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2017 ANGT Kaunas Scouting Reports

2017 ANGT Kaunas Scouting Reports
Jan 21, 2017, 11:10 am
Scouting reports on 15 of the more notable prospects seen at the 2017 Adidas Next Generation Tournament qualifier in Kaunas, Lithuania.



Isaac Bonga, 6-10, Point Forward, Frankfurt, 1999

Strengths
-Impressive set of physical tools for a point forward at 6' 10” with a 7' 0” wingspan. Somewhat narrow-shouldered but a solid frame that will continue to fill out.
-Extremely fluid with impressive footwork for his size. Long strides. Can weave in and out of traffic in transition.
-Very impressive basketball instincts and court vision. Plays an unselfish brand. Plays point guard and really always has. Sees over the top of the defense at 6' 10”. Very comfortable finding the roll man out of ball screens. Uses both sides of the floor. Can push and playmake in transition.
-Quick feet allow him to change speeds and directions on a dime as the primary ball handler. Fairly advanced handle for his size. Regularly uses hesitation dribbles to beat his man and get into the teeth of the defense.
-Fairly quick twitch defensively in large part due to his agility. Plays hard on the defensive end – regularly picked up point guards 94 feet, sliding quite impressively for his size. Length and anticipation allows him to make plays off the ball – 4.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes at the ANGT.
-Stroke isn't broken when he's left alone. Has made strides there. A bit slow and mechanical but the ball comes out okay with decent rotation.
-Solid instincts on the glass.
-May not have reached his athletic potential – first action back after missing time with a thigh injury. Could gain some explosiveness as his lower body fills out.
-Great teammate and high intangible kid. At his best with talent around him, which Frankfurt didn't have all that much of at the ANGT.

Weaknesses
-More smooth than explosive, especially as a leaper. Plays almost exclusively below the rim at this stage. Lack of bounce really hurts him as a finisher – 43.2% from two in Kaunas.
-Can he score efficiently in the half court? Not much of a threat to pull up off the dribble unless he's given time and space. Has some touch but jumper still needs work, especially the speed of his release. Lack of speed, average explosiveness at the rim coupled with a shaky jumper makes him quite guardable in the half court once he's playing with players that have similar physical profiles
-Improved as the tournament went on but he lacks a degree of alpha dog mentality. Tends to defer a little too often. Very unselfish but, with a fairly underwhelming supporting cast next to him, Frankfurt could have used more of a scoring punch and aggression from him.
-Turnover prone in large part due to his tendency to overpass. Will get into the teeth of the defense with a chance to finish at the rim and force a pass to the dunker or kick to a non-shooter. Playmaker by default at times.
-Tall and long, but he isn't overly wide shouldered.
-Will a team make him their primary ball-handler? Not very effective off the ball because he's not a great shooter and is really best as a playmaker. Will be best on a team that will play him on the ball.

Outlook
The 17-year-old German (Congolese parents) point forward was far and away the best long-term prospect in Kaunas thanks to his unique blend of physical tools and basketball instincts. Without much talent around him, Bonga struggled at times to score efficiently, something that's not exactly in his nature anyway, but he showed enough of his talent and versatility on both ends of the floor, averaging 18.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes. Bonga has some clear areas for improvement – namely scoring in the half court, limiting turnovers and knowing when to score and when to facilitate – but 6' 10” point forward types with length, fluidity, defensive potential and a strong basketball instincts don't grow on trees, making Bonga a very intriguing prospect for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Interview


Joel Ayayi, 6' 3.5”, Combo Guard, INSEP, 2000

Strengths
-Good size (6' 3.5”) and length (6' 7.5”) for a lead guard. Fairly wide shoulders, should fill out nicely up top.
-Quick twitch athlete who appears to have untapped athletic potential – only 16 with a very thin base. Dynamic in transition. Good straight-line speed and quickness.
-Greatly improved shooter based on what we saw in Kaunas – 6-of-13 from three with several of them coming off the bounce, some of the step-back variety. Has added more ways to get to his jumper off the dribble and showed a lot of confidence pulling up from well beyond the international line versus pick and roll switches.
-Raw handle but has the burst to get into the teeth of the defense to finish or kick to a shooter or drop it off to a big around the rim.
-Makes an effort to finish with either hand around the rim. Not a freak leaper but good extension thanks to his length.
-More of a combo at this stage, but has a really nice feel for the game. Plays within himself for the most part.
-Instinctual defender with quick feet. Active off the ball. Competitive on that end. Has the frame and lateral quickness to get over the top of screens when he digs in.
-Elite rebounder for his position. Will stick his nose in on the defensive glass. Quick to the ball. Loves to grab and go. 12.2 rebounds per 40 minutes.
-Good teammate who doesn't get too high or too low. Maintains a confident, steady face throughout. Speaks perfect English.

