Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is remarkably experienced for a 20-year-old[1], having already accumulated in his brief career:

  • 3,070 minutes in 135 appearances at Kansas over the last four years;
  • 470 minutes defending the Cherkasy Monkeys in the Ukrainian Superleague in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons;
  • 92 minutes at the 2016 adidas Eurocamp;
  • 33 minutes with the Ukrainian National Team at the 2014 FIBA World Cup;
  • 1,160 minutes with the Ukrainian National Team at the 2012 U16 FIBA European Championships A, 2013 U16 FIBA European Championships A, 2014 U18 FIBA European Championships B, 2016 U20 FIBA European Championships A and 2017 U20 FIBA European Championships A.

Most recently, he averaged 16.9 points per 40 minutes[2] on 55.6% effective shooting and compiled a 16.1 PER in 39 appearances last season[3].

Kansas played the second toughest schedule in the country[4] and had a +11 pace-adjusted point differential in his 1,346 minutes[5].

The six-foot-seven sniper took some shots out of screening for the pick-and-pop but wasn’t moved around much for the most part. His primary role was as a weak-side floor-spacer on spot-ups. He put the ball on the floor a little more last season, due to the respect opponents showed him on closeouts, but still took 54.9% of his shots from three-point range and was assisted on almost two-thirds of his field goals[6].

Mykhailiuk is responsible for shot creation when he plays with the Ukrainian National Team at the youth level. He has never shown to be particularly great at creating high quality looks for himself due to a lack of explosiveness but proved to be a much better passer off pick-and-roll than he had the chance to show in his time at Kansas. It’s possible he is able to run a functional offense in a pinch.

On the other end, the native of Cherkasy, Ukraine has a rough time making a positive impact. He puts in the effort to execute the scheme but lacks the length, athleticism and instincts to create events in off ball defense and the reach, strength and tenacity to get stops in individual defense – he had the worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players[7]. He also offers no versatility.

OFFENSE

Mykhailiuk has a quick trigger and a high release, can get his shots off prior to or over closeouts, and gets good arc on his shot – nailing 40.9% of his 579 three-point shots over his four years at Kansas, at a pace of 7.5 such attempts per 40 minutes. His touch is pretty good too – hitting 74.5% of his 134 foul shots over the span.

He wasn’t asked to come off pindown screens and sprint around staggered screens but figures to have a dynamic enough release to be leveraged in such ways. The shots he took on the move came from sprinting to a spot in transition and acting as the screener in the pick-and-pop, which makes one assume he should be a great asset as the back-screener in Spain pick-and-rolls as well.

Mykhailiuk could side-step around fly-by closeouts more often, as he often dribbles in for pull-up for lower value mid-range jumpers in these instances.

When he had to isolate against his man late in the shot clock, Mykhailiuk still has a rudimentary handle, lacks a first step to blow by his man on speed and doesn’t have the shiftiness to shake him side-to-side.

Aside from being unable to get to the rim in volume and seek contact in traffic, taking just 26.9% of his shots at the basket and earning just 1.7 free throws per 40 minutes last season, he also lacks the length and flexibility to finish around rim protection when there – converting his attempts at the basket a 52% clip.

Mykhailiuk is prone to getting the ball stripped in traffic as well – averaging 1.9 turnovers per 40 minutes, despite his low 20.9% usage rate.

He almost always ends up with a step-back pull-up creating on the ball, often off crossing over into his shot. Not much separation comes off it, though, and he struggled with shot making last season – hitting just 27.9% of his 86 two-point jumpers.

Mykhailiuk was not tasked with creating for others but has shown decent court vision on drop-offs and kick-outs when he did manage to draw two to the ball or the defense collapsed to him attacking a closeout, though most of his assists came off him making the extra pass around the perimeter – assisting on 13.4% of Kansas’ scores when he was on the floor.

DEFENSE

He’s proven he can execute the scheme, as he is attentive to his responsibilities switching on the fly, working hard to deny dribble hand-offs and rotating inside to pick up the roll man.

Mykhailiuk is not an asset to help finish possessions via events as a weak-side defender. He can jump a passing lane from time-to-time but has only a six-foot-four wingspan[8] and lacks quick leaping ability to contribute near the rim, unable to act as any kind of a threat to block a shot when crowding the area near the basket.

