Monday, April 13, 2009

Nike Hoop Summit Scouting Reports


It's been a nice little hoops weekend getaway to Portland for The Painted Area, as we caught Blazers-Lakers on Friday and the Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday. Here's our report from the Hoop Summit, which matched up 10 of the best high-school seniors in the U.S. against 10 top under-20 international players.

The Hoop Summit is preferable to the McDonald's All-American Game for scouting purposes because it's an actual competitive game, with both teams really digging in on D as they play to win as much as to impress.

This year's edition was something of a bizarre game, as the U.S. seemed to have a significant edge in talent, yet the World team rode a 36-19 edge in the fourth quarter to a fairly shocking 97-89 win.

It wasn't as if the World team displayed a sterling exhibition of team basketball to overcome superior individual talent. Not to take anything away from the World team - they were tough and scrappy as they came back on multiple occasions when the U.S. seemed poised to pull away - but the Americans actually played pretty well together overall. USA repeatedly jumped out to big leads with its first unit, only to see the second team give them up, keeping the World alive for its big fourth quarter push.

The U.S. was done in by a huge 48-29 World advantage on the boards and a big disparity at the foul line [23-33 (70%) for the World vs. 7-16 (44%) for the U.S.]. I actually thought that U.S. coach John Olive contributed to the loss as much as anyone, with poor lineup management. He often went small - at one key stretch in the fourth quarter, he had 3 guards who were about 6-3, a 6-6 forward, and one 6-10 big, while the World was going 6-9 / 6-11 / 7-0 up front. Olive was certainly outcoached by Aussie Rob Beveridge, the dean of Hoop Summit coaches, who scored his first Summit victory in five tries. We should, however, note that the World team did have significantly more practice time than the U.S.

Certainly, the USA bigs did not distinguish themselves, either on the boards or on D in general (more on that below), but a good part of the big rebounding disparity was simply due to being considerably outsized.

OK, enough preamble - let's get to our scouting reports:

TEAM USA
John Wall (6-3 PG, Undecided) was the unquestioned star of the evening as he turned in a spectacular performance en route to 13 points, 11 assists and 5 steals.

This highlight package features several Wall beauties (he's #11), including a dunk at the :15 mark that was the play of the game for me, as he showed superior athletic ability to have the body control to evade a defender in mid-air and then also to have the explosion to still be able to finish the play with a dunk at 6-3. Unfortunately, the camera angle here doesn't fully do the play justice:


Wall was close to the complete package, highlighted by his ability to deliver assists that were at once both flashy and fundamentally sound decisions. He was able to get into the lane at will - often with spectacular, spinning moves - and he was able to finish at the rim from all angles, and impressively able to do so even after drawing contact.

Overall, Wall displayed good basketball IQ and court vision. Didn't see much of his outside shot (he was 0-2 on 3's), and it's reported to be streaky, but his shooting form seemed pretty good overall. Also not sure if he has much of a floater at present. My other quibble would be that he held the ball a bit too long a couple times, bringing the USA offense to a standstill, but that's correctable.

Defensively, Wall was outstanding. He and Avery Bradley made life miserable for the World guards with relentless ball pressure all night long.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if we see John Wall take home the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2010-11. We try to keep a level head here when it comes to player projections, but we honestly don't think it's a stretch to say that Wall is potentially somewhere between Chris Paul and Derrick Rose as a prospect. He certainly has the speed and athleticism, and while he's not as strong as Rose, we'd say he has better court vision, more like CP3. Keep in mind, we're not trying to say he's as good as CP3 - not on a day when the man went 31-9-17 - let's just say the kid's a hell of a prospect.

Avery Bradley (6-3 G, Texas) has shot up the Class of 2009 rankings ever since his impressive showings last summer, and one could see why last night in Portland. He is a fundamentally sound ballplayer all the way around.

Bradley had 21 pts on 10-14 FG, and 3 reb. He's known as an outstanding two-way player, and as mentioned above, the D was on display last night. His defensive stats were not impressive - just 1 block and 0 steals - but he forced TOs and generally disrupted the World guards with his excellent on-the-ball defense.

Bradley also got out on the break and showed some of the athleticism which helped him win the slam dunk contest at the McDonald's game.

My main concern with Bradley's long-term prospects is that he is listed as an SG even though he is just 6-3. However, he has a good basketball IQ and his unselfishness is widely considered to be one of his best strengths, so I think there's a good chance he can make the move to PG, which I think he will need to do in order to thrive in the league.

He's really more of a combo guard than a straight 2 right now, so I don't think it'll be much of a stretch for him. He did only have 1 ast (and 0 TO's), but I think that's partially a function of the fact that Wall was handling the playmaking when he was on the floor. All in all, Bradley's an impressive prospect.

Xavier Henry (6-6 SF, Undecided) put up the Michael Redd-like line of 22 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast with his 7-12 FG consisting of 6-11 from three-point land. Kid's got a beautiful lefty stroke, but he didn't provide much else.

Renardo Sidney (6-10 PF, USC) was the same enigmatic presence we saw last year at the King Holiday Hoopfest in Seattle. A couple times he showed glimpses of his superior gifts, such as when he led the break all the way down the court and made the assist - at 6-10/260, mind you - and also when he stripped the ball away from a World player in the lane and had the awareness to immediately loft out a perfect outlet pass which led to an easy fast-break bucket.

In Sidney's 21 minutes, he had impressive numbers of 4 ast, 3 stl and 1 blk. The problem was that he contributed just 2 rebounds. He was a complete non-factor in the lane on D and on the boards while the World racked up 25 offensive rebounds. Sidney's non-presence inside was frankly a big reason the U.S. lost the ballgame. Shooting numbers of 2-8 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-4 FT were not impressive, either. Would be unstoppable if he developed a disciplined low-post game - especially with his court vision - but he prefers to wander aimlessly. So much talent, but it's largely being wasted right now.

