3D wing, Pure Passer, Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Luka Doncic Scouting Report

Luka Doncic continues to build on what has to be the most remarkable résumé for a teenage basketball phenom ever.

Slovenia won the 2017 Eurobasket last month and the 18-year-old[1] was not only a rotation player in this winning run, leading the squad in minutes, which alone would be very impressive for someone his age, but was in fact a key reason why such an accomplishment was possible to begin with, ranking third on the team in plus-minus – according to FIBA.com.

[1] Who only turns 19 in February

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Catch&Score Finisher, Stretch Big, Tall Passer, Undersized Big

Robert Williams III Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Robert Williams III surprised many with his decision to return for a sophomore season at Texas A&M. After 10 double-doubles in 31 games and a 25.3 PER in 801 minutes as a freshman, the six-foot-eight big man was projected to go in the lottery last June. He is the exact sort of athlete who often wows teams during the organized workout part of the pre-draft process and whose stock rises once there are no more games to evaluate.

But the 19-year-old[1] might have made a good decision coming back for a second year of college. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony ranked him seventh in his latest mock draft last week and Mike Schmitz has mentioned before he believes Williams has a real shot to be in play for the number one pick depending on how much improvement he shows this upcoming season.

Williams is a very appealing prospect because he might be the unicorn teams are looking for to place at center these days; someone who can space the floor out to the three-point line on offense and protect the rim on defense. He will be considered undersized to play that position full time by some due to his height but Williams has a seven-foot-four wingspan[2] and is listed at 237 pounds, measurables that suggest he could be able to play up to standard.

He’s, of course, not that player yet. Despite that weight, Williams hasn’t developed the strength and toughness needed for coaches to feel comfortable having him matchup against centers with prototypical size on an every-possession basis, aside from the fact that his jump-shot and general skill level are mostly theoretical at this point of his development.

[1] Who turns 20 in October

[2] According to Draft Express

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Shot Creator, Stretch Big, Tall Passer

Miles Bridges Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Every team is looking for a Draymond Green these days; a big wing who can not only aid the shot creation process on dribble hand-offs, out of the short roll and handling in the secondary break but also draw opposing big men 25-feet away from the basket and force them to defend big-small pick-and-rolls out in space in a way they are not used to, while simultaneously providing excellent defense from a big position on the other end — whether it is via expert help or providing switch-ability.

That’s obviously a very difficult player to find. Green would be very valuable if he did just one or two of these things but the fact that he does them all is why he’s probably the most special non-volume scorer ever, given the way he unlocks Golden State’s most powerful lineup.

Miles Bridges hasn’t yet materialized into someone who can check all these boxes but there is no other prospect out there who looks like he is on his way to becoming something close to that sort of player down the line. And add to it that the 19-year-old[1] combo forward chose the perfect place to develop a similar skill-set to Green’s in Michigan State.

Bridges had a very productive first year in East Lansing, posting a 22.2 PER and averaging 21.1 points per 40 minutes on 56.3% effective shooting — according to our stats’ database.

He impressed with the versatility of his dribble moves and his passing on the go in instances where he was afforded shot creation opportunities, while also carrying his weight reasonably well when he was needed to spot-up off the ball.

Defensively, the six-foot-seven 230-pounder was not asked to switch onto smaller players all that frequently and operated mostly as a big man whose top responsibilities was defending the interior, impressing not just with the use of his athletic prowess to create events near the basket but also flashing recognition skills in rotations that prevented drives to the rim from happening.

[1] Who only turns 20 next March

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Stretch Big, Tall Passer

Killian Tillie Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • 19 years old, turns 20 only next March
  • Listed at six-foot-10, 230 pounds
  • 17.8 points per 40 minutes on 47.6% effective shooting at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt last month
  • Tournament wasn’t necessarily the best that it could bebut still featured about a dozen guys who will for sure get a look in the NBA in the near future
  • France placed second in the tournament after winning the 2016 FIBA European Championships U18 last December but this was not really the same group, with Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya missing the event due to injury
  • 25.2% usage rate, according to RealGM: participated in the shot creation process from the post and on pick-and-drive’s but not as a modern big wing who can draw an opposing big 25-feet away from the basket and force him to guard his drives out in space
  • Logged some minutes at center in instances when France was trying to come from behind but mostly played as an old pure power forward
  • May still develop into a bruising type – has the frame for that – but relied mostly on his skills package
  • Did very well on the defensive glass and showed excellent instincts picking up steals in volume, which led to the second best defensive rating on the team at 84.8

