KFS Draft Watch: Breaking down Zion Williamson’s MSG debut

Duke played Texas Tech on December 20th, a game that featured, potentially, five first round picks, four of whom are likely lottery picks.

Jarrett Culver absolutely showed out for Texas Tech (mini-scouting report on him can be found here), RJ picked up the slack once Zion fouled out (although he had a VERY rough game overall), Cam Reddish was a non-factor for most of the game, and Tre Jones was his usual HIGH impact two-way self.

Even though I scouted each of these players in their Madison Square Garden debut (Javin DeLaurier is your glue guy who I think might make an NBA roster, or receive a two-way contract, at some point), I wanted to make a “brief” video on the good and bad of Zion’s game last night.

The good vastly outweighed the bad, as you will see below and in the video, and against the top defense in the country, Zion showed why he is the consensus #1 pick in the 2019 draft.

Make sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter and subscribe to Spencer’s YouTube Channel for more college breakdowns. Enjoy!

The Good:

  • Rebounding: 13 in 25 minutes.
  • Transition: gazelle in transition and LOVES getting out. His finishes get the crowd and team pumped up.
  • Off ball defense: from the positioning, to the weak-side blocks and steals, his off ball defense was fantastic. Great activity, awareness (picked up open man twice), and nice job getting through screens by getting skinny (impressive for someone his size).
  • FTs: 9/10 from the line! Form looked way smoother too, with his release being closer to full extension instead of the half cocked release he has sometimes.
  • He drew 8(!) fouls by himself.
  • Awesome job driving into the paint drawing fouls and drawing in multiple defenders that created looks for teammates (or starting the swing that led to the look).

The Bad: 

  • Risky decisions going for steals and blocks.
  • Too many turnovers (including two on offensive fouls off the spin, which defenses know is his pet move).
  • Shooting from the outside is still a concern. He doesn’t get squared up in his upper OR lower body, with feet angled one way and elbow flaring the opposite way. This issue plagued him during AAU, and has plagued him all season long, which is why his shooting has not improved as much as we would have liked. It is also why his off the dribble jumper, an area where he showed *some potential* during his AAU games, is a little further along than his C&S shooting – more relaxed off jumper and shooting elbow is more aligned with the rim (even if his lower body squaring up is still hit or miss).

Fit With Knicks

It’s hard not watching the Knicks, watching Knox, and not seeing the immediate fit. From his playmaking from the 4 position, to his rebounding, defensive versatility, and endless amounts of energy, he is the perfect fit next to KP (who will presumably be a 5 going forward). He can switch onto smaller defenders, while at the same time play a high level of team defense, isolation defense, and help with KP’s rebounding deficiencies. If there is one player in this entire draft who fits the Knicks’ roster makeup to a “T,” it is Zion.

KFS Draft Watch: Jaylen Nowell Through 12/9

Jaylen Nowell is a 6’4, 200lb combo G with a ~6’7 wingspan playing for the Washington Huskies. Below are some scouting notes to add to the video above. Make sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter and subscribe to Spencer’s YouTube Channel for more college breakdowns. Enjoy!

  • 86th percentile scoring, 90th scoring + assists (does not include good looks created that were missed)
  • Three level scorer with some nice passing instincts. 
  • Solid strength, wiggle driving, and handle (although that can get a bit loose at times). Can break down defenses.
  • Shows some craft finishing in the paint with a variety of floaters and soft touch finishes. 
    • 93rd percentile on floaters
    • 66th percentile around basket (18/29, good percentage for guard)
  • Solid vision. Can create plays out of PnR, uses lookaways and misdirections/fakes to create open looks, nice job taking 2 defenders and kicking out for open looks, solid in drive and kick situations, and does a nice job pushing ahead for looks in transition. 
  • Solid FTr at .382 and 8FTA/100. 
  • Good shooter.
    • Good three point shooter, 43.8% on 3.6/G
    • 81st percentile on all jumpshots
    • 66th percentