll man over the top in side pick-and-roll, launch crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body to the weak-side corner and toss up lobs on the move.

He assisted on 32.3% of the United States’ scores when he was on the floor in the World Championships, a top 15 mark, while posting a 6.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. Haliburton is pretty savvy protecting the ball in traffic, tucking it on hard drives to the basket in order to prevent having it stripped of him by weak-side defenders.

He got to the basket some in pick-and-roll and scored efficiently – converting 12 of his 14 two-pointers in the event. Though he flashed a couple of powerful one-foot leaps with space to load up, Haliburton for the most part acted as a below the rim finisher in the half-court, as he didn’t show to be as explosive going up with power in traffic.

Haliburton did flash some resources to score among the trees, though. He is flexible enough to adjust his body in the air for reverses and showed a good deal of dexterity overextending for righty finger-roll finishes.

That said, Haliburton doesn’t attack the basket in a manner conducive to drawing contact and rarely gets to the foul line – earning just 26 free throws in 35 appearances last season and just three free throws in 174 minutes in Crete.

While operating in isolation, Haliburton hasn’t shown to be particularly fast with the ball or to have developed a deep arsenal of dribble moves to shake his man out of position, though he managed to get by big men on switches. He also didn’t look for mid-range pull-ups or launched floaters to act as a scoring threat from the in-between area.

His most reliable source of scoring on the ball at this point appears to be via stepping into a pull-up three-pointer against the defender going under the screen in pick-and-roll. With time and space to go through his motion uncontested, Haliburton has shown to be at least a capable shooter off the bounce, though he often looks to take these while setting his feet as close to the shorter line as he can, which causes skepticism over his ability to translate this shot into true NBA range in the near future.

CATCH&SHOOT SHOOTING

It might look weird but he has certainly carried his weight as an open-shot spot-up shooter over this past year.

Haliburton gets little elevation off the ground as a near-standstill shooter and launches the ball almost from the side of his head. It’s pretty mechanical and looks like a push shot at times but it’s hard to argue with the results.

He nailed 10 of his 18 three-point shots in the World Championships and even took a three-pointer jogging to the ball for a handoff. That was after hitting 43.4% of his 113 three-point shots with Iowa State last season, at a pace of 3.9 such attempts per 40 minutes.

DEFENSE

Haliburton bends his knees to get down in a stance and is pretty active heating up opposing ball handlers.

In pick-and-roll, he can get skinny going over picks at the point of attack and hustles in pursuit to try discouraging or blocking shots from behind.

In isolation, Haliburton has as many lateral slides in him as needed to stay in front. Though he lacks the strength and physicality to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact, Haliburton leverages his length to reach around for strips.

He is attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme away from the ball as well and impressed with his disposition in terms of multiple efforts.

Haliburton showed a knack for creating events by making plays on the ball from the side while helping clog driving lanes and jumping passing lanes. His average of 3.7 steals per 40 minutes ranked 13th in the World Championships.

He flashed the ability to run the shooter off his shot on hard closeouts and proved to be quite effective by contesting the shot as well, even picking up a block on a catch-and-shoot in impressive fashion.

Haliburton isn’t as productive in terms of pitching in on the glass, though. He is proactive by helping the helper with boxouts but lacks the leaping ability to go after the ball himself – collecting just 8.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor with Iowa State last season and 6.7% with the United States in the World Championships.


[1] According to Real GM

[2] DOB: 2/29/2000

[3] According to 247 Sports

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

Nico Mannion Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Mannion has shown to have the best court vision among the players in this group. He passes ahead to speed up the pace of the game and can execute some advanced reads in pick-and-roll – making well-timed pocket passes to hit the roll man in stride and crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body to the opposite side.

Mannion has also shown to be the most versatile shooter off the ball, as he’s taken three-pointers coming off pindown screens, sprinting to the ball for handoffs and relocating around the perimeter after a passing sequence that started with him breaking down the defense off the dribble.

He has a low release but due to a quick trigger, compact mechanics and an ability to get great elevation off the ground, Mannion can get his shot off prior to and over closeouts consistently.

On the ball, he is deadly stepping into three-pointers against defenders getting stuck on the ball-screen in pick-and-roll and was successful creating separation one-on-one to rise in balance via step-backs, hang dribbles and jab-steps.