Weaknesses
-Body hasn't changed all that much. Still very thin in the lower body. Around 160 pounds.
-Handle is very raw both in the half court and in transition. Forced to settle for deep jumpers after pick and roll switches because of a lack of creativity and shot creation off the bounce. Basic handle limits his ability to handle ball pressure when he's playing at the one.
-Still learning how to change speeds and directions with consistency.
-Shot it well in Kaunas but sports a fairly low release point that needs time and space to get off. Not a very dynamic shooter – best when set, doesn't get much rise.
-Still more of a combo at this stage. Gets a lot of his assists off of miscellaneous plays. Not a traditional pick and roll or setup point guard. Played off the ball quite a bit next to Theo Maledon. Has the passing instincts to run the show just needs more experience and to tighten his handle.
-Shies away from physicality around the rim at times. Didn't get to the free throw line once in 73 minutes. Doesn't make up for lack of physicality with elite explosiveness. More quick than explosive vertically from an NBA perspective. Could benefit from adding more craft to his finishing game.
-Can be a tougher on ball defender. Lives more off of instincts and quickness than digging in, fighting over screens and using his body to keep the ball contained.

Outlook
Ayayi had a strange start to the tournament, coming off the bench for three of the four games and playing quite a limited role for the most part, at least relative to what we've seen in the past. Ayayi did go off for 19 points in 26 minutes in the final and was quite productive when called upon, but the somewhat decreased role as one of the team's best prospects was a bit mystifying. Overall it was encouraging to see Ayayi's progress as a shooter as well as his usual impact as a defender and rebounder for his position. His handle and pure point skills are still a work in progress, but the 16-year-old proved to be one of the more enticing long-term prospects in attendance.

Interview


Yves Pons, 6-6, Small Forward/Power Forward, INSEP, 1999

Strengths
-Physical specimen at 6' 6” with a shredded frame, huge hands, and long arms (over 7' wingspan according to Pons). Should easily be able to play at 230+ pounds in time.
-Tremendous leaper in space. Best off two feet. Finishes above the rim with ease. Power dunker. Great lob target.
-Versatile defender who may be able to check up to four positions in time. Can sit down and slide on the perimeter. Regularly switches ball screens. Competitive, takes pride in stopping his man. Tools should allow him to defend on the interior a little bit as he continues to mature.
-Off ball playmaker defensively. Regularly rotates from the weakside and meets opponents at the rim. 4.3 steals and 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes at the ANGT. Plays hard.
-Shooting stroke is a bit rigid but he shows flashes – 4-of-5 from three in Kaunas. Should be able to turn into at least a respectable spot shooter in time, especially with minutes coming as a small-ball four with longer closeouts.
-Has the stride length and explosiveness to turn into a solid straight line driver as his handle improves.
-Competes on the glass. Will fly in from the perimeter for tip dunks. Uses his tools to get to loose balls on the defensive glass.
-Plays within himself for the most part. Understands his limitations. Plays a simple game.

Weaknesses
-Limited skill set. More of a physical specimen, defender, dunker at this stage.
-Super rigid with the ball. Struggles to put it down even in a straight line at times. A little bit bulky with the ball. Prefers to gather off of two feet even on straight line drives.
-Very left handed around the rim. All power, lacks touch.
-Can make the simple play but not a very talented playmaker on the move. Not going to play out of a ball screen with much success.
-Defensive fundamentals still has room to improve despite impressive physical abilities. Can work on his technique getting over ball screens.
-Plays hard overall and lets his tools do the talking, but he can fade in and out of games at times because of his lack of an elite offensive skill. Relegated to a ball mover from time to time. Can be more aggressive attacking the rim in the half court.
-English is very shaky.
-Somewhat of a robotic personality. Doesn't show much emotion, positive or negative.

Outlook
Pons caught the eyes of NBA scouts early and often in Kaunas thanks to his elite physical profile, high-flying dunks, above the rim blocks, defensive versatility and occasional spot shooting. Although he's not short on deficiencies, Pons is exactly what many NBA teams are looking for – a long and athletic combo forward who can defend one through four and make enough spot threes to keep the defense honest. Honing his 3-point stroke and at least becoming a passable ball handler and playmaker will be key for Pons' NBA potential moving forward. Born and adopted from Haiti, Pons moved to France at age four. He may have a chance to develop those skills in the States, as he's reportedly considering playing college basketball next season – as he's being recruited by the likes of Texas Tech, Tennessee and Florida at the moment, but also is getting looks around Europe. Pons proved to be one of the top NBA prospects in attendance thanks to his tools and fit in today's NBA as a combo forward.


