Tag Archives: Duke

Scouting Report: RJ Barrett (Rank 8, Tier 3)

Scouting Report:

RJ Barrett (Rank 8, Tier 3)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

6’7/6’10 wingspan/202 pounds/19 years/FR

I guess I have some explaining to do.  Typically every year there’s at least one overhyped prospect and my choice this draft is RJ Barrett.  I understand that he might not have been in the best situation at Duke since they didn’t have much shooting so let’s just focus on the facts.  Barrett shot 30.8% from three, 66.5% from the free throw line and excluding post-ups 52.2% around the basket.  He wasn’t a particularly good off-ball player posting a .952 points per possession on all catch-and-shoot chances which ranked 41st percentile, .689 points per possession on “off-screen” situations which ranked 22nd percentile and .949 points per possession on all “cut” plays which ranked 24th percentile.  So he wasn’t a good shooter, has questionable touch and can’t do much off ball?  Basically he better be the primary creator on whatever team he goes to because if not I question what role he’s going to play.  I guess either people are just hoping for substantial improvement or they really think the Duke situation was that bad.

So let’s go over the tape.  One of Barrett’s skills are his playmaking ability.  He uses his height to look over the defense and toss skip, pocket and over the top passes around the floor.  He’s pretty solid at the two-man game between ball handler and roll man.  Though I wouldn’t call him a primary ball handler but more of a tertiary ball handler due to his average feel and problems with misdiagnosing plays.  He’s decent at live-dribble but he’s not really a shifty ball handler.  He can use euro steps, cross steps and behind the back dribble drive moves but make no mistake Barrett is a power driver. He has long, strong strides on his drive and can dip his shoulder into the defender to dislodge for space.  His hips aren’t that fluid and he tends to straight line drive in the paint with his left hand.  A lot of times on layups he would switch the ball from right to left hand while midair wasting motion in this manner.  I guess he doesn’t trust his right hand all that much yet but that will be a problem if not remedied.

On defense he’s a decent on-ball defender, a questionable team defender and below average at defensive creation.  He’s best when on-ball locked in, sitting down in his stance and remaining balanced. He’s listed at 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan and a good not great athlete.  That physical profile helps him well defending dribble drive moves. Although at times his positioning and footwork would be off giving Barrett a tough time to adjust on the fly.  He can make initial rotations weak side and help defense but struggles to process the next move.  He’s slow to identify his man off a scramble, will lazily fly by for closeouts at times and get lost looking for his matchup while defending early offense.  He has average instincts on defense and isn’t much for creating events.  He averaged 1.5 blocks+steals per 40 minutes.  Not impressive numbers for an NBA wing.

One of the reasons why I like Jarrett Culver so much is growth potential.  If you look at his high school senior season, freshman season and this past season he grew exponentially.  If you look at Barrett since the FIBA U19 World Cup in 2017 how much has he grown since then?  He’s pretty much the same player while Culver was the 43rd ranked shooting guard in ESPN’s 2017 class and now he’s a possible top five pick.  I just think this is who Barrett is. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that but I just think at pick three you want more growth potential.  I mean he’s still in my top 10 so it’s not like I’m going overboard with criticism…I think.

* All stats provided by Synergy Sports Tech and Hoop-Math*

Scouting Report: Zion Williamson (Rank: 1, Tier: 1)

Scouting Report:

Zion Williamson (Rank: 1, Tier: 1)

6’7/6’10 wingspan/280 pounds/18.9 years/FR

 

Who else would be number one on my prospect rankings?  No offense to every other player in this draft but it isn’t even close.  Could Zion stand to lose a few pounds?  Sure.  Does he need to get in better shape?  No doubt.  Do I wish he had a longer wingspan and standing reach?  Who doesn’t.  But in terms of physical profile Zion isn’t just elite, he’s generational.  It’s his body control on rim attacks, his coordination on vertical hops, his fluidity off his back foot, his delicate footwork and his ability to catch, gather and accelerate in little wasted motion.  No man should be able to do what Zion does at his weight.  A lot of players have busted out of the league with elite athleticism.  They didn’t know how to harness it into basketball related activities.  Zion takes his elite athleticism and turns it into functional basketball movement.  He moves on a string inside the courts dimensions.  It’s one thing to be athletic, it’s another to couple that with skill.

