The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship

The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship
Jul 08, 2016, 05:49 pm
This is a list of the top ten performers from the FIBA U17 tournament, which concluded on Sunday. The rankings are based on the statistic EWA (estimated wins added). Although EWA does not definitively determine who the best individual players were, it does give you a sense of how productive and valuable they were to their respective teams. EWA is built off the same formula as PER, but it differs in the fact that it takes into account minutes played. American Collin Sexton, who was the MVP of the tournament, finished 4th overall in EWA (due to sitting out one contest and playing just 19 minutes per game), while Ahmed Khalaf of the last place Egyptian team finished 3rd. The following article goes into further detail regarding EWA and how it relates to other advanced statistics.

Top Ten

#1 Dzanan Musa, Bosnia and Herzegovina  
#2 Jaylen Hoard, France  
#3 Ahmed Khalaf, Egypt  
#4 Collin Sexton, USA  
#5 Sergi Martinez, Spain  
#6 R.J. Barrett, Canada  
#7 Carte'Are Gordon, USA  
#8 Junghyun Lee, Korea  
#9 Troy Brown, USA  
#10 Ignas Brazdeikis, Canada
#1) Dzanan Musa, 6'8, Small Forward, 17.1 years old, Bosnia

EWA: 3.7
PER: 43.3
TS%: 58.7%
34.0 PTS, 8.1 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.4 STL, .9 BLK, 16-48 3P, 74-106 FT

Dzanan Musa followed up his 2015 U16 MVP performance with another impressive individual display through seven games at the U17s, posting not only some of the best numbers seen at the event, but also some of the best we've seen in tournament history dating back to 2010.

Musa led the tournament in scoring at 34 PPG (the tournament's best rate ever ahead of Rui Hachimura's 22.6 in 2014) and poured in 50 vs. Chinese Taipei. He showed off his entire offensive arsenal over the course of the tournament, demonstrating impressive guard skills for a 17-year-old 6'8” swingman. He continued to show improvement in his jump shot, knocking down 2.3 per game on nearly seven attempts. Musa exceled on the offensive end using his length and ball handling ability to make plays out of the pick and roll, and to get to the rim nearly at will both in the half court and in transition, averaging an impressive 15 free throw attempts per game.

At just 17 years old, Musa has been very impressive on the international stage at the junior level, and now will need to show his style of play can translate to the professional ranks. Last season Musa came off the bench and played roughly 12 minutes per game for Cedevita, a Croatian Club that played in both the Euroleague and Adriatic League. Musa has shown that he can dominate players his own age, and his professional development is definitely something to monitor down the road.

#2) Jaylen Hoard, 6'8, Small Forward, 17.2 years old, France

EWA: 2.7
PER: 37.9
TS%: 58.4%
22.4 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.7 STL, .6 BLK, 10-28 3P, 39-51 FT

Hoard was one of the most productive prospects in Zaragoza, often overwhelming teams with his combination of excellent size and polished skill-level. At 6'8” with long arms and a solid frame, Hoard was most effective using his size and improving ball handling skills to get to the rim on straight line drives and dominate games in transition. Hoard showed flashes of his athletic ability, and although he is not the most explosive leaper he is fluid in the open floor and quick off the ground, showing particularly good instincts on the offensive glass. He is an improving outside shooter with solid mechanics and balance who showed the ability to knock down contested outside shots, but could benefit from a quicker release. His pull up game off the dribble could be improved, as he often settled when he could have attacked where he was at his best. He has the ability to really influence the game on the defensive end with his length, and he showed that with his ability to get in passing lanes.
Hoard spent the past two seasons at famed INSEP Academy in France, but is transferring to Wesleyan Christian Academy in North Carolina for his junior season. Hoard, who was the MVP of the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic International game, will get a new challenge for his upcoming Junior season as he moves to the United States and will surely be on the radar of high-level Division I programs.

#3) Ahmed Khalaf, 6'9, Center, 17.3 years old, Egypt

EWA: 2.2
PER: 29.9
TS%: 54.8%
17.0 PTS, 14.0 REB, .7 AST, .7 STL, 4.4 BLK, 3.9 OREB, 53.2 FG%

Khalaf, who goes by “Bebo”, was a bright spot on an Egyptian team that finished the U17 tournament dead last in 16th place, with only 1 win and 6 losses. Khalaf's calling card was on the glass and on the defensive end posting a tournament best 5.1 blocks per 40 minutes and 17 rebounds per 40. He showed excellent instincts and timing on the defensive end, allowing him to control the paint. Offensively Khalaf's game appears to be a work in progress, despite the gaudy scoring totals he posted in Zaragoza. He showed some improving footwork in the post and decent touch around the rim but struggled to finish against length and often shied away from contact even though he was typically one of the bigger players on the floor. Khalaf doesn't run the floor well and isn't a particularly explosive athlete. He finished effectively around the basket on dump offs and offensive rebounds, but the rest of his offensive game is not very polished.

Khalaf is no stranger to the FIBA setting, as he has played up consistently in age groups in the past, competing in the U19 tournament in 2015 and the U17 tournament in 2014. This time around playing guys his own age, Khalaf was much more effective and you could see glimpses of what makes him effective as a shot blocker and rebounder. Khalaf started his pro career playing in the Egyptian Super League, but has since moved to Manresa's junior team in Spain where he has a chance to develop against strong competition. His lack of athleticism may prove to be a hindrance as a NBA prospect, but his outstanding timing as a shot-blocker and rebounder/along with his soft touch around the basket, gives him a chance to carve out a strong career at the international level.

#4) Collin Sexton, 6'2, Point Guard, 17.5 years old, United States

EWA: 1.9
PER: 44.2
TS%: 67.4%
17.0 PTS, 4.0 REB, 4.2 AST, 1.7 STL, 5-11 3P, 57.6 FG%

Collin Sexton earned MVP honors for the loaded and dominant USA team which took home the gold in Zaragoza. Although Sexton came off the bench for the deep U.S. team, he posted per 40 averages of 36.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.8 assists, leading the team in both points and assists. While his EWA ranked just fourth due to the fact that he played just 19 minutes per game (and sat out one game against lowly Egypt), his PER actually ranked him #1 overall.

In Zaragoza, Sexton showed why he has emerged as one of the most highly recruited players in the class of 2017 this past spring and summer, flashing impressive combo guard skills. Constantly in attack mode, Sexton put pressure on the defense every time he touched the ball, showing off a wide variety of ball handling skills as he attacked the rim and finished with either hand. In limited attempts, Sexton shot the ball well from deep and showed an impressive pull up game as he was able to create space off the dribble with ease. Defensively, Sexton also showed he has the ability to disrupt the game as an on ball defender with his size, length, and athletic ability at the guard position.

Sexton has burst on to the scene recently and will have a big senior season at Pebblebrook High School in Atlanta ahead of him as he weighs his college options. There is no doubt Sexton has the athleticism, scoring ability, and playmaking skills to make a contribution at the next level, but he will have to show that he can put it all together. At times Sexton can play almost too aggressively to a fault, but at the U 17's he was able to overwhelm teams with his athleticism and ball handling abilities. It will be interesting to see how he develops as a team leader as he clearly has all the skills of a 5-star prospect.

#5) Sergi Martinez, 6'8, Power Forward, 17.1 years old, Spain

EWA: 1.7
PER: 25.5
TS%: 49.8%
19.9 PTS, 12.9 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.9 STL, .4 BLK, 3.0 OREB, 2-12 3P, 41-72 FT

Sergi Martinez followed up an impressive 2015 U16 performance with another consistent showing at the U17's. He led a Spain team that finished 4th in both points and rebounds. Martinez demonstrated a solid feel for the game with his active off ball cutting and patience in the post. He has good speed in the open court, and although at this point in his career he is mainly a straight line driver he is very adept at creating contact going to the rim and showed the ability to take it coast to coast. Martinez looks very comfortable with the ball in his hands and flashed some point forward skills as he demonstrated good vision out of the pick and roll and passing out of the post. He is a good rebounder with solid hands who cleaned up on the glass with nearly 13 rebounds per game.

Martinez played with a sense of maturity and patience that were impressive for a 17-year-old. He plays as part of the FC Barcelona junior program and will definitely need to continue to develop certain aspects of his game, notably his outside shooting. The future is bright for Martinez, and he is likely a name we will see associated with the Spanish National Team for years to come.

#6) R.J. Barrett, 6'6, Shooting Guard, 16.0 years old, Canada

EWA: 1.6
PER: 28.8
TS%: 57.3%
18.4 PTS, 4.6 REB, 2.3 AST, .7 STL, .9 BLK, 7-20 3P, 40-67 FT, 49.4 FG%

Only turning 16 years old a few days prior to the event, Barrett was arguably the most intriguing pro prospect in Zaragoza. At 6'7 with good length, and fluid athletic ability Barrett has all the physical tools to get to the next level as his frame continues to fill out. He shows impressive ball handling and vision for a player his age and size, as Barrett looked comfortable in ball screen situations, whipping the ball across the court or delivering touch passes. He plays under control and with tempo, and uses a variety of dribble moves to get to the basket, where he can finish with floaters or above the rim, although at this point he is a predominantly left handed finisher.

The mechanics on his jump shot are still a work in progress, but he showed the ability to knock down spot up shots or create space off the dribble. He was at his best in transition, getting out in the open court and using his size, athleticism, and body control to finish effectively around the rim. He has the physical tools and lateral quickness to be an influence on the defensive end as long as he is locked in.

At just 16 years old, Barrett has serious upside and certainly looks to have high-level NBA potential. Barrett is only heading into his sophomore season at Montverde Academy in Florida and won't graduate high school until 2019. He will continue to be a major piece for Canada basketball as he grows and develops as a pro prospect.

#7) Carte'Are Gordon, 6'8, Center, 16.2 years old, United States

EWA: 1.6
PER: 43.8
TS%: 67.4
11.6 PTS, 5.6 REB, .9 AST, .7 STL, .3 BLK, 3.3 OREB, 72% FG%

Carte'Are Gordon was just another piece of the puzzle for the dominant USA squad that cruised to victory in Spain. Although Gordon only played 14 minutes per game his per 40 averages came in at a gaudy 33 points and 16 rebounds, demonstrating how aggressive and impactful he was in limited playing time.

At 16 years old Gordon dominated offensively around the paint using his size, strength and length to create space and finish an impressive 36 of his 50 field goal attempts in the tournament. With his mobility, strong lower body, and terrific touch around the rim, Gordon separated himself from the pack as an undersized but highly skilled big man who got what he wanted around the basket.

Gordon is not the most explosive leaper, but he is extremely mobile, nimble and physical, showcasing polished footwork and body control with some impressive spin moves for a guy his size. He finished nicely on offensive rebounds and dump off passes around the rim. He has excellent instincts and hands which helped him control the glass. Gordon is somewhat limited defensively because of his size, but the effort is there.

Gordon is heading into his junior season at St. John Vianney in Missouri. Gordon projects as a tremendous college prospect given his precocious instincts as an interior scorer and rebounder, but he still has work to do to prove he can continue to produce against better competition. Gordon was no doubt an integral part of the U.S. effort in Zaragoza, and the small-ball movement we're seeing in today's NBA certainly helps his chances in the long term.

#8) Junghyun Lee, 6'1, Shooting Guard, 17.2 years old, Korea

EWA: 1.5
PER: 23.3
TS%: 56.8
18.9 PTS, 4.0 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.6 STL, .4 BLK, 11-36 3P, 39-46 FT

Lee was the catalyst of a Korean team that finished a surprising 8th at the U17s, leading the team in both scoring and assists. Undersized and not exceptionally athletic, Lee was impressive as a scoring guard who showed the ability to create his own offense in one on one situations, showcasing a quick first step, and a big right to left crossover that allowed to him get to the rim. He struggled finishing against length at times, but showed great creativity around the basket using his body to create space. Lee showed some vision out of the pick and roll but was mainly looking to create offense for himself. He was able to stretch the defense with catch and shoot ability. He's an active defender, but is somewhat limited in who he can guard due to his lack of size, length and strength.

Yet to enter the professional stage, Lee will continue to be a part of the Korean national program as he has been since he first played with the South Korean U16 national team in 2015. His continued development will be very important for a team that has traditionally struggled to emerge out of FIBA Asia competition to the World's most prestigious tournaments.

#9) Troy Brown, 6'7, Shooting Guard, 16.9 years old, United States

EWA: 1.4
PER: 27.9
TS%: 56.5
10.0 PTS, 5.9 REB, 3.0 AST, 2.9 STL, 2.1 OREB, 5-20 3P, 17-18 FT

At 6'7, Brown has a unique skill set for a player his size. Able to play all three backcourt positons, Brown is very effective as a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He is a smooth ball handler who is not the quickest or most explosive player around, but uses his size to his advantage to get by defenders, as well as his ability to change speeds. Crafty with the ball in his hands, Brown shows solid and at times flashy vision that keeps the defense on it's heels. Brown has shown the ability to make passes over the top of the defense out of the pick and roll and push the ball and make decisions in transition. He is also a very solid rebounder who found a lot of his offense in the U17 tournament on the offensive glass.

As effective as Brown is making plays with the ball in his hands, he struggles at times off the ball due to his limited shooting ability. He lacks consistent mechanics and elevation on his jump shot, something that will have to develop as he matures as a player. Brown showed his versatility on the defensive end with his ability to guard multiple positions and averaged an impressive 4.5 steals per 40 minutes.

Brown is heading into his senior season at Centennial High School in Nevada. Soon to be 17 years old, Brown has a ton of upside given his size, guard skills, and defensive capabilities and is already considered one of the top players in the class of 2017. He needs to develop a more consistent jump shot, but he has a solid foundation, and a special skill set for a big guard with size.

#10) Ignas Brazdeikis, 6'8, SF/PF, 17.4 years old, Canada

EWA: 1.4
PER: 29.6
TS%: 56.7
14.7 PTS, 6.9 REB, 1.7 AST, .9 STL, 2.3 OREB, 11-29 3P, 48.7 FG%

Brazdeikis played second fiddle to R.J. Barrett but was a very important piece for Team Canada. His per 40 averages came out to 27 points and 13 rebounds, and he showcased his good feel for the game and his ability knock down the 3-ball, despite sporting very funky shooting mechanics. Brazdeikis who is a lefty, shot 38% from deep and kept defenses honest as a floor spacer. He pushes the ball a little bit on his shot, something that will have to be adjusted down the line. He isn't a great advanced ball handler, but has a good first step and was quick to attack closeouts on straight line drives to the rim. Somewhat limited athletically, Brazdeikis nevertheless finished very efficiently around the basket, especially going to his left. He competes consistently and is an effective rebounder with strong hands and good instincts. He proved to be willing to put the effort in on defense, but lacks a degree of lateral quickness and is somewhat caught between forward positions, while also not possessing much length (6'8 wingspan).

Brazdeikis is heading into his Junior season at Orangeville prep in Ontario. Although he played some small forward for Team Canada, Brazdeikis pans out more as a stretch 4 as he develops. He looks like he has some pick and pop potential with the ability to attack a hard closeout. Brazdeikis' scoring instincts and aggressiveness will likely make him an effective scoring power forward at the college level, but will have to continue to improve his body and try to maximize his physical tools, as he is not a gifted athlete.

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