Aleksandr Ershov, 6-5, Shooting Guard, CSKA Moscow, 2000

Strengths
-Strong, developed upper and lower body. Decent length. Somewhere between 6' 4” and 6' 5”.
-Aggressive scorer who led the tournament in scoring – 24 points in 27 minutes on 50.9% from two and 57.1% from three.
-Killer mentality. Doesn't play like a 16-year-old. Keeps coming at you. Not afraid of the moment. Went for 37 points in a win over Rytas.
-Powerful athlete with a big first step. Can play above the rim in space. Tough to keep in front from a standstill going either right or left. Not overly shifty but an aggressive straight-line slasher who uses his physicality at this level. Can finish through contact. Gets to the free throw line at a decent rate.
-Likes to operate from mid-post spots, using face up jumpers to set up his dribble drive.
-Mid-range killer who does a great job of stopping on a dime to get into his pull up. Shoots at the peak of his jump. Combination of aggressive straight line slashing and high elevation mid-range pull ups makes him a tough cover.
-Greatly improved 3P stroke – 3-of-20 (15%) from three at the U16s (B) in Sofia, drilled 8-of-14 (57%) in Kaunas. 18-of-19 from the free throw line. Still shoots a bit of a push shot but he gets great rotation and appears much more confident. Always on balance. Shoots it the same way every time.
-Wants to score first and foremost but shows flashes as a playmaker – 3.2 assists per 40 minutes. Can hit the roll man out of ball screens.
-Tough, hard-playing defender who uses his strength and athleticism both on and off the ball. Takes pride in stopping his man more often than not. Can sit down in a stance. Will rotate off the ball for blocks – 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes.
-Very polished player for his age, ready to contribute at a fairly high level.

Weaknesses
-Good not great size for a traditional two guard. Only 16 but appears to be somewhat maxed out physically. Not a whole lot of room on his frame.
-Is his jumper for real? Shooting 3-of-14 from three in VTB Youth play so far this season. More of a mid-range killer right now, even with his glimpse of improvement from three.
-Doesn't have a ton of wiggle with the ball. More of a straight line driver. Handle can get a little more advanced.
-Most offense ran through him. Very isolation heavy. How impactful is he playing a role on an offense with constant side to side movement and ball screens? Can improve his ability to play out of ball screens both as a passer and as a slasher.
-A tad selfish at times. Not the most willing passer.
-Somewhat quiet on the floor, not really a vocal leader despite carrying the team.

Outlook
Ershov dominated the ANGT in Kaunas from a scoring perspective, proving nearly unguardable at all three levels. His improved range is a major plus and it opened up the floor for him in a big way, allowing him to get to his coveted mid-range spots or explode his way to the rim, using his physicality along the way. Ershov had a positive impact on the defensive end as well, showing that he has two-way potential thanks to his strength, athleticism, and compete level. Ershov's good not great size, somewhat selfish nature and reliance on mid-range jumpers may cap his upside slightly, but at 16 years old he's as polished and aggressive of a scorer as you'll see, and given his focus and “kill or be killed” mentality you have to think he'll do everything he can to maximize his potential. Ershov helped his stock as much as any player in the tournament. He will sign an extension with CSKA Moscow reportedly and continue to develop there.

Interview


Yauhen Massalski, 6-9.5, Power Forward/Center, Rytas, 1999

Strengths
-Leading all ANGTs (Kaunas, Coin and L'Hospitalet) in PER at 42.4.
-Although a bit undersized for a center prospect, he has an intriguing physical profile with a nice frame, long arms and excellent fluidity. Strong legs. Very coordinated. Can finish above the rim in space.
-Competes defensively. Able to step out and switch ball screens and protect the rim. Active hands. 3.2 steals and 3.2 blocks per 40 minutes. Still getting stronger but a versatile defender who should be able to check either big position.
-Competes on the glass. Fights for offensive rebounds. Uses his length and instincts on the defensive glass. 16.1 boards per 40 minutes.
-Nice feel for the game offensively. Doesn't play outside of himself. Good passer from the perimeter. Can DHO. Moves the ball. Plays within a system. Not going to stall out an offense.
-Best as a rim runner/roller offensively. Nimble diving to the rim. Decent hands. Tools help him finish at the rim. Flashes of touch with either hand. – 72.7% from two.
-Low release on his jumper but he actually has some touch that could develop.
-Does a little of everything, plays a role and is a high intangible kid who competes and is very intelligent off the court. Big personality.