DEFENSE

  • Attentive to his rotation responsibilities coming off the weak-side in help-defense; not an explosive leaper off two feet, blocking just one shot in 195 minutes, but has developed dexterity using verticality to challenge shots at the basket effectively
  • Had the lateral quickness to keep pace with stretch big men one-on-one at this level of competition and uses his hands well to make plays on the ball – averaged two steals per 40 minutes
  • Coordinated enough to closeout, run shooter off his shot, slide laterally to keep pace with him off the bounce
  • Coordinated and agile enough to be an asset hedging-and-recovering against the pick-and-roll
  • Not an asset to switch onto smaller players regularly; lacks lateral quickness to stay in front of these types out on an island and isn’t quick enough to block them from behind
  • Attentive to his boxout responsibilities and chased the ball off the rim very well against this level of competition despite lack of explosive leaping ability; collected 27.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, which ranked sixth in the tournament

OFFENSE

  • Can grab a defensive rebound and bring the ball up the court but isn’t the sort of modern big wing who feels comfortable initiating offense himself
  • Did about half of his shot creation from the post: doesn’t play with enough physicality to bully his way into deep post position consistently, which makes it not uncommon to see him get pushed out
    • Didn’t show a particularly diverse set of post moves, more often than not relying on simple turnaround hooks, and showed no power moves – earning just 2.6 free throws per 40 moves
  • Looked his best as a scoring threat on pick-and-drive’s against a scrambling defense; proved himself coordinated enough to catch, take a dribble and launch floaters or make a kick-out pass to the outside
  • Loves floaters, lives to take them; floaters off jump-stops, floaters off spin moves, runners. Has very nice touch on them, shot 51.2% on 68 two-pointers, despite a steady diet of these looks that tend to be low percentage on average
  • Doesn’t roll hard to the basket in pick-and-roll; isn’t an option to play above the rim as a target for lobs and can’t go up strong off two feet in a crowd
  • Took a pick-and-pop jumper from mid-range that looked good and also flashed a quick pop-to-three long bomb off faking to be preparing himself to set a screen, aside from a three-pointer relocating to an open spot around the wing
  • But for the most part was a very reluctant outside shooter; release looks fluid and reasonably quick for someone his size and he lets it go from a high point but takes some time to load his shot – averaging just three three-point attempts per 40 minutes in Cairo, missing 12 of his 15 attempts
  • Surprised in the offensive glass, collecting 11% of France’s misses
  • Tremendous asset to help facilitate offense, assisting on 21.2% of France’s scores when he was on the floor; excellent instincts on post-to-post passing, ball skills to act as a hub on dribble hand-offs, quick thinking on catch-and-go’s from the post, can make entry passes over the top from the perimeter when his team inverts the offense
    • It came at the cost of him turning it over on 20.6% of his plays; not some screaming absurdity given his high usage rate and assist rate but not something to be ignored either

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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Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Tadas Sedekerskis Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Tadas Sedekerskis led the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in PER, according to RealGM.

Despite consistently flashing some very appealing court vision, the six-foot-nine combo-forward has always projected as more of a floor spacing big wing who could make a play on the move when necessary rather than a shot creator who could run pick-and-roll against a set defense often but that’s what he did in Cairo last month.

Lithuania ran a motion offense that moved the defense side-to-side before getting into side pick-and-rolls rather than going with stagnant 1-5 flat pick-and-rolls at the top of the key on every play. And in this context, Sedekerskis proved himself a real asset to stress the defense and create for himself or others consistently.

But even when he grabbed a defensive rebound, brought it up and initiated offense himself, Sedekerskis looked very capable.

The 19-year-old[1] averaged 23.7 points per 40 minutes on 65.9% effective shooting and assisted on 34.2% of Lithuania’s scores when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19, which is even more impressive when you consider he struggled as an outside shooter and opponents didn’t have to play up on him.

He has a nice physical profile for a perimeter player, possessing a 211-pound frame and eight-foot-10 standing reach[2]. He didn’t show the same sort of appealing versatility in individual defense, disappointing as both a perimeter and interior defender, but did create plenty of events as a weak-side defender, which led to Lithuania allowing just 82.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.

SHOT CREATION

Sedekerskis has a so-so handle and no explosiveness to blow by his man in isolation or turn the corner off the pick-and-roll on speed but impressed with his craft operating off the bounce. He has an in-and-out dribble and some shiftiness, able to hang-dribble into a crossover to shake his defender side-to-side or maneuver him into a ball-screen.

Sedekerskis consistently looks to pass off dribble penetration, logging only 21.7% usage-rate. He didn’t show particularly great timing trying to lob it up in traffic or much in terms of passing across his body to the opposite end of the court on the move[3] but proved himself able to pass over the top when the opponent prevented him from turning the corner and make a well-timed pocket pass[4], aside from basic drop-offs and kick-outs against a collapsing defense.