Mannion did fine getting to the basket in high school, going up off two feet with power a fair amount, adjusting his body in the air on double clutch finishes and even finishing through contact from time-to-time but his inability to shake off Scottie Lewis in the McDonald’s All American Game and the Nike Hoop Summit suggests his interior scoring will need to be a little more reliant on craft as he moves up through the levels of competition.

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

Cade Cunningham Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Cade Cunningham played a key role in the United States’ championship campaign at the U19 World Championships in Crete, matching up against competition on average over a year older than him.

The six-foot-seven lead guard is regarded as a potential top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and his performance in Greece added to the interest.

On the surface, Cunningham wasn’t all that impressive: he didn’t get to run the offense on a regular basis due to the presences of Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Suggs and struggled as a scorer for the most part.

But the Montverde Academy point guard carried his weight on offense by acting as a connective tissue operating off a live dribble and added a lot of value on defense by maximizing his versatility in terms of guarding different types of players, switching on the fly and flying around to create events.

There are rumors that Cunningham might reclassify and enter college this summer already. If so, he’s expected to enroll at Oklahoma State, where his brother was hired to the coaching staff a couple of months ago.

There is still plenty of room for him to develop in terms of physical profile and athletic ability, but Cunningham certainly seems ready to play at the collegiate level. In fact, if the 17-year-old[1] was coming through the European system, I’m pretty sure he’d already be logging most of his minutes among the pros, given what he’s already shown in terms of court vision, skill level and ability to execute the scheme on both ends, on or off the ball.

DEFENSE

With Suggs and Haliburton heating up opposing ball handlers, Cunningham was asked to guard opposing wings more often than not, but he was active switching on the fly and found himself guarding smaller or bigger players from time-to-time.

The Arlington native bends his knees to get down in a stance and has several fluid lateral slides in him to stay in front out on an island.

He mostly went under picks at the point of attack but impressed with his quickness beating the ball handler to the spot on the other side.

Cunningham exceled at hustling in pursuit after going over the pick as well and leveraged his length to block shots from behind. Though not notorious for his explosive leaping ability, he showed flashes of quick one-foot leaps to block a shot on the ball in transition. His average of 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes ranked sixth in the World Championships among players not listed as power forward or center[2].

While picking up bigger players, Cunningham still struggled to hold his ground in the post due to his lack of general physicality but showed tenacity by trying to bat away post entries.

Away from the ball, he proved himself capable of running the shooter off the line on hard closeouts and staying balance to defend off the bounce. Cunningham was vocal communicating switches, helped clog driving lanes, jumped passing lanes, rotated to take away baseline paths to the rim when he was the closest defender to the basket, helped the helper with boxouts and was aggressive going for the ball when asked to double the post – averaging 2.4 steals per 40 minutes.

OFFENSE

He shot poorly and finished poorly in this event.

Cunningham rises in somewhat odd balance on catch-and-shoot opportunities, but his release looks fluid enough and he certainly has the natural touch of a more capable shooter than he showed to be in Crete – converting 15 of his 20 free throws. Nonetheless, what goes on the record is that he missed 13 of his 14 three-point attempts, which led to the fourth worst offensive rating on the team.

He didn’t do too well inside the arc either, shooting just 47.7% on 67 two-pointers while lacking explosiveness elevating off one foot in traffic to attack the rim with any sort of power in the half-court against this level of competition, except on two-foot leaps with time and space to load up. Cunningham was only so-so at finishing through contact as well and generally struggled to score with a rim protector parked between him and the basket in this event.

He hit a stop-and-pop pull-up jumper in pick-and-roll but his saving grace as a scorer was his floater package, which I had already highlighted as a killer strength after a look of his performance with Montverde Academy. Cunningham is quite prolific at launching teardrops from the in-between area off a spin move, a hard jump-stop and 1-2 footwork in dribble penetration.

If he can develop his finishing ability and his overall shooting, Cunningham profiles as a potential superstar because he’s already shown to be quite skilled at creating scoring opportunities for himself and others.

He doesn’t have a quick first step but showed a good deal of side-to-side shake against this level of competition – mixing in hesitation moves, in-and-out dribbles, crossovers and high steps through traffic to get by his man one-on-one or manipulate him into the screen in pick-and-roll.

