Jontay Porter Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Jontay Porter was the 11th-ranked prospect in the 2018 high school class before opting to reclassify, so he could play with his brother in what was expected to be the top recruit’s lone year at Missouri – ending up ranked 25th in the 2017 high school class.

Michael, Jr. dealt with back problems that limited him to just 53 minutes all season but Jontay surprised everyone who isn’t very familiar with high school ball. He was not only an impact player right away in college but a lot of people felt he was good enough to be a one-and-done and get picked in the mid-first round.

Porter attended the 2018 NBA Combine and rumors surfaced that he was about to sign with an agent and forgo the remainder of his amateur eligibility but Porter opted at the deadline to return to Missouri for his sophomore year – disappointing many draftniks in the process.

The 18-year-old averaged 16.1 points per 40 minutes on 56.7% true shooting and put together a 20.6 PER in 33 appearances last season. He led a team in net rating that ranked 32nd in the country in adjusted strength of schedule.

The six-foot-11 stretch big really impressed with his skill and intelligence at such a young age. Though he spent a good chunk of his time on the floor with another big man out there, he projects as a pure center in the pros – profiling as a fit for what the league is looking for in its big men on offense these days.

Besides spacing out to the three-point line away from the ball, Porter offers gravity while screening at the point of attack thanks to his ability to take quick catch-and-shoot jumpers out of the pick-and-pop.

Though not in a physically imposing fashion, he can also post up switches and proved to be exceptional at scanning the floor with his back to the basket – firing up crosscourt passes against double teams to create three-pointers for others.

The concerns regard the other end, where the Columbia native figures to struggle defending out in space – at least as he is currently built. Porter weighed in at 236 pounds at the Combine, with 13.6% body fat. Many speculate teams’ doubts over his conditioning are what encouraged him to return to college for a second year.

That is not to say, however, that he can’t defend. Despite showing a lack of lift, Porter was an effective rim protector when well positioned and did very well in the glass – creating events regularly enough to lead the team and rank second in the conference in defensive rating.

He’s currently placed 13th on ESPN’s latest mock draft.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Luka Samanic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Luka Samanic is the second-ranked European prospect born in 2000[1] and currently considered the 14th-ranked prospect in the 2019 draft class[2] but has dealt with a lot of ebbs and flows over the last year.

The 18-year-old[3] led Croatia to a first-place finish in the 2017 U18 FIBA European Championship Division B, earning MVP honors along the way, but the season with Barcelona didn’t go as well.

He not only didn’t get any opportunities with the Catalan powerhouse in the Spanish ACB, let alone the Euroleague, but went on to average just 12.7 minutes per game in his 22 appearances with the second team in the Spanish LEB Gold[4].

In his limited 280-minute sample against that level of competition, the six-foot-10 stretch big averaged 21.2 points per 40 minutes but on just 43.2% effective shooting, while compiling a 9.2 PER.

Needing a little bit of a pick-me-up midway through that run, he was put on the junior squad that participated in the Cuitat De L’Hospitalet regional portion of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament and killed it against his age group.

Samanic averaged 34.2 points per 40 minutes on just 42.1% effective shooting but while logging 35% usage and compiling a 31.8 PER in 108 minutes, earning MVP honors and leading Barcelona to three wins in four games – falling just short of qualifying to the Final Four that is played during Euroleague Final Four weekend.

Displeased with his lack of opportunities with the first team, the Zagreb native surprised many earlier this summer by not re-signing with Barcelona and transferring to Union Olimpija instead – where one assumes he was promised a real chance of earning minutes in the Adriatic League, the FIBA Basketball Champions League and the Slovenian SKL.

His fortunes haven’t completely turned just yet, though. Samanic finished a reasonably strong appearance at the 2018 U18 FIBA European Championships Division A this weekend, where he averaged 25.6 points per 40 minutes on 57% effective shooting and compiled a 28.7 PER but couldn’t lift Croatia any higher than a 11th-place finish, as the team was minus-19 in his 159 minutes[5].

Samanic did most of his work with his back to the basket, as Croatia played an offense designed to get three-pointers out of posting up its big men, drawing double teams and then swinging the ball around the perimeter. He struggled to get particularly impressive looks for himself but did very well creating for others – assisting on 18.7% of Croatia’s scores when he was on the floor[6].

