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College Draft Player Breakdown sports

Scouting Report: Darius Garland (Rank 9, Tier 3)

Scouting Report:

Darius Garland (Rank 9, Tier 3)

6’3/6’5 Wingspan/175 pounds/19.4 years/FR

 

Darius Garland tore his left meniscus five games into his freshman season.  That was unfortunate since he was on a roll offensively through four games.  It’s frustrating to grade him with the lack of game tape.  At times I think he’s a top five talent due to his shooting skills but other times I question his defense and wonder what role will he have on a championship caliber team.  He’s listed as 6’3 with a 6’5 wingspan and weighs in at 175 pounds.  A meniscus tear isn’t an athleticism altering injury but if Garland’s frame can’t mange NBA punishment that’s a long term problem.  Just like with most smaller stature players, Garland will need to add strength and bulk up.  Since he’s super agile and fast with solid quick twitch reactions he will need to be careful with paint drives and laying out his body on finishes.  Smaller players bodies tend to break down fast in the NBA and hopefully whoever drafts Garland will properly monitor his conditioning.

The main reason why he’s ranked number nine on my big board even though he’s only played four games has to deal with his shooting.  Unlike Ja Morant and Coby White, Garland has a more capable translatable shot.  His mechanics are the most natural out of the three guards; nice quick motion, power comes from the lower body and hips, loads up off his toes, set point has variances but seems high enough and solid touch.  He shot 47.8% from three and 1.441 points per possession on all jump shots which ranked 99th percentile albeit on a small sample size.  He was deadly off the dribble shooting 56.2% on his two point jumpers.  He can step back off either foot, sharp pull up, side step and pull back with nimble shake to his rhythm.  He can use change-of-pace dribble moves to influence defenders habits and dictate which angle to exploit.  His abrupt stop-and-go movements off the bounce and combo dribble drives moves help create separation for himself.  He also can use his shooting gravity off-ball, cut off screen and make movement three pointers.  That’s something I want to see more of in the NBA.

Entering the paint is one of Garland’s pluses but his finishing ability needs some improving.  He isn’t terrible around the rim sporting a 60% field goal percentage but the physical nature of the middle modifies his timing and power around the rim.  It felt like he would short arm some lay in’s and mostly jump off two feet around the hoop not trusting his body control on one legged leaps.  I also think he’s a better playmaker than he gets credit for.  He had a 13 assist to 15 turnover ratio and sported .647 points per possession on passes out of the pick-and-roll which ranked 9th percentile.  He clearly looks for his shot first, has tunnel vision and can’t identify the simple pass in a timely fashion.  The numbers don’t support his playmaking ability and the tape doesn’t either but in spurts I’ve seen good creation.  A lot of that has to deal with keeping his head up, trusting his teammates and not over dribbling.  Sometimes he will pick up his dribble too early if he sees a second man come his way.  Continuing his dribble and prolonging the play will also help in terms of playmaking.

His defense is somewhat concerning.  Obviously his frame doesn’t do him any favors, his on-ball defense waivers even though he has lateral quickness and his team defense is still a question mark.  I sometimes wonder how much of a difference there is between Garland and Carsen Edwards due to the fact they have similar builds and offensive styles.  Ja Morant is an elite play maker and Coby White is 6’5 with some play making ability.  On the other hand if Garland can’t playmake at the next level why is he ranked so much higher than Carsen Edwards who he compares well with?  That’s a question I’ve been wrestling with and I always fall back to dribbling ability and lateral movement.  I also can’t get the 2018 NBA combine scrimmages out of my head when it comes to Carsen Edwards.  He didn’t play well in a simulated NBA environment and became a motive for him to return for his junior season.  I trust Garland to be that much better of a shooter, scorer than Edwards as well.  Still it’s a valid question and part of my concern with Garland’s value.

 

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

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College Draft Player Breakdown sports

Scouting Report: Coby White (Rank 4, Tier 2)

Scouting Report:

Coby White (Rank 4, Tier 2)

6’5/6’5 wingspan/191 pounds/19.3 years/FR

 

Coby White is one of my biggest movers on this ranking.  A lot of that has to do with his scoring prowess.  For this draft class Coby has top level scoring instincts, can shoot threes in a variety of ways and is an improving play maker.  Being long, athletic with a good frame is great for potential but if you can’t dribble, shoot and create for yourself then that potential’s value is cut in half.  Even though Coby is listed at 6’5 he doesn’t have that big of a frame.  His shoulders are pretty slight with average size hands and a build that might not fill out.  The hope is that over time he will develop strength albeit with a slender frame.  His physical advantage is speed and quickness.  Coby might even be faster than Ja Morant but doesn’t have the vertical explosion to match.

