Jalen Brunson Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Jalen Brunson was the 16th-ranked prospect in the 2015 high school class[1].
  • He was also the most valuable player of the 2015 FIBA World Championships U19.
  • Through the first 15 games this season, the six-foot-three lead guard has averaged 25.4 points per 40 minutes on 70% true shooting.
  • Brunson is a veteran who has 91 appearances under his belt in college and another 12 for the United States youth squads in FIBA tournaments[2]. As such, the 21-year-old[3] is a savvy point guard who knows how to control the pace of the game, regularly finding the right mix between passing ahead to speed up the tempo and walking it up to run half-court offense.
  • Villanova moves the ball side-to-side early in possessions but that’s usually useless motion. More often than not it falls on Brunson’s shoulders the task of breaking down a set defense midway through the shot clock. The junior has posted 24.6% usage-rate and assisted on 30.5% of Villanova’s scores over his 458 minutes this season[4].
  • Brunson does most of his work in middle high pick-and-roll and in isolation off ball reversals but he is also fond of taking his man into the post and backing him down, as Villanova inverts the offense quite a bit thanks to the presence of stretch five Omari Spellman.
  • Defensively, Brunson is strong for someone his height and plays with a lot of toughness. Villanova switches aggressively on all screens in large part because it feels comfortable with its point guard putting up a challenge against bigger players, and so far it hasn’t been disappointed. Having said that, he lacks the athletic ability and elite measurements to be a net positive on that end.
  • Despite his impressive résumé, he wasn’t ranked on ESPN’s top 100 as of December, 12th.

SHOT CREATION

  • Brunson is a very resourceful ball handler. He lacks a quick first step and explosiveness to blow by his man on speed[5] but can get by his man in isolation and generate a good look off the pick-and-roll thanks to a fairly diverse arsenal of dribble moves:
    • In-and-out dribble to shift directions;
    • Stop-and-start quickness;
    • Stop-and-pop pull-ups;
    • Crossover into pull-ups;
    • Hang dribble into pull-ups;
    • Dribble in pull-ups off the ball screen with range out of the college three-point line.
      • 15 of his 34 three-point makes this season have been unassisted[6].
    • Brunson is not one of those genius passers who can anticipate passing lanes a split-second before they come open but he has good court vision and has proven himself a reliable shot creator for others off the bounce, not only able to make a kick-out and a drop-off pass against the defense collapsing to him but also pass across his body to the opposite end of the court.
    • He’s sure handed as well, turning it over on just 8.8% of his possessions this season – which is almost beyond belief for someone with his high usage and assist rates.
    • Brunson uses the strength in his 200-pound frame to take his man into the post in a way you don’t see guards do a whole lot these days and has a combination of power moves and shot fakes that you don’t see in the vast majority of this generation’s big men.

SHOOTING & FINISHING

  • Brunson is not a super dynamic pull-up shooter at the Trae Young-level but has developed into a very good shot maker.
    • He’s nailed 59.3% of his 54 two-point jumpers this season. That sort of efficiency is obviously absurd but it’s not too far off the shooter Brunson truly is, as he nailed 48.5% of his 97 such looks a year ago.
  • Off the ball, he is not yet one of those gunners who can make shots on the move but has proven himself an above average open shot set shooter – nailing 40.6% of his 308 three-point shots over his time at Villanova, including 49.3% of his 69 such shots this season, at a pace of six attempts per 40 minutes.
  • Thanks to his strength maintaining his balance and his momentum forward through contact, Brunson is taking 30.9% of his shots at the rim and averaging 5.5 foul shots per 40 minutes – which are good numbers for someone without elite athleticism like him.
    • He is not an explosive leaper off one foot, doesn’t have much length[7] to over-extend himself around rim protectors and is yet to show much flexibility adjusting his body in the air to finish reverses in traffic but is an ambidextrous finisher with nice touch on speed layups – converting his 55 shots at the basket at a 70.9% clip this season.
  • Brunson ranks second in the country in offensive rating.

