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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3D wing, Pure Shooter

Arnoldas Kulboka Scouting Report

CONTEXT

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

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

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

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

WEAK-SIDE OFFENSE

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

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

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

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

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

SHOT CREATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEFENSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] Who turns 20 in January

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

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

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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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Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Abdoulaye N’Doye Scouting Report

CONTEXT

France disappointed and placed seventh at the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt a few of weeks ago. This isn’t the quite same group that won the 2016 FIBA European Championships U18 last December, as the very prominent Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya were unavailable due to injury. But this team still had a couple of highly regarded prospects on it, including Abdoulaye N’Doye — currently ranked 27th on Draft Express’ top 60.

The six-foot-seven 19-year-old[1] is being developed as a tall point guard and had the opportunity to run offense full time in Cairo with Ntilikina absent but was for the most part very underwhelming.

N’Doye is a decent passer for someone his size but struggles as a scorer from every area of the court at this point of his development, which makes it tough for him to draw two to the ball and get his teammates open consistently. According to RealGM, France averaged just 83.4 points per 100 possessions in his 172 minutes on the floor.

His potential on the other end seems closer to real, though. The vision is for him to become a defender who offers switch-ability. That’s how France used him and N’Doye responded by showing plenty of signs to suggest he might get there down the line. According to FIBA.com, France was +50 with him in the lineup and that profit was earned for the most part due to his positive impact in prevention.

DEFENSE

N’Doye doesn’t consistently bend his knees to get down in a stance, which makes him vulnerable to getting shook side-to-side and led to him getting blown by in isolation defense a couple of times.

He also lacks the strength to contain dribble penetration by similarly sized players as of now, currently possessing a thin 198-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-seven height.

But N’Doye did impress with his ability to keep pace with smaller players on straight-line drives and using his length to contest shots effectively, even in instances where he had to pick them up out on an island, as his long strides help him cover a lot of ground very quickly.

And he also did a very good job using his reach[2] to make plays on the ball and in the passing lanes, collecting 1.8 steals per 40 minutes at the Worlds U19.

That said, N’Doye’s most impressive plays in individual defense were against the pick-and-roll. He put in the work to go over ball-screens at the point of attack and did a reasonably good job navigating them cleanly enough, which is often tricky for big point guards like him. As is the case, N’Doye’s length makes a huge impact as he tracks his man from behind and acts as a threat to block shots or deflect passes.

It was also nice to see him already showing a decent understanding of how to ice side pick-and-rolls at such a young age.

N’Doye was asked to pick up big men on switches some and though he lacks the strength and toughness to hold ground against them, he put in the work to try fronting the post consistently, which often did the trick because players in that age group aren’t very adept at entering the ball to the low block from odd angles and just don’t even try when faced with such situations.

As a weak-side defender, N’Doye showed some burst and agility to run spot-up shooters off their shots with his closeouts and subsequently slide laterally to stay in front of them as they attempt to take him off the bounce. He also proved himself attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside when called upon to act as the last line of defense, though he didn’t show any explosiveness to help protect the rim — blocking no shots in his seven appearances in Cairo.

His effort on the glass was a bit disappointing for someone his size as well, as he collected just 12.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

PASSING

N’Doye’s most developed skill on offense at this point of his development is his passing.

He’s proven himself a smart player who is naturally inclined to pass ahead in transition to speed up the pace of the game and move the ball quickly in the half-court when he’s operating off the ball.

The biggest appeal is his potential as a shot creator off dribble penetration, though. N’Doye isn’t one of those geniuses who anticipate passing lanes a split second before they come open but has some resources to get his teammates good looks when he is operating in pick-and-roll with a spaced floor or gets the chance to attack off a live dribble against a scrambling defense.

He protects the ball on the move (which is vital for tall dribble drivers who are in constant danger of getting it stripped from them in traffic), is inclined to post up smaller players in a pinch in order to try drawing double-teams and shows good court vision spotting breakdowns on a collapsing defense.