Coby might not be an above the rim player but has craft and touch in his arsenal.  He shot 67% on all his attempts around the rim and only 17.9% of those were assisted.  He can change hands mid air on lay up attempts, go up-and-under for stealthy finishes and put soft english on the ball to fit over longer players.  He’s a decently versatile leaper around the rim with same foot, same hand lay in’s but tends to jump off two feet around rim.  I think as soon as he gains longer body strength he should use one footed leaps around the rim more frequently.  He has a quick first step with speed down hill with a multitude of hang dribbles, push crossovers, behind the back moves and hezi jimbos.  His sudden stop-and-go movements get defenders leaning and his blazing speed gets himself into the lane.  When he gets into the lane he likes to use a left-to-right spin move for separation and uses his momentum wisely to carry his body in space creating angles whether that be on step-backs or fallaways.  Unfortunately his handle can be too high, leaving the ball out in front exposed for deflections.  He needs better control and a steadier center of gravity.  Moving side to side can be an issue as well as White can be loose with his dribble.  As I said earlier, the hope is that additional core strength will improve control.

White is a score first guard that needs to see the court better but can make plays off the pick-and-roll since the game is slowed down.  Possessions that include passes off the pick-and-roll, White sported a 1.407 points per possession which ranked 97th percentile.  When he gets sped up White doesn’t see the court as well as he could but with a ball screen he does a good job looking for cutters and weak side action with one handed skip passes on occasion.  He can turn the corner off a hedge even with a dribble that’s high but what’s most impressive are his splits through doubles or hedges.  That was probably one of the first things I noticed about White, his ability to split pick-and-roll coverage’s.  That’s such a useful move to get the offense a 5-on-4 advantage on his way to the rim.  Although when he did split the coverage when he pulled up off the dribble White sported a .629 points per possession which ranked 27th percentile. Having better shot selection, more strength and body control should help with his off dribble game.

Just like with Ja Morant, White has a lower release point.  White had an inconsistent release point though and at times it was as low as his chin and as high as over his head.  Having a fluid set point definitely quickens your shooting mechanics but unless you get the ball high enough on the follow through and develop core strength then the shot may be prone to contests.  Luckily for White he does a good job of step backs, pull ups and momentum altering shots that create space to get the shot off.  He also sported a 1.339 points per possession on catch-and-shoot situations which ranked 93rd percentile.  Even in a limited fashion at North Carolina White displayed good instincts off-ball.  He set good cross and up screens plus pin-downs using his shooting gravity at times to distort the angles of the court.  He was more active off-ball than Morant and it’s something that I think is underrated when talked about Coby White.

White also tried on defense unlike Morant did this past season.  Coby isn’t the biggest, strongest or most vertically explosive player but he gave multiple efforts, fought over screens and used his quickness to his advantage.  Yes, when he did get caught up in a screen it took him time to recover but remarkably White did a solid job whipping his inside foot over screen setters to get skinny over screens.  He would then stay attached to the ball handler and hustle even if he was behind some.  White was actually a decent team defender collapsing middle on drives, walling off weak side attacks and cutting off drives at the nail then recovering back to his own.  Sometimes after making the initial rotation Coby would get stuck in the muck and at times he missed his sink-and-fill assignments but overall Coby was an above average team defender.  His quickness allowed him to stay in front of players but at times he over gambled and lost position.  Playing on his toes more, working on his lower body and strengthening his butt would help in terms of on-ball defense.

The importance of creating a shot for yourself can’t be understated.  It’s obviously important to have other skills and a baseline of NBA athletic ability but during the playoffs players who can’t dribble, shoot and create buckets for themselves are impossible to play.  White got better as the season went on and considering we’re talking about ACC play that was highly impressive.  I don’t know if White will ever be a starting point guard on a title team but can he be a highly productive rotational piece on a title team?  I think so.

 

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

 

 

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NBA Play Breakdown Player Breakdown sports

Maxi Kelber: Another Post About A Role Player

You might be thinking to yourself, “What the heck are you doing Old Man?  The Warriors are imploding, Jimmy Butler was traded to the Sixers, Lebron has been awesome leading the Lakers and teams like Boston, Houston and Utah are having disappointing seasons.  With all this going on in the NBA today why the heck are you writing about Maxi Kelber?  Who’s Maxi Kelber and why in the world is he worth my time.”  All valid questions.  Let me explain myself.  It all started when I began watching Mavs games this season.  Like most basketball fans I wanted to see whether Luka Doncic was the real deal or not.  News Flash: Luka is the real deal.  But with every Mavs game I watched there would be this other player that kept standing out.  He was long, active and seemed to be in the right spots always.  In the early going I dismissed this player and was fixated on Doncic. Stringing together some well played games early in the season isn’t going to grab my attention just yet.  However game after game I was continually impressed by this random player I knew little about.  