His two-point percentage stayed close to 50% thanks to a few finishes near the basket and catch-and-shoot long-twos but other than passing, Samanic was at his most effective as a three-point shooter when he got a few shots out of spacing out to the three-point line and on pick-and-pops. He was also an effective presence in the offensive glass.

On the other end, Samanic was asked to defend pick-and-rolls in a multitude of ways and showed a lot of versatility in terms of being able to execute the many coverages, as he is quite mobile and nimble for someone his height. Samanic also showed to be an effective rim protector when well positioned.

INTERIOR OFFENSE

He has a slight 210-pound frame in the context of his height and struggles to get a deep seal in the low post, often getting pushed further close to the three-point arc.

Samanic hasn’t yet developed any power moves and has a hard time knocking his defender back in order to create space for basic turnaround hooks. He is great at feeling double teams and has very good court vision, though. Besides igniting passing sequences on quick touch passes, Samanic also launched some impressive passes across the court to the opposite end.

He has a decent head-fake to try getting his defender out of position and pretty good touch on his right-handed hook when he does manage to get a shot off but his best work making a move out of a post touch was via turning it into a face-up isolation or pivot-moving into a quick baseline drive.

He is well coordinated for someone his height, has light feet pivoting into putting the ball on the floor and has a rip-through move into burst to get an advantage in his first step.

Even in these instances, the best outcome was often him finding teammates against a collapsing defense on shovel passes over the top to the other big at the dunker spot or drop-offs to perimeter players on diagonal cuts and hammer passes across his body from under the rim to the corner.

Samanic also has a third dimension to his passing, as he proved himself able to catch the ball on the move, cut his roll short and kickout to a spot-up shooter in a pinch – assisting on 18.7% of Croatia’s scores when he was on the floor.

He is not an explosive leaper off two feet without some space to load up but showed great touch on non-dunk finishes – on righty finger-roll finishes off a jump-stop and righty scoop finishes dealing with a rim protector parked between him and the basket.

Samanic is rumored to have only a six-foot-10 wingspan[7] and isn’t a particularly high leaper but played with a decent motor looking to create second chance opportunities in the offensive glass – collecting 12% of Croatia’s misses when he was on the floor. He is not a powerful leaper off two feet in a crowd but has a quick second jump to make an impact on tip-ins and fight for 50-50 balls.

PERIMETER OFFENSE

After nailing just 28.2% of his 71 three-point shots with Barcelona last season, Samanic shot the ball very well this summer.

He gets little elevation off the ground but dips for rhythm, rises up in great balance, has fluid mechanics, fully elevates himself for a high release and regularly gets a high arc on his shot.

Samanic offered gravity as a weak-side floor-spacer on spot-ups and drifting around the wing but also proved he is able to hit quick bombs out of the pick-and-pop and as the back-screener in Spain pick-and-rolls – nailing nine of his 19 three-point shots in the tournament, at a pace of 4.7 such attempts per 40 minutes.

He is a so-so screener who looks to draw contact but whose thin frame isn’t all that challenging for tenacious on-ball defenders to slide around. Nonetheless, Samanic showed he can adjust his feet quickly and pull the trigger comfortably enough prior to or over contests more often than not.

As was, he demanded hard closeouts and was able to put the ball on the floor a lot on straight line drives. Samanic has long strides to get all the way to the basket against a scrambling defense, can mix in a spin move to weave his way through traffic and is an explosive leaper off one foot going up off momentum.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

Samanic was asked to defend pick-and-rolls in a variety of ways and proved he is at least capable of executing each of the many different coverages.

He is nimble enough to show-and-recover – blitzing at the three-point line against a pull-up threat and backpedalling to hustle back to the roll man quickly enough for the weak-side rotations not to get terribly exposed.

Samanic can hedge and influence ball-handlers way high in the perimeter as well – forcing dribble drives to go sideways and then hustling back to even the matchups behind him quickly.

He is also an option to pick up smaller players on switches – bending his knees to get down in a stance and showing he has several slides in him to stay in front of shifty players out in space, at least against the level of competition he faced in Latvia.

And last but not least, Samanic is also effective in drop back defense – keeping pace with ball-handlers getting downhill on straight line drives, using his eight-foot-10 standing reach to contest pull-ups effectively and even flashing quick leaping ability off two feet to block close-range attempts defending on the ball.