As a scorer, Sedekerskis can make the eventual step-in three-pointer off the pick-and-roll if left completely unchallenged and flashed a step-back jumper that didn’t look all that smooth but doesn’t yet have a stop-and-pop jumper off the bounce from mid- or deep range.

As is the case, he looks to drive off the pick. Opponents go under but Sedekerskis can maintain his balance through contact to get all the way to the basket. He can’t elevate off one or two feet to go up strong in a crowd but has an euro-step to navigate rim protectors, very good touch on non-dunk finishes and dexterity for drawing contact in traffic — converting his 44 two-point shots at a 77.3% clip and averaging 8.1 foul shots per 40 minutes in Cairo.

FLOOR SPACING

He didn’t bring as much to the table operating off the ball, though. Sederkeskis’ shot doesn’t look broken but he doesn’t shoot an easy ball either. His release is not methodical but he needs some time and space to get his shot off comfortably at this point of his development.

He hasn’t shown any sort of versatility to his shot, as he was not used as the screener in the pick-and-pop or coming off staggered screens, but the biggest concern is how hesitant he still is letting it fly even on spot-ups, as he averaged just 4.1 three-point attempts per 40 minutes and passed up some good looks.

Given he missed 15 of his 19 such attempts in the tournament, that was probably justified.

DEFENSE

Sedekerskis can run shooters off their shots with his closeouts a fair amount, then subsequently slide laterally to stay in front. He’s also proven himself smart enough to recognize instances where he needed to switch assignments on the fly and making plays in the passing lanes, averaging 2.4 steals per 40 minutes, despite a six-foot-nine wingspan that is below average for someone his height.

He is not very physical but does look to boxout and is active pursuing the ball off the rim, collecting 19.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19. His post defense is a similarly case, as he didn’t show much tenacity trying to front and deny an easy feed but did a solid job of holding his ground against soft bigs and made sure they had to finish over his raised up arms.

Sedekerskis didn’t often rotate inside to help with rim protection by crowding the area near the basket, though.

And he is unable to pick up smaller players on switches, having not shown any ability to go over screens in pick-and-roll defense or bend his knees to get down in a stance and stay in front in one-on-one defense out on an island.

[1] Who only turns 20 in January

[2] According to Draft Express

[3] Though he did have an awesome wrap-around pass to the opposite wing off a drive against Argentina

[4] Turning it over on just 15.9% of his possessions in Cairo

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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Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Isaac Bonga Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Isaac Bonga had a so-so appearance at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo three weeks ago.

Deutschland placed fifth in the tournament and the 17-year-old[1] was a meaningful part of that performance, as the team was +16 in his 141 minutes on the court, according to FIBA.com.

That was the case thanks to the impact of his size and intelligence on defense. The six-foot-eight, 203-pounder covers a lot of space and creates events with his general frame and six-foot-11 wingspan[2] to begin with but has also proven himself smart recognizing when he is needed to rotate or switch on the fly.

He struggled on the other end, though. Bonga is being developed as a point guard and is a very good passer for someone his size. But he did poorly as a scorer, from every area of the floor, which limits the impact of his contributions with the ball on his hands. Deutschland averaged 74.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, according to RealGM.

DEFENSIVE VERSATILITY

Bonga’s very impactful defense is particularly impressive when you consider he still has a lot to improve.

He didn’t often bend his knees to get down in a stance, which makes him vulnerable to getting shook side-to-side. Bonga is also not a very good option to defend the pick-and-roll, consistently struggling to get over picks at the point of attack, too big to be able to negotiate them cleanly.

But he is able to keep pace with smaller players on straight line drives, even if out on an island, as his long strides afford him the chance to cover a lot of ground very quickly. And he is not hopeless in the pick-and-roll, possessing great length to act as a threat to contest shots or deflect passes from behind if his big teammate can prevent the ball-handler from getting downhill and he works to recover quickly.

But for the most part, Bonga is best utilized in pick-and-roll defense when he switches onto big men. His 203 pounds are well distributed in his six-foot-eight frame and he’s proven to have enough strength to matchup against these types within his age group. Bonga puts in the effort to front them and box them out too — collecting 15.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor in Cairo.

Although the thought of him utilizing all that size and length to envelope opposing point guards at the top of the defense is tantalizing, Bonga doesn’t have above average quickness to be given that assignment on a full time basis and projects as a wing defender in the pros.

He can get burned on backdoor cuts from time-to-time and his closeouts are weak but Bonga excelled in one-on-one defense against similarly sized players, as he was able to slide laterally to stay in front, use his strength to contain dribble penetration and use his eight-foot-10 standing reach to contest shots effectively against that level of competition.

