Post Scorer, Shot Creator, Stretch Big

Marvin Bagley III Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Marvin Bagley III announced on Monday that he’s reclassifying to the 2017 high school class and joining the Duke Blue Devils for next season. The six-foot-11 big man might have to wait a little bit before the NCAA rules him eligible, given he made his decision to move on to college really late in the process, but ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tweeted his father is said to have been keeping his documentation diligently in order and everything should work out in the end.

The expectation is for the 18-year-old[1] Bagley to be one-and-done and join what’s already viewed as a highly touted 2018 NBA Draft class, at least at the very top. Givony released his first mock draft on Tuesday and the lefty is ranked second.

At Sierra Canyon, Bagley had plenty of opportunities to create a shot from the post and the team spaced the floor fairly well around him. But though he flashed his ball skills and coordination on a few face-up drives and in transition, he was not given any chance to create from the perimeter against a set defense in the games against Oak Hill Academy and Nathan Hale – which this evaluation is based on.

Bagley was also not put in the pick-and-roll a whole lot in this game, which was disappointing.

Defensively, his energy and intensity were nice to see. He contested a lot of shots near the basket and worked hard on the glass. Bagley also even flashed some intelligence switching on the fly, which Sierra Canyon did a little bit of – a matchup zone of sorts. There’s still room for him to improve as a positional defender, though, rotating preemptively to keep opponents from getting to the basket to begin with.

[1] Who turns 19 only in March

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Pure Shooter

Luke Kennard Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Luke Kennard started the season projected as a 2018 draft prospect on Draft Express and was first ranked in this year’s class in February, rated a late first rounder. Four months later, the six-foot-six sharpshooter is currently ranked 13th on the website’s top 100 and is generally expected to be picked in the lottery.

It’s been quite a rise for Kennard, who didn’t impress a whole lot in his freshman season but showed substantial improvement from the get-go as a sophomore. Duke dealt with a number of injuries earlier in the year and it was Kennard’s breakout as a college basketball star that kept the boat afloat through the non-conference part of Duke’s schedule.

But even as the highly touted Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles III were inserted into the mix and Grayson Allen eventually stabilized towards the latter part of the season, Kennard sustained his elite-level production, despite the ever growing competition for shots on a star-studded team.

He led Duke in scoring, averaging 22 points per 40 minutes on a .630 true shooting percentage despite the fact 81.6% of his live ball attempts were taken away from the basket, anchoring an offense that ranked sixth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Yet, Kennard has a really long path to stardom at the pro level. He’s not a special athlete, struggles to make an impact on defense and has not shown dexterity for creating shots against a set defense. Without some unforeseen development in athletic ability or creativity, he will need to translate his elite-level shot making or perhaps even improve on it in the pros to justify how high he’ll be drafted.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Post Scorer, Shot Creator

Jayson Tatum Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Jayson Tatum had somewhat of an up and down season in his one year at Duke.

The six-foot-eight combo forward started the season injured, missing the first couple of months with a foot strain, but Duke managed to survive his absence just fine thanks to Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen fueling a furious drive-and-kick attack.

When he returned, Tatum had some trouble fitting into that identity and played primarily as a pure post up scorer in his first few games back, acting mostly outside the ecosystem on slower-developing plays.

As the season went on, Duke incorporated Tatum into its drive-and-kick sequences a bit more but it never quite looked as good as it did when Kennard and Allen were leading the charge earlier in the year, which was crucial in order to make up for its problems on other end. Consequently, the team lost four of its first seven conference games.

Nonetheless, as Allen dealt with his unsportsmanlike conduct suspension and had his role within the team diminished as the season winded down, Duke evolved into a team who still ran plenty of motion but looked to get Tatum the ball in his spots even more regularly and he led the team in usage rate during conference play.

As Tatum got healthier and got going, averaging 19.2 points per 40 minutes against ACC competition, Duke righted the ship, eventually finishing the season with 11 wins in 18 conference games and winning the conference tournament in Brooklyn.

Duke went down in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, losing to eventual Final Four participant South Carolina, but Tatum did his part, finishing that game with 15 points on 12 shots in 34 minutes.

Overall, he impressed last season and solidified his status as a top five prospect, as Draft Express currently ranks him fourth in its top 100.