INTERIOR DEFENSE

Samanic logged some of his time at center and did well as a help defender for the most part. He has developed decent recognition skills and awareness coming off the weak-side or stepping up to the front of the basket as the last line of defense, putting himself in position to challenge a lot of shots.

Some opponents managed to score through him, as his lack of above average length and bulk hurt him in a few instances. But he was also fairly effective impacting shots via verticality and still managed to pick up more than a few blocks – averaging 2.7 blocks per 40 minutes in the event.

Samanic is attentive enough to his responsibilities putting a body on an opponent close by but isn’t very physical with his boxouts. Nonetheless, he was able to rely on his quickness chasing the ball off the rim quicker than this level of competition – collecting 25.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

OUTLOOK

After a disappointing season with Barcelona, Samanic wasn’t necessarily dominant at the 2018 U18 FIBA European Championships, at least not in a way that elevated the level of his team.

He showed more than enough to remain one of the most interesting prospects of the 2019 draft class, though.

Samanic projects as a good shooter, who could offer floor spacing at the point of attack, can put the ball on the floor to drive against closeouts and has shown to be a versatile passer – capable of creating for others on the move and as a hub to facilitate offense.

In a time where teams like to create three-pointers off movement while posting up to give time for these actions to work themselves out or having perimeter players get a head-start by darting around big man on handoffs, Samanic figures to be an excellent fit for what the NBA is looking for in its big men right now.

That’s also the case because he’s shown to be capable of guarding the pick-and-roll in a multitude of ways, most importantly by being able to bother ball-handlers way out in the perimeter – which is quickly becoming a must in a league where pull-up threats are multiplying by the day.

That said, his frame needs to develop for him to belong from a physical-standpoint, especially considering that most of the potential he offers as a difference maker relies on his ability to eventually play center full-time.


[1] According to Eurospects

[2] According to ESPN

[3] DOB: 1/9/2000

[4] According to RealGM

[5] According to FIBA

[6] According to RealGM

[7] According to Draft Express

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

RJ Barrett Scouting Report

CONTEXT

RJ Barrett was the top prospect in the 2018 high school class and is currently considered to be the top prospect in the 2019 draft class.

From a physical-standpoint, the 18-year-old looks like someone who could log NBA minute right now due to his chiseled six-foot-seven, 202-pound frame. As a result of his advanced athletic development, he has already debuted for the Canadian National Team at the senior level in the latest World Cup Qualifiers window – in appearances against the Dominican Republican and the Virgin Islands.

In large part thanks to that overwhelming edge in athleticism in comparison to his age group, the swingman dominated in high school and led Montverde Academy to a “mythical” national championship in late March.

Barrett handled the ball in middle high pick-and-roll a lot less than when he’s had the chance to play with the Canadian National Team at the youth level but got plenty of opportunities to create against a set defense in isolation out of ball reversals and jogging to the ball for dribble-handoffs on the side of the floor. As a weak-side floor-spacer, his shot remains a mixed bag.

On the other end, Barrett acted mostly as a weak-side defender and used his length to fly around passing lanes from time-to-time. His position defense was solid as well and he put in the effort to execute the scheme. More interestingly, perhaps, Barrett picked up smaller players on switches every once in a while and showed he has room to become a capable defender at the point of attack.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

Dmitry Kulagin Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • 26 years old, DOB: 7/1/1992.
  • Moscow native.
  • After just 1,024 minutes with CSKA Moscow the previous two seasons, logged 866 minutes in his first year with Lokomotiv Kuban[1].
  • Key rotation player on the team that got to the Eurocup Finals and won 17 of 24 games in the VTB United League regular season (before getting swept by Khimki in the quarterfinals).
  • Averaged 18.1 points per 40 minutes on 56.3% true shooting and compiled a 15.8 PER in 36 appearances last season.
  • Six-foot-six point forward who ran a lot of offense: logged 24.4% usage rate and assisted on 26% of Lokomotiv Kuban’s scores when he was on the floor;
    • Can grab-and-go to push the ball up the floor in transition, trigger motion offense in the half-court, post-up smaller matchups in a pinch and run middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense.
  • Was relied on to defend different types of players and proved he offers quite a bit of versatility on the other end as well;
    • Can credibly defend smaller players at the point of attack, stay in front of similarly sized wings, chase shooters around the second side of the floor and put up a fight against bigger players in the post or under the glass.