His passing translated against an older age group as well, as Cunningham recorded 40 assists and just 14 turnovers in 164 minutes – assisting on 31.5% of the United States’ scores when he was on the floor, while showcasing his versatility on passes over the top in side pick-and-roll, crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body in middle pick-and-roll, bullet passes in transition, extra passes around the horn to keep the offense humming and touch passes off cuts.

To boot, he finished some lobs in transition and pitched in with nine offensive rebounds in seven appearances.


[1] DOB: 9/25/2001

[2] 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

Cade Cunningham Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Cade Cunningham is currently ranked second on the 2020 high school class[1].

The six-foot-seven lead guard has emerged as a prospect of interest heading into his senior season due to his combination of height and style of play.

Cunningham runs offense for Montverde Academy as the primary ball handler pushing the ball up the court in transition, getting actions triggered in the half-court and running middle pick-and-roll late in the shot clock[2].

He has impressed with his court vision and the timing, touch and accuracy of his deliveries on the move. The 17-year-old[3] is more often than not the biggest guard on the court in every single game he plays in high school, but the versatility of his passing is what catches your attention, not simply his ability to pass over the top.

On the other end, Cunningham is often asked to pick up smaller players at the point of attack and puts in the commitment to leverage his size advantage at that level, though his lack of superior quickness exposes him some out in space.

The Arlington native is a part of the United States squad at the U19 FIBA World Championships in Crete, going against players on average a year older than him, which will be good to evaluate to which extend the uniqueness of his overall profile holds up in a more demanding environment.

PASSING

Cunningham is naturally inclined to speed up the pace of the game. He is not a dynamo who looks to push the ball up the court off makes all the time but can generate instant offense off misses on long outlets, passing ahead to trigger transition or running the fast-break himself at a speed conducive to allowing his teammates to fill the lanes.

Cunningham has shown to be a very creative passer in the open floor, capable of delivering hook passes to the corner, shovel passes to the wing, no-look passes with a numbers advantage and tossing up lobs with perfect timing.

The Texan is as versatile a passer in the half-court. His first step is not impressively quick, but Cunningham can get by most defenders at the high school level in isolation against a set defense and out of ball reversals. He is savvy leveraging his size to get defenders on his back, engages the last line of defense prior to drop-offs to the dunker spot and has very good court vision delivering kickouts to the opposite corner over the top.

Monteverde doesn’t run a ton of pick-and-roll but does set him a fair number of ball-screens and the teenager excelled creating for others off those as well. He has an in-and-out dribble to manipulate the on-ball defender into the pick and can play with pace waiting for the defense to react against the two-man game.

Cunningham can hit the roll man with hook passes over the top, well-timed pocket passes or lobs tossed up on the move and find weakside shooters on hammer passes off deep dribble penetration or hook passes against the momentum of his body.

He is a ball mover off the ball too, consistently making the extra pass around the horn in an attempt to create open looks against a scrambling defense.

SCORING

Cunningham is not impressively quick with the ball but has developed a few resources to act as a scoring threat off the bounce.

He deploys light hesitation moves to turn the corner in pick-and-roll and can pivot into a well-coordinated spin move in isolation to get into the lane, though his high dribble makes him prone to getting the ball stripped of him in traffic.

Cunningham has flashed some power elevating off one foot in transition but doesn’t generally play with that level of explosiveness in the half-court. He can hang or adjust his body in the air against rim protectors parked between him and the basket and has a 212-pound frame[4] to absorb contact at the high school level but hasn’t yet shown much in terms of using his left hand or leveraging his six-foot-11 wingspan with extended and reverse finishes.

The versatility of his scoring ability from the in-between area isn’t as questionable, though. Cunningham has shown floaters off 1-2 footwork, euro-steps, jump-stops and on the run. He is also a capable shot maker off the bounce, stepping through to create separation for straight-up jumpers in balance, crossing over into his pull-up or going behind the back into his pull-up.

Cunningham has a projectable stroke on catch-and-shoot opportunities, catching the ball on the hop with compact mechanics. He gets little elevation off the ground and has a low release out in front but tends to get a good arc on his shot.

DEFENSE

Cunningham was often asked to pick up opposing point guards and is a capable-to-good point of attack defender at the high school level.