It wasn’t until the 11th game I was getting the feeling this was becoming a trend.  So I decided to check his on/off court efficiency numbers.  Even though these numbers are imperfect they would give me some sort of context regarding his on-court play.  And sure enough he lead the team with a +5.5 on-court while the team was a -9.9 with him off the court.  That’s a +15.4 swing whens he’s on and off the court.  The bench in general has better on/off court numbers compared to the starters but Kelber was still +4.1 over the next Mavs player on/off court efficiency (JJ Barea was next with an +11.3 swing).  As of me writing this article before the Mavs next game Wednesday versus the Rockets Kelber is currently a +12.2 while on-court and a -5.1 off-court.  That’s a freaking +17.3 swing when Kelber plays and doesn’t play.  This won’t last forever.  A lot of that success has to do with JJ Barea and Dwight Powell having good seasons off the bench too.  Probably even after the Rockets game those numbers will decrease significantly.  But we’re 18 games into the season and this doesn’t feel like a fluke even though his on/off court numbers will eventually regress to the mean.

Maxi Kelber is averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game on 45.1% from the floor, 32.1% from three on 18.6 minutes per game.  Kebler is 6’11 with his last known wingspan measurement being 6’11 in 2012.  This is his second season in the NBA from Germany, is 26 years old, plays PF/C and went undrafted.  Kelber isn’t going to be an all-star player, that’s not what I’m getting at.  Heck Kelbers floor is out of the league next year.  Instead what I’m trying to imply is his usefulness as an utility player.  He is becoming a glue guy that every title contender needs to bond together star players talents.  I also like acknowledging good role players like Maxi Kelber and Gary Clark because their contributions tend to be minimized by the mainstream.  Considering Kelber has been amazing at doing the little things this season I wanted to put into words my appreciation for the player he is becoming.

I’ll start with the weaker of his game: offense.  For starters his handle is almost non-existent.  His live-ball skills revolve around looking to pass it off immediately.  He might take a dibble or two to give himself a little room to operate and if given space on the perimeter Kelber will attack the rim in a straight line at times.  When he does pick up his dribble Kelber can get into trouble if the defender pressures him causing a turnover in the process.  His passing skills aren’t anything special either and he’s more of a ball mover.    Every now and then Kelber will make a good read for an assist but usually after he passes the ball off the offense tends to reset itself.  Kelber has minimal post skills for a big-man utilizing over the shoulder or fade-away moves mostly.  If the shot-clock is running down or Kelber has a smaller player on his hip then he’ll take it to the post.

His screen setting game is pretty good.  He rarely pick and rolls to the rim since a good portion of his playing time is with Dwight Powell and Powell is the more athletic rim-runner.  Kelber will instead set good off-ball screens whether that be seals, pin-downs or flare screens (Kelber is #42): 

On offense Kelber is mostly used for his floor spacing ability: 

Even though he is only shooting 32% from three Kelber has a smooth looking jump shot with a high release point: 

Kelber does need to quicken up his mechanics somewhat as that could be an issue behind his inconsistency from deep.  Kelber might not dive off of screens much.  That role is reserved for Powell on the Mavs.  But the Mavs make good use of his shooting ability and stretch the court horizontally with his pick-and-pop game: 

The Mavs telecast announcers, Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Jeff Wade, routinely talk about how much work Kelber put into the off-season working on his jump shot.  Kelber understands if he wants to stick in the league he’ll have to be consistent from three. He seems to be making incremental improvements from deep and in turn opposing defenses have given Kelber more respect from long distance giving the Mavs better floor balance.  Lastly on offense Kelber has a pretty solid IQ off-ball attacking rebounds in the air, angling up or down with the ball, relocating out of the paint when a pick-and-roll occurs and making well timed cuts for safety valve passes: 

Kelber has a lot to improve on offense that’s very clear.  Even his strength of shooting needs to be developed.  As of now the threat of his stretch ability as a big-man and high IQ gives Kelber enough offensive value to be passable on-court.  But overall his defense was the primary reason why I decided to write this post.  I started watching Mavs games for Luka but came away impressed by Kelbers defensive prowess.  Kelber currently sports a +1.52 defensive real plus/minus which ranks 19th among power forwards.  It’s hard to tell just by looking at Kelbers physical profile but deceptively Kelber is a plus athlete surprising players on switches and recovery contests. Look at how Kelber deals with cross matches on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jae Crowder and Terry Rozier: 

Kelber does a good job sitting in his stance, sliding his feet, keeping his core balanced and contesting from behind.  Kelber fits in with modern day “bigs” defending pick-and-rolls with versatility. Whether it be switching, showing or dropping, Kelber has the athleticism, size and fundamentals to maintain all pick-and-roll coverages.  Kelber also does a nice job straddling between ball-handler and roll-man on pick-and-roll “drop” coverages: 

He uses his sneaky good and well timed hops to blow up lob passes or runners defending downhill actions.  Kelber also uses his deceptive athleticism in the post defending quicker “bigs” like Al Horford: 