OFFENSE

  • Pretty good shot creator for others out of pick-and-roll: can make well-timed pocket passes against drop defense, hit the dive man over the top against hedges or traps, toss up lobs in traffic off deep dribble penetration and launch crosscourt passes to the opposite end against hard shows cutting him off from turning the corner.
  • Turnover prone: attempts a lot of passes in traffic and is too aggressive trying to thread the needle in a few instances – giving up the ball on 19.9% of his possessions last season.
  • Doesn’t have an explosive first step but is quite resourceful with the ball in his hands: can go left off the pick and has a hesitation move, an in-and-out dribble and the ability to go behind the back in a pinch to create forward momentum or separation one-on-one.
  • Up-and-down finisher at the basket who can’t go up strong off one foot in traffic, rarely finishes through contact and attempts basic righty speed layups most of the time but who can also go to a shot fake off a jump-stop to get rim protectors in the air and a lefty finger-roll finish every once in a while;
    • Put a good deal of pressure at the rim: averaged 7.1 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.
  • Can post-up smaller matchups in a pinch: has a shot fake to get his man in the air to draw shooting fouls and can set a turnaround fade-away jumper but does best finding cutters and spot-up shooters out of working with his back to the basket.
  • Capable but poor shot maker off the dribble. Can create enough separation for step-back fade-away jumpers in isolation and side-step one-dribble pull-ups off the pick-and-roll but the ball doesn’t go in a whole lot;
    • Shot just 48.5% on 175 two-point attempts last season.
  • Capable but poor floor-spacer on spot-ups;
3P% 3PAs SEASON
29.9% 107 2017-2018
29.3% 92 2016-2017
29.2% 48 2015-2016
30.6% 147 2014-2015
28.9% 39 2013-2014
20.9% 91 2012-2013
28.9% 114 2011-2012

DEFENSE

  • Bends his knees to get down in a stance and has several lateral slides to stay in front of similarly sized players in isolation, though doesn’t use his 211-pound frame to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact.
  • Puts in the effort to slide around off ball screens and chase shooters around the second side of the floor. Works hard to deny on dribble-handoffs.
  • Gets caught ball watching and gives up backdoor cuts from time-to-time but generally can execute the scheme as a weak-side defender: attentive enough to switch on the fly, rotates in to pick up the roll man, positions himself to guard two opponents off ball, steps up to help protect the rim when he is positioned as the last line of defense;
    • Good instincts and reactions to get into passing lanes: 1.6 steals per 40 minutes last season;
    • Contributes some on the defensive glass: collected 12.6% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
  • So-so at closeouts: sometimes flies by but there are also times when he is able to run the shooter off his shot and stay balanced.
  • Can credibly pick up smaller players on switches: works to go over screens at the point of attack and hustles in pursuit to challenge shots or passes from behind.
  • Can credibly pick up bigger players on switches: tenacious enough to front the post and box out whomever is close by.

OUTLOOK

Kulagin is a very interesting player: a wing who can run offense and create for others in volume due to the versatility of his passing, while also being able to credibly defend different types of players. Someone with that combination of skills can be very valuable these days, as a chess piece who can unlock lineups in both sides of the extremes in terms of size.

His inability to make a shot is what’s preventing him from being considered a potential impact player at higher levels, though. His true shooting percentage was only about average this past year because he got to the foul line in volume and hit 82.6% of his free throws but the team still scored more efficiently without him on the floor both in the Eurocup[2] and the VTB United League[3].


[1] According to RealGM

[2] According to RealGM

[3] According to RealGM

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

Luka Doncic Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Luka Doncic just finished a remarkable season on Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PASSING

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

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

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

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

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

SHOOTING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINISHING

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

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

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

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

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

DEFENSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[1] DOB: 2/28/1999

[2] According to our stats’ database

[3] According to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz

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

Jerome Robinson Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Jerome Robinson was the 308th-ranked prospect in the 2015 high school[1].

But after three productive years at Boston College and what seems to be a workout tour for the ages, he’s now expected to be picked in the lottery on Thursday’s Draft[2].

The 21-year-old[3] enters the NBA with 3,118 NCAA minutes under his belt but has no other meaningful experience, in terms of participating in prominent offseason events or defending the United States National Team in FIBA events.