DEFENSE

  • He bends his knees to get down in a stance and plays tenacious post defense on the ball – averaging 1.2 steals per 40 minutes this season, but doesn’t use his strength to contain dribble penetration regularly.
  • Brunson looks to go over picks and works his way back to his man well enough to contest elbow jumpers but doesn’t really get skinny navigating the screen to beat his man to the spot with particularly impressive quickness and lacks length to make a real impact contesting these shots.
  • He’s also not very quick chasing opponents around screens on the side of the floor and lacks length to closeout effectively.
  • Brunson is strong enough to pick up bigger players on switches and put up a challenge one-on-one. It’s not any big who will back him down for an easy look within close range. However, he lacks length and leaping ability to make many plays as the last line of defense close to the goal, other than drawing the eventual charge here and there.
  • Brunson is a good rebounder for a point guard – collecting 10.3% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season.
  • He has the second worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players[8].

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to Real GM

[3] DOB: 8/31/1996

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] Which has proven to be an issue when big men have switched onto him, as he’s struggled to burn them for it

[6] According to hoop-math

[7] Six-foot-three wingspan, according to Draft Express

[8] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Quade Green | Collin Sexton | Cassius Winston

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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Mikal Bridges Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Mikal Bridges was only the 82nd-ranked prospect in the 2014 high school class[1].
  • Through 15 games this season, the six-foot-seven wing has averaged 22.6 points per 40 minutes on 62% effective shooting.
  • Bridges has the chance to isolate against his man every once in a while out of ball reversals and sealing his man for a catch in the extended elbow but acts mostly as a spot-up floor-spacer.
    • 45.7% of his shots have come from three-point range and 94.7% of his makes from beyond the arc have been assisted this season[2].
  • On the other end, the red-shirt junior starts possessions as a weak-side defender but Villanova switches aggressively on all screens, so he has had plenty of opportunities to guard different types of players.
  • He was ranked 11th on ESPN’s top 100 as of December, 12th.

VERSATILITY

  • The 21-year-old[3] bends his knees to get down in a stance and has shown very good quickness sliding laterally several times to stay in front in individual defense. He doesn’t use the strength in his 210-pound frame[4] to contain dribble penetration but has a seven-foot wingspan[5] to reach around the opponent and make plays on the ball.
  • Bridges is agile enough to pick up smaller players on switches out on an island and on the move but might not be suited to cross-match onto them for entire possessions. He works to go over picks defending at the point of attack but can’t slide around them cleanly enough to beat his man to the spot, relying on his big teammate to prevent his man from getting downhill or turning the corner right away.
  • Bridges is strong enough to switch onto bigger players who aren’t that physical, as he’s able to hold his ground against these types playing stout post defense and boxing them out. It’s unclear if he is suited to match up with true behemoths and play some center, though.
    • He’s really only an average leaper chasing the ball off the rim – collecting just 13.4% of opponents’ misses over his 2,358 total minutes at Villanova[6].

EXECUTION

  • Bridges is attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme as a weak-side defender, rotating inside to guard two men when Villanova sets up a strong-side zone against side pick-and-rolls and helping crowd the area near the basket against dribble drives.
    • There are times you’d wish Bridges made more attempts to play above the rim as a shot blocker but he’s averaging 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes this season, so I guess that’s nitpicking.
    • He’s also proven himself very willing to draw charges.
    • Bridges uses his length to make plays in the passing lanes as well – averaging 2.5 steals per 40 minutes this season.
  • His closeouts are effective and he’s shown the ability to run the shooter off his shot, stay balanced and slide laterally to keep pace with him off the dribble.
  • He leads the team in defensive rating among rotation players[7].