He bends his knees to get down in a stance and can generally keep pace with smaller players out in space. Cunningham gets beat on the first step by speedsters but has long strides to stay attached in recovery and uses his length not just to bother or discourage shots or passes from behind but also block shots defending on the ball.

He can slide laterally fluidly to stay in front of less special types, chests up to contain dribble penetration through contact and puts in the effort to contest pull-ups. Cunningham also leverages his six-foot-11 wingspan to envelope these smaller players and go for strips of the ball reaching in.

He works to navigate over picks in the pick-and-roll, though his ability to get skinny and beat the ball-handler to the spot is probably not going to hold up against better set screens at higher levels. Nonetheless, Cunningham hustles in pursuit to bother or discourage shots or passes from behind, though he is also prone to biting on shot fakes and exposing himself to foul calls.

Cunningham impressed with his commitment away from the ball. He is attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside to pick up the roll man, leverages his athletic advantage at the high school level to block some shots in help defense and executes stunts to clog driving lanes, though his lack of superior quickness shows in his inability to run the shooter off his shot on closeouts.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] In games with a shot clock, which incredibly enough still aren’t all of them

[3] DOB: 9/25/2001

[4] According to nbadraft.net

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

Ja Morant Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Morant is the best shot creator in this draft class.

The six-foot-three ball handler has a very advanced set of skills to generate offense on an every-possession basis in transition, pick-and-roll and isolation.

He has a very tight handle, an explosive first step to blow by his man on speed and a ton of shiftiness to shake his defender side-to-side out in space or manipulate him into the ball screen in the two-man game.

Morant can split double teams at the point of attack, snake the pick-and-roll, unleash in-and-out dribbles and go between the legs in the blink of an eye get into the lane at will – taking 53.1% of his live-ball attempts at the rim[1] and earning nine foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

The 19-year-old[2] is an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic and doesn’t shy away from contact. Despite his lean 170-pound frame[3], Morant has shown some ability to finish through contact. He’s also a resourceful finisher in a crowd, showcasing a versatile bag of tricks to score among the trees; right-handed scoop finishes, reverses, wrong foot finishes – converting 61% of his 282 attempts at the rim, at a pace of 5.7 such makes per 40 minutes.

His best work is done as a passer, though. Morant can play with pace in the pick-and-roll waiting for slower developing passing lanes to come open and deliver crosscourt passes to the opposite end against the momentum off his body – assisting on 51.8% of Murray State’s scores when he was on the floor last season[4].

TABLE 1 – TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN ASSIST PERCENTAGE IN 2018-2019, AMONG PLAYERS RANKED ON ESPN’S TOP 100
ESPN RANK PROSPECT TEAM AST AST/TO AST/40 AST%
2 Ja Morant Murray State 331 1,9 11 51,8
87 Jaylen Hands UCLA 201 1,9 7,8 36,5
48 Tremont Waters LSU 192 1,7 7,2 33,5
76 Justin James Wyoming 141 1,1 4,6 33,0
25 Ty Jerome Virginia 202 3,3 6,4 32,5
Source: our stats’ database

That said, it’s worth mentioning his risk-taking approach, often looking to squeeze jaw-dropping passes into tight windows, has a cost, as Morant averaged 5.6 turnovers per 40 minutes in 2018-2019.

The Dalzell, South Carolina native is not as much of a killer outside the lane. Morant has flashed the ability to hit the occasional step-back pull-up in isolation and hit enough wide-open dribble-in pull-up three-pointers in pick-and-roll to discourage opponents from going under picks every time but hasn’t yet developed a stop-and-pop pull-up rising in traffic from midrange or a floater to score over length from the in-between area.

Morant has shown to be a capable floor spacer at this point of his development – nailing 36.3% of his 157 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 5.2 attempts per 40 minutes.

He has a low release out in front, getting little elevation off the ground to boot. But his 81.2% foul shooting on 272 free throws suggests he has the touch for his outside shooting ability to translate on spot-ups eventually.

Morant was an uneven defender this past year.

When fully locked in, he can bend his knees to get down in a stance and has as many lateral slides in him as needed to stay in front one-on-one. He is unable to contain penetration due to his thin frame but put in the effort to contest shots.