DeMarcus Cousins (6-10 F-C, Kentucky) and Abdul Gaddy (6-3 PG, Washington) both had poor games which contributed to the USA loss. Cousins scored 4 pts on just 1-6 FG and 2-4 FT in 18 mins. He was part of the problem on the boards - he did have 5 rebounds, but only 1 was on the defensive end. Did contribute 4 ast, 2 stl and a block.

Gaddy looked discombobulated in his 13 minutes. His shot was way off (he was 1-3 FG / 1-2 3PT / 0-2 FT) and he uncharacteristically made some bad decisions (he had 0 ast/1 TO). I don't have +/- available on the box score, but I'd imagine it was well in the negative for both these guys. We should note that Gaddy was easily the youngest player in the game, having just turned 17 in January.

John Henson (6-10 SF, North Carolina) is a stringbean of a guy at 6-10/195, with very long arms. Good athleticism and skills - he had 10 pts, 9 reb, 2 blk in 17 minutes. But as with the rest of Team USA, he wasn't enough of a presence on the defensive boards, as he had just 3. Certainly not a physical presence inside, but we can see why he's considered one of the top 10 in the class.

WORLD TEAM
Milan Macvan (6-8 PF, Serbia) was the man for the World team, compiling a line of 23 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists in 33 minutes, throwing in two threes to boot, including a big one down the stretch. The big guy (listed at 6-8/258) seemed to be having a great time doing it, too, as he was the clear team leader and seemed to have a smile on his face most of the time.

I have to say I honestly don't know what to make of Macvan as an NBA prospect. He's been described as a less-athletic Kevin Love, and that makes some sense - he certainly has a variety of skills and good court vision, as his threes and assists would attest. Macvan just really seemed to struggle inside against the athleticism of the U.S players - he was reluctant to go up with a point-blank shot inside on more than one occasion - but he had racked up a big stat line by the end of the night.

I think Macvan was aided by the poor interior defense from the U.S., which left him open at the rim a few times, but I still have to respect the performance. Still, if you wanted to ask me for a comparison, I'd have to throw out a name like Nikola Vujcic, a skilled Croatian center who has had a distinguished career in the Euroleague, but is just not athletic enough to make it in the league.

Donatas Motiejunas (7-0 F, Lithuania) was widely considered to be the best NBA prospect on the World team, as he currently sits at number 14 on Chad Ford's Big Board for the 2009 Draft. Motiejunas is a rail-thin forward (7-0/220) who was a strong contributor to the World win with 21 pts, 8 rebs, 3 ast in 29 minutes.

For a seven-footer, Motiejunas has an impressive ability to score in a variety of ways inside and out - he can drive, he has a nice low-post game, he can play with either hand, he was 10-14 at the line, and he even knocked in a three. The obvious comparison is to Dirk, though, as others have noted, I'd say Motiejunas has a more promising low-post game, but is not nearly as a good of a pure shooter.

I would say that he seemed to struggle a bit with the athleticism of the U.S. team in terms of the physicality - he only converted 5-15 FG. His scouting report on ESPN.com mentions that he has poor body language on court at times, and we saw some of that last night.

Among the things Motiejunas has going for him is that he is only 18 - he's an advanced player for that age. I could definitely see him sneaking into the late lottery if he enters this year's draft, but that's partially because it's such a weak draft. Nice prospect, though I don't really see him as a star player in the NBA, and he needs to get stronger.

Kevin Seraphin (6-9 PF, France) was one of the keys to the World comeback, as he contributed 8 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in just 22 minutes. Seraphin is a very nice athlete at 6-9 with a 7-3 wingspan. He keyed an important sequence in the fourth quarter, when he blocked Cousins inside, scored on a dunk on the other end, and then blocked Wall on the next possession. Not a skilled player, needs to develop in that regard to become a legitimate prospect.

Edwin Jackson (6-2 PG, France) was considered to be one of the better prospects on the World team, but man, he was just swallowed whole by the intense ball pressure that Wall and Bradley put on him. He was eaten alive. Jackson had a poor game, with just 5 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 5 TOs on just 2-7 FG. Wall and Bradley are on a completely different level.

Tomislav Zubcic (6-11 F, Croatia) also had a nice game with 17 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 2 blk in 19 minutes, also went 8-9 at the line. Classic skilled, skinny Euro big man who prefers to do his damage from the perimeter.

Here's more info on the Nike Hoop Summit:

- Blazers Edge: Wide-ranging coverage, including some great photography

- Draft Express: Detailed game recap

- Draft Express: Practice scouting reports on the U.S. team

- Draft Express: Practice scouting reports on the World team

- Rivals.com: Complete game video, headlines, and rosters

Also, here's a complete highlight package from OregonLive.com:





13 Comments:

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Tim F.S. Brown said...

Thanks for the love with the video embed, man. Hope y'all liked the highlight package.

 
At 9:05 PM, Blogger john marzan said...

i saw milan macvan in the 2007 FIBA u19 tournament in serbia 2 years ago. that guy was huge. nobody in the US can guard him. he was the best player in serbia. even though he had a great tournament then, i thought he did not have the right skill set to be successful in the NBA. reading your post today, he still has the same problems.

re edwin jackson, the guy is a gunner, but does not have the size, quickness or athleticism to be successful as an nba prospect. the brazilian blur he is not.

there will be a 2009 U19 FIBA tournament that will be held in New Zealand on from july 2-12

i'm sure we'll get to see seraphim, motiejunas, zubcic this year.

 
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