SHOOTING

  • Bridges is mostly an open shot set shooter at this point of his development but quite a good one from the corners. His release is quicker than it used to be and he is getting the ball out comfortably before the opponent can closeout to him effectively.
    • He’s nailed 45.2% of his 84 three-point attempts this season, at a pace of 7.1 such attempts per 40 minutes.
    • His touch has improved every year: he’s gone from hitting 59 of his 75 foul shots as a freshman through 51 of 56 as a sophomore to 39 of 48 as a junior with half-the-season still to go.
  • Bridges is not yet a shooter capable of working around screens or pulling the trigger off balance but he has flashed some ability to make shots on the move as the trailer in transition, out of roll-and-replace, out of the pick-and-pop and drifting to the corner.
  • Attacking closeouts:
    • He doesn’t have an explosive first step but has long strides to get all the way to the basket on straight line drives and can elevate off one foot strong with some space to take flight, though he is yet to show much flexibility adjusting his body in the air for acrobatic finishes in traffic or a floater to score over length from the in-between area;
      • Bridges has converted his 76 shots at the rim at a 63.2% clip.
    • His one-dribble pull-up looks very fluid at times.

SHOT CREATION

  • He can crossover into pull-ups one-on-one but generally shows a loose handle and struggles against pressure. He can’t blow by his man on speed out of a standstill, hasn’t shown a whole lot of side-to-side shake and isn’t particularly fast with the ball.
  • Bridges can run a side pick-and-roll to keep the offense moving and set up an elbow pull-up against a big dropping back but is yet to develop into a dynamic shooter off the bounce – hitting just 37.5% of his 24 two-point jumpers this season and 33.3% of his 27 such looks a year ago.
  • He is adequate making a drop-off or a kick-out pass on the move against the defense collapsing to his drive but nothing advanced yet in terms of handling against a set defense and making passes across his body to the opposite end of the court – assisting on just 11.5% of Villanova’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to hoop-math

[3] DOB: 8/30/1996

[4] According to Villanova’s official listing

[5] According to Draft Express

[6] According to sports-reference

[7] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Kevin Knox | Hamidou Diallo | Gary Trent, Jr.

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

Brady Manek Scouting Report

CONTEXT

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

SHOOTING

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

OTHER AREAS OF OFFENSE

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

DEFENSE

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

[1] According to sports-reference

[2] According to hoop-math

[3] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Wenyen Gabriel | Mohamed Bamba | Daniel Theis

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

Quade Green Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Quade Green was the 24th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].
  • Through the first 14 games of the season, the six-foot tall point guard has averaged 17.3 points per 40 minutes on 59.8% true shooting and assisted on 24.6% of Kentucky’s scores over his 339 minutes[2].
  • Within Kentucky’s rudimentary offense, the lead guard is tasked with breaking down the defense in challenging conditions. Without a lot of space to get into the lane often, the bulk of Green’s job is to take pull-ups out of the pick-and-roll and in isolation late in the shot clock.
    • As he’s spent some time together with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as well, Green has also gotten some catch-and-shoot looks spacing the floor when the Canadian point guard is running the offense.
  • On the other end, the 19-year-old[3] lacks the physical traits to be an impact player. He puts in decent effort to slide laterally and stay in front but would have to play with crazy tenacity in order to make up for his limitations in terms of size, which is not the case.
  • He was not ranked on ESPN’s top 100 as of December, 12th.

SHOOTING

  • Green is a good shooter off the catch, not just spot-up on the weak-side but also relocating around the perimeter after setting up Kevin Knox running around a pindown screen or PJ Washington in the post.
    • He fully extends himself for as high a release he can get, goes through his mechanics comfortably and quickly enough and has nice touch on his shot.
    • Green has nailed 39.5% of his 38 three-point shots, at a pace of 4.5 such attempts per 40 minutes. He’s also hit 22 of his 27 foul shots.
    • He hasn’t been able to show how much versatility he has in his shot, as Kentucky doesn’t have him running around staggered screens or back-screening in Spain pick-and-rolls.
  • Almost half of his shots come from the mid-range area[4]. Green is not an elite level pull-up shooter but is a legit threat on these stop-and-pop jumpers. Though he struggles operating against length, Green is a savvy ball-handler getting to his spots at the elbow and can hit side-step pull-ups against defenders with a hand in his face.
    • Green has shown a running floater to score over rim protectors from the in-between area.
    • He’s hit his 49 two-point shots away from the basket at a 49% clip.