As a weak-side defender, Morant can leverage his instincts and quickness to make plays in the passing lanes and getting his hands in the driving lanes – averaging 1.9 steals per 40 minutes.

However, it was more common to find him too spaced out, flat footed off the ball, crashing into screens at the point of attack and not hustling in pursuit to bother from behind or running shooters off the line on closeouts.


[1] According to hoop-math

[2] DOB: 8/10/1999

[3] According to Draft Express

[4] 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

Ty Jerome Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Ty Jerome was the 46th-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1].

In three years at Virginia, he appeared in 105 games and accumulated 2,775 minutes of NCAA experience.

Most recently, the six-foot-five combo guard averaged 16 points per 40 minutes on 55.5% true shooting and recorded a 21.9 PER in 37 appearances[2] as a key cog on the team that just won the national championship by beating Texas Tech in overtime.

Jerome operated as a lead guard most of the time, generally triggering Virginia’s motion offense but also operating in middle pick-and-roll out of ball reversals or off a live dribble quite a bit. He also showed his versatility by moving off the ball to space the floor and work off screens with the diminutive Kihei Clark in the lineup.

On the other end, the New York native lacks the athletic ability and the physicality to play high end individual defense on the ball but has proven he can execute the scheme as a weak-side defender by clogging driving lanes and using his instincts to make plays in the passing lanes.

ESPN ranks him 25th in its top 100.

ON BALL OFFENSE

Jerome is a very resourceful player operating off the dribble.

He doesn’t have an explosive first step and lacks side-to-side quickness to shake his defender off balance in isolation but uses hesitation moves, shot fakes and step-throughs to get his man out of position in order to get by him or create separation for pull-ups.

The 21-year-old[3] can’t blow by anyone on speed, but he is able to maintain his balance through contact to get all the way to the basket on a few instances, though they are few and far between – as he took just 18.8% of his shots at the rim[4] and averaged just 2.9 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

Jerome can’t go up with power off one foot off dribble penetration and lacks length for extended finishes but has developed an array of moves as a below the rim finisher among the trees.

He has a running floater to score over length from the in-between, can unleash an euro-step to weave his way through traffic and go up off the wrong foot to neutralize the last line of defense stepping up to the front of the rim.

The Iona Prep product can’t hang in the air and doesn’t go up with enough force to finish through contract often but is capable of negotiating his way around rim protectors on scoop finishes and finger-roll layups, besides basic speed layups with his off left hand – converting 62.3% of his 77 attempts at the rim last season.

He’s proven to be even savvier creating space to rise up in balance and put up credible attempts from midrange in isolation, showing impressive body control on jumpers off step-backs, crossovers and pull-backs – hitting his 134 two-point shots away from the basket at a 38.1% clip, at a pace of 1.6 such makes per 40 minutes.

Some of those makes materialized on post-ups, as Jerome has shown the ability to take smaller guards into the low block, mostly to attempt facilitating offense from there but also flashing a hiked leg turnaround fadeaway jumper from time-to-time.

His best work on the ball is as a pick-and-roll ball handler, though. Jerome isn’t very decisive trying to turn the corner and his handle is only OK, but he is a threat to score on stop-and-pop pull-ups, which forces opponents to go over picks consistently and helps him get to the foul line area.

From there, Jerome can see over the top of the defense and has proven himself able to deliver crosscourt passes to the opposite end, even with his left hand against the momentum of his body – assisting on 32.5% of Virginia’s scores when he was on the floor and posting a 3.31 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. He often keeps his dribble alive if a passing lane isn’t immediately available and does a good job of probing around the lane to try destabilizing a scrambling defense as well.

TABLE 1- TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN ASSIST-TO-TURNOVER RATIO IN 2018-2019, AMONG PLAYERS RANKED ON ESPN’S TOP 100
ESPN RANK PLAYER TEAM MIN TOV AST AST/TO AST%
25 Ty Jerome Virginia 1257 61 202 3,31 32,5
56 Jordan Bone Tennessee 1219 74 215 2,91 30,3
67 Cody Martin Nevada 1171 64 167 2,61 25,9
46 Shamorie Ponds Saint John’s 1159 65 169 2,60 29,3
61 Jared Harper Auburn 1317 95 230 2,42 32,3
Source: RealGM

OFF BALL OFFENSE

Jerome is a very effective player off the ball as well. He is not only a threat to make long-range attempts on spot-ups but has also shown enough versatility in his release to work sprinting off pindown screens and relocating around the wing off ball movement sequences that start with a pass of his.