One of the major points of contention about Zion is his long distance shooting.  He shot 33.8% from three for the season which isn’t terrible but his 64% free throw percentage didn’t do him any favors in terms of future predictors of success.  On all jump shot attempts Zion sported a .925 points per possession which ranked 52nd percentile and .966 points per possession on all catch-and-shoot opportunities which ranked 44th percentile.  Mechanically speaking his release is really flat and it doesn’t get much air underneath the ball.  He needs more extension on his follow thru and the shot to be released at it’s apex point.  Luckily, Zion possesses good touch around the rim.  His FG% at the rim was 79.2% and considering that 72% of his shot attempts came at the rim that’s great touch.  He also made 47.1% of his two point jumpers.  Some of those were movement two point jumpers off fallaways, fadeaways or while drawing fouls.  He was also capable of making pull-up threes off the 1-2 step or hitting step-back threes.  It isn’t a guarantee that Zion becomes a proficient three point shooter at the next level but considering his solid touch, two point percentage and difficult shot making ability, those pluses lead me to believe that it’s totally conceivable for Zion to become an above average shooter at the next level.  

Even if Zion becomes an average three point shooter, the overall skill that Zion possesses is still very advanced for someone his age.  While he can be too reliant on left hand finishes or left side drives, he has shown the capability to drive off the right side or with the right hand.  It’s the frequency of right handed attempts that Zion needs to increase.  He has displayed change-of-direction, change-of-speed, shifty moves on his drives with either hand.  He makes sharp, fluid dribble drive moves off the bounce using a cross move, between the legs or going behind his back, changing his driving angle, jump stop and finish through traffic.  The amount of wiggle the man has for a player that size is pretty remarkable.

I’ve seen him drive into the three defenders waiting for him in the paint, miss the shot, get his own rebound and finish off the play.  Saying that Zion absorbs contact in the lane is an understatement. Even though he has less than impressive wingspan, around the basket Zion still fits the shot over longer players, puts solid zip on the ball and contorts his body with great control to finish verses length.  Zion can leap off his left or right foot with solid coordination but too often does he rely on his two foot leaping ability.  Being more versatile around the rim would help throw off defenders trying to contest his shot rhythm.  He can also be more careful on how he lands after vertical leaps.  Too often did I see him land on one foot after a monster slam which made me fear a torn muscle.  To avoid injury he needs to start landing on two foot with more regularity to evenly disperse his weight throughout his lower body.

Zion is an underrated playmaker.  He can create off pick-and-roll, closeout or live-dribble.  Zion will read all levels of the defense and can promptly find corner cutters, roll-men or weak side shooters.  He obviously isn’t perfect at shot creation and will be out of control at times.  Zion has the IQ to be a high quality playmaker but needs to let the play breathe before he can take action.  He didn’t have much space or shooting at Duke so that improvement at the next level will surely balance his shot creation skills some.  I don’t know how often Zion will be stationed in the post in the NBA but he will fight for his spots on the court.  If you give up his preferred post position call it a wrap.  He draws fouls too easily at that point.  It’s tough to stop Zion in the paint after a post feed with his momentum and touch.