DRIVING

  • Green doesn’t have an explosive first step or top end speed with the ball but can get his defender off balance with a combination of shiftiness and dribble moves.
    • He keeps the ball in a string, has side-to-side shake to get by his man a fair amount and a euro-step to weave his way through traffic.
  • Green is not an explosive leaper, hasn’t shown much ability to hang or adjust his body in the air and needs to develop his left hand as an asset. Without many resources to score among the trees and a lot of space to go for speed layups, he rarely puts pressure at the rim.
    • Green has taken just 20.9% of his shots at the basket and averaged only 3.2 foul shots per 40 minutes.
  • He is an adequate passer on the move spotting cutters and making a drop-off or a kick-out pass against the defense collapsing to his drive. He has also flashed the ability to make a pass across the court to the opposite end.
    • Green struggles passing over the top, though, as his height compromises his vision and his ability to deliver in traffic. He’s turned it over on almost a fifth of his possessions.

DEFENSE

  • Green can get skinny to go over screens in the pick-and-roll and has decent lateral quickness to stay in front for a few slides in isolation.
  • But he lacks strength in his 184-pound frame to contain dribble penetration and length to contest shots effectively or reach around his man to strip him of the ball.
  • He is a poor defender chasing his man around screens and his closeouts are ineffective.
  • He lacks length and hasn’t shown many instincts making plays in the passing lanes – just three steals in 14 appearances.
  • His contributions on the defensive glass are marginal.
  • Green has the worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players, by a lot[5].

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 5/12/1998

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Trevon Duval | Collin Sexton | Cassius Winston

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

Sacha Killeya-Jones Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Sacha Killeya-Jones was the 24th-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1] but was out of the rotation by the conference part of the schedule – averaging just 6.9 minutes per game in 14 appearances as a freshman.
  • As a sophomore, the six-foot-10 athletic big has been a more prominent part of the team due to Jarred Vanderbilt’s absence – averaging 15.6 minutes per game in his 13 appearances so far.
  • Killeya-Jones gets most of his touches on garbage baskets. 42.1% of his shots at the rim have been putback attempts and 71.4% of his scores within close-range have been assisted[2], though he has gotten a few catch-and-shoot looks out of the pick-and-pop here and there.
    • His 13.3% usage rate attests he’s not a high priority within the offense.
  • On the other end, the 19-year-old[3] has shown to be a more versatile contributor. His mobility and agility for someone his size affords his coach flexibility on how to defend the pick-and-roll and his quickness and leaping ability in help defense have translated into effective rim protection.
    • His defensive box plus-minus ranks second on the team[4].
  • He was ranked 81st on ESPN’s top 100 on December, 12th.

DEFENSE

  • Killeya-Jones has pretty light feet for someone with a 222-pound frame and has proven himself able to defend out in space:
    • Though often flat-footed, he’s coordinated enough to show out to the three-point line against a pull-up threat and backpedal to drop-back after the on-ball defender recovers;
    • He can also pick up smaller players on switches and keep pace with them on straight line drives well enough to use his length contesting shots effectively.
  • Killeya-Jones should be an asset to defend shooting big men on spot-ups and the pick-and-pop but his closeouts are only so-so – promising at times but half-assed at others.
  • As the last line of defense, Killeya-Jones has shown nice attention executing the scheme coming off the weak-side to pick up the roll man and stepping up to the front of the basket against dribble drivers turning the corner or attacking downhill, and he’s been active looking to challenge shots.
    • He’s quick elevating off two feet and has a nine-foot-one standing reach[5] to block shots or contest them effectively via verticality – averaging 2.2 blocks per 40 minutes this season[6].
  • Killeya-Jones struggles with the most physical aspects of the game. Despite his frame, he’s yet to show a lot of toughness or inclination to play with some force.
    • He played surprisingly stout post defense against Duop Reath in a couple of instances in the game against Louisiana State but up until that point has always needed to front the post.
    • He is attentive to his boxout responsibilities but isn’t very effective and can get pushed off his spot – collecting just 12.9% of opponents’ misses over his 203 minutes.

