After spending last season on loan to Italian League bottom feeders Legea Scafati (now in the second division), Luigi Datome
was again loaned by Montepaschi Siena, this time to Lottomatica Roma (for two years) in an effort to regain the momentum that had placed him firmly on the NBA radar a couple of years ago. Despite the success Datome found in junior play early in his career, he hasnt progressed as expected, especially in recent seasons, as hes struggled to find consistent playing time. Hes proven to be a relatively efficient role-player for Roma this season, but for a prospect once seemed like a potential NBA draft pick, he isnt showing the type of dynamic play that had scouts excited about him when he was a teenager.
The most attractive aspect of Datomes game remains his outside shooting stroke. His form is very smooth, and though he doesnt display great elevation, his 6-8 height allows him to get his shot of without much trouble. On the season, hes hitting 43.3% (26/60 in 28 games) of his three point attempts, and has proven to be a very solid catch and shoot option. Despite his ability to hit shots with his feet set, Datomes s weaknesses on the offensive end are never more apparent than when he is forced to put the ball on the floor.
Datome is an average athlete by NBA standards, and his lack of foot speed, coupled with his questionable ball-handling ability, makes it nearly impossible for him to create his own shot. Though hell knock down an occasional tough pull up jumper with a hand in his face, he is forced to alter nearly every shot he takes off the dribble. He has an especially hard time scoring against quicker and stronger defenders, not showing a very functional crossover and avoiding contact in the lane. The lack of improvement in his one-on-one game has been one of the biggest limiting factors in his development as a player, as nearly half of his field goal attempts come from behind the arc, and he gets to the free throw line only 1.4 times per game.
When Datome has managed to get to the rim this season, something that hasnt occurred very frequently, hes finished at a good rate. He does a solid job getting some looks by running the floor in transition, where he shows a good understanding for spacing and fills the open lane when a defender steps up to stop the ball. Hes also a solid offensive rebounder, using his length to earn some easy looks. Unfortunately, he creates very few of the looks he gets near the basket on his own, and often struggles when forced to deal with contact in traffic.
On the defensive end, Datomes lack of lateral quickness is very apparent. He doesnt always get in a low stance, making it even harder for him to keep up with the quicker players that he is often matched up against on the wing. Though he will have a good possession from time to time, his lack of consistency defending the perimeter hurts him. He doesnt always close out hard, and has a very hard time defending stronger players in the paint. His length allows him to deflect some passes, tip some shots, and even come up with the occasional block, but his lack of consistency and effort makes it impossible for him to do those things regularly.
At this point, it is difficult to look at Datome as anything other than a marginal roleplayer, since he hasnt developed the skills to dictate otherwise. The years he spent riding the pine in Siena didnt help his development in the least bit, and unless he makes some major progress with Roma, it is hard to see Datome being viewed as an incredibly interesting prospect when he becomes automatically eligible this June.