Aside from simple drop-offs to big men at the dunker’s spot or kick-outs to shooters spot-up on the strong-side, N’Doye can make well-timed pocket passes and pass across his body to the opposite end of the court in traffic — assisting on 24.5% of France’s scores when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19, though at only a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

He’s flashed the ability to play with pace as well, showing some dexterity for keeping his dribble alive on slower developing plays, changing speeds and making use of re-screens to try eating some ground as opponents consistently went under.

SCORING

But ultimately, N’Doye’s inability to punish opponents for playing off him when he is on the ball prevents him from maximizing the potential of his passing.

He took a few stop-and-pop jumpers from the elbow area off snaking the pick-and-roll and didn’t look bad. N’Doye can get up in rhythm, fluidly and quickly but has no touch in his shot, which also proved to be a problem on floaters and non-dunk finishes as well — as he converted just 40% of his 40 two-point tries.

He flashed some ability to adjust his body in the air for reverses against rim protection but didn’t show much explosiveness elevating off one or two feet in traffic and lacks the strength to be able to finish through contact or on his way down.

N’Doye generally struggles to get good looks for himself to begin with — logging an unimpressive 20.1% usage rate on a team that needed him to be more aggressive. Equipped with only a hesitation move to get by his man one-on-one and having not yet developed much versatility to his handle, he lacks change of direction suddenness or a crossover to shake his defender side-to-side and strength to maintain his balance through contact.

His best hope for scoring at this point of his development is driving into a heavily packed lane and drawing contact, which he did do successfully in Cairo, as he averaged six free throws per 40 minutes. N’Doye missed 16 of his 26 foul shots, though, which is a bad sign for his development as an outside shooter as well.

His spot-up catch-and-shoot jumper does not look particularly broken or anything but he missed 13 of his 15 three-point attempts and consistently puts up bad percentages in every event he participates.

[1] Who turns 20 in March

[2] Seven-foot-two wingspan, 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

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3D wing, Shot Creator, Stretch Big, Tall Passer, Undersized Big

Abu Kigab Scouting Report

CONTEXT

RJ Barrett was the headliner but Abu Kigab was perhaps just as vital for Canada to win the 2017 World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt a couple of weeks ago. Like his star teammate, the 18-year-old[1] also earned first team all-tournament honors after averaging 20.9 points per 40 minutes on 23.1% usage-rate and ranking fifth in the tournament in defensive rating — according to RealGM.

The Oregon-commit is one of the smoothest athletes ever but impressed the most with the versatility of his skill-set on offense. He can run pick-and-roll, pass on the move, make some pull-ups, get to the foul line and space the floor operating off the ball, projecting as the prototype perimeter player for this era of basketball.

Canada went small quite a bit and spaced the floor well to provide him the best possible environment to succeed. If Oregon does the same, I suspect he’ll be just as prominent as Dillon Brooks was there.

On the other end, the six-foot-seven combo forward possesses the combination of physical profile and athletic ability to develop into an impact defender who offers as much flexibility as he does on offense. But as of now he’s only OK, executing Canada’s zone scheme pretty well and doing a reasonable job in one-on-one defense but failing to create many events.

SHOT CREATION

Kigab ranked third on the team in usage but with Lindell Wigginton missing a couple of games due to injury, he was given quite a bit of shot creation responsibility against a set defense and impressed with his fluidity operating off the dribble.

Kigab flashed the ability to make a well-timed pocket pass turning the corner but what he really likes to do in pick-and-roll is not attack right away. Regardless of whether the opponent shows hard, hedges or drops, Kigab prefers slowing down the pace, backing down a step or two, transition into an isolation and then turn on the jets.

He’s shown a strong preference for going left and has a combination of hesitation move + explosive first step to just blow by his man but has also shown quite a bit of craft to get around quicker types. Kigab can go between the legs on the move, pivot into a well-coordinated spin move in a pinch and showed an in-and-out dribble as well to shake his defender side-to-side.