Most recently, the six-foot-five combo guard averaged 23 points per 40 minutes[4] on 60.7% true shooting and compiled a 20.2 PER in 35 appearances last season[5].

Boston College played the 48th-toughest schedule in the country[6] and had a +8.8 pace-adjusted point differential with him on the floor[7].

Robinson has a skill-set similar to Devin Booker’s on offense. He is a very good shooter who also proved he is able to create for himself and others out of the pick-and-roll. Luckily for him, he was given the chance to showcase the full extent of his capabilities, as Boston College got him looks on the move in diverse ways and let him run offense against a set defense with Ky Bowman off the floor.

Robinson logged 27.3% usage rate, assisted on 19.5% of Boston College’s scores when he was in the game and was assisted on just 46.9% of his field goals[8].

His production was far less inspiring on the other end. He was mostly hidden on defense but Boston College switched some and he defended on the ball from time-to-time. Robinson does the basics but doesn’t play with any energy or intensity and lacks the physical profile and athletic ability to make a positive impact when he does try harder on occasion.

SHOOTING

His top skill is his shooting.

Robinson has as pure a catch-and-shoot stroke you are ever going to find, featuring fluid mechanics, a quick trigger, perfect balance as he rises up and a high release thanks to the amount of elevation he gets and the fact that he fully extends himself – consistently being able to shoot over closeouts by players with similar length.

Besides basic weak-side spot-ups, he also took shots coming to the ball for dribble hand-offs, relocating around the wing, coming off pindown screens and sprinting around staggered screens. The only thing missing was deploying him as the back-screener in Spain pick-and-rolls or as the screener in small-small pick-and-pops.

Robinson nailed 37.6% of his 423 three-point shots over his three years at Boston College, including 40.9% of his 198 long bombs at a pace of 6.3 such attempts per 40 minutes last season. He also hit 75.5% of his 408 free throws, creating the expectation that he will be just as good a shooter in the pros.

Perhaps more impressively, Robinson has shown to be almost as versatile and capable a shooter off the dribble.

When the opponent prevents him from firing right away off the catch, he is able to shot fake into a side-step three-pointer or rise up for jumpers off a rip through move.

In terms of creating his own shot, Robinson took stop-and-pop pull-ups off the pick-and-roll often and flashed a pull-back three-pointer off a sudden stop. He also has multiple mid-range jumpers he can get to in isolation; a basic two-dribble pull-up working his way to a spot near the baseline, a step-back fade-away jump-shot off a spin move and a pull-up off a between the legs crossover.

Robinson established himself a good shot maker – hitting 43.4% of his 166 two-point jumpers, at a pace of 2.2 such makes per 40 minutes.

PASSING

The second most impressive aspect of his game is his passing.

He can create for others reasonably well for a gunner and part of his appeal is the ability to run offense in a pinch.

Robinson doesn’t have an explosive first step and isn’t very fast with the ball but impressed with his ability to play with pace in pick-and-roll – patient enough to keep his dribble alive when a path to attack right away wasn’t available and employing hesitation moves to try creating an opening a second or two later.

His court vision and his timing were also impressive. Besides basic drop-offs and kick-outs against a scrambling defense, he can make a pocket pass, deliver a wraparound pass in traffic to a big man close by, pitch back to a stretch big man in the pick-and-pop and pass across the court to the opposite corner on the move.

Robinson averaged three turnovers per 40 minutes last season but those giveaways represented just 13.8% of his possessions – quite a low rate in the context of his high usage rate and the risks he took with the passes he attempted.

FINISHING

Though the jump-shot is the pinnacle of his game, Robinson got deep into the lane a decent amount.

His one-on-one game most often results in a jumper, as he isn’t shifty or explosive, hasn’t yet developed a set of dribble moves and isn’t strong enough to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact regularly.

But Robinson can get all the way to the basket off pick-and-roll. He isn’t fast enough to blow by the big man turning the corner but has an in-and-out dribble to destabilize him, can go in either direction and protects the ball in traffic – taking 29.2% of his shots at the basket and averaging 5.6 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

Though he flashed an explosive two-foot leap with some space to load up from time-to-time, Robinson is more of a below the rim finisher in traffic and can’t finish through contact due to his weak 188-pound frame in the context of his height.

But he can adjust his body in the air and finish with either hand. Despite his unimpressive length, Robinson proved he is able to complete reverses and over-extend for scoop finishes around rim protectors – converting 64% of his 150 shots at the basket last season.

