7-footer, Catch&Score Finisher, Post Scorer, Stretch Big

Zach Collins Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Zach Collins was a McDonald’s All American last year but he was, for the most part, an unknown commodity entering the season as far as draft prospects are concerned.

Rivals ranked him 21st in the 2016 high school class and there wasn’t a lot of expectation the seven-footer would get a prominent role right away at Gonzaga, with stalwart Przemek Karnowski returning for a fifth year of eligibility and highly touted transfer Johnathan Williams becoming available after sitting out a year.

He was even expected to face some competition for the third big spot in the rotation, with Killian Tillie and Rui Hachimura – two players who have impressed in FIBA junior events – also joining the program.

But Collins did break out immediately and while his playing time was still limited (just 17.3 minutes per game) due to the two veterans ahead of him in the pecking order and his constant foul trouble, the 19-year-old showed enough promise in his one year of college basketball to end up ranked 12th in Draft Express’ top 100.

Collins is certainly talented but he was also fortunate to join a team that put him in the best possible position to succeed. In a time where post play is getting increasingly devalued by the day, Gonzaga got a quarter of its shots coming out of the low block – as well chronicled by Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn.

With his 232 pounds well distributed over his seven-foot frame, Collins has an advanced physical profile for someone his age and was able to earn good position with his back to the basket from the get-go, though just as important was the fact that Gonzaga was a team run by veteran guards – with Jordan Matthews, Silas Melson, Josh Perkins and Nigel Williams-Goss entering the season with a combined 271 games of college basketball experience under their belts.

Collins did well demanding the ball but those ball-handlers did just as well getting it to him and that system empowered him – as he posted a 24.9% usage rate.

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Catch&Score Finisher, Post Scorer

Domantas Sabonis Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

Differently than Poeltl, there are very few concerns over Sabonis’ toughness.

He’s proven able to get physical boxing out bigger players to protect the defensive glass, collecting 29.3% of opponents’ misses last season – according to our stats database.

He’s also well-coordinated for someone his size, able to move fluidly in space.

His six-foot-10 wingspan is below average in the context of his six-foot-10 height and he can’t play above the rim as a shot blocker, blocking just 43 shots in his 74 appearances at Gonzaga, but figures to add value in pick-and-roll defense via switch-ability. Sabonis is agile enough to exchange into smaller players; able to keep pace on straight line drives and containing dribble penetration through contact.

But other than rebounding (he collected 13% of Gonzaga’s misses in his college career), there’s a lot of doubt over how Sabonis can make an impact in a half-court offense.

He was a pretty good post scorer in college but mostly based on bullying opponents, which is unlikely carry to the pro level, lacking the sort of dynamism that would command him post touches in that league.

Sabonis has good hands to catch the ball on the move and nice touch on non-dunk finishes but can’t play above the rim as a constant target for lobs against a set defense, meaning he’ll probably be just a so-so scorer in the pick-and-roll.

He’ll probably need to develop into a skilled big to make a significant contribution, which is not off the ball as he’s proven able to go from the top of the key to the rim off the dribble when he catches the opponent napping, exhibited nifty passing skills from time to time and flashed the ability to hit open catch-and-shoots from the outside.

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, Undersized Big

Domantas Sabonis Scouting Report

(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)

It was always a possibility Domantas Sabonis would go to college in the United States, since he declined to earn a salary in Spain specifically in order to maintain his eligibility. But it was nonetheless surprising when the son of the great Lithuanian legend confirmed he would be joining the Gonzaga Bulldogs for next season, after he was just given 521 minutes of quality pro level experience with Unicaja Malaga in the Spanish league and the Euroleague at age 17. In an interview with FIBA’s YouTube channel, he revealed the option to play for Mark Few’s coaching staff was made with the intention to work on his individual skill-set.

But before moving to Spokane, Sabonis led the Lithuanian national team to a seventh-place finish in the FIBA European championships U18, which ended on Sunday. And he was dominant in the aspects you would expect someone who already played against grown men to be against teenagers. Listed at six-foot-eight and 215 pounds, Sabonis was an elite athlete for this level of competition, which translated best in transition, in the post and on the glass.

He was able to establish deep position on the block due his quickness navigating the baseline in order to set up on the opposite side of where he was when the play began and also due to his core strength on straight post ups with his back to the basket. Sabonis displayed very good footwork and decent touch to score at rim level but struggled against Croatia and Serbia, two teams with elite size, which lowered his efficiency at the rim to an underwhelming 61.4% on 57 attempts. He strongly favored finishing with his left hand; hooking over his left shoulder or laying it in when he turned left and throwing a little push-up shot when he opted to go right.

Sabonis drew fouls at a very high rate, averaging 5.4 per 28 minutes, but didn’t materialize it into a real significant plus for Lithuania’s scoring as he made just 23 of his 40 free throws. Though left-handed, he shoots his free throws with his right hand. He impressed with his passing, especially out of the low post to the weak side, and averaged 3.6 assists per 28 minutes, which was well above average among positional peers. He was a really impactful force on the glass thanks to his general activity and edge in athleticism against the average competition, averaging three offensive rebounds per 28 minutes, which ranked sixth in the tournament.

Sabonis looked great in the open court, sprinting very fluidly, and even flashed the ability to lead the break. On the pick-and-roll, he was a good screener who looked to draw contact and showed good hands to catch the ball on the move but didn’t really play above the rim. Sabonis proved himself a good face-up driver at this level, with long strides attacking from the perimeter and looking to dribble the ball low in traffic. But he struggled with his handle and passing on the move, turning it over 3.2 times per 28 minutes, with those two aspects accounting for 16 of his 29 giveaways in the play-by-play data.

His jump-shot was a legit weapon against the soft defense played at this level. Sabonis gets very little elevation and has a slow release but hit a high rate when left open. Like most left handed shooters, he doesn’t angle his body straight towards the basket but rather on a 45 degree angle. He hit 47% of his 49 jump-shots, including four of 10 from three-point range.
His core strength translated into tough post defense, even against players with bigger frames such as Marko Arapovic. And he dominated the glass on that end as well, leading the tournament with nine rebounds per 28 minutes. But Sabonis wasn’t a particularly impactful player on defense. He flashed his athleticism on a few blocks and playing the passing lanes to manufacture turnovers but was unable to anchor the talent around him into an above average unit, as Lithuania allowed the sixth most points in the 16-nation tournament.

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

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