Trae Young Scouting Report

CONTEXT

It’s hard to believe Trae Young was only the 23rd-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].

The six-foot-three lead guard is taking college basketball by storm, as he’s averaged 35.5 points per 40 minutes[2] on 62% true-shooting and assisted on 55.6% of Oklahoma’s scores over his 494 minutes[3] so far this season.

Young is an exceptional shooter who has shown a lightning-quick trigger and deep range on pull-ups out of the pick-and-roll. Someone with that skill-set is probably the number one asset for an NBA offense these days, as he is able to stress defenses from the moment he crosses half-court.

And yet, that’s not all the 19-year-old[4] does. Young has also shown the ability to break down the defense off the bounce with one of the most advanced packages of dribble moves you will ever see from someone his age. Though he is not an athletic marvel and has been a subpar finisher on live-ball attempts in college, Young has lived at the foul line and proven himself a very good passer on the move.

It must always be pointed out Young is in the very best position to succeed as well. Oklahoma runs a fast-paced pro-style offense that emphasizes floor spacing. The Sooners have a stretch big in the game for 37 of the 40 minutes and constantly have that player (usually Brady Manek) set picks for Young in order to create an opening at the point of attack.

Oklahoma has also been sensitive to his limitations on the other end. The freshman is a poor individual defender at this point of his development, so the Sooners have hidden him off the ball and switched somewhat aggressively on flare screens at the top in order to always try maintaining Young a weak-side defender, where he’s actually carried his weight executing the scheme and showcasing good instincts making plays in the passing lanes.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] DOB: 9/19/1998

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Brady Manek Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Brady Manek was not ranked in ESPN’s top 100 prospects of the 2017 high school class.
  • Through the first 14 games, the six-foot-nine stretch big has averaged 18.3 points per 40 minutes on jaw-dropping 65.6% effective shooting when you consider 60.7% of his shots have come from three-point range.
  • Manek is a sick shooter who has proven himself (in college) to be the most valuable type of gunner: the one able to make shots on the move and who can be deployed around the floor as a valuable chess piece that provides spacing for his teammates wherever he is close by.
    • Other than that, the freshman hasn’t done much of anything else on offense, though.
  • On the other end, Manek isn’t very strong yet, doesn’t impress with his quickness or leaping ability and doesn’t appear to have above average length. But he is nimble enough to rotate in help defense adequately and has flashed good recognition skills making these rotations effectively.
  • The 19-year-old was not ranked in ESPN’s top 100 as of December, 12th.

SHOOTING

  • Manek is an exceptional shooter who does nice preparation on spot-ups catching the ball on the hop, launches his shot from a high point and has a very quick release – not just for someone his size but overall.
  • Oklahoma leverages his quick trigger having him take shots on the move; relocating around the wing on roll-and-replace and in the pick-and-pop or as the back-screener on Spain pick-and-rolls, aside from flashing to the foul line for turnaround jump-shots against the zone.
  • He’s nailed 42.6% of his 68 three-point shots this season, at a pace of 8.1 such attempts per 40 minutes[1].
    • Manek has missed six of his 13 foul shots, which puts his free throw shooting at 53.8% but I think we can chalk that up to small sample.

OTHER AREAS OF OFFENSE

  • Manek doesn’t have an explosive first step, advanced ball skills or a lot of strength in his thin 215-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact and get all the way to the basket or the foul line attacking closeouts.
    • 17 of his 25 makes at the rim have been assisted[2].
    • He’s averaged 1.5 foul shots per 40 minutes.
  • He is also yet to show much of anything in terms of an in-between game putting the ball on the floor and cutting his drives short for stop-and-pop or step-back fade-away jumpers and running floaters or floaters off jump-stops.
    • Just 9.1% of his shots have come from mid-range.
  • Manek hasn’t shown to be able to pass on the move and Oklahoma doesn’t run an offense where he gets the ball in the elbows or the high post.
    • Assisting on just 4.1% of Oklahoma’s scores over his 336 minutes.
  • His role is to spot-up beyond the arc, so he hasn’t gotten the ball in the post and hasn’t crashed the offensive glass.
  • He can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs or hang and adjust his body in the air for acrobatic finishes. He is also not an explosive leaper going up off two feet in traffic but has shown good touch around the basket.
    • Converting his 33 shots within close range at a 75.8% clip.