However, Tatum didn’t show a lot of improvement in terms of playing in more of a team-oriented manner. And considering he played on a team with a good deal of talent around him and within a well-structured offense that emphasized the sort of ball movement and people movement that the NBA is looking for these days, the fact that Tatum didn’t prove to be a natural fit is a cause for concern.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Shot Creator

Jayson Tatum Scouting Report

Tatum started the season injured and was a bit underwhelming in his first couple of months back, as a part of a Duke team that lost four of its first seven ACC games. But as Duke righted the ship, subsequently going on a seven-game winning streak and finishing the season with 11 wins in 18 conference games, Tatum went back to looking like a top five pick.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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3D Point Guard, Shot Creator

Frank Jackson Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Frank Jackson was not expected to have a meaningful role right away. But injuries to Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Marques Bolden created a vacancy in the rotation through most of Duke’s non-conference schedule. And in the absence of the higher profile freshmen and the team’s top returning player for a game or two, the 18-year-old point guard (who turns 19 in May) played fairly well in a small role off the bench.

Jackson has not been given enough opportunity to show he might be more than just a minutes-eater and because of that, it seems unlikely he would declare for this year’s draft already. Draft Express currently ranks him 62nd in its top 100. But by producing ahead of expectations, on a team contending for the national championship, Jackson has proven he’s someone worth keeping track of moving forward.

OFFENSE

Jackson does not get downhill running middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense regularly but he’s flashed a very appealing skill-set operating around ball-screens on more than a few instances late in the shot block. He’s shown pretty good feel for reading the defenders involved in the two-man game in terms of whether using or declining the ball-screen creates him the best advantage.

Jackson has an explosive first step and can turn the corner, though he’s yet to show if he can play with pace on slower developing pick-and-rolls.

Jackson has also not shown to be a particularly prolific passer on the move at this point of his development – posting an unimpressive 10.8% assist-rate, according to basketball-reference – but has flashed some ability to make a bounce pass in a tight window to a big diving down the lane and make a pass across his body to the opposite end of the court.

Despite not being very explosive elevating out of one foot in traffic, he’s proven himself to be a legit scoring threat within close range – taking more than a third of his attempts at the rim and converting them at a 68.3% clip, according to hoop-math. That said, he’s yet to develop some craft using his six-foot-four, 208-pound frame to draw more contact, as he’s earned just 3.4 fouls shots per 40 minutes so far.

Jackson still needs to develop a pull-up jump-shot as well, to prevent defenders from going under screens regularly against him, as he’s missed 20 of his 29 mid-range shots this season.

In isolation, Jackson can use his explosiveness to get by his man on speed and has a crossover to shake him side-to-side as well. And there are no complaints about his handle, as he’s averaged fewer than two turnovers per 40 minutes.

This is all very encouraging for the future, though. In the present, Jackson’s role is as a weak-side floor spacer or an attacker on catch-and-go’s off dribble-handoffs, posting only a 20.6% usage rate.

43.7% of his attempts have come from long range, almost all of them of the catch-and-shoot variety, as 19 of his 22 three-point makes have been assisted. He’s nailed 40% of his 55 such shots. His release is getting quicker as the season progresses and he’s improving on the details, flashing the ability to escape a closeout and hit one-dribble pull-ups.

But Jackson is only an open-shot shooter at this point of his development, not yet showing anything in terms of dynamism coming off staggered screens or sprinting to the ball and launching stop-and-pop long bombs off dribble-handoffs like Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard often do, let alone take pull-up three-pointers off the pick-and-roll.

DEFENSE

His shooting has been a pleasant surprise but what has earned the confidence of the coaching staff so soon is his individual defense.

He has an advanced physical profile for someone his age but matches his athletic gifts with discipline and effort. Jackson has lateral quickness to stay in front and uses his body to contain dribble penetration through contact in isolation.

Due to Matt Jones’ presence and the nature of Duke’s switching defense, I did not notice Jackson navigating ball-screens a whole lot but he projects as an asset in these instances as well. His six-foot-six wingspan is a weakness for him as a wing defender but becomes a strength for him against smaller players, allowing him to contest shots and deflect passes tracking dribble drivers from behind.

As a weak-side defender, he works hard to closeout and stay in front and is attentive to his help responsibilities rotating inside to crowd the area close to the basket. That said, his tangible contributions through blocks, steals and defensive rebounds are marginal at best, which helps explain why he ranks last on the team among rotation players in defensive rating.