Kelber doesn’t lose his discipline on Horford’s fakes, stays low and forces Horford into a tough fade-away that’s well contested.  As an on-ball, point of attack defender Kelber is more than adequate in that regard but still can be susceptible to counter dribble moves by crafty ball handlers.  Another skill that Kelber seems to possess is verticality.  Whether it be in transition or on a cross-match Kelber does a solid job going straight up-and-down and not giving the refs a reason to blow the whistle: 

Kelber might be at his best on help side defense.  Just like on offense Kelber has a high defensive IQ that he uses to snuff out rim-runs: 

To protect the paint: 

And to rotate weak side: 

Overall Kelber has the team defense skills that is a must for any big-man in today’s NBA.  Kelber does a good job tagging cutters, stunt-and-recovering, bumping the roll-man while doing it physically enough and yet not commit a foul.  On the other hand Kelber isn’t perfect on defense and sometimes will ball watch, over help and misdiagnose pick-and-roll coverages with a teammate.  But if we’re to deconstruct Kelbers game then by far his most advanced aspect is defense.

Even after writing this whole article you still may think this wasn’t worth my time.  And that may be true as I’ve stated earlier Kelber could be out of the league next year if things don’t work out for him this season.  However currently as we speak that’s not the case. The Mavs player development system is working in full force with players like Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell and Maxi Kelber.  So the Mavs early season success is definitely a full team effort.  I’m not trying to make the case Kelber is the sole reason why the Mavs are playing so well.  The Mavs have a strong bench, a young star in the making and one of the best coaches in the league.  What the overarching point of this post was deals with Kelber and his value.

Kelber will be a restricted free agent this summer and to rebuilding teams he might not carry as much value compared with contending teams.  Presently Kelber is making only the veterans minimum and probably won’t make that much more on the open market due to lack of production.  So to some random contender out their looking for a bargain value contract like PJ Tucker, don’t look no further. Kelber could be a cheap, affordable contract for any cash strung contender and out play the worth of his contract.  If I were Houston, LA Lakers, Golden State, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto or Milwaukee then I’d try to undersell the value of Kelber to the Mavs, steal him now, and obtain his restricted free agency this upcoming summer.  There’s little risk involved with Kelber and if he doesn’t pan out the cost to acquire him was minimal.  Kelbers role player ability could be what unlocks a new exciting lineup for one of these contenders and maybe another step towards title relevancy.

       

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College Draft Player Breakdown sports

Season In Review: Jontay Porter

Jontay Porter,  Missouri,  Freshmen

PF/C,  6’11.5”,  7’0.25” wingspan

9’1” standing reach,  236 pounds,  18.8 years old

 

After last season Jontay Porter decided to enter the NBA draft and participate in the draft combine.  He ended up withdrawing his name from the 2018 NBA draft and returning to Missouri for his sophomore season.  During the pre-draft process many NBA draft websites had Porter as a first round selection, some even lottery bound.  Now that he’s projected to enter the 2019 NBA draft these same websites have Porter as a lottery selection in what amounts to a potentially weak draft.  I really didn’t watch Missouri games last season except for the Michael Porter games, so my level of Jontay Porter knowledge is novice like.  With so many draft websites that I respect having Porter as a 2019 lottery pick I decided to go over as much game tape as possible, breakdown Porters abilities and determine if he really warrants a lottery selection next draft:

 

Jontay Porter has good not great length for a center standing at 6’11.5” but with a 7’.025” wingspan.  His 9’1” standing reach could be his most important physical attribute since it helps him cover ground best in comparison to his lackluster athleticism.  Porter has a 13.85% body fat percentage worst at the 2018 combine.  Porter was out of shape as a freshmen and is partial reasoning as to why he didn’t play more minutes.  Draymond Green serves as a good example of a frontcourt player who suffered from weight issues and redefined his body at the pro level.  Reportedly Green lost about 20 pounds from his rookie to sophomore season with the Warriors (Link).  Green was also a senior when he came out of college and Porter will be a sophomore giving more time for Porter to make enhancements to his diet and exercise.  

Porter is going to need to be in better shape at the next level if he wants to make up for his lack of recovery speed.  Porter was in last place at the 2018 combine when he ran a 3.40 three quarter sprint. Testing his foot speed Porter ran the eighth worst lane agility test at 11.90 seconds.  Porter did score well at the shuttle run so he does have solid body control and change of direction.  To cap off his below average athleticism Porter had the worst max vertical with 31”.  Porter is subpar when it comes down to lower body explosion, back foot burst and lateral movement.  Porter is another candidate for functional athleticism versus actual athleticism.  Clearly not every great basketball player was a great athlete.  Testing well at the combine versus game speed aren’t mutually exclusive abilities.  However the danger lies in the fact that the position of center is increasingly becoming harder to play if you lack actual athleticism.