He’s proven himself pretty fast for someone his size with the ball and consistently gets deep dribble penetration against his age group. But Kigab lacks the strength to maintain his balance through contact to get to the basket and often got up to finish in awkward balance.

He’s proven himself fearless weaving through traffic on his way to the goal (resulting in 7.3 foul shots per 40 minutes) and flashed an euro-step to score around rim protection in transition but for the most part struggled with his touch on non-dunk finishes in the half-court — converting his 56 two-point shots at a disappointing 42.9% clip.

As was the case, Kigab took quite a bit of stop-and-pop jumpers from the elbow area and his one-dribble pull-up looks pretty good. The above average efficiency isn’t there yet but he appears to have a great base to be build upon; able to stop on a dime, elevate in great balance, pull the trigger quickly and get his shot off comfortably.

But Kigab’s most productive contribution off the bounce is his passing on the move. He has a nice handle for someone his size, turning it over on just 10.6% of his possessions, and proved himself very willing to hit open teammates with kick-outs to the strong-side and drop-offs to a big man at the dunker’s spot when the defense collapsed against his dribble penetration — assisting on 14.9% of Canada’s scores when he was on the floor at the Worlds U19.

FLOOR SPACING

Kigab proved himself an effective, if not particularly great yet, option operating off the ball as a floor-spacer. He catches on the hop on spot-ups, gets off the ground quickly, shows to have fluid mechanics to be build upon and has a quick release — nailing 36.7% of his 30 three-point attempts in Cairo.

Canada used him as the screener on the pick-and-pop once or twice and Kigab flashed the ability to relocate to a spot beyond the arc, catch and rise up quickly in rhythm with great balance. But other than that, he was not given many opportunities to showcase the versatility of his shot, as he was not asked to sprint around staggered screens or come off pindown screens.

DEFENSE

Kigab posted the best defensive rating on the team, despite the fact he had just five steals and three blocks in his 190 minutes in Cairo — marks that were disappointing given his six-foot-nine wingspan[2], his leaping ability and the fact he often put himself in good position as he proved himself attentive to his help-defense responsibilities.

That was the case because Kigab showed pretty good discipline putting in the effort to stay in front of similarly-sized players in individual defense, running shooters off their shots with his closeouts on weak-side defense and executing the rotations within the zone scheme Canada played towards the latter part of the tournament.

He didn’t show a lot of toughness containing dribble penetration and holding ground in the post, despite his 214-pound frame, but contested shots in a satisfying manner with his eight-foot-six standing reach, aside from the fact he was vital for Canada’s smaller lineups to work with his ability to help protect the defensive glass — collecting 23.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

[1] Who turns 19 in November

[2] 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

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Shot Creator, Tall Passer

RJ Barrett Scouting Report

CONTEXT

RJ Barrett has taken yet another step forward.

The just-turned 17-year-old[1] led Canada to the title of the 2017 FIBA World Championships U19 in Cairo, Egypt in remarkable fashion, earning MVP honors after he averaging 28.2 points per 40 minutes on 28% usage-rate and ranking 15th in the tournament in defensive rating – according to RealGM. Canada was +126 in his 214 minutes, according to FIBA.

Though perhaps more impressive than his statistical profile and the fact he was a lot younger than the cutoff age was how he dominated that tournament. The lefty wing has developed into a legit shot creator for himself and others who feels comfortable operating in high pick-and-roll against a set defense.

On the other end, the six-foot-seven wing has the combination of physical profile and athletic ability to develop into an impact defender who can switch across all positions. That hasn’t yet materialized but he’s able to create events all over the place and helps finish possessions that way, which is why he ranked so high in defensive rating.

PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE

Barrett didn’t impress much in one-on-one instances in this event. He didn’t show a particularly diverse set of dribble moves or the side-to-side shake he had in the past, relying on a hesitation + burst sequence to get by his man when he could.

When he couldn’t, Barrett sometimes opted for a spin move to get all the way to the basket but mostly relied on the strength in his 193-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact and his momentum forward, though it would sometimes lead to him driving into a crowd.