OFFENSE

  • Killeya-Jones is a pretty good finisher around the basket, scoring at a 73.7% clip so far this season:
    • Able to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense;
    • Possessing soft hands to catch the ball on the move and nice touch on non-dunk finishes;
    • Coordinated enough to catch, take a dribble and go up off two feet with pretty good lift.
  • He has a seven-foot-two wingspan[7] to rebound outside his area and a quick second jump fighting for 50-50 balls – collecting 13.9% of Kentucky’s misses when he’s been on the floor this season.
    • He’s not explosive enough gathering and going back up strong in a crowd – finishing his eight putback attempts at a 28.6% clip.
  • Killeya-Jones is not an option to participate in the shot creation process other than screening for the ball.
    • He doesn’t play with enough force trying to set up deep position in the post, always gets pushed away from the rim when he tries backing his man down and hasn’t shown much in terms of working his man out of position with shot fakes, head fakes or spin moves.
    • He is yet to show any ball skills creating off the bounce or facilitating offense for others – six of his seven two-point makes away from the basket were assisted and he’s assisted on just 6.3% of Kentucky’s scores when he’s been in the game.
  • Killeya-Jones has a reasonably fluid release for someone his size on catch-and-shoot jumpers and has even flashed the ability to set his feet quickly popping to a spot in the perimeter after setting a ball-screen. He launches the ball from a high point that could become really tough to contest as he develops more speed in his release and his touch is OK.
    • He’s missed 15 of his 22 mid-range shots and nine of his 18 free throws this season, though.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to hoop-math

[3] DOB: 8/10/1998

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Draft Express

[6] According to sports-reference

[7] According to the measurements at the Kentucky Combine

READ MORE: Wenyen Gabriel | Marvin Bagley, III | Jaren Jackson

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

Kevin Knox Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Kevin Knox, II was the 10th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].

Through the first 14 games of the season, the six-foot-nine big wing has averaged 17.6 points per 40 minutes on 50.6% effective shooting and 22.8% usage-rate[2].

His role on the team is as a shot maker who relies on his teammates and the offense to get him in a position to take good shots, given he hasn’t had the chance to run pick-and-roll or isolate against his man regularly.

Although he does post up a smaller matchup every once in a while, his touches are mostly coming with him spotting up on the weak-side, coming to the ball for dribble hand-offs and curling around pindown screens.

His 15.0 PER is a cause for concern regarding his ability to make a tangible impact in the game other than scoring, though.

His 215-pound frame and six-foot-11 wingspan[3] make him suited to play as a big on smaller lineups but Kentucky rarely plays that way, so Knox has been a wing defender for the most the part.

He’s proven himself agile enough to guard out in space in the perimeter and attentive enough to execute the scheme as a help-defender. But for someone with his physical traits, Knox hasn’t created many events, posting low steal and block rates and grabbing defensive rebounds at an average rate.