Even though I have Porter listed as “PF/C” it would be in his best interest if he played center at the next level.  As a center shooting is becoming more relevant in today’s NBA and Porter looks to become apart of the growing trend.  He shot 36.4% from three, 75% from the free throw line and posted a 1.153 PPP (points per possession) at all half court jump shots which ranks 88th percentile.  His shooting mechanics for a bigman are very encouraging; shoots lefty, feet are tilted on the load and sways on the follow thru to generate power, doesn’t strain shoulders for distance, dip is pretty quick around the stomach area at times, inconsistent set point and follow thru.  Sometimes the set point will be below the eye and the next it will be above the eye, needs to find a repeatable spot.  His follow thru is either an extended upwards release or a short choppy wrist motion. As soon as he finds harmony on those motions Porter should become an even more reliable shooter.  

He doesn’t have a face-up game or can create for others off live dribble yet.  His handle is actually solid for a man his size using crossovers and spin moves off the bounce but he doesn’t bend the defender with his live dribble.  61.7% of his shot attempts came from spot-up, post-up or roll-man type actions.  He’s a good screen setter that doesn’t shy away from contact.  Tends to pick-and-pop mostly, rarely dives.  Out of 66 roll-man shot attempts he finished on a dive only 9 times.  Since he doesn’t have lower body explosion, a quick second jump or a large catch radius he becomes more planted on his roll attempts.  He has to use his timing and manipulate the gaps between the ball handler to his advantage if he wants to become a good roll-man at the next level.

If he has a mismatch on a roll or switch he will instantly get the smaller player on his hip, seal the player and take them down to the block for post entries.  When in the post he uses over the shoulder flick shots, hook shots, dropsteps and fadeaways but can become too left hand dependent at times.  He uses pivots and pump-fakes to create separation in the post sporting a 1.114 PPP on all post-up attempts.  But he’s not very good around the basket (not including post-ups) sporting a .911 PPP which ranks 18th percentile. The problem I’ve noticed is that he will scrunch his shoulders, narrow his body and act smaller then what he actually is due to overusing pump-fakes.  He doesn’t have much lift or a quick jump so he tries to get his man off his feet first before he goes up.  He definitely needs to get stronger, use his shoulders and the rim as his protection.

His specialty on offense is by far his passing and high IQ.  He uses his basketball IQ at passing from all angles on the court and will make incredible one handed pocket passes in transition.  When in the post he will read the double or dig and kick it to the next man on the swing.  He reads the weak side tag-man so well and kicks it to the opposite corner as soon as he notices the defender motion middle. He’s great at high to low post feeds and hardly ever catch-and-holds the ball; is a willing ball mover.  He also uses his IQ reading a defenders actions; cuts to the rim as soon as his defender turns his head or slips the screen on a switch.  Porter is also a great rebounder attacking the ball mid-air.  He may not have the hops but times his jump and fights for position before the opposition gets set.  He is a hustle player that produces second chances.  Porter is the kind of player that even though he didn’t grab the rebound himself his attack of the glass or box-out will lead to one of his teammates getting the board.

Even though we have established that Porter is a below average athlete he was a plus defender his freshman season.  He still has his defensive flaws like not being able to contain penetration, lacks lateral movement on switches, can be too grounded at times and isn’t versatile at pick-and-roll coverage; overuses drop coverages.  Those are definite question marks when talked about at the next level.  But there still is a lot to like.  For starters his communication is amazing being able to point out actions, direct players on rotations and sniff out any misdirection.  Porter may be prone to getting beat at the point of attack but if he can sink his hips and stay with the ball handler since he has enough change of direction ability to distort angles and contest drives at the basket.  He does a fine job staying in an athletic, low stance with good balance at all times.  Sometimes he needs to do a better job closing air space on the perimeter attacking closeouts; can be late on rotations due to lack of quick twitch movement.  He does a good job walling off drives, helping the helper and staying vertical.  He uses his great hand-eye coordination and anticipation on weak side blocks and well timed swipe downs resulting in 4.1 total steals/blocks per 40 minutes.  However he can get too handsy at times and will overextend himself on shot attempts fouling 4.8 times per 40 minutes.  His upside might be limited on defense but uses his IQ and functional athleticism to defend at a high level.

…………………………………..

So now that I had time to digest my breakdown do I think Jontay Porter is a projected lottery selection for this upcoming draft?  If he had come out this past draft the answer would be no.  This upcoming draft on the other hand looks to be weaker than normal.  Porter looks like a Kelly Olynyk type of player: an unathletic big who can shoot threes, pass, screen, dribble hand-off and be sound on defense.  Although I think Porter has more upside then Olynyk the fact is they are solid glue-guys and role players.  As of now the 10-20 range is probably where I have him spotted.  But there is a new crop of players coming in and random prospects always pop up out of nowhere.  This is a discussion that’s tabled for now and will be re-examined for another day.