His contributions on the glass were marginal, despite the fact he was the second tallest player on smaller lineups at almost all times last season – collecting just 8.6% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

His closeouts are also poor. He can’t contest shots effectively due to his eight-foot-four standing reach and gets easily beaten off the dribble when he does manage to run the shooter off his shot.

Mykhailiuk has decent lateral movement to stay in front for more than a few slides against similarly-sized players but lacks strength in his 211-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact and the reach to contest stop-and-pop or step-back jumpers effectively.

He is not suited to guard wings who can handle from the top due to being unable to navigate over screens at the point of attack.

On top of everything, he offers no versatility; not suited to guard smaller players due to this inability to go over picks and bigger players because he doesn’t have the bulk or play with enough force.

Perhaps more concerning, Mykhailiuk figures to struggle chasing shooters off screens at the pro level, where the sprints are more decisive.


[1] DOB: 6/10/1997

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to Ken Pomeroy

[5] According to RealGM

[6] According to hoop-math

[7] According to RealGM

[8] According to the measurements at the last week’s Combine

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

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Wendell Carter, Jr. Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Had a great year. If not for Marvin Bagley III on the same team taking away the spotlight, would probably be even more highly touted by now.
  • Has the physical profile (six-foot-10, 259 pounds[1]) of a pure center in a time where pure centers are devalued but showed the skill he was previously known for and surprised with his nimbleness out in space.
  • Has a good deal of high level experience for a just-turned 19-year-old[2]:
    • 997 NCAA minutes with Duke;
    • 206 minutes defending the United States National Team at the 2015 U16 FIBA Americas and 2016 U17 FIBA World Cup;
    • 82 minutes at the 2016 adidas Nations;
    • An appearance at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit.
  • Averaged 20.2 points per 40 minutes[3] on 62.8% true shooting and compiled a 26.3 PER in 37 appearances last season[4].
  • Duke played the 15th-toughest schedule in the country[5] and had a +33.3 pace-adjusted point differential with him on the floor, which was the best net rating on the team among rotation players[6].
  • Played primarily center, though shared the court with Marques Bolden some.
    • Got most of his touches in the post.
    • Didn’t roll hard often but flashed a catch-and-shoot three-pointer out of the pick-and-pop.
    • Guarded pick-and-rolls mostly below the foul line during the first half of the season.
    • Defended the front of the basket when Duke went to a full time zone during the conference part of the schedule.

OFFENSE

  • Advanced post game for someone his age:
      • Power moves;
      • Head fakes;
      • Shot fakes;
      • Fake pivot move;
      • Pivot move to pass;
      • Turnaround, fadeaway jumper;
      • Most often looking for right handed hook but has a counter finishing with his off hand;
      • Struggled with touch during the second half of the season.
        • Shot 36.8% on 95 two-point attempts away from the basket[7].
      • Decent passer out of hard double teams with good court vision but not some exceptional passer and turned it over a displeasing amount;
        • Assisted on 12.9% of Duke’s scores when he was on the floor.
        • Averaged three turnovers per 40 minutes while logging 22.6% usage rate.
      • Prefers to rely on skill but doesn’t shy away from contact;
        • Averaged 6.8 foul shots per 40 minutes.
    • Didn’t roll hard to the basket often out of setting ball-screens:
      • Part of the problem was Bagley, III not always spacing out to the three-point line and Trevon Duval being a poor shooter but part of it was due to lack of explosiveness;
      • Can play above the rim as a target for lobs in transition and sneaking behind the defense with time to load up but can’t go up strong off two feet in traffic;
      • Proved to be coordinated enough for instances where he needed to catch, take a dribble for balance and go up for a finish with a defender between him and the basket;
      • Has decent touch on non-dunk finishes;
        • Shot 70.2% on 178 attempts at the rim.
    • Only a capable open shot shooter at this point of his development:
      • Fluidity of release improved the second half of the season, though it remains not quick enough to get a good look off when rushed by a closeout or over a contest;
      • Flashed quick shots out of the pick-and-pop and out of roll-and-replace but most suited for spot-ups as of now;
      • Touch was OK, though it can certainly improve;
        • Shot 73.8% on 168 free throws.
      • Shooting percentage indicates he certainly can become a real asset as a floor-spacer down the line but was not perfectly reflective of how real a long range shooter he is right now, as most of his misses were considerably short;
        • Nailed 41.3% of his 46 three-point shots, but at a pace of just 1.9 such attempts per 40 minutes.
    • Doesn’t play with a particularly impressive motor or toughness disentangling himself from boxouts but was pretty effective crashing the offensive glass.
      • Has a seven-foot-four wingspan[8] to rebound outside of his area.
        • Collected 12.7% of Duke’s misses when he was on the floor.
      • Decent second jump fighting for tip-ins.
        • Shot 75% on his 41 putbacks attempts.
    • Flashed a dribble drive from the elbow down, lacking an explosive first step but able to maintain his balance through contact, but isn’t suited to attack closeouts and hasn’t yet develop an in between game in terms of stop-and-pop jumpers, step-back jumpers, running floaters or floaters off jump-stops.