He also unleashed a floater off a shot fake to finish over length from the in-between area every once in a while and was an option to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense on a wheel cut – as more than a third of his makes at the rim were assisted.

DEFENSE

Robinson is a bad defender, on and off the ball.

He does bend his knees to get low in a stance and there are times where he is locked in, works to slide laterally and manages to stay in front of less explosive smaller players.

But for the part Robinson didn’t offer much resistance. Boston College often hid him but it also switched some, so there were plenty of times he had to guard on the ball and his inability to play with any force or intensity showed.

Robinson doesn’t get blown by all the time but can’t chest up to contain dribble penetration through contact, doesn’t have much of a reach to try reaching around for strips and is unable to contest shots effectively due to his eight-foot-two standing reach[9].

Despite a frame that suggests he should be able to, Robinson doesn’t get skinny to navigate over picks at the point of attack and doesn’t hustle back in pursuit. That was also a problem when he had to chase shooters around.

Things weren’t much better away from the ball. He was often caught ball watching and lost his man, lacks the length and instincts to make plays in the passing lanes, and his closeouts were pretty weak.

Robinson rotated in to pick up the roll man and tried crowding driving lanes and boxing out bigger players from time-to-time but wasn’t an effective help defender – lacking the physicality and intensity to matter even when he was in the right place at the right time. His contributions through steals, blocks and defensive rebounds were marginal and he didn’t make any impact in the hidden areas of the game.

He had the second worst defensive rating on the team among high-minutes players and Boston College defended a lot better without him on the floor[10].


[1] According to 247Sports

[2] According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony

[3] DOB: 2/22/1997

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to our stats’ database

[6] According to Ken Pomeroy

[7] According to our stats’ database

[8] According to hoop-math

[9] According to the measurements at the 2018 NBA Combine

[10] According to our stats’ database

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

Robert Williams, III Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Robert Williams, III was the 50th-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1].

Despite an up-and-down first year at Texas A&M, he was expected to go one-and-done after compiling a pretty good statistical profile and standing out from a physical-standpoint but surprised many by opting to return for a second season.

I think it’s fair to say that decision didn’t really pay off, though it didn’t backfire either.

Williams is currently expected to be drafted around the same range he would have been last year (late lottery), with some chance that he might drop after skipping the 2018 NBA Combine and starting his workout tour late in the process.

In his two years at Texas A&M, the 20-year-old[2] accumulated 1,570 minutes of college basketball experience. But other than that, he has just 45 minutes in the 2017 adidas Nations under his belt[3].

Most recently, the six-foot-10 hyper athletic big man averaged 16.2 points per 40 minutes[4] on 63.2% effective shooting and compiled a 24.1 PER in 30 appearances last season.

Texas A&M played the fourth-toughest schedule in the country[5] and had a +22.2 pace-adjusted point differential with him on the floor[6] – which led the team.

His positive impact on a team that played tough competition is impressive when you consider he played out of position on defense and wasn’t given many chances to max out his potential on offense due to the fact he logged most of his minutes alongside Tyler Davis, a pure center.

Defensively, that offered him a chance to guard a little further away from the basket, which is how he figures to be deployed in the switch-happy NBA, at least in the near future. But on the other end, Williams didn’t have many opportunities and space to roll to the basket out of the pick-and-roll – a big problem, given he projects as a catch-and-score finisher in the pros.

FINISHING

Williams got to finish out of rolls to the basket just nine times all of last season[7]. In those few instances, he showed to be a decent screener who plants his feet and looks to influence the on-ball defender. Williams also flashed some quick recognition skills setting drag screens in transition.

But other than that, he had more than a few opportunities to prove he is an explosive leaper off two feet and can play above the rim as a target for lobs – in transition, sneaking behind the defense roaming around the baseline at the dunker spot and going up in traffic without needing to load up on cuts across the lane.

More impressively, perhaps, he has proven to be coordinated enough for instances where he needed to catch the ball on the move, take a dribble for balance and score around rim protectors on non-dunk finishes.

His touch on non-dunk finishes was pretty impressive as well, as Williams converted his 128 shots at the rim at a remarkable 83.6% clip[8].