He’s ranked 10th in ESPN’s top 100.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] According to Draft Express

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

Wenyen Gabriel Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Wenyen Gabriel was the 14th-ranked prospect in the 2016 high school class[1] but struggled to earn a prominent role in his first year at Kentucky – averaging just 17.7 minutes per game as a freshman.
  • As a sophomore, the six-foot-nine energy big has been a more meaningful contributor – averaging 22.8 minutes per game through his first 14 appearances and finishing a few close games.
  • Gabriel does not participate in the shot creation process, other than setting ball-screens, and Kentucky does not leverage his athleticism enough in terms of setting him up for lob finishes. But he’s managed to carry his weight on offense by spacing the floor out to the three-point line and battling for second chances in the offensive glass.
  • His biggest impact is on the other end. The 20-year-old[2] leverages his length and quickness into creating events making plays in the passing lanes and in help-defense, while also doing well when stressed out in space, offering his coach flexibility on how to defend the pick-and-roll.
    • The native of South Sudan still struggles with the most physical aspects of the game, though.
  • I might be in the minority seeing him as a potential star role player. He’s not ranked on ESPN’s top 100.

DEFENSE

  • Gabriel has excellent agility for someone his size, which makes him an asset to pick up smaller players on switches. He can bend his knees to get down in a stance, slide laterally several times to stay attached stride-for-stride and use his length to effectively contest or intimidate shots at the rim.
  • Gabriel is also quick enough to defend shooting big men in the pick-and-pop, able to cover a lot of ground in a pinch going from preventing the ball handler from turning the corner right away and then closing out effectively to the shooter at the three-point line.
  • He’s been a proactive help-defender coming off the weak-side and can get off the ground in a split-second off one or two feet to protect the basket – averaging 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes[3] this season.
    • He’s also proven himself a willing to draw charges.
  • Gabriel has a six-foot-11 wingspan[4] to clog up passing lanes and reach around to strip the opponent of the ball one-on-one – averaging 1.9 steals per 40 minutes this season.
  • Thanks to the fact he’s created events in volume, Gabriel has the best defensive rating on the team among rotation players[5].
  • He is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and has held his ground in the post competently at times but Gabriel has a thin 205-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-nine height and a lot of room to improve his general toughness.
    • He’s collected just 17.7% of opponents’ misses in his 297 minutes.

OFFENSE

  • Gabriel has a fluid stroke on his catch-and-shoot three-pointer and a reasonably quick release for someone who is not a pure shooter. He is mostly only a capable open shot set shooter at this point of his development but has also flashed the ability to set his feet quickly and take shots out of the pick-and-pop, though his free throw percentage gives you some pause.
    • After hitting 31.7% of his 63 three-point attempts last season, he’s nailed 42.4% of his 33 such shots through the first 14 games this season, at a pace of 4.1 three-point looks per 40 minutes.
    • But he’s only hit 60% of his 80 foul shots through his year-and-a-half at Kentucky, including 56% of his 25 free throws this season.
  • He struggles when forced to put the ball on the floor attacking a closeout, which he does way too much for someone with his combination of loose handle, clumsiness with the ball and lack of core strength maintaining his balance and his momentum forward through contact.
    • He’s turned it over on 16% of his possessions, which is too high for someone with his 14.6% usage rate and 5% assist rate.
  • Kentucky rarely has him diving hard to the basket in the pick-and-roll.
    • Combining this and his inability to get all to the goal off the dribble, he’s taken just 26.4% of his live ball attempts at the rim and four of his 10 makes have been putbacks[6].
  • Gabriel is unable to get a deep seal in the post, even against wings.
  • Opponents can’t just switch smaller players onto him without consequence, though. He plays with a high motor and crashes the offensive glass. Despite taking 45.8% of his shots from three-point range, Gabriel has collected 10% of Kentucky’s misses when he’s been on the floor.
  • He struggles with this touch on non-dunk finishes around length protecting the basket – converting just 52.6% of his 19 shots at the rim.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] DOB: 3/26/1997

[3] According to sports-reference

[4] According to the measurements at the Kentucky Combine

[5] According to sports-reference

[6] According to hoop-math

READ MORE: Marvin Bagley, III | Jaren Jackson, Jr.

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