DEFENSE

  • Effective rim protector when he was able to hang back and patrol the lane, which was less challenging for him to do once Duke installed a full time zone:
    • Has decent short area lateral quickness;
    • Was proactive stepping up the front of the basket as the last line of defense;
    • Not an explosive leaper off two feet in a pinch but acted as a shot blocking threat thanks to his nine-foot-one standing reach.
      • Averaged 3.1 blocks per 40 minutes.
    • Challenged shots via verticality very well. Has a thick frame some guards will just bounce back off on impact, though at a risk of getting into foul trouble;
      • Averaged 4.2 personal fouls per 40 minutes.
    • Proved himself a willing charge drawer;
    • Was able to stick with ball handlers from the foul line down in college;
    • When he had less ground to cover, developed some awareness shadowing isolations and making preventive rotations that kept the dribble driver from getting all the way to the rim, which he didn’t show earlier in the year when Duke was guarding man-to-man.
  • When forced to guard out in space, flashed some decent nimbleness but doesn’t figure to be suited to venture far away from the basket in the pros.
    • Was able to influence ball handlers on hedges but can’t hustle back to contest effectively at the rim.
    • Unclear how well he can keep action in front if asked to show hard at the three-point line.
    • Can bend his knees to get down in a stance some and keep pace on straight line drives in a few matchups but isn’t agile enough to stay in front of shifty types.
  • Used his length some to get into passing lanes, though nothing at a difference making level.
    • Averaged 1.2 steals per 40 minutes.
  • Stout post defender.
  • Was attentive to his boxout responsibilities but not exceptionally quick chasing the ball off the rim.
    • Collected 23.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
  • Had the best defensive rating among rotation players on a team that ended up ranked ninth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.

[1] According to Duke’s official listing

[2] DOB: 4/16/1999

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] According to RealGM

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to RealGM

[7] According to hoop-math

[8] According to measurements at this year’s NBA Combine

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

PJ Washington Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • PJ Washington averaged 15.8 points per 40 minutes on 55.8% true shooting and posted a 16.7 PER[1] in 37 appearances last season.
  • Kentucky played the 12th toughest schedule in the country[2] and had a +9.9 pace-adjusted point differential in Washington’s 1,012 minutes[3].
  • Through the second half of the season, the six-foot-seven bruising big showed the more cerebral and skilled game he was known for before arriving in Lexington.
    • He took outside shots more comfortably, incorporated a little more finesse to his post up routine and started aiding the shot creation process with some passing more proactively.
  • On the other end, the 19-year-old[4] offered some more rim protection via verticality and flashed some intriguing positional defense but his lack of lift near the basket and general quickness out in the perimeter still kept him from being a meaningfully impactful defender.
  • Other than his one year of college basketball, Washington has 222 minutes with the United States National Team at the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas and 2017 U19 FIBA World Cup, 99 minutes at the 2015 Nike Global Challenge and 68 minutes at the 2016 adidas Nations of experience under his belt.
  • At this point, it’s hard to foresee how Washington fits in a modern lineup in the near future. He needs to improve a lot as a shooter to start drawing opposing big men out of the lane consistently, can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs, isn’t an asset to pick up smaller players on switches and doesn’t really protect the rim effectively just yet.

OFFENSE

  • The bulk of Washington’s offense came in the post, as he used the strength in his thick 236-pound frame[5] to set deep position consistently.
    • Later in the season, as opponents were able to match up with his size, Washington no longer relied on power moves 100% of the time and flashed some more skill.
      • He showed some fake pivots and head fakes to try getting his man out of position, though continued to almost always look for a right-handed hook within close range.
      • He can move his feet OK on pivot moves and his touch is pretty good, as he converted his 139 shots at the rim at a 69.8% clip[6], with half of his makes unassisted, though part of them came on putbacks.
      • He also showed a face-up game on a few instances; he lacks a quick first step to get by his man but can maintain his balance through contract to bully him all the way to the rim quite often. His face-up jumper is not yet an efficient asset, though he can make a floater to finish over length from the in-between area from time-to-time.
      • Washington proved he is able to handle double teams, showing dexterity taking escape dribbles to buy himself room and court vision to find teammates on the opposite end of the floor on cross-court passes.
    • He still did most of his eating on power moves, though. As a wrecking ball, he earned 8.2 foul shots per 40 minutes[7].
  • His second best way to contribute on offense was on the offensive glass, where he converted 90.5% of his 28 putback attempts, able to create space to go back for immediate scores thanks to his strength. He is not a quick leaper or all that instinctive chasing the ball off the rim, though – collecting just 7.9% of Kentucky’s misses when he was on the floor.
  • Washington lacks the lift to play above the rim as a target for lobs going up in traffic.
  • When opponents zoned against Kentucky, Washington was put in the foul line to try igniting passing sequences. He flashed a decent understanding on how to operate as a hub to facilitate and some nifty interior passing – assisting on 10.4% of Kentucky’s scores when he was on the floor.
  • His catch-and-shoot jumper looked more fluid as he seemed more comfortable taking outside shots later in the season, even getting up a few out of the pick-and-pop, but his release is slow at this point of his development and the ball doesn’t go in yet.
    • He missed 16 of his 21 three-point attempts, while hitting just 60.6% of his 208 free throws.

DEFENSE

  • Washington was proactive stepping up to the front of the basket and can go up off two feet to challenge shots via verticality and his eight-foot-nine standing reach[8]. He was also aggressive rotating inside in help defense, sometimes to a fault, helping off the strong-side corner.
    • But he has no explosiveness to play above the rim as a shot blocker – averaging just 1.2 blocks per 40 minutes.
    • He averaged four personal fouls per 40 minutes.
  • Washington proved to be attentive to his boxout responsibilities but struggled to rebound in volume for the same reasons he wasn’t all that productive on the offensive glass – collecting just 14.7% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
  • He is a stout post defender.
  • Washington flashed the ability to wall off dribble penetration in drop-back pick-and-roll defense.
  • He can bend his knees but doesn’t get that low in a stance and isn’t suited to pick up smaller players on switches, lacking the lateral quickness to react side-to-side out in the perimeter.
  • He sells out on closeouts, gets blown by and exposes the defense behind him.
  • He has not shown much of a knack for making plays in the passing lanes, despite his seven-foot-three wingspan[9] – averaging just 1.1 steals per 40 minutes.

[1] According to RealGM

[2] According to Ken Pomeroy

[3] According to RealGM

[4] DOB: 8/23/1998

[5] According to Kentucky’s official listing

[6] According to hoop-math

[7] According to sports-reference

[8] According to Draft Express

[9] According to the measurements at the Kentucky Combine

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

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the rare one-and-done prospect out of Lexington who was not a five-star recruit.

The 35th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class started the season behind Quade Green at the point but eventually outplayed him and by year’s end became the team’s most capable dribble penetrator.

In 37 appearances last season, the six-foot-six combo guard averaged 17.1 points per 40 minutes on 57.9% true shooting and assisted on 28.8% of Kentucky’s scores in his 1,248 minutes.

Other than his one year of college basketball, the native of Toronto, Ontario also has 117 minutes in the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas and an appearance at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit of experience under his belt.

Gilgeous-Alexander is not a particularly impressive athlete in terms of speed and explosiveness. Those limitations might lead to a coach viewing him as more of a wing and having him run point only in alternate lineups, which is how John Calipari used him earlier in the season.

But the 19-year-old showed through the conference part of the schedule that he’s a very resourceful player off the dribble, making up for his lack of burst with an advanced skill level, proving himself able to get by his man on craft more often than not and leveraging his length to finish in traffic at an above average clip, while also creating for others at a pleasing rate as well. At least over the first few years of his pro career, he should be given multiple chances as a lead guard.

He’s a natural running an offense, having shown good feel for controlling the rhythm of the game, in terms of finding the right balance between passing ahead to speed up the pace or walking the ball up to run organized half-court sets.

On the other end, Gilgeous-Alexander’s defense declined once his responsibility on offense increased. He’s a smart player, who uses his length to make plays in the passing lanes and can execute strategies that ask him to switch on the fly, but isn’t quick enough to match up with smaller point guards and not yet strong enough to deal with bigger wings.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

Jontay Porter Scouting Report

Jontay is the less famous of the Porter brothers but that changed a bit last season when Michael, Jr. went down in the opener with a back injury that eventually held him out for pretty much the entire year.

The six-foot-11 stretch big was a heralded prospect himself – ranked 11th in the 2018 high school class[1] before deciding to reclassify and join Missouri a year earlier, but was not expected to end up a one-and-done prospect, which he will after Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo reported the 18-year-old[2] intends to hire an agent and forgo the remainder of his college eligibility.

In his one year in Columbia, Porter compiled a very impressive statistical profile, as he averaged 16.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.7 blocks per 40 minutes[3].

His game features the old ways of low post scoring, offsetting his limited athleticism with immense skill, footwork and IQ, and the modern perimeter skill-set of your prototypical stretch big.

He might still be in his brother’s shadow come draft night, but there’s a good chance Porter ends up being a heck of pro himself. His potential is clearly immense and whichever team selects him will hope to mold him into a David Robinson-esque big, even though he will probably never reach those lofty highs.

Porter really stands out on offense thanks to his shooting ability at this size. He took 46.2% of his shots from three-point range and nailed 36.4% of his 110 attempts, at a pace of 5.4 such looks per 40 minutes.

The lefty is an effective catch-and-shoot floor-spacer on spot-ups but can also launch long bombs out of the pick-and-pop, aiding the shot creation process by opening up driving lanes at the point of attack.

He is not simply a tall shooter opponents can feel comfortable switching aggressively or guarding with smaller players, though. Porter can take his man to the post and does well creating offense with his back to the basket, whether it’s scoring or finding cutters and shooters drifting around the wing.

You can tell he’s been guided by someone with NBA experience before[4], given his great basketball IQ and overall feel for the game. He has a sense of when double teams are locking in on him, can see the floor and spot teammates becoming open, and gives up the ball before the opponent can trap him – assisting on 19.5% of Missouri’s scores when he was on the floor last season[5].

Porter passing out of mid post, kicks it to weakside, open shooter on wing for three, third assist of game

Porter great job passing out of post-double teams, finds man on wing open for 3

Porter can also make the extra pass around the perimeter, was used as a hub to facilitate offense from the high post when the opponent zoned against Missouri and flashed the awareness to pass ahead in transition to speed up the pace of the game.

As an interior scorer, Porter showed a patient approach in the post and more nimble feet than his 240-pound frame suggests. He is strong enough to set deep position, can get his man out of position with fakes and has great touch on side finishes, converting on 60% of his 40 attempts at the rim, which is vital because Porter is not a high leaper and won’t be making baskets over contests very often.

Porter can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs, taking just 16.8% of his shots at the basket, which limits his effectiveness diving down the lane in the pick-and-roll or roaming near the baseline in the dunker spot. His role as a floor-spacer took him away from the offensive glass but even in the instances where he went after a miss, Porter didn’t show a particularly impressive second jump.

His lack of athleticism is more of a cause for concern on the other end, though.

He could be a liability in the pick-and-roll, as he was in the game against Florida, which had the shifty guards and the driving lanes to take advantage of his lack of lateral quickness out in space.

He could be a liability in the pick-and-roll, as he was in the game against Florida, which had the shifty guards and the driving lanes to take advantage of his lack of lateral quickness out in space.

His lack of vertical explosion also draws questions regarding his ability to protect the rim. Porter was able to overcome that problem in college thanks to his awareness and length, blocking 7.2% of opponents’ two-point shots when he was on the floor – a superior block rate than better athletes like Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley, III. But he will be more stressed in the pros. Too often you’ll see him hesitate to block a shot, even if he’s in position to beat his man to the rim.

Porter is a productive rebounder but not a dominant one, collecting 23.1% of opponents’ misses when he was in the game but not always attentive to his boxout responsibilities , at times getting caught staring at the rim and getting outworked to the ball.

But what he lacks in athleticism and quickness, Porter makes up for with effort, length and awareness. He is attentive to his responsibilities coming off the weak-side in help-defense and does well on closeouts, even proving himself able to block a few jumpers.

At the end of the day, Porter was an effective defender in college, despite his athletic limitations. He led the team in defensive rating among rotation players and Missouri defended far better with him on the floor than with on the bench[6].

Ultimately, I’m not sure Porter is a can’t-miss prospect but he’s definitely someone I’d want on my roster. He’s a stretch big who can burn switches and make plays out of the post, while carrying his weight on the other end and even offering some potential to anchor an elite defense if his shot blocking translates.

I view Porter similarly to Kelly Olynyk – not the best player on any team but a key cog in the rotation and someone who can offer lineup flexibility. Porter doesn’t shoot as well as Olynyk at this point of his development but should probably end up picked around the same range in June.

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 11/15/1999

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] He was coached by Brandon Roy at Nathan Hale

[5] According to RealGM

[6] According to RealGM

Editor’s Note: Evan Wheeler is a regular contributor to ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Denver Sidekickswhere he is also a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @EvzSports

Miles Bridges Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Miles Bridges was projected to be a lottery pick in last year’s draft before withdrawing his name from consideration and returning for his sophomore season at Michigan State.

That’s usually a dangerous proposition for these prospects, who are risking getting exposed or not showing enough development for the liking of pro decision makers in their second years in college.

That didn’t turn out to be the case with the 20-year-old[1] but he also didn’t manage to improve his status a whole lot either, as he’s currently expected to be drafted around the same range he was supposed to a year ago.

That’s not to say the six-foot-seven combo-forward was about the same player last season that he was in year one. In fact, it’s very curious how Bridges was pretty much a completely different player in year two.

As I wrote last August, Bridges impressed as a freshman by playing as a modern stretch big, capable of putting pressure on the rim as a finisher on dives to the basket or in the offensive glass and handling the ball out in space to create offense in isolation or out of the pick-and-roll, drawing opposing big men 25 feet away from the basket to defend in a way they are not accustomed to.

Defensively, Bridges translated his athletic ability into contesting shots near the basket coming off the weak-side in help-defense and running opposing stretch big men off their shots on closeouts.

More promisingly, though, Bridges also impressed with his technique in pick-and-roll defense as a big, getting down in a stance and walling off dribble penetration by rotating preemptively and manipulating ball-handlers into low-percentage mid-range pull-ups. He proved himself attentive to his responsibilities switching assignments on the fly as well.

But last season, he was asked to play, or he himself asked to play, a completely different role. In order to accommodate the four true big men Tom Izzo judged worthy of playing time, Bridges played as a pure wing the entire season, with the exception of a few stretches here and there when Michigan State was behind midway through the second half.

More of his shots were quick catch-and-shoot jumpers coming off screens on the side of the floor or sprinting to the ball on dribble hand-offs and he was tasked with guarding smaller players out on the perimeter for the most part.

As a result of his role, Bridges got to the rim less, collected a fewer percentage of available defensive rebounds and blocked fewer shots in his second year of college in comparison to his first.

I tended to dislike the way Bridges played last season but after going back to read what I wrote about him nine months ago, it turns out that all he did was focus on working on the few things I pointed out as causes for concern; individual perimeter defense, shooting versatility and foul shooting.

Therefore, taking a full view of his two-year college career instead of being myopic and only focusing on his most recent performance, I’m back to thinking very highly of Bridges, given the versatility of his skill-set and how much the league craves players like him right now.

In his 1,962 minutes in East Lansing, Bridges averaged 21.5 points per 40 minutes on 57.6% true shooting and 27.2% usage, nailed 37.5% of his 339 three-point shots, collected 20.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, assisted on 15.8% of Michigan State’s scores when he was in the game, blocked 1.4 shots per 40 minutes and posted a 22.8 PER[2].

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

[1] DOB: 3/21/1998

[2] According to our stats’ database

Deandre Ayton Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Three days after Arizona’s loss to Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Deandre Ayton announced his intention to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft and sign with an agent, forgoing the remainder of his college eligibility.

The third-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1], Ayton averaged 24 points per 40 minutes[2] on 65% true shooting and posted a 30.6 player efficiency rating in his one year in Tucson.

Other than the 1,172 minutes of college basketball experience he accumulated at Arizona, the seven-foot-one center also has under his belt 103 minutes defending the Bahamas National Team in the 2016 Centrobasket, 121 minutes in the 2016 adidas Nations and an appearance in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit[3].

This was a good season for Ayton overall. The 19-year-old[4] once again stood out as a remarkable physical specimen within his age group, put together a very impressive statistical profile and showcased a level of skill he was not previously known for. As a result, ESPN currently ranks him as the best prospect in this draft class.

But things weren’t perfect, of course. Arizona underachieved and while Ayton isn’t considered to be one of the main reasons why, doubts over to which extent he is able to elevate his team have emerged, mostly on defense.

Ayton played the entire season out of position, not just to accommodate senior Dusan Ristic but also due to Sean Miller’s strong preference for two-big lineups at all times. Logging most of his minutes alongside a less mobile and less athletic seven-foot center, Ayton was asked to matchup with types who didn’t always provide him a chance to defend closer to the basket.

While his shot blocking numbers improved as the season went along, Ayton’s general intensity trying to make himself a more active presence near the basket remains the most scrutinized part of his game. His role within the defense is often pointed to as a potential reason why he was a fairly disappointing rim protector in college but many people have also brought up the fact that a similar situation didn’t prevent Jaren Jackson, Jr. from standing out in this area.

As is, questions over his ability to anchor an elite level defense remain.

It’s evident he has the physical talent and the athleticism to be expected to develop into a difference maker. Ayton has even made quite a few plays that suggest he understands what the smart thing to do is, in terms of preventive rotations and shadowing isolations when he can see his teammate is about to get beat. Maybe he’ll be more locked in as a pro, like Ben Simmons. He did have the best defensive rating on the team among rotation players[5].

But there are also plays where Ayton fails to translate his athletic prowess into making a real impact; not always leaving his feet to challenge shots near the basket despite being in position, hurting his chances of contesting shots more effectively by trying to avoid contact and leaving something to be desired on plays that require multiple efforts. Maybe he’ll be a guy who looks good but doesn’t help his team be good, like Andrew Wiggins. Despite the fact he averaged 33.5 minutes per game, Arizona only ranked 83rd in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency[6].

ATHLETICISM

Ayton’s most impressive trait is his physical talent. He has a remarkable combination of coordination and quickness for someone his size, aside from above average strength for someone his age. He is also an explosive leaper off two feet.

Arizona didn’t offer him good enough space for him to roll hard to the basket out of the pick-and-roll often but Ayton has proven himself able to play above the rim as a target for lobs filling the lanes in transition, on baseline out-of-bounds sets, wheeling around the defense on screen-for-the-screener plays and hovering near the baseline in the dunker spot.

Aside from power finishes, he has also shown the balance, ball skills and touch on non-dunk finishes when he’s needed to catch, take a dribble to gather himself and go up strong off two feet or score around a man between him and the basket – converting 82.1% of his 218 shots at the rim[7].

His leaping ability also made him a very effective offensive rebounder at the collegiate level. Ayton has a knack for pursuing the ball off the rim, a seven-foot-five wingspan to rebound outside his area and a quick second jump to fight for tip-ins and 50-50 balls. He collected 13.4% of Arizona’s misses when he was on the floor this season and converted 85.7% of his 49 putback attempts.

On the other end, his advantage in instincts and athleticism made up for the fact Ayton isn’t attentive to his boxout responsibilities very often, aside from the fact that playing alongside Ristic offered him a chance of matching up against a lesser challenger on the boards on most nights. His 287 defensive rebounds ranked third in the NCAA, as he collected 28.2% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

As mentioned earlier, Ayton’s defense wasn’t up to what was expected from someone who looks like he should be a dominant presence. Besides the well publicized iffy rim protection instincts, there is lot of times Ayton doesn’t look like the most engaged defender. He’ll come in and bump the roll man from time-to-time but doesn’t stay in a stance off the ball, is prone to getting face cut, never puts much effort into preventing his man from getting a clean catch in the post and had just 20 steals in 35 appearances – an appalling mark for someone with his length.

But the team that wants to overlook these things, or at least put a lower value on them, and fully buy into his potential instead has plenty of reasons do it. When he is engaged, Ayton can be a very impactful defender in the hidden parts of the game.

He can bend his knees to get down in a stance defending on the ball and has proven himself able to pick up smaller players on switches, stay attached to them stride-for-stride out in space and intimidate shots at the basket.

Though he struggled in the second Oregon game against MiKyle McIntosh and Paul White, Ayton has generally shown the quickness to run stretch big men off their shots in the pick-and-pop and maintain his balance to stay in front, doing a particularly good job against the notorious Thomas Welsh in the first UCLA game.

He did show some ability to contain ball handlers from turning the corner on pick-and-rolls as well, though those were few and far between because of Miller’s preferred strategy of having his big men hedge on ball-screens, despite their ineffectiveness influencing opposing ball handlers.

And there were times Ayton stepped up to protect the basket as the last line of defense just fine, leveraging his quick leaping ability and his nine-foot-three wingspan into averaging 2.3 blocks per 40 minutes.

SKILL LEVEL

Or maybe some team will accept the risk of him never quite figuring out on defense in order to do business with his offense, which projects to be quite special.

Ayton has been a very famous basketball prospect for a long time due to his athletic prowess but showed in his one year at Arizona that he’s taking steps towards developing into a very skilled player as well.

Though he had a strength advantage just about every night this season and knocked most opponents backwards when he lowered his shoulder, Ayton was often more interested in relying on skill to score out of the post.

His preferred move was turning, facing his man, sizing him up and launching a sudden no-dribble jumper, sometimes even mixing in a jab-step. He can go to a turnaround, fadeaway jumper too. His jump-shot has evolved into more of a legit threat since he was in high school, as he’s been able to put more arc on it more often.

Ayton has also flashed a move where he pivots around his man very fluidly for a short hook or a scoop finish and a counter where he fakes the pivot and goes the other way, proving himself to be an ambidextrous finisher.

Overall, he converted 42.1% of his 198 two-point attempts away from the basket.

But more impressive, perhaps, has been Ayton’s dexterity escape dribbling out of hard double teams and his court vision passing out of the low post. He’s not a genius passer but has shown he is able to spot breakdowns in the defense and read cuts or drifts very well, which he was not previously known for.

Ayton assisted on 10.2% of Arizona’s scores when he was on the floor and turned it over on just 11.3% of his possessions – which is a low mark in the context of his 26.6% usage rate.

Last but not least, he’s flashed more robust potential as a jump-shooter.

Ayton is now a capable shooter from the college three-point line on pick-and-pops. He does nice shot preparation catching it on the hop, elevates in balance, has fluid mechanics, gets his shot off comfortably against closeouts from opposing big men, releases it from a high point tough to block and shows nice touch.

Ayton nailed 12 of his 35 three-point attempts in college and was enough of a threat that opponents were selling out to run him off his shot towards the end of the season. In these instances, Ayton even flashed a mini-pump fake and the ability to attack off the dribble on a straight line, using his strength to maintain his balance through contact and get all the way to the rim.

He needs to continue working on getting arc on his shot consistently in order to back down a few feet out to NBA range but Ayton has also nailed 73.3% of his 191 foul shots, so the expectation is he should be able to develop into a legit threat from three-point range in the pros as well.

[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] DOB: 7/23/1998

[5] According to our stats’ database

[6] According to Ken Pomeroy

[7] According to hoop-math

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