Jerome has a bit of a low release out in front but goes through compact mechanics for a quick trigger and gets decent elevation to get his shot off comfortably – nailing 39.9% of his 198 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 6.3 such attempts per 40 minutes.

He’s also shown his intelligence by doing little things such as act as an active weak-side screener, relocating to give his teammates a passing lane when they were trapped and consistently making the extra pass around the horn.

DEFENSE

Jerome bends his knees to get down in a stance and has a couple of lateral slides in him to stay in front of slow opponents who can’t change directions but lacks quickness to pick up shiftier types and strength in his weak 194-pound frame[5] in the context of his height to chest up bigger wings in isolation or hold position against them in the post. His contests on closeouts or pull-ups also tend to be ineffective due to his unimposing eight-foot-two standing reach.

He manages to contribute a little bit by executing the scheme, though.

Jerome is attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to pick up the roll man and stopping the ball in help defense by taking away the baseline on the side of the floor when he is close by.

Despite his six-foot-four wingspan, Jerome can create turnovers in volume by getting his hands in driving lanes and using his instincts to get into passing lanes – averaging 1.8 steals per 40 minutes last season.

That said, he is not any sort of a threat to block shots and isn’t athletic enough to help with rebounding, though he pitches in some in the hidden areas of the game by helping crowd the area near the basket well and attempting to boxout whoever is close by.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 7/7/1997

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] 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

Luka Doncic Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Luka Doncic just finished a remarkable season on Tuesday.

After playing a key role on the Slovenian National Team squad that won the 2017 Eurobasket, the 19-year-old[1] went on to win Euroleague and Spanish ACB MVP honors, while leading Real Madrid to continental and domestic titles.

There has never been a player who accomplished as much by such a young age.

The Ljubljana native has accumulated 4,404 minutes of pro experience over the last four years, defending Real Madrid in the two toughest leagues outside the United States and his country in the most competitive tournament among nations.

Most recently, the six-foot-eight passing wizard averaged 22.5 points per 40 minutes on 59.2% true shooting and compiled a 22.8 PER in 73 appearances last season[2].

With Sergio Llull injuring his knee during the summer and subsequently missing the vast majority of the year, Doncic was the top shot creator on the team and was relied on to run a ton of offense – logging 26.8% usage rate and assisting on 30.5% of Real Madrid’s scores when he was on the floor.

Most people view him as best suited for a role as secondary shot creator but Doncic showed this year, at the highest level of European basketball, that he is capable of doing more than just breaking down a scrambling defense or running offense for short stretches. And soon we will get to see to which extent his shot creation prowess can translate to the NBA.

On the other end, Doncic regressed. Tasked with a larger burden on offense, his commitment to off ball defense declined. And it was once again proven true that he is not suited to defending at the point of attack, consistently needing to be paired with a smaller player capable of handling opposing point guards.

There were still glimpses of intelligent help defense, though. And his contributions on the glass continued to be pretty strong.

PASSING

Creating for others remains the best part of his skill-set.

Doncic has remarkable court vision on the move and can anticipate passing lanes a split-second before they become evident. He excels in transition as well but the true foundation of his game is operating in pick-and-roll.

Doncic enjoys an advantageous point of view thanks to his height but has also developed the ability to freeze help defenders with his eyes. I can’t believe there are teams that still hedge against him, as he’s proven time and time  again that he can absolutely destroy them seeing over the top, spotting whomever is over in the blink of an eye and firing bullet passes no big man can outrun.

Off dribble penetration, Doncic has shown he can pass across the court to the opposite corner against the momentum of his body, make wraparound pocket passes and toss up lobs in traffic – averaging 7.1 assists per 40 minutes last season.

Just as a significantly, Doncic has really improved his ability to take care of the ball. A reckless passer who was constantly trying to thread the needle earlier in his career, he turned it over on just 15.3% of his possessions this past year – an acceptable rate for someone with his high usage and assist rates.