Weaknesses
-A shade undersized for a center prospect – more of a five skill wise than a four at this stage of his development.
-Not much of a threat to create from the perimeter. Doesn't look to straight line drive. Perimeter jumper has a ways to go before turning into a weapon – 40% from the free throw line.
-Doesn't have a ton of game on the block. Looking to facilitate rather than score on the interior. Could use a reliable jump hook and counters off of that. More of a rim runner, diver, offensive rebounder at this stage.
-Good, not freaky athlete.
-A second late rotating from the weakside at times.
-A bit light to defend legitimate fives at around 215. Frame has room to add weight and he needs to fill out in both his upper and lower body.
-Projects more as a role-playing big

Outlook
The Belarusian big man followed up a strong U18 European Championships (B) with a stellar performance in Kaunas. His activity level, agility, impact on both ends of the floor and IQ/intangibles make him a worthwhile prospect who will likely do everything he can to maximize his potential. Massalski has some limitations but he does a lot of little things that coaches love and he should be able to develop his offense through trial and error due to the fact that he adds value on the defensive end and the backboards.

Interview


Martynas Arlauskas, 6-6, SG/SF, Zalgiris, 2000

Strengths
-Good physical profile for a wing prospect at 6' 6” with an excellent frame and decent length. At 16 years old may still be growing. Wide shoulders, frame should fill out really nicely.
-Fluid athlete who can play above the rim in space. Great feet.
-Killer mentality. Plays with a lot of passion. Very professional approach for his age. Speaks perfect English. Super mature game for his age. Son of a former player
-Competitive defender who chases around shooters willingly. Will sit down in a stance. Uses his body to contain penetration. Whatever he lacks in elite twitch he makes up for in effort. Defends multiple positions. Fights through screens. In position off the ball. 2.6 steals per 40 minutes.
-Capable spot shooter. Ball comes out cleanly when he has time and space.
-Can attack a closeout in a straight line. Solid strides. Smart cutter. Plays an efficient game – 57% from two and 38% from three.
-Comfortable playing out of ball screens. Can really pass. Plays a simple game. Hits the roll man accurately over the top. Can drive and kick to shooters. 4.8 assists to 1.3 turnovers per 40. Really knows who he is as a player and doesn't play outside of that. Willing to play a role.

Weaknesses
-Good not great athlete in terms of burst and vertical explosiveness. More fluid than freaky. Plays mostly at one speed.
-Checks a lot of boxes but isn't quite great in one area.
-Streaky shooter. Can speed up his release – somewhat of a deep squat and a forward lean on his jumper. Easily fixed as he gets good rotation and has touch but could use some cleaning up.
-Much better shooting off the catch than off the dribble.
-Doesn't have a great knack for drawing contact around the rim – two free throw attempts in 96 minutes.
-Not all that dynamic with the ball. Not going to change speeds or directions or break his man down in isolation situations. Limited to mostly straight line drives

Outlook
At the ripe age of 16, Arlauskas played a big role on the wing for a Zalgiris team that convincingly took home the title, as he started every game, regularly guarded the opponent's best player and posted a 22.4 PER while scoring efficiently and taking care of the ball. Arlauskas has a bright future as a role-playing wing who does a little bit of everything on both ends, with the potential to be more if his handle improves and he becomes a more dynamic shooter. Arlauskas' professional approach and killer mentality along with his tools, feel for the game, defensive acumen and shooting potential make him without a doubt one of the more intriguing wing prospects in Kaunas and a player to keep an eye on moving forward.


Modestas Kancleris, 6-6, Small Forward, Zalgiris 2001

Strengths
-One of the youngest players in Kaunas, Kancleris has an impressive physical profile at 6'6”, with long arms, high hips, big hands, big feet and wide shoulders. He appears to still be growing and is far from reaching his peak physically. His frame should fill out really nicely in time.
-A fluid athlete with long strides, Kancleris can finish above the rim with relative ease, and likely still has a lot of untapped athletic potential.
-Played a very limited role as the team's youngest player, but showed impressive fight and a level of fearlessness against players over two years his senior. He's willing to throw his body around on the glass, take charges on the defensive end, and at least attempt to play through contact offensively. Kancleris' approach to his role and comfort ability doing the dirty work was quite refreshing given his skill set and status as a prospect.
-Defensive potential – can sit down in a stance, competes, keeps the ball in front and makes an effort to contest. 2.6 blocks per 40 minutes. Will fly around off the ball.
-Can attack in a straight line with long strides
-Smooth spot stroke out to three. Sound mechanics, ball comes out smoothly. Will be a plus shooter in time. Knocked down his only three and made all five of his free throws.
-Speaks excellent English

Weaknesses
-Very rigid handle. Plays the game a bit upright. Mostly a spot shooter or straight line driver right now. Much more comfortable shooting off the catch than off the dribble at this stage.
-Competes defensively, but has some limitations given his lack of bulk at this stage, although that will improve
-Good not great athlete

Outlook
Given his limited role it was tough to get too in-depth of a breakdown on Kancleris, but from what we did see, with his intriguing physical profile, mentality and shooting stroke, the 15-year-old appeared to be arguably the top long-term prospect on this Zalgiris team and one to absolutely keep an eye on as he develops, wherever that may be.

Interview


Theo Maledon, 6-3, Point Guard, INSEP, 2001

Strengths
-Nice size and frame for a point guard prospect, especially considering he's still 15 years old. 6' 3” with a 6' 7.5” wingspan.
-Smooth athlete. Not freaky but fluid and coordinated.
-Taking on a fairly big role as the lead guard of CFBB at a young age, speaking to the level of confidence they have in him.
-Shows quite a bit of potential as a perimeter shooter. Needs time and space but shoots a soft ball with great rotation – 37.5% from three in Kaunas (16 attempts). Will turn into a weapon for him in time.
-Soft touch on floaters, some of the “off foot” variety.
-Has vision when he's playing with confidence. Can move it ahead in transition. Good in drive and dish situations. Has some pick and roll feel – can hit the weakside shooter circling up. 7.7 assists per 40 minutes.
-Plus defender when he digs in. Good feet, can sit down in a stance, long arms disrupt his opponent. Has quite a bit of potential on that end due to his tools.
-Comes from a basketball family. Has been playing since age three with both of his parents and all siblings playing. INSEP seems very invested in his development.

Weaknesses
-Smooth, not freaky athlete. Plays mostly below the rim in traffic. Doesn't get to the free throw line at a high rate.
-Really struggles to lead. Self-proclaimed shy kid who's making an effort to be more of a floor general. Total confidence player. Tends to get down on himself easily. When things go badly they snowball at times.
-Very careless turnovers. Doesn't have a ton of poise versus pressure. Makes a lot of head-scratching passes when he's sped up – 4.3 turnovers per 40 minutes. Needs to do a better job taking care of the ball.
-Not a very dynamic shooter. Best in spots with time and space. Not going to rise up off the bounce. Mechanics break down a bit when heavily contested.
-Can improve his handle – not going to change speeds or directions with force, especially against players two years older than him. Plays at mostly one speed right now.
-Defensive effort comes and goes. Can be too upright in his stance. Nov overly physical or scrappy on that end.

Outlook
Maledon's combination of versatility and tools make him an NBA prospect at a fairly young age. He's not quite great in one area but can be molded a lot of different ways because he can shoot, has some vision, and has positional size and length. What will go a long way in determining Maledon's long-term potential is how he evolves mentally – if he can become a “next play” type of guy and whether or not he can lead on the floor despite his naturally quiet disposition. Maledon's awareness of his weaknesses is quite refreshing for his age, and it will be interesting to see how he grows from a personality standpoint as he goes from being one of the youngest guys on this INSEP team to one of the oldest, and eventually continues his career in Pro A France.

Interview


Deividas Sirvydis, 6-8, Small Forward, Lietuvos Rytas, 1999

Strengths
-Nice size for a 16-year-old wing prospect at 6' 8”. Thin, but wide shoulders. Frame should fill out in time.
-Very fluid. Not an elite athlete but light on his feet.
-Smooth stroke out to three. Fairly simple, consistent mechanics. Father was a “sniper,” according to Sirvydas. His most translatable skill.
-Can shoot it off the bounce in time and space. Capable ball handler, shows some potential as a shot creator although it's not fully realized. Versatile.
-Strong feel for the game. Can play out of ball screens. Executes the simple play. Doesn't play outside of himself all that often.
-Solid instincts on the defensive end. Can slide, active hands. Fairly competitive.
-Flashes of crafty finishes – slow down finishes, floaters.

Weaknesses
-Only played one game due to an illness so we weren't able to get a great feel but we've seen him at the U16s and Eurocamp in the past.
-Nice frame but still on the light side, especially in the lower body.
-Struggles to play through contact on both ends of the floor. Not a great finisher at this stage. More fluid than freaky. Doesn't get to the free throw line at a high rate.
-Still developing as a shot creator and slasher. Gets bumped off of his spots on his way to the rim.
-Not the most physical defender. Will compete but still improving his ability to fight over screens both on and off ball
-Very left-hand dominant both as a driver and finisher.
-Still improving his ability to create space versus long athletes.

[font]Outlook

A versatile wing prospect and son of a coach, Sirvydis has positional size, a smooth stroke, a nice feel, and some upside as a shot creator due to his ability to handle and facilitate. One of the more intriguing wing prospect in Kaunas, we unfortunately weren't able to get an extended look at the Lithuanian wing, but with a brief look in Kaunas coupled with our past evaluations, it's safe to say he has the ingredients to turn himself into a legitimate NBA prospect as he continues to develop physically.


Sofiane Briki, 6-3, Point Guard, INSEP, 1999

Strengths
-Nice size and length for a point guard prospect at around 6' 3”. Solid lower body.
-Quick off the bounce. Has some wiggle with the ball. Can shift gears and play at different speeds. Crisp handle. Uses combo moves to break down his man.
-Great timing attacking closeouts when playing off the ball.
-Instinctual and creative passer. Finished second in the ANGT in assists per 40 with 8.8. Plays with quite a bit of flair. Great timing. Mixes in no-look feeds. Uses both sides of the floor. Knows how to manipulate ball screens.
-Not a reliable shooter but can get to his jumper off the bounce thanks to his handle and footwork. Shows some potential as a spot shooter if he can find consistency in his mechanics.
-Crafty finisher. Slow down floaters to neutralize length.
-Active off ball defender with good instincts – 4.5 steals per 40 minutes. Will stick his nose in traffic for rebounds.


Weaknesses
-Average frame, especially up top
-Has some shiftiness with the ball but not an overly explosive leaper. Struggles to finish through contact and over length at times. In general has issues scoring efficiently in the half court. Doesn't get to the free throw line at a high rate.
-Very erratic shooter. Shoots a moonball with variable rotation. Ball doesn't always come out of his hand cleanly. Shows he can get to his jumper off the bounce but isn't a natural shooter – 2-of-16 from three.
-Can be a bit wild as a decision maker. Goes for the homerun play. Will hoist up contested jumpers early in the clock.
-Hunched defensively. Struggles with quicker guards. Average frame limits his upside a bit. Has to rely on instincts and smarts.

Outlook
Briki, who's parents hail from Algeria, really turned heads with his court vision and creativity while finding ways to get to his spots on the floor by way of his handle and change of pace. A true point guard who often played alongside both Joel Ayayi and Theo Maledon, Briki separated himself as the best passer in the group, although he had a very lackluster performance in the final versus Zalgiris. Briki is already signed to play in ASVEL next season, and is certainly a point guard to track over the next few years while specifically monitoring his progression and physical maturation.

Interview


Rokas Jokubaitis, 6-2, Point Guard, Zalgiris, 2000

Strengths
-Average physical profile at the moment at around 6' 2” but his father, a former player, stands 6' 7” and Rokas is expected to add another couple of inches, evident by his long arms and big feet.
-Creative point guard who plays with a level of pizazz and confidence rare for a 16-year-old. Stepped up in the final scoring 18 points and dishing out six assists in only 23 minutes. Not afraid of the moment.
-Provides a nice blend of scoring and playmaking – 19.6 points and 5.7 assists per 40 minutes.
-Very comfortable playing out of ball screens. Whips one-handed passes over the top to the roll man. Avoids the hedging big. Can find the weakside shooter.
-Uses sweeping crossovers in each direction to keep defenders off balance. Rarely kills his dribble.
-Tough shot maker off the dribble. Somewhat unorthodox mechanics with his shooting (left) elbow flying out a bit and his right hand coming off the ball a bit early, but he gets excellent rotation and has great touch. Can stop on a dime in mid-range spots. Very accurate hanging, short-range jump shooter. Can also knock down open threes if the defender goes under in pick and roll.
-Comfortable playing off the ball as well – capable spot shooter. 36.4% from three and 82% from the free throw line. Gets great rotation and has soft touch.
-Doesn't shy away from contact around the rim
-Will compete on the defensive end. Plays with fire. Long arms.

Weaknesses
-Average physical profile for an NBA point guard prospect at this stage. Will likely have to grow to gain more traction, especially given the fact that he's an average athlete both in terms of burst and vertical explosiveness.
-Struggles to get by elite defenders without a ball screen. Relies more on handle and deception. Doesn't change speeds or direction with force.
-Not a great finisher around the rim. Struggles with length and athleticism. Will have to continue to add more craft to his game.
-Very left-hand dominant as a ball handler, penetrator and finisher.
-Can get a bit wild as a decision maker. Stops short for contested pull ups rather than getting all the way to the rim. Will whip passes around blindly. Has a feel and his creativity is a plus overall but he can stand to reel it in a bit.
-Streaky shooter. More of a shot maker than a knockdown shooter at this stage.
-Defensive potential is a bit limited at this stage. Gets by more on grit than tools or quickness.

Outlook
Jokubaitis had a coming out party of sorts at the ANGT in Kaunas, following up a strong U16s this past summer where he caught our eye. Jokubaitis' spirit, creativity, tough shot making ability and vision really stood out as he made play after play on the biggest stage of the tournament, as the team's third-youngest player nonetheless. His long-term upside rests quite heavily on how much he'll grow and develop physically over the next few years, but his skill package and mentality for his age make him someone to follow moving forward.


Ignas Sargiunas, 6-4, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Zalgiris, 1999

Strengths
-Decent size for a combo guard at 6' 4”. Strong base.
-Solid all around athlete. Not a freaky leaper but quick feet on both ends of the floor.
-Although he struggled to make shots he's a plus shooter with his feet set. Gets great rotation, has touch. Can even sprint off screens at times.
-Transitioning from off guard to point guard, which makes him much more interesting moving forward. Showed that his handle has developed and he's a capable pick and roll passer, especially with his size. Can whip the ball around with one hand. Uses sweeping crossovers and hard in and out dribbles to break down his man, crisp footwork.
-Can get to his jumper off the bounce just shoots a bit of a moonball with a low release point.
-Doesn't shy away from contact at the rim – 10.2 free throw attempts per 40 minutes.
-Good feet defensively. Scrappy on that end. Will dig in and keep the ball contained. Sharp instincts off the ball.
-Showcased some leadership skills. Vocal on the floor. Plays with poise.

Weaknesses
-Good not great physical profile for a combo guard. Average frame. No length.
-Solid athlete but average by NBA standards
-Streaky shooter, especially off the dribble. Low release, elbow out, inconsistent rotation. Uncharacteristically 2-of-17 from three.
-Still working to find the right balance between scoring and playmaking. Still more of a two guard at this stage.
-A bit hunched with the ball. Can handle but isn't nearly as dynamic versus longer athletes.
-Struggles to finish through contact and over length. Average extension. Would benefit from a more reliable floater game.
-Lack of length and average frame hurt him versus bigger guards on the defensive end.
-Versatile guard but isn't quite great in one area and doesn't have the physical profile to lack an elite skill.

Outlook
One of the leaders of Zalgiris, Sargiunas did an admirable job of playing extended minutes at the one for really one of the first times in his career, at least versus the level of competition he found in Kaunas. Sargiunas' shooting potential, improved handle, leadership and vision are certainly intriguing attributes, especially if he's able to really turn into a lead guard. If Sargiunas remains more of an off guard, at 6' 4” with average length and a good not great skill set, he's not nearly as valuable from an NBA perspective.

Interview


Volodymyr Markovetskyy, 7-1, Center, Zalgiris, 2000

Strengths
-Intriguing physical profile for a center prospect. A legit 7-1 in shoes with an above average reach and a projectable frame. Strong legs.
-Appears to have quite a bit of untapped potential from an athleticism standpoint - runs a little funny and plays below the rim but is fairly fluid.
-Decent hands, soft touch around the rim. Makes himself available off the ball. Makes an effort to finish with either hand.
-Decent mechanics on his mid-range jumper
-Shows flashes of fight on the glass – 15.1 boards per 40 minutes

Weaknesses
-Runs a little funny at the moment. Moves at one speed. No twitch. Not comfortable guarding the perimeter.
-Plays below the rim even at his size. Doesn't try to dunk anything.
-Doesn't play with all that much tenacity at this stage. A little soft defending the interior. Split second slow off the ground.
-Fairly limited in the post right now. Seems to lack a degree of confidence at times.
-Very much a long-term prospect who's at a very early stage of his development

Outlook
The second-youngest player on the Zalgiris ANGT team, Markovetskyy didn't play a huge role in Kaunas but is quite interesting long term given his size frame, mobility and touch around the rim. The 7' 1” Ukrainian is a long ways away in terms of his development so it's tough to make too many definitive statements about his game and pro prospects, but if he develops as expected, he could turn into an interesting center prospect down the road.