On defense Zion graded mostly positive.  Like all young players though he did show his lapses on team defense.  He sometimes will sink too far down on defense when he should be pressing the shooters on the perimeter or checking one man over but instead he gears up for block.  Don’t get me wrong he’s an excellent weak side shot blocker.  He has a fantastic second jump on blocks, quicker than most players one jump.  The amount of space he covers in a short period of time is elite.  He can be sitting under the basket, take two long strides and be in position to block a shot above the break.  He takes powerful but nimble strides on his closeouts.  He can make up for mistakes in a hurry with how quick he covers space; sometimes relying on his athleticism too often in the process.  But in certain instances he does stick to the perimeter when he should be tagging the roll-man or helping the helper.  He was still overall a good team defender playing the game low and making reads on the ball.  He could jump a pass for the steal or choke the action off-ball stalling the play.  As an on-ball defender Zion could possess the ever elusive switchable skill factor.  His hips are on a swivel, changing direction to stay attached to quicker guards.  He does a nice job kick sliding back with his man on dribble penetration making sure he doesn’t double step.  He will use his off-arm staying attached to his man on an attack to alter driving angles but at times can be too touchy drawing checking fouls.  

Not a lot needs to be said about Zion.  I probably wrote too much as is.  Zion is a generational talent at a time where the league benefits from the skill set that Zion owns.  There’s been some comparison to Lebron: a two-way, big wing scorer with playmaking ability.  That class belongs to players like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.  The best of the best.  Those are lofty comparisons that I won’t make. Instead I could see Zion in the mold of Blake Griffin meets Draymond Green.  The physical profile, offensive skill set and athletic gifts of Blake while having the IQ and defensive prowess of a Draymond Green.  Hopefully New Orleans does right by Zion and surround him with enough shooting, versatility and ball handling to succeed.  I could easily see New Orleans screw that up though and waste another superstar players talents.  For the sake of the league I hope I’m wrong.

*All stats provided by Synergy Sports Tech*

Pre NBA Draft Combine Thoughts

With the NBA playoffs currently underway a lot of people forget that the draft combine is this week.  I’m always interested to see who attends the combine since not everyone needs to help their draft stock.  Top five draft prospects like Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum aren’t participating but Markelle Fultz and De’Aaron Fox are.  I’m really not interested in watching the high lottery players anyways since I already know so much about them; I just want to know their measurements.

The players I’m looking forward to are the players I haven’t seen much tape on.  There are so many players who can jump into the first round off a good performance at the combine.  Pascal Siakam is a good example of a player who was projected to go late second round, had an excellent performance at the combine, and was drafted 27th overall by the Raptors last year.  The combine gives a good indication on how some players translate to pro-ball during the 5-on-5 drills.  The measurements are a nice tool to see a player’s length and athleticism but the drills are where the coaches can see how skilled the prospects actually are.

 After the combine is over I’m going to give a thorough breakdown on some players who helped their stock, hurt their stock and who should return to school.  There are a few who just come to the combine so they can get a scouting report about their weaknesses and return to school to fix them.  Justin Jackson from North Carolina is a perfect example from last year.  Jackson might’ve been drafted late second round last year but since he came back and improved his shooting, defense, and handle, he potentially may be a lottery selection this year.

I’m going to go through a list of 5 players who I’m interested to see:

 

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky, FR

Who?  You got that right.  Diallo enrolled at Kentucky this past January and was preparing to be a redshirt freshman for the 2017-2018 season.  Since Diallo will be one year removed from his graduation he is eligible for the 2017 draft.  He hasn’t hired an agent so the door of returning is open.

Diallo is 6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan, super athletic, can’t shoot, solid finisher, strong hand dominant, a straight line driver and needs to work on his defensive fundamentals.  Drafting Diallo will be based off the “upside” in him since he’s a long athlete who can play multiple positions that doesn’t have any tape to judge properly.  It appears as if he’s going to skip the 5-on-5 drills and only do the measurements.

He is projected to go early second in most mock drafts.  Some mock drafts are optimistic and have him going late first.  Since we don’t have much tape on him it’s a shame he won’t take part in the 5-on-5 drills.  Nevertheless, if his measurements come back strong, he could be a top 20 pick.