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College Draft NBA Player Breakdown sports

Scouting Report: Jerome Robinson

 Jerome Robinson                                                                                                Boston College                                                                                                                 Jr.                                                                                                                                                    SG                                                                                                                                                6’5”                                                                                                                                                6’7.25” wingspan                                                                                                                  8’2” standing reach                                                                                                              188.4 pounds                                                                                                                           21.6 years old

Ever since the draft I really wanted to do a legitimate scouting report for Jerome Robinson.  He was the biggest reason why I didn’t like the Clippers draft and yet I’m a huge fan of Shai Gileous-Alexander.  I thought there were better players to draft at pick 13 and wondered if it was a wasted opportunity.  Robinson wasn’t a player I took into consideration for my top 20 prospect rankings so I didn’t do my due diligence properly and knew very little of him to begin with.  I want to do a more comprehensive breakdown so I can give a more informed guess as to what I think he could become.  As of now I think the Clippers should’ve drafted players like Miles Bridges, Lonnie Walker or Zhaire Smith over Robinson.  After this scouting report I’ll decide whether I still agree with that sentiment and how I feel about the Clippers draft now that I’ve broken down his tape some more:

 

To start off with his physical profile it may be average or even below average.  It’s never a good sign that a projected late first round or early second round pick doesn’t go through the athleticism testing portion of the NBA combine.  For instance Robinson’s agility, shuttle run and 40” vertical could’ve validated the perception around the league that he isn’t a good athlete.  But from what I’ve seen on tape he does actually have surprising hops for intended alley-oops but overall displays average at best foot speed, recovery time, burst and length.  Being an amazing athlete isn’t the end all be all for NBA success but it sure does help when you’re on an island defending top notch isolation players with no help behind you.  The way players like Robinson without a great physical profile make it through the NBA is high IQ, fundamentals and functionality.  Robinson will be a nice litmus test when comparing functional athleticism and actual athleticism.  Robinson might not perform well when it comes down to athletic testing but that doesn’t exactly mean he won’t display quality game speed at the next level. 

On offense the first thing you have to start with is his shooting.  I’m assuming that’s one of the biggest reasons why the Clippers drafted him shooting 40.9% from three his junior season and 1.066 PPP (points per possession) on all jump shots off the dribble which ranked 91st percentile.  His shot mechanics are sound for the most part; dips around the waist, dead eye set point, nice sway, with some inconsistencies involving his follow thru motion.  At times it will be an extended upwards release with a high point, other times it will have an “out” motion with more wrist action.  He did shoot 33% from three his sophomore season so being as consistent as possible with his follow thru will be key moving forward.  To step into his shot he uses the hop or 1-2 but mostly uses the 1-2; will that affect the timing of his release at next level?  He’s a well versed shooter at pull-up, off dribble, catch-and-shoot (1.186 PPP, 77th percentile) or spot-up jump shooting.  He doesn’t use his all-around shooting skill to his advantage off-ball as much as he should though.  He does a good job relocating off ball and filling the gaps for extra passing angles but doesn’t use his gravity to affect spacing whether that be off screen, cutting or being the screen setter.  When a defender lock-and-trails his off ball movement Robinson will use head fakes or hand swipes to create more distance between the two but due to his lack of strength/athleticism needs to be more concise with his footwork and actions to use his off-ball gravity to his advantage.

Robinson will utilize pump fakes the most while attacking closeouts but uses a variation of pivots, rip thrus, step-backs and pull-backs to create separation.  When Robinson drives the lane he narrows his hips and becomes more shifty then one would expect with average athleticism using hang dribbles, crossover moves, in-and-out dribbles and a behind the back handle creating shots for himself in the process.  He needs to develop more combo moves after his initial counter if he wants to get his man leaning for a beat.  He lacks a quick first step off the bounce and can be sloppy with his handle not being precise with his motion.  His handle needs to improve in transition also.  He’s more of a straight line driver when it comes to transition, when a defender walls off his fastbreak lane he struggles to side or euro step.  Would like to see him use jump stops more often.  Robinson has shown trouble dribbling versus length and athleticism but is pretty proficient with either hand helping add to his shimmy.  

As a pick-and-roll ball handler Robinson was one of the most efficient players in college basketball last season sporting a 1.041 PPP on those type of plays which ranked 94th percentile.  He did a good job reading weakside coverage looking for lobs, over-the-top and pocket passes.  Sometimes though he will keep his head down and get stuck baseline with nowhere to go forcing a mid-air jump pass back out.  On pick-and-roll drives he will pick up his dribble getting stuck in no mans land as well, needs to keep head up and continue his dribble as much as possible.  Even though he isn’t the greatest athlete Robinson can create off the bounce using his change-of-pace, change-of direction dribble moves looking for dump or drift passes.  Robinson will take some risky passes, overall he had a 1.14:1 assist-to-turnover ratio for his entire college career which isn’t amazing but solid.  Robinson needs to add more finesse to his around the basket game with more inside hand, inside foot layup attempts to get defenders off rhythm.  Adding floaters, reverse layins, finger rolls, push-shots and hook shots to is game will be paramount for finishing against NBA length.

