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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7-footer, Catch&Score Finisher

Tibor Pleiss Scouting Report

Tibor Pleiss has always been an interesting player due to his physical profile. Standing at seven-foot-two and currently listed at 269 pounds, the German center has very decent mobility for his size.

By age 24, that has translated best on his ability to finish out of the pick-and-roll, where he excels at an elite level. Pleiss is a good screener who looks to draw contact and whose large frame makes it difficult for defenders to navigate around his picks. He dives to the basket very fluidly, has soft hands to catch the ball on the move, is able to score through contact and can play above the rim as a target for lobs (25% of his points from the field in the Spanish league were off dunks). Pleiss ranked second in the Euroleague in scoring at the rim, finishing his 125 attempts at a 66.4% clip but while averaging 9.2 points at the basket per 28 minutes played.

His post game is merely average at this point. Pleiss can establish deep position with his back to the basket due to his wide body, move most defenders with the stength in his core and draw fouls at a high rate but is mechanical with his go-to move (a hook over his left shoulder after two dribbles), hasn’t developed passing instincts and has decent but not great touch to finish when forced to do so outside of three feet from the basket. Pleiss shot just 35.2% on 71 attempts away from the rim in 23 Euroleague appearances, though he did hit his 204 free throw attempts in 1,284 total minutes at a very satisfying 83.3% clip.

Pleiss finished 26% of Laboral Kutxa’s possessions with a shot, free throw or turnover – a very high usage rate among centers. That helps explain why he wasn’t a really strong factor on the glass, posting average offensive rebounding rates and ranking outside the top 10 in both leagues. Pleiss is no menace generating second chances but had been more of a presence in previous years. He is a difficult body to box out when he engages to fight for position, can get off the ground despite his size and reach the ball at a higher point than the average center in the European game. Baskonia scored at a higher per possession rate with him on the floor in both leagues.

Because of his mobility, Sergio Scariolo attempted using Pleiss to hedge-and-recover on the pick-and-roll. That didn’t lead to good results against the highest level of competition. Baskonia allowed over 107 points per possessions with him in the game in both leagues. Though he moves more fluidly than expected for his size, Pleiss isn’t particularly comfortable guarding in space, as few big men really are. He is probably best suited for a scheme that has him defending the pick-and-roll flat, limiting the range he is forced to cover and leveraging his size to protect the lane. As a result of being asked to go way high into the perimeter, his defensive rebounding rate also dropped under Scariolo.

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at in-the-game.org, basketball.realgm.com , ACB.com and baloncestostatsacb.es

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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Stretch Big, Tall Passer

Lamont Hamilton Scouting Report

Injuries held Lamont Hamilton to just 665 minutes in 37 appearances and limited effectiveness last season. His shooting numbers were significantly down in comparison to his previous stops at Bizkaia Bilbao Basket and Paris-Levallois but his presence on the floor still impacted Laboral Lutxa’s offense in a substantially positive manner. Baskonia averaged 115.6 points per 100 possessions with Hamilton in the lineup and 111.9 without him in the Spanish league, 110.7 with him in the game and 104.6 when he hit the bench in the Euroleague.

Hamilton is such an impactful player because of the versatility of his skill-set. More athletic than the average center in the European game, he can leap off the ground in a pinch and is also a good screener who looks to draw contact. He is, therefore, a good pick-and-roll player but was held to just six points off dunks, a lousy 53.1% shooting at the rim in the Euroleague and fewer than three free throws per game overall last season; numbers significantly down from his previous campaign with Bilbao (62 points off dunks, 56% two-point shooting in the Eurocup, 3.6 free throws on 24 minutes per game). Injuries, a possible decline in athleticism (he’s 30 years old) and Scariolo’s use of him could be suggested as explanations.

Scariolo utilized him as a floor spacer; freeing the path to the basket for Walter Hodge (then later Alex Refroe), the post for Andres Nocioni to bully smaller defenders and the lane for Tibor Pleiss to dive hard to the rim on pick-and-rolls. He did so because Hamilton is a tremendous asset facing the basket, with advanced ball skills for someone his size. He has great touch to deliver passes to cutters and spot-up shooters, enjoying a good vantage point from the perimeter thanks to his six-foot-10 height. He ranked fifth in the Euroleague and eighth in the Spanish league in assist rate among centers. Hamilton is also a very capable jump-shooter – hitting 37.3% of his 83 three-point attempts, with a solid release but sometimes rushing his motion a bit too much.

Hamilton didn’t get to post up as much as in Bilbao, where he proved himself a quality option (255-pound frame that helps him get good post position, touch to finish around the rim and great passing with his back to the basket) mostly playing with Alex Mumbru and Axel Hervelle, perimeter-oriented combo forwards who freed the interior for him, but was still a high usage player, using over 28% of Baskonia’s plays when he was on the floor. He led the Spanish league in usage rate among centers and ranked third in the Euroleague, posting an above average turnover rate among Europe’s elite but the lowest percentage among position peers in the domestic league. Doing most of his work from the perimeter in Victoria, he was a non-factor on the glass despite his physical profile.

Hamilton was a far less positive presence on defense. He is a functional team defender, whose main contribution is as a help defender off the weakside. Hamilton is both agile and attentive rotating inside to protect the rim. His athleticism fuels him to play above the rim on this end as well, with him ranking in the top seven in block rate in both leagues. But he was lousy defending the pick-and-roll. Scariolo had Baskonia mostly hedging, an outdated strategy only Joakim Noah and Chris Bosh really make it work these days. Hamilton is more mobile than the average center in Europe but isn’t particularly comfortable in space, and nagging injuries limted his speed covering a lot of ground.

He was a poor rebounder, posting below average defensive rebounding rates for a player his position in both leagues and Baskonia allowed considerably fewer second chances with him off the floor. That was uncommon, though, as Hamilton had been excellent crashing the glass the previous two seasons, suggesting it was injury related. His statistical impact on this end was mixed. Laboral Kutxa allowed 105.8 points per 100 possessions in his 232 Euroleague minutes (better than league average) but 114.6 in his 372 Spanish league minutes (a rate that would have ranked them fifth worst in defensive efficiency).

Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at in-the-game.org, basketball.realgm.com , ACB.com and baloncestostatsacb.es

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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