Yohan Choupas, 6-3, Shooting Guard, INSEP, 2000

Strengths
-Strong, chiseled upper and lower body
-Elite on ball defender. Plays with a relentless motor. Identifies himself as a lockdown defender who takes pride in stopping his man. Tremendous technique. Sits in a deep stance, can fight over screens. Quick twitch reacting to the initial move. Pressures the ball with active hands. Very tough for opposing guards to get by.
-Great defender of point guards but also has the strength to check twos
-Will take on the challenge of battling bigs in the post after switches. Weakside wedges on rebounds. Will find a body on the glass. Does a lot of little things that coaches love. Not a big steals or blocks guy but active off the ball, knows where to be.
-Very serious-minded in his approach for a 16-year-old. Goes about his business without saying a whole lot or changing face
-Shows potential as an outside shooter off the catch. Streaky and needs a few tweaks but the ball comes out nicely with good rotation.
-Strong first step attacking closeouts. Good straight line driver.
-Quick decision maker in the half court. Plays a simple game. Not a ball stopper. Can pass out of pic and roll a little bit. Good in drive and kick.
-No maintenance guy who is happy to play a role and do the dirty work

Weaknesses
-Undersized for a traditional two guard at 6' 3” with what appears to be average length. Doesn't make up for it with freaky athleticism although he has quick feet and a good first step.
-Lacks a level of defensive versatility for a “stopper” type. Best guarding point guards long term.
-Streaky shooter with his feet set. Shot is a bit mechanical – staggered feet, shoots out not up at times. Needs to be more consistent in his pre-shot mechanics.
-Not all that talented with the ball. Rigid handle. Not going to change speeds or directions. Doesn't look to pull up off the dribble.
-Could use more craft around the rim to make up for his good not great tools and leaping ability.
-Can make the simple play but not the most gifted facilitator when asked to do anything advanced
-Will he develop into more than just a defensive stopper?

Outlook
Choupas stood out as the best perimeter defender in Kaunas, only five months after he caught our eye as one of the best defenders at the U16s in Radom. The rest of Choupas' game has a ways to go, but you don't see 16-year-olds with his technique, effort level and 1-on-1 defensive impact very often. If he can turn himself into a knockdown shooter, then Choupas has a chance to carve out a role as a 3 and D two guard who checks point guards and plays next to a big, ball dominant playmaker.

Interview


Ahmet Duran, 6-9, Center, Fenerbahce, 1999

Strengths
-Big body at 6' 9” 260 pounds. Has some agility considering his size. Quick feet in small spaces.
-Very skilled offensively. Showed he can step out and stretch the floor – 6-of-14 from three (42.9%). Comfortable attacking from mid-post spots. Has jump hooks and turnarounds. Plays an inefficient game but is quite skilled for a player of his size.
-Excellent vision when he wants to be a facilitator. 3.6 assists per 40. Can find teammates from the post and the perimeter. Uses both sides of the floor.
-Has instincts on the glass. Can carve out space on the interior. Soft hands.
-Not very explosive but quick off his feet defensively. Solid anticipation in the passing lanes when motivated – 3.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per 40.

Weaknesses
-Out of shape. Gets tired quickly. Defensive effort comes and goes. Will be fighting weight problems for likely the majority of his career given his body type.
-A bit undersized for his position. Doesn't have great length.
-Mentality has a long ways to go. Very immature. Can't control his emotions on the floor. Walks back on defense. Doesn't handle adversity well. Constantly complaining to the refs. Doesn't sit in on huddles. Seems to enamored with individual success to cheer for teammates when he's struggling. How much does he impact winning?
-Plays below the rim. Not an athlete.
-Struggles to defend ball screens even when engaged. Not a rim protector.
-Ball stopper on offense. Catches, holds, tries to ISO from the perimeter. 6.9 turnovers per 40 and 33% from two. Forces the issue far too often. Can pass but not a guy teammates love to play with.
-How real is his stroke? 47.6% from the free throw line.
-Overall effort and approach is very disappointing relative to his talent level.

Outlook
Duran is a talented center prospect who consistently stunts his growth with his poor mentality and approach to the game. Until he can learn how to handle adversity and impact winning, it's hard to trust that he'll maximize his potential as a player.

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