DEFENSE

  • Manek is fairly agile and combines his mobility with good recognition skills to act as an effective help-defender:
    • Stepping up to the front of the basket as the last line of defense and challenging shots or drawing charges;
      • He doesn’t have particularly impressive lift but has averaged 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes.
    • Making preventing rotations to keep the ball-handler from getting to the rim in the first place;
    • Pinning the ball handler to the baseline in side pick-and-rolls.
  • Manek hunches, rather than bend his knees, getting down in a stance but has shown decent lateral quickness sliding to stay in front of stretch big men taking him off the bounce, though he lacks strength to contain dribble penetration.
  • Despite his mobility, he doesn’t project as an asset to pick up smaller players on switches out on an island or extend pick-and-roll coverage too far beyond the foul line.
  • Manek hasn’t shown an inclination to get physical clearing his area and can get pushed out of his spots at times due to his lack of strength but has been an adequate defensive rebounder so far, attentive to his boxout responsibilities and pursuing the ball off the rim with good enough quickness.
    • He’s collected 18.1% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor.
  • He ranks third on the team in defensive rating among rotation players[3].

[1] According to sports-reference

[2] According to hoop-math

[3] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Wenyen Gabriel | Mohamed Bamba | Daniel Theis

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

Gary Trent, Jr. Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Gary Trent, Jr. was the 8th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1] but has been asked to play more of a secondary role in his first year at Duke, logging only 18.6% usage-rate[2] in his 394 minutes this season.
  • The six-foot-six, 209-pound wing does almost all of his work on offense as a weak-side floor-spacer who at times participates in the shot creation process with his movement around staggered screens for catches on the side of the floor.
  • In a team with Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen running an offense that prioritizes getting Marvin Bagley, III and Wendell Carter, Jr. touches in the elbows or the low post, Trent, Jr. hasn’t had many opportunities to create for himself or his teammates on the ball, other than emergency situations late in the shot clock.
    • 41 of his 55 field-goals have been assisted.
  • On the other end, the 18-year-old[3] hasn’t been asked to defend on the ball a whole lot, mostly acting as a weak-side defender when Duke plays man-to-man defense.

OFFENSE

  • His shots usually come from him sprinting from the middle of the floor near the baseline to the side off down screens or drifting from the wing to the corner as a spot-up shooter. Duke can also get him a look with one of the guards setting a quick flare screen for him, when a play dies midway through the shot clock.
  • Trent, Jr. is not yet Kyle Korver but has proven he is already decent at taking some of these more difficult types of shots on the move. He can set his feet in a pinch, has a fairly quick trigger off the catch and fully extends himself for a high point in his release. His touch is great as well and he gets good arc in his shot.
  • Trent, Jr. has nailed 38.2% of his 76 three-point shots this season, at a pace of 7.7 such attempts per 40 minutes. He’s also converted 30 of his 32 foul shots.
  • When the opponent has managed to run him off his shot, Trent, Jr. has shown he is coordinated enough to curl around the pick towards the middle of the floor and pull-up for stop-and-pop jumpers off the dribble. He can get enough separation leaning into his man and suddenly stepping back for a fade-away jumper.
  • With two of Marques Bolden, Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter, Jr. out there most of the time, Duke doesn’t offer proper spacing for Trent, Jr. to get all the way to the basket regularly.
    • He is taking just 12.3% of his shots at the rim[4] and averaging just 3.2 foul shots per 40 minutes.
  • Trent, Jr. has a so-so handle and is yet to show much in terms of dribble moves or side-to-side shake but can create enough separation in straight-line isolations or get to his spots off the pick-and-roll to get a shot off. He is yet to prove himself an effective shot maker off the bounce, though, having hit just 31.1% of his 45 two-point jumpers.

DEFENSE

  • Trent, Jr. looks like he should be a good defender. His frame is excellent for someone his age, though his six-foot-eight wingspan[5] is somewhat subpar for a wing defender. He’s also a pretty good athlete who is expected to be able to slide laterally well enough to stay in front and contain dribble penetration.
  • Trent, Jr. has the second worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players[6], though.
  • It’s rare to see him defending on the ball and he might be part of the reason why Duke plays a good deal of zone, though this is just speculation.
  • As a weak-side defender, he is yet to show many instincts making plays in the passing lanes or rotating inside to make himself a presence near the basket.
  • His closeouts are only so-so as well. He should be expected to run shooters off their shots more often.
  • As a defensive rebounder, Trent, Jr. has collected just 10.4% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor – a somewhat disappointing mark, though it’s fair to point out Duke has two dominant big men rebounders on the floor at almost all times.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 1/18/1999

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to Draft Express

[6] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Michael Porter, Jr. | Miles Bridges | Grayson Allen

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

Grayson Allen Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Grayson Allen has now logged 3,050 minutes of college basketball, which is incredible when you consider there was a real chance of him going pro after his breakout appearance at the 2015 national championship game.
  • It’s hard to say Allen is a substantially better player in his age-22 season[1] than he was then, or even as a senior in relation to his junior year. His physical profile (six-foot-four, 195-pound frame) remains the same as well.
  • Duke has fewer capable off dribble scorers than last season’s team, with Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Frank Jackson all departing. Yet, Allen’s usage rate and assist percentages are down.
  • His role remains as an off guard whose ability to shoot on the move is leveraged mostly by having him work off screens for catches on the side of the floor, but he also runs point when Trevon Duval sits.
  • His defense remains unimpressive at best. Allen looks like he gives a crap out there, which is something, but lacks the physical traits to be an impact player and has never shown particularly impressive instincts executing the scheme.
  • He is probably one of the reasons why Duke has played so much zone defense over the last couple of years.

SHOOTING

  • Allen has been a really sick shooter throughout his college career. He is not just a gunner defenses can’t help off spotting up on the weak-side or lose relocating to open spots around the perimeter but also someone who can make shots on the move — sprinting from one side to the other around staggered screens and to the ball on dribble hand-offs.
  • Allen has nailed 39.5% of his 574 three-point shots over the last three-and-a-half seasons, at a pace of 7.5 such attempts per 40 minutes[2]. He’s converted 83.4% of his 507 foul shots over the same stretch.
  • His release is quite quick coming off these down screens, his balance elevating at a moment’s notice is exceptional and he can make shots without needing to dip for rhythm.
  • His quick trigger projects as an asset to be leveraged as the backscreener popping to the arc on Spain pick-and-rolls and his range could make him a weapon for Spanoulis pick-and-rolls (sprinting from the backline to a hand-off at the top of the key), which the Utah Jazz are starting to make popular in the NBA.
  • Allen is extremely impressive using shot fakes to attack closeouts but is usually looking to set up a stop-and-pop mid-range jumper when he is forced to put the ball on the floor.
  • He can hang dribble into pull-ups OK in instances where he transitions into an isolation after stopping the ball but his MO is mostly a couple of hard dribbles, stopping on a dime and leaning into his defender to create separation for a step-back jumper.
  • Allen has hit 43.2% of his 37 two-point shots away from the rim this season, with just five of his 16 makes assisted[3].

SHOT CREATION

  • Allen does a good job curling around down screens into the middle of the lane and can get to the basket some on straight line drives off a live dribble against a scrambling defense.
  • He is not an explosive player against a set defender in isolation and hasn’t yet developed much strength in his 195-pound frame just bully his way to the rim off the bounce often. He also hasn’t shown much in terms of dribble moves.
  • His handle isn’t particularly impressive, though he has been a low turnover player throughout his time at Duke.
  • Allen has taken just 19.9% of his shots at the basket this season, after that rate was 19.3% a year ago. He is also averaging just 4.3 foul shots per 40 minutes.
  • Allen runs point when Trevon Duval hits the bench and remains an adequate pick-and-roll runner. He manipulates his man around the ball-screen well and can make a quick bounce pass if the defenders overcommit.
  • Allen can get deep into the lane from time to time and make a wraparound pass to a big close by in traffic but he is more often looking to get to his spots for a pull-up and hasn’t yet shown to be an advanced passer in terms of hitting weak-shooters with passes to the opposite end of the floor or tie up the help defender to free his roll man for an alley-oop.
  • Allen does do an excellent job making the extra pass around the horn and on kickouts to the strong-side off a closeout attack.
  • He’s assisted on 20.4% of Duke’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season.

FINISHING

  • Allen is an explosive leaper in the open court but struggles to go up with the same sort of power in the half-court.
  • He’s shown some creativity elevating off the wrong foot to try neutralizing shot blockers in the past but his most capable of way of finishing remains a speed layup.
  • He can adjust his body in the air to attempt reverses but doesn’t have top end athleticism to hang and lacks length to over-extend and complete tough finishes.
  • Allen has shot 63.3% at the rim this season but just nine of his 19 makes have been unassisted. He’s shot just 37.7% on 172 two-point attempts against teams in the Associated Press’ top 25 over his time at Duke[4].

DEFENSE

  • Allen has decent lateral quickness to stay in front or at least attached in isolation and his flops lead to some charges every now and then. But he lacks strength to contain dribble penetration and length to contest shots effectively or reach around to strip his man of the ball.
  • Allen is attentive enough to ice pick-and-rolls and works to go over the screen regularly but doesn’t play with a lot of intensity getting skinny and looking to stay attached, so he is totally dependent on his big preventing the ball-handler from getting downhill right away to make it back in front in a way that doesn’t compromise the scheme behind him.
  • His closeouts are iffy and he lacks the length to contest catch-and-shoot’s effectively anyway.
  • Allen stays on a stance off the ball but isn’t much of an asset in help defense. He lacks the length to make many plays in the passing lanes and hasn’t yet developed an understanding of how to make himself a presence near the basket more often.
  • He’s collected just 8.2% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season, but 10.8% over his three-and-a-half year stay at Duke.
  • Allen has the third worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players this season[5].

[1] DOB: 10/8/1995

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] According to hoop-math

[4] According to RealGM

[5] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: What was written on Allen last year.

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

Arnoldas Kulboka Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Arnoldas Kulboka had a so-so appearance at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt last month.

The 19-year-old[1] wing, who averaged 20.8 points per 40 minutes on 27% usage-rate, was a key part of Lithuania placing sixth and showed some tangible development in terms of shot creation chops. He was not relied on to initiate offense against a set defense constantly but had plenty of opportunities to run side pick-and-roll or post-up within the flow offense, operating in a well-spaced floor.

The gunner shot poorly, though — 42.9% effective shooting on 92 field-goal attempts, according to RealGM. The types of shots he took and the fact he looked quite good taking them is an encouraging sign Kulboka is on his way to develop into the most valuable kind of shooter but the ball has to go in too, which was not the case in Cairo.

Defensively, the six-foot-nine, 206-pouder was up-and-down as well, showing some potential as a wing defender who can execute the scheme and provide some switch-ability exchanging into soft bigs. But he didn’t create any events, which is quite disappointing for someone with a six-foot-11 wingspan and some hops, and generally just doesn’t play with much toughness or intensity.

WEAK-SIDE OFFENSE

Despite putting up poor percentages in Cairo, Kulboka still projects to make his money out of working the second side of the floor. That’s the case because of his track record in previous events[2], the way he looks shooting and the types of shots he takes.

Kulboka has a quick release, fluid mechanics and does great shot preparation catching on the hop on spot-ups and relocating to an open spot around the wing.

But the biggest value he provides is as someone who can make shots on the move. Lithuania got him open coming off staggered screens running baseline from one side of the floor to the other or from the corner to the top of the key, sprinting to the ball for dribble hand-offs, popping to the three-point line as the back-screener on Spain pick-and-rolls and off Iverson cuts out of horns.

Kulboka averaged 11 three-point attempts per 40 minutes in Cairo but struggled and nailed just 25.5% of his 51 such shots.

His reputation still carried gravity, though, and opponents closed out to him consistently. In these instances, he looked fluid attacking closeouts out of triple-threat position, able to blow by his man on a combination of quick first-step + burst and get all the way to the basket in a position to elevate in balance.

SHOT CREATION

Opponents also played up on him as he caught the ball on hand-offs and off ball-reversals, which opened up opportunities for him to attack a defense moving from side-to-side within the flow of the offense.

Kulboka proved himself able to run side pick-and-roll, not just to keep the offense moving but as an asset to stress the defense into a screw-up as well.

He operated mostly as a go-go driver attacking off the ball-screen and got all the way to the basket with either hand a fair amount, proving himself able to adjust his body in the air to finish around rim protection with reverses or up-and-unders, though he is still not strong enough to finish on his way down and hasn’t yet develop much dexterity drawing contact in traffic — finishing his 41 two-pointers at a 48.8% clip and averaging just 5.6 foul shots per 40 minutes at the Worlds U19.

But Kulboka also flashed some ability to work with pace, showing side-to-side shiftiness and an in-and-out dribble when he transitioned these side pick-and-rolls into isolations, getting decent separation for stop-and-pop jumpers he looked good elevating in balance for.

He also flashed some proficiency creating for others, showcasing a well-timed pocket pass when the defense gave him a clear window to hit and a pass over the top when the defense kept him from turning the corner but screwed up the help behind the play — assisting on 13.1% of Lithuania’s scores when he was on the floor.

That said, he doesn’t have above average court vision and is still just as likely to turn it over as he is to get a good look operating off the dribble, coughing the ball up 15 times as opposed to dishing out 14 assists in Cairo.

As it is, Kulboka’s most reliable resource for shot creation purposes is his inclination to take smaller wings into the post. He doesn’t have any post moves and doesn’t play with a lot of toughness trying to back these players down but can get a turnaround, fade-away jumper off.

DEFENSE

Kulboka is also a mixed bag as a defender. There is not one thing he does consistently well at this point of his development.

He was mostly used as a weak-side defender and looked good running shooters off their shots with his closeouts,  subsequently sliding laterally to stay in front and using his eight-foot-10 standing reach to contest shots effectively at times. Kulboka also showed some commitment rotating inside to bump the roll man or crowd the area near the basket coming off the weak-side in help-defense.

But there were plenty of times where his closeouts were plenty weak and he missed rotations as well, he doesn’t have much strength in his thin 206-pound frame to contain dribble penetration and he doesn’t create any events making plays in the passing or as a shot blocker, despite his length and athletic ability.

Kulboka found himself on smaller players from time-to-time and has a combination of enough quickness and long strides to keep pace with them on straight line drives but doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance and is too spaced out, so they are able to shake him side-to-side and get around him out an island or maneuver him into a ball-screen to lose him easily.

In pick-and-roll defense, he doesn’t put in the work to go over ball-screens and completely exposes his big teammate. As is the case, Lithuania had him switching and Kulboka did an adequate job trying to front the post to avoid giving up an easy post entry and raise his arms to contest shots effectively against big men who couldn’t just bully him.

He doesn’t figure to be a real option to play up a position in smaller lineups, though. The height and the length are there but the toughness and tenacity aren’t. Kulboka doesn’t get very physical with his boxouts and isn’t very active pursuing the ball off the rim, collecting just 13% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, which is a reasonably disappointing mark for someone his size.

[1] Who turns 20 in January

[2] Per RealGM, Kulboka nailed 34.6% of his three-pointers at the 2016 European Championships U18, 42.9% at the 2015 European Championships U18, 39.6% at the 2014 European Championships U16, 35.9% at German second division for Baunach last season and 45.2% at German second division for Baunach two seasons ago

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

Darius Miller Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Darius Miller is said to have agreed re-joining New Orleans after spending the last two-and-a-half years at Brose Baskets of Bamberg in Deutschland. In that time, the 27-year-old[1] earned 3,754 minutes of EuroLeague and German Bundesliga[2] experience for a team that won the last three domestic titles.

The six-foot-seven wing got the opportunity to improve his skill-set in Europe, playing a key role within Andrea Trinchieri’s diverse offense. He was relied on to create shots within the flow and also in emergency situations late in the shot clock and late in games as well. But Miller won’t return to the United States totally unaccustomed to what his role will be there, as he logged only a 20% usage-rate in his two full seasons in Deutschland.

His playing time should still depend on what he does on defense, though, and that’s something Miller didn’t improve. He remains a disappointing defender for someone who looks like the prototypical 3&D wing every team is looking for these days, given he is not an asset defending the point of attack, chasing shooters around the floor, creating events as a weak-side defender or toughening up against big men.

OFFENSE

Miller’s top skill remains his catch-and-shoot three-pointer, as he nailed 44.4% of his 616 three-point shots over the last two-and-a-half seasons. He’s flashed some ability to get shots sprinting around staggered screens but proved himself able to make shots relocating to open spots around the wing and coming off pin-down screens. His release is not lightning-quick but it’s quite fluid.

His average of 6.5 three-point shots per 40 minutes over his time in Deutschland is a reasonably disappointing figure, though. He should be a more aggressive shot taker off the catch on spot-ups rather than opting to stop the ball and taking a one-dribble pull-up or at times transitioning into an isolation that decreases the expected value of a given possession.

He’s developed into someone who can run a side pick-and-roll, not just to keep the offense moving but also a reliable asset to create a good shot. Miller has proven himself able to play with pace and make drop-offs or kick-outs to the strong-side, assisting on 15.2% of Bamberg’s scores when he was on the floor last season — according to RealGM.

But rather than consistently attacking off the ball-screen, Miller often walks it back and transitions into one-on-one play. He lacks an explosive first step to blow by his man on speed but has shown some shiftiness to shake him side-to-side, a hesitation move to go around him and strength in his 225-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact.

Miller doesn’t often explode off one foot to finish strong at the basket but has flashed some ability to hang and adjust his body in the air to score around rim protection going up off two feet. He is not a consistent rim attacker, though, more often than not pulling up from three-point range if his defender dies on the screen or getting to the elbow for a mid-range pull-up and getting to the foul line very little — averaging just 2.4 free throws per 40 minutes last season.

Miller proved himself a pretty good shot maker at the European level, averaging 1.33 points per shot last season, despite his uninspiring shot selection. His jumper also made him an asset in the post, as he showed an inclination for taking smaller defenders down low. It’s unclear how much of his off dribble diet can translate to the NBA level, though.

DEFENSE

Miller is a decent individual defender, as he has the resources to be. He can slide laterally to keep pace with his man side-to-side, has a thick build to contain penetration when he puts in the effort and has an eight-foot-five standing reach to contest pull-up jumpers effectively.

But he struggles if the opponent forces him to be a part of a team-oriented effort. Miller works to go over ball-screens when he finds himself defending at the point of attack but is too big to be able to slide around them cleanly. He also struggles to negotiate screens when he’s chasing shooters around the second side and doesn’t consistently manage to run shooters off their shot.

Despite his size and length, he has not shown to be an asset playing as the second biggest player on his team in smaller lineups, as he is not tough enough to hold his ground against bigger players in the post and boxing them out under the glass.

He is also not a productive weak-side defender. Miller is an iffy-to-poor helper, often late or ineffective acting as the last line of defense crowding the area near the basket and rarely leverages his athleticism into creating events. His contributions through steals and blocks are marginal and his 12.7% defensive rebounding rate is an unimpressive figure for a big wing.

Brose Baskets had lower defensive ratings without him on the floor in the both the EuroLeague and the German Bundesliga.

[1] Who only turns 28 in March

[2] Which Next Step ranks as the sixth best domestic league in the continent

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