 

OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana, SO

Before Anunoby hurt his knee in January and was out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL he was projected to be a lottery pick by most sites I saw.  Now, after his recovery, he is slotted to go anywhere between 10 and 30.  Scouts and GMs are going to want to know his medicals.  If they come back clean then that’s the first step in the right direction.

Maybe the biggest anticipation of the draft is Anunoby’s wingspan.  There is no record anywhere stating his wingspan but it is said to be rumored that Anunoby has a wingspan of 7’6.  If he measures anywhere near that number and his knee comes back clean he could catapult back into the top 10.

Anunoby is known for his defense.  He can switch onto almost any player, has a strong base and quick feet.  His offensive game needs work.  His handle is solid, his shot is inconsistent and his attack of the bounce game is rudimentary.  Still, if he measures in at 6’8 with a 7’6 wingspan the Kawhi Leonard comparisons will be flying around all month long.

 

John Collins, PF/C, Wake Forest, SO

Collins was an offensive juggernaut for the demon deacons.  His per 40 numbers are 28.8 ppg and 14.8 rpg, that’s amazing.  He isn’t a post-up player but has some post moves.  He really is more of a face up player that can take his man off the dribble and use his skill and athletic ability to maneuver around the rim.  His mid-range jump shot should translate to the next level and in time he will learn to take a step back for three point spacing.

Yes, Collins had incredible production on the offensive end.  But his measurements are a big issue.  He has scrawny legs, a lean body, little strength, tiny hands and a short wingspan.  The scouts will be keeping a close eye on his measurements.  In today’s small-ball fast paced NBA Collins is more of a Center.  He can play PF at times but that’s matchup dependent.  So he needs to put on weight and pray his wingspan is better than his last recorded measurement at 6’10.  

His defense was up and down all year.  He has the ability to switch and could be a good pick-and-roll defender but when it comes to guarding in the post he doesn’t have much leverage.  The number one thing I will be looking at are his measurements.  

 

Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide (Australia,) 19yr old

Ferguson took the Brandon Jennings route.  He decommitted from Arizona and decided to play ball overseas for one year.  The last time we saw him was at the NIKE Hoop Summit where he made seven threes and showed off his 3-and-D capabilities.

He measures in at 6’7 with a 6’9.5 wingspan, good athlete and good overall size.  It’s always tough looking at the numbers of an 18 year old who plays overseas because the numbers aren’t very impressive.  Australia has a pretty competitive basketball league with a bunch of 30-something professionals.  So for Ferguson to get 15 minutes of playing time in the game is actually a good sign.  His three point percentage was disappointing at 32% but from what I saw it looked like he turned himself into a more consistent defender and a better ball handler.

From the little game tape I saw of him he actually looked like he made good strides in becoming a good all around player.  If he decides to play in the 5-on-5 drills the scouts and GMs will keep one eye fixated on him.

 

Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke, FR

Once upon a time Giles was a top three projected pick.  After a couple of knee surgeries and an up and down freshmen year at Duke he has slide back into the end of the first round.  I think we all know his upside; he’s 6’11 with a 7’3 wingspan, strong build and really athletic.  He has a decent jump shot, plays perimeter defense laterally, rebounds well and has tremendous versatility.

The negatives, however, were that he never saw any action, was consistently in foul trouble, was consistently out of place on defense and was never healthy.

The medical records and the health of his knees are going to be a big factor.  Teams are going to want to know everything about his health.  His measurables and athletic ability should be on display.  But if he can garner some trust about his health to GMs and play outstanding at the 5-on-5 drills then maybe he can creep back up into the late lottery.

As for now he’s a late first round prospect.  Out of all the players in the combine he might have the most to gain.

There are so many other players that I’m looking forward to watch; Zach Collins, Nigel Hayes, Josh Hart, Wesley Iwundu….this is a pretty solid draft so the combine should be better than usual.  Even the non-stars are so compelling to watch this year.   I’ll try to breakdown as many players as possible but there are always a few standouts.