Defensively Robinson really is a mixed bag.  He’s does a fine job reading weakside pick-and-roll coverages by bumping the roll-man and recovering to his own on time.  Although on his closeouts he needs to be more balanced with better angles taken due to his lack of quickness.  From time to time Robinson will float on defense and lose track of his man; needs to stay focused of his man off-ball.  Robinson is a little too flat footed on rebounds, doesn’t attack the ball while it’s in the air or fight for position; tends to run back more often.  Robinson might have on-ball defensive troubles at the next level.  As soon as Robinson’s hips open up guarding the dribble it’s tough for him to recover because lack of physical profile.  His ability to switch will be questioned as well.  Can he stay with quick point guards?  Can he guard bigger wings?  Can he bang with frontcourt players?  He needs to get stronger if he wants a chance at that plus fighting thru screens wasn’t a strong point of his either.  When Robinson is at his best defensively he gets his butt underneath him, arms balancing his core, not reaching and sliding his feet with anticipation.  Still, an argument can be made that out of the three seasons Robinson played at Boston College only this past year did he show he can defend at an NBA level.

………………………….

Now that I’ve had time to thoroughly breakdown Robinson’s game do I still think the Clippers should’ve drafted Miles Bridges, Zhaire Smith or Lonnie Walker?  My answer is yes.  Robinson doesn’t offer the two-way potential with switch ability and pick-and-roll coverage versatility that those other players do.  Do I still think dislike the Clippers draft?  Even though I still would’ve taken a bunch of players over Robinson, doing this scouting report makes me understand why the Clippers drafted him in the first place.  His pick-and-roll skills, ability to shoot off the dribble, passing, three point shooting and high IQ on defense makes me change my mind towards my original assessment about the Clippers draft.  I’m obviously still skeptical of the Robinson selection but there’s less doubt today than there was yesterday.

*All Stats Provided By Synergy Sports Technology*

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College Draft Player Breakdown sports

2018 Prospect Watch: Futures/Raw (continued again)

De’Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia, FR(RS)

6’7/222 pounds/7’2 wingspan/20.3 years old    

~ Get to know the name De’Andre Hunter.  He is currently the darling of the scouting community and for good reason.  At 6’7 with a 7’2 wingspan, solid jump shot and great defensive prowess he has all the makings of a modern day NBA swing forward.  When I first saw him play against West Virginia I thought he had great length and potential but for the most part was a three to four year project.  He had no consistent jumper to speak of, a rigid handle and was learning his defensive assignments.  During non-conference play Hunter only made 3 three point shots, played in 4 games of at least 20 plus minutes and scored double digits 3 times.  He was someone to keep tabs on for the rest of the season but I wasn’t expecting much from the redshirt freshmen.  What a difference three months makes.  

During conference play Hunter is shooting 47% from three and is averaging 18.9 points, 7.7 rebounds per 40 minutes.  He only averaged 22.8 minutes per game during conference play but has played 25 plus minutes five of the past eight games.  Considering Virginia is deep with good upperclassmen players there has to be more built in trust for Tony Bennett to play Hunter extended minutes.  Hunter has made so much progress from the first game of the season to now.   

His jump shot is still pretty inconsistent even for shooting 47% from three in conference play on only 1.9 attempts per game.  The mechanics on his shot need some tweaking; his set point is above his head, sometimes two ball lengths above his head, then has an “out” release flattening the arc on the ball.  The accuracy is fine but the arc isn’t consistent.  He needs to lower his set point to his forehead and have an “up” follow thru on his release.  That would put more arc on the ball and have a consistent high release point.  Overall as a catch-and-shoot player Hunter is a 1.098 PPP (points per possession) which ranks 64th percentile and a 1.00 PPP at half court jump shots which ranks 65th percentile.  Messing with shot mechanics is a dangerous game but it’s worked for Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum at the next level.  Even though his three point percentage for this season is 38% and his conference percentage is 47%, his mechanics and small sample size say he needs to alter some things slightly on his jump shot.  

His ball handling is dependable but both hands could use some work to be more secure.  As an isolation player Hunter has a 1.13 PPP which ranks 87th percentile.  He can drive left or right and finish thru contact at the rim.  Shots around the basket (not including post-ups) Hunter is a 1.233 PPP which ranks 70th percentile.  He isn’t an offensive pick-and-roll player just yet and that’s something I’d like to see him develop next season.  He needs to be a sturdier screen setter, better rim-runner and more proficient pick-and-roll ball handler.  As of now he is more of a spot up jump shooter, who cuts and works out of the midrange.  He likes to use a variety of step-backs, jab-steps and pull-backs to create space when he’s operating out of the midrange.  Before he can enter the draft he needs to become a better well rounded offensive player. 