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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Catch&Score Finisher, Post Scorer

Harry Giles III Scouting Report

CONTEXT

The title of this post is misleading. It would be extremely unfair to fully evaluate Harry Giles at this point.

After missing the first 11 games of the season with yet another surgical procedure in one of his knees (this one considered minor), he has logged just 40 minutes so far.

That said, 30 of those came over his last two appearances, against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and a little bit clearer a picture has started to materialize the longer he stayed on the court, at least with regards to which areas of his game have been affected by the time he’s missed in recovery.

For reference, take a minute to read what Giles looked like prior to his arrival at Duke. Draft Express currently ranks him 12th in its top 100.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

From an athletic-standpoint, Giles does not look to have been severely impacted by his injuries up until this point.

He’s not gotten stiffer, proving himself able to bend his knees to get low in a stance, guarding both on and off the ball.

Giles has also shown no struggle sprinting up and down the court and he continues to move quite fluidly reacting in half-court defense, showcasing his mobility helping-and-recovering in pick-and-roll coverage and coming off the weak-side in help-defense.

And he’s back bouncing off the ground with extreme ease, displaying his impressive leaping ability controlling the glass. Giles still hasn’t developed a lot of core strength despite his 240-pound frame and can get pushed around at times but plays with a ton of energy tracking the ball off the rim and has a nine-foot-one standing reach to high-point it, collecting 26.1% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor so far this season – according to basketball-reference.

On the other end, Giles hustles for boards with as much intensity and has a seven-foot-three wingspan to rebound outside of his area. He’s collected 34.7% of Duke’s misses when he’s been on the floor, a number that will regress but that should remain above average and will make him a huge asset to what already is a really good offense. More impressively, perhaps, is the fact that his second-jump is also back this quickly, though he’s converted just 16.7% of his putback attempts (per hoop-math) due to his touch on non-dunk finishes.

His vertical explosion is the one asset of his athletic profile that doesn’t appear to be totally back yet. Granted, Duke has yet to throw him proper lobs up high in the third floor, though Giles has proven he can get up in a pinch and adjust his body in the air in the couple of instances when a guard tried to connect with him but didn’t lob it up well enough.

But on the other end, Giles is yet to use his athleticism to make plays at the basket. He is making his rotations but looks rusty with the details of rim protection, at one time in the game against Virginia Tech failing to put his body in between the opponent and the basket. Giles was not a volume shot blocker in the previous level but the fact he is yet to block a shot in his 40 minutes on the court is a bit of a head-scratcher. And he’s fouling a ton, currently averaging seven personal fouls per 40 minutes.

SKILL LEVEL

Giles has struggled with his skill level in his immediate return to the court.

Duke does not play a pick-and-roll heavy offense, so it hasn’t provided him many opportunities to dive down the lane with momentum and get some easy baskets that way. What it’s done instead is force feed him in the low post – he’s posted a 27.6% usage rate in his 40 minutes of playing time – and the results have not been great because he’s clearly still working his way back.

Giles has gotten decent enough seals in the mid-post and goes to work on getting his preferred right-handed hook over the defender’s left shoulder, as he’s yet to show a power move or a fade-away jumper. His footwork is quite fluid and he’s flashed a bit of a hesitation move on the turnaround to freeze his defender but his touch has been so-so, as it’s also been the case on non-dunk finishes near the basket. Giles has missed 14 of 21 shots so far, all of them within close range on layup, dunk or hook attempts, and he’s earned just two foul shots so far.

He had a really nice pass out of the low post in the Georgia Tech to Jayson Tatum but has just two assists in his four appearances, mostly because no opponent has feared him enough yet to double team him. Giles has also not been used helping facilitate offense from the high post.

He was a capable outside shot maker in AAU ball, even flirting with three-point attempts, but has been hesitant to take jumpers so far. There were a few times where he’s caught the ball with time and space to launch them and looked at the basket as if he was thinking about doing it but then passed it up to a guard. He is also yet to dribble drive from the perimeter, something he flashed the ability to do in AAU, when they even flirted with setting ball-screens for him.

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 Point Guard, Pure Shooter

Matt Jones Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Matt Jones has struggled this season. With several of the marquee freshmen missing time due to injury early in the season, the veterans were asked to step up. Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson did but Jones didn’t manage to do so, failing to show significant development to his skill-set.

Grayson Allen had a hard time running point early last season and Derryck Thornton and Frank Jackson were considered not ready to assume such a role right away, so the coaching staff tasked Jones with being the caretaker at that position for about a year now[1].

And in that role as a 3D point guard who supplements wingmen with heavy usages, Jones has shown some potential of maybe making to the NBA as one of those undrafted free agents[2] coaches fall in love with in training camp.

As a pure wing, his physical profile is unimpressive and his skill level isn’t much. He has decent size for the position but his combination of below average length and athleticism make it hard to imagine him becoming any more than a zero defender[3] at best and his playing would be entirely dependent on his three-point shot.

As a big six-foot-five point guard, even as one who isn’t tasked with creating against a set defense on a consistent basis, Jones needs to become a more viable threat running pick-and-roll. Given the nature of Duke’s offense, the fact they rarely put him in that position probably speaks to his lack of improvement in this area but it’s mostly unclear if he could do it. His defense on smaller players is the reason why Jones might be worth a longer look, though.

GUARDING SMALLER PLAYERS

Jones is 22 years old and age difference is always something to be aware of regarding college players. He is more physically developed than most of the guys he plays against but given he’s often matched up on generally quicker types, I think what Jones has shown defending smaller players[4] should earn him at least a reasonable chance of proving it against a higher level of competition.

To begin with, if his man gives the ball up before getting it back later in the possession rather than just bring it up the court, Jones stays on a stance in the weak-side and works hard in ball denial.

Against the pick-and-roll, he’s proven able to navigate over screens and beat his man to the spot. When they get downhill, Jones’ six-foot-seven wingspan is more of an asset contesting shots and deflecting passes tracking them from behind.

In individual defense, has also showcased adequate lateral quickness to stay in front, strength (210-pound frame) to contain dribble penetration through contact and reach to pick pockets – averaging 2.2 steals per 40 minutes so far this season, according to basketball-reference.

Defending smaller players on the ball is where Jones’ total value lies on this end because as a weak-side defender, he lacks athleticism to make an impact. Jones is disciplined, looking to run spot-up shooters off the three-point line on closeouts and making rotations to draw a few charges, but lacks vertical explosion to make plays at the rim in help defense, with marginal contributions through blocks and defensive rebounds.

WEAK-SIDE OFFENSE

His offense is what’s expected to hold him short of the NBA, though.

His only real method of contributing is via the three-point shot, as 57% of his attempts have been three-pointers over the last two-and-a-half years. He’s struggled in 2016-2017, hitting only 32.9% of his 70 tries from beyond the arc, but nailed 40% of his 292 such looks the previous two seasons.

Jones has only shown to be the sort of spot-up gunner who can only add gravity away from the ball, though, and not the most valuable type who can sprint to the ball on dribble hand-offs or come off staggered screens. His release is not that dynamic and he lets it go from a low point, meaning he’s mostly an open-shot shooter.

Jones can escape a closeout and launch one-, two-dribble pull-ups or a decent-looking floater. He’s not particularly great at those but has posted credible percentages; hitting 40% of his two-point jumpers this season and 37.2% over the previous two – according to hoop-math.

Jones can make simple reads on the move and identify shooters spot-up on the strong-side or big men at the dunker’s spot when he sucks in the defense but has never shown much in terms of making passes across his body to the opposite end of the court or lobbying in traffic to big men diving to the basket, assisting on just 10.5% of Duke’s scores when he’s been on the floor.

Jones is not any sort of a threat to get all the way to the basket and score against rim protectors, though. He lacks vertical explosion elevating out of one foot in a crowd, can’t hang or adjust his body in the air and doesn’t have enough length for reverses or extended finishes. Jones has shot 50% at the basket this season, after converting just 39.7% of such looks last season and 51.7% the season before. After earning fewer than two foul shots per 40 minutes over the last two seasons, that number is even worse (0.9) in this one.

[1] Up until last night’s game, when he was benched in order for Duke to return to a two-big look with Harry Giles in the starting lineup

[2] Draft Express does not rank him anywhere in its 2017 board

[3] Doesn’t hurt but doesn’t help

[4] Which he’s done a lot more this season

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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