He can crash the offensive glass hard and stress the defense as a putback threat. Williams has a seven-foot-four wingspan[9] to rebound outside of his area and a quick second jump to fight for tip-ins or 50-50 balls – collecting 10.3% of Texas A&M’s misses when he was on the floor and converting 75% of his 38 putback attempts.

PASSING

After his finishing ability, passing is the most developed aspect of his skill-set on offense.

Williams has shown he is an adept passer on kickouts to the perimeter even when trapped against the baseline, out of working with his back to the basket in the low post and in instances where the defense collapsed to him when he caught the ball, dribbled for balance and went forward – assisting on 11% of Texas A&M’s scores when he was on the floor last season.

He struggled when crowded and doubled hard in the post, though, yet to show dexterity putting the ball on the floor for an escape dribble. His average of 2.7 turnovers per 40 minutes was sky-high for someone with a 19.3% usage rate and his 0.8 assist-to-turnover ratio was quite lousy.

POST GAME

Williams doesn’t use his 241-pound frame[10] to set deep position often and doesn’t play with a lot of toughness looking to back his man down with power moves.

He also didn’t show a particularly deep skill level in terms of trying to get his defender out of position with the use of head fakes, shot fakes, pivot moves or turnaround fade-away jumpers.

Williams can set up basic right handed hooks and was a so-so proposition in these looks – hitting 40% of his 80 two-point shots away from the basket last season, but doesn’t appear to consider his left hand a real option, as he was often seem contorting his body on awkward-looking baby jumpers when his defender forced him to his off hand.

SHOOTING

Williams was once envisioned as a potential unicorn – a center capable of protecting the rim on one end and spacing the floor out to the three-point line on the other, but he hasn’t developed as a shooter.

He gets little elevation off the ground but fully extends himself to launch the ball from up top, so his release is high and he brings the ball up fluidly, even if a bit slowly. The touch on his jumper is iffy, though, and his biggest problem is getting enough arc on his shot with some consistency.

Williams missed all 12 of his three-point shots last season, after missing 16 of his 18 such attempts the year before. More of an indictment in his potential as a shooter, perhaps, is the fact that he hit just 54.1% of his 170 free throws over his two years in college.

RIM PROTECTION

Williams made more of a tangible impact on defense when he had the chance to patrol the lane. His explosiveness off two feet translates in him acting as a constant shot blocking threat and Williams flashed some awareness making a lot of corrections on breakdowns around him, alongside pleasing effort on plays that required multiple efforts.

It’s fair to point out that he sold out for blocks at times and bit on more than a few shot-fakes from time-to-time, aside from not yet having developed the ability to make preventive rotations that keep the opponent from getting to the rim at all.

But Williams made a lot of positive plays rotating all the way in from the weak-side in help-defense, stepping up to the front of the rim acting as the last line of defense and blocking shots on the ball keeping pace with smaller players or face-up big men from the foul line down – averaging 4.1 blocks per 40 minutes last season.

He is not a stout post defender but used his reach to make plays on the ball for strips, which was also the case when a face-up big man took him off the dribble – averaging 1.2 steals per 40 minutes.

Williams puts a body in the closest opponent somewhat regularly but isn’t very physical with his boxouts and tougher big men can push him out of the way. However, he is very quick chasing the ball off the rim and can highpoint it in a different stratosphere than a lot of his matchups – collecting 27.2% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season.

Thanks in large part to his ability to create events in volume, Williams led a team in defensive rating that ranked 14th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

Logging most of his minutes alongside Tyler Davis, Williams was forced to extend out to the perimeter often.

Against face-up big men, he did well closing out to the three-point line in pick-and-pop defense and on stunt-and-recover’s to spot-up floor-spacers, not only blocking quite a few jumpers but also showing on a few instances that he is able to closeout, run the shooter off his shot and stay balanced as he forces that opponent to put the ball on the floor.

His performance on hedges was far less impactful, as Williams often showed subpar effort and didn’t influence ball handlers out in the perimeter with any regularity, though his hustle returning to the middle and spotting someone open to cover was OK.

Against smaller players on switches, Williams doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance but has long strides and can keep pace on straight line drives, at least well enough to block or effectively contest shots from behind.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 10/17/1997

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Ken Pomeroy

[6] According to our stats’ database

[7] According to research by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz

[8] According to hoop-math

[9] According to Draft Express

[10] According to Texas A&M’s official listing

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