SHOOTING

Doncic took a step forward as a catch-and-shoot shooter. One year ago in the 2017 Euroleague Final Four, Fenerbahçe beat Real Madrid in the semifinal in large part by playing off Doncic when he spaced the floor. Such a strategy was no longer viable last season, as he improved into a more consistently capable open shot shooter, if not yet a knockdown one.

His catch-and-shoot stroke looks good more often than not, as he does great shot prep, rises up in balance and has compact mechanics. His release gets a little bit quicker every year, though the fact he gets little elevation off the ground and his launch point out in front might cause him to struggle a little bit more against lengthier NBA wings closing out to him.

Doncic took some shots coming off pindown screens and coming to the ball for dribble hand-offs from time to time but doesn’t have a dynamic enough release to take shots on the move with regularity at this point of his development.

He nailed just 31% of his 348 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 7.5 such attempts per 40 minutes. That percentage was so poor because Doncic had to create a large portion of his long bombs off the bounce, including a good deal of them late in the shot clock.

He showed development as a shooter off the dribble as well, taking them in very diverse ways; raw step-back pull-up off suddenness and going between the legs into a step-back pull-up in isolation, turnaround fade-away jumper in the post, stop-and-pop and pull-back pull-ups out of the pick-and-roll, shot fake into a one-dribble side-step three-pointer escaping a closeout.

Doncic has range out to the three-point line on some of these shots but for the most part these tough looks were responsible for his lousy percentage from beyond the arc. However, he established himself a good shot maker from mid-range. Doncic hit 58% of his 370 two-point shots, while making most of his living on these pull-ups.

There is some skepticism regarding his ability to create good enough separation in isolation to make as good a living on these looks at the NBA level, though. Doncic doesn’t have an explosive first step, a particularly advanced handle or a whole lot of shiftiness. His best resource for setting himself up so far has been leaning into his man as he initiates forward momentum and then taking a hard step-back, with the exception of when he is able to destabilize the opponent by going between the legs into his step-back – something that can be taken away from him if the defender is on top of the scouting report.

FINISHING

Doncic can get deep into the lane off pick-and-roll by playing with pace and putting his man in jail. He can also mix in the eventual spin move to gain some ground as he charges forward.

Doncic can go up off two feet with power if he has some space to load up but isn’t an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic. He also hasn’t shown much ability to over-extend around rim protectors, lacking elite length for someone his height.

But Doncic is a fairly resourceful scorer on finesse finishes; spin move into lefty finger-roll layup, lefty speed layup, shot fake off stopping on a dime into a righty scoop finish, neutralizing shot blockers by wrong footing his leap or stepping through, running floater, floater off a jump-stop.

His large 228-pound frame also invites contact, as Doncic averaged 7.7 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

He is not as capable of getting to the basket one-and-one, though. The most concerning aspect of his game is his inability to get by big men on switches, even unathletic types. His lack of shiftiness and explosiveness really hurts him here.

DEFENSE

While he is capable of running point on a full time basis on offense, Doncic is not suited to defend the point of attack on defense. He is too big to be able to get skinny over picks at the point of attack and while he has shown some hustle to try making plays in pursuit in the past, that sort of tenacity seems to have gone away.

Doncic also struggles to stay in front of smaller players out in space, so he is not a good option to pick up these types on switches either.

Against similarly sized players, he can bend his knees to get down in a stance, has multiple lateral slides in him to try staying in front, can leverage his bulk to chest up and contain dribble penetration by less physical types, and can use his eight-foot-nine standing reach[3] to contest shots.

However, his post defense, once stout, has regressed, as he no longer put up that much of a fight when wings took him to the block.

His effort away from the ball was the biggest issue, though. His closeouts left a lot to be desired and he lost his man from time-to-time, aside from the fact he struggled to navigate screens chasing around shooters who get their looks off movement. Doncic also doesn’t play with enough intensity to fly around disrupting plays in the passing lanes.

But there were still glimpses of potentially elite help defense here and there. When he is locked in, Doncic can execute the scheme, rotate in to pick up the roll man and go up off two feet to contest shots via verticality or even pick up the eventual block every once in a while – recording 27 blocks last season.

And he remained an elite defensive rebounder for a perimeter player – collecting 20.9% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.


[1] DOB: 2/28/1999

[2] According to our stats’ database

[3] According to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz

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