Defense was the very first thing that excited me about Hunter.  Even back in non-conference play Hunter used his length and quick feet to switch 1 thru 5, hedge hard and promptly recover and make on a string rotations.  He has blossomed as one of the better defenders in the country during conference play.  He’s done an excellent job of slowing down pro prospects like Marvin Bagley, Josh Okogie and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.  As a one-on-one defender Hunter can guard multiple positions, move his feet, get low and shut downs angles in a hurry.  He isn’t an amazing athlete like Hamidou Diallo from Kentucky but Hunter is still a very good athlete.  He will have an occasional lapse on defense, miss an assignment or miss read a pick-and-roll coverage but overall he has everything scouts look for to be a premier wing defender at the next level.    

In my opinion he needs at least one more year of school to sharpen up things defensively and to develop more pick-and-roll skills offensively.  I read columns stating that he should enter the draft this season and that’s a possibility depending on how the tournament goes for him.  It could catapult his stock into the lottery since the wing depth is poor this draft and the NBA in general.  Mikal Bridges from Villanova is an example I always go back to.  He was a redshirt freshman himself, developed more skills the next two seasons and now is a possible lottery pick this draft.  Hunter is further along than Bridges was but the same theory applies.  Next years draft is looking pretty weak and if Hunter rounds out his game than I wouldn’t see why he can’t be a lottery pick next year.  Keep an eye on De’Andre Hunter come march madness, the rest of the scouting community will be too.  

* All stats provided by Synergy Sports Technology *

Categories
College Draft Player Breakdown sports

2018 Prospect Watch: Futures/Raw (Continued)

Omari Spellman, PF/C, Villanova, FR(RS)

6’9/255 pounds/7’2 wingspan/20.6 years old

~ Omari Spellman reminds me of Mikal Bridges his freshmen season.  Both were redshirted, had NBA potential, raw, nice size, a budding skill set and overall interesting pro prospects.  Fast forward three years and Mikal Bridges is on path for a lottery selection come this June.  Bridges developed his three point shot, his footwork, his handle and passing ability on top of having elite defense.  If Spellman puts the proper work in like Bridges did than becoming a first round selection is totally within reach.

Even though I list Spellman as a PF/C he really is more of a center than a power forward at the next level.  His size at 6’9 with a 7’2 wingspan and 255 pounds is capable of playing both front court positions but his athleticism is what’s hindering him of thriving at either front court spot.  He’s not a bad athlete but NBA power forwards are getting quicker and faster by the year and Spellman has good enough athleticism to deal with centers primarily.  His conditioning and body need to improve for that to even be a discussion.  Back in his high school days he was pushing 300 pounds and was noticeably out of shape.  He has done an admirable job of losing weight but he clearly needs to add muscle, lose fat and stay in game shape.  Maybe if he does that than playing either front court position would be a possibility.  

   With that said Spellman has deceptively quick feet and it’s very apparent on defense.  Spellman has a nice defensive stance; constantly low, butt down, feet sliding, hands at ball and man with a steady balance.  He uses his wide frame to shut down air space than he uses his agile feet to cut of driving angles.  At the next level, if he gets in better shape, with his quick feet and defensive stance there’s 1 thru 5 switch ability potential.  He can bang down low on the block, dig in and contest post shots or guard perimeter players thinking they have the advantage than with nowhere to go forced into a mid-range jump shot.  Spellman has to do a better job of recovering after pushing shooters of their spots, not to over help and to box out consistently.  In general Spellman has solid upside on defense.

     His best skill to date is without a doubt his jump shot.  Short compact loading pocket, with a dead eye set point and an up follow thru with a high release point; it’s very balanced and just looks pretty.  As a spot up jump shooter Spellman is a 1.458 PPP (points per possession) which ranks 99th percentile.  Off catch-and-shoot attempts Spellman is a 1.301 PPP which ranks 88th percentile.  Either shooting from the pick-and-pop, pull-up, spot up or catch-and-shoot Spellman has good form and fine footwork turning into a variety of shots.  He needs to improve his ball handling as Spellman is typically a one dribble, pass or shoot type of player.  Since he plays with four other shooters on the court at all times he gets good looks regardless but in the NBA he’s going to have to put the ball on the floor from time to time.  Spellman can pump fake, jab step than take one dribble or side-step into a shot but he needs to show he can get to the rim and finish off the bounce.  

Villanova plays a four-out one-in motion styled offense where Spellman sets a bunch of pin-downs or rub screens.  The offense doesn’t call for many traditional ball-screens so his ability to rim-run is seldomly used.  He has a board frame so he can set capable screens but rarely do we see him roll.  Spellman plays mostly spot up, pick-and-pop and post up.  His post-up game isn’t bad but it isn’t great.  He can face up, drop step, turn the shoulder or hook shot but since he’s not an amazing athlete his explosion off those shots are lacking; could have trouble getting shots off versus NBA length/athleticism. 

Spellman should be at least a three year man at Villanova.  If he keeps on adding a skill every year to his repertoire like Mikal Bridges did then maybe we’ll see Spellman climb up mock draft boards too.  For now Spellman is a ball of potential that’s ripe for the modern day NBA game.    

* All stats provided by Synergy Sports Technology *