His recognition was his most impressive skill, though. Bonga showed great instincts using his length to make plays in the passing lanes[3] and proved himself attentive to his responsibilities switching assignments on the fly and rotating off the weak-side to act as the last line of defense. Though he lacks explosive leaping ability to block some shots, his mere presence crowding the area near the basket is quite effective.

That said, Bonga’s defense came at the cost of him being foul prone, as he averaged 4.1 personal fouls per 40 minutes at the Worlds U19, which limited his playing time to just 20 minutes per game.

SHOT CREATION FOR OTHERS

Bonga’s top skill on offense at this point of his development is his passing. His height affords him an advantageous point of view in traffic and he’s shown to have very good court vision passing ahead in transition to speed up the pace of the game, spotting breakdowns behind the defense and firing passes over the top when the opponent keeps him from turning the corner or getting downhill in pick-and-roll.

Aside from basic drop-offs and kick-outs to the strong-side when the defense collapses to him, Bonga has also proven himself able to make well-timed pocket passes, use his length for wraparound passes and pass across his body to the opposite end of the floor on the move — assisting on 30.8% of Deutschland’s scores when he was in the lineup.

He’s also quite turnover prone, though, consistently looking for the splash play — coughing it up on 26.3% of his possessions in Cairo.

SCORING

But Bonga needs to improve as a scorer in order to maximize the impact he can have on an offense. Despite logging 26% usage-rate at the Worlds U19, he averaged just 13 points per 40 minutes on 34.9% effective shooting.

That was the case because Bonga struggled with his touch in this tournament.

He doesn’t have an explosive first step to blow by his man on speed or side-to-side shake to get around him on agility, though he did flash a bit of hesitation move. He also hasn’t yet developed a whole lot of versatility to his handle, so he doesn’t have any dribble moves. As is the case, Bonga doesn’t get all the way to the basket for high percentage shots very often.

He can force the issue some and eat some ground quickly, able to maintain his balance through contact playing bully ball when he’s able to, but that often results in floaters off jump-stops because opponents play shell defense against him. These plays already don’t tend to be very efficient on average and Bonga’s so-so touch only compounded the problem.

Other than that, Bonga can get a mid-range stop-and-pop jumper off snaking the pick-and-roll or walk into unchallenged three-pointers as his defender ducks under a screen whenever he wants but that’s because opponents are happy to give him these shots. He looked more capable of hitting them playing the German second division but struggled at the Worlds U19.

Bonga gets little lift off the ground but rises in balance and seems able to get his shot off comfortably. His release is a bit methodical and a bit mechanical but doesn’t appear to be broken or anything. Yet, he missed 11 of his 12 three-point shots in Cairo and has been a poor outside shooter in every event he participates.

Given his limitations as a shooter, Bonga carries no gravity playing away from the ball, which restricts his ability to be employed as a secondary shot creator in lineups with another point guard on the floor.

When he did get to the rim, Bonga flashed some ability to adjust his body in the air for the eventual up-and-under finish but once again showed a lack of touch in his non-dunk finishes, converting his 41 two-point shots at a very poor 41.5% clip. He also hasn’t yet developed dexterity for drawing contact, despite his large frame, as he averaged just 3.6 foul shots per 40 minutes.

[1] Who turns 18 in November

[2] According to Draft Express

[3] Averaging 3.1 steals per 40 minutes in Cairo

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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3D wing, Pure Passer, Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Luka Doncic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Luka Doncic has the most impressive résumé of a teenage basketball phenom walking around the Earth right now, having earned 1,613 minutes of EuroLeague and Spanish ACB[1] experience last season. The 18-year-old[2] was not just a rotation cog but also a viable option to finish games for Real Madrid – a dominant powerhouse that enters every game with the expectation it is supposed to win.

The Slovenian is a giant shot creator[3]whose biggest value is as someone who runs offense on lineups that go super big across the perimeter but who can also share the floor with a smaller point guard and space the floor or create against a scrambling defense as a conventional wing. 48.3% of his live ball attempts were three-pointers last season.

The biggest issue for teenagers at the pro level is dealing with the physical nature of the game, which often makes them a liability on defense. But there is no such problem with Doncic, who has even proven himself strong enough to hold his ground in the post against veterans a decade older than him.

That said, there are concerns regarding his ability to defend on the ball, which as a result opens up questions about who exactly he needs to be surrounded with.

[1] Which Next-Step Basketball ranks as the best domestic league in Europe

[2]Who only turns 19 in February

[3] Real Madrid lists him at six-foot-six, 218 pounds

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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