With that as the case, Barrett did most of his offense operating in middle high pick-and-roll and wowed with his development controlling the offense 25-feet away from the basket. The improvements he made to his passing were particularly pleasing.

Barrett showcased the ability to play with pace against the opponent showing hard or hedging at the point of attack and gearing up to crowd his path to the basket, slowing down, keeping his dribble alive and subsequently displaying nice court vision to make passes over the top to the big sneaking his way to the basket.

Turning the corner or attacking downhill, Barrett also impressed with his passing on the move. Not only in terms of drop-offs to a big at the dunker’s spot or kick-outs to the strong-side as the defense collapsed to him but also making well-timed pocket passes and passes across his body to the opposite end of the court – assisting on 29% of Canada’s scores when he was on the floor in Cairo.

His handle has improved as well. It’s hard to say he keeps the ball out on a string or something but it’s pretty decent for someone his size, as he turned it over on just 12.8% of his possessions at the Worlds U19. He can go right from time-to-time but has shown a strong preference for driving to his dominant hand’s side.

Barrett is an explosive leaper out of one foot or two feet, including taking flight in a crowd. He’s also proven himself strong enough to score through contact, despite consistently playing against older age groups. But his touch on non-dunk finishes is only so-so and although he’s flashed a running floater and a shot-fake + pivot + floater off a jump-stop sequence, Barrett hasn’t yet shown much versatility to his finishing.

With that as the case, his best method of interior scoring remains his ability to get to the foul line. His frame invites a lot of contact as he bullies his way to the basket. Barrett averaged 11.4 free throws per 40 minutes in Cairo and improved his efficiency at the charity stripe, nailing them at a 75.4% clip at the Worlds U19 after converting just 59.7% of such shots at the Worlds U17 last year.

That development in set shooting carried over to his pull-up shooting too, as he has become a lot more comfortable taking stop-and-pop jumpers from mid-range. Barrett looked fluid rising up and pulling the trigger and was reasonably efficient on those, converting 51.1% of his 88 overall two-point shots despite the fact he took a steady diet of such looks.

SPACING THE FLOOR

Barrett shot an easy ball on his 38-point performance against the United States in the semifinal but struggled as a floor-spacer for most of the tournament. His catch-and-shoot release looked more methodical and mechanical that I had remembered and he missed quite a few open looks — nailing just five of his 21 three-point shots.

And that was simply as an open shot shooter. Barrett didn’t have any opportunities to showcase if he has any versatility to his shot, though his release on spot-ups suggest he hasn’t yet developed much ability to come off staggered screens, come off pindown screens, sprint to the ball to launch long bombs off dribble hand-offs or act as a pick-and-pop screener on small-small pick-and-rolls.

DEFENSE

Barrett defended well against opponents his own size in isolation. He got down in a stance, shuffled his feet laterally, used his strength to contain dribble penetration and used his eight-foot-six standing reach to contest pull-up shots effectively.

Barrett also did well as a weak-side defender. He used his six-foot-10 wingspan to make plays in the passing lanes, averaging 2.2 steals per 40 minute, and his burst to run shooters off their shots with his closeouts.

Barrett is prone to losing his man relocating to the corner or an open spot around the wing as he locks in to what’s going on in the strong-side, as it tends to be the case with most teenagers. But other than that, he proved himself attentive to his responsibilities rotating inside to crowd the area near the basket as Canada played quite a bit of zone in the latter parts of the tournament, though it was disappointing he got no blocks in his 214 minutes considering his athletic prowess.

His most tangible impact on defense were his contributions on the defensive glass, as Barrett impressed with his commitment boxing out bigger players when Canada went with smaller lineups and just consistently crashing the glass – collecting 16.5% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

The biggest concerns regard his ability to play pick-and-roll defense or pick up smaller players on switches.

Barrett works to go over screens but struggles to negotiate them cleanly, falling behind or completely erasing himself out of these plays. And when he found himself on a guard type out on an island, Barrett was too spaced out and got blown by badly in a couple of instances.

[1] His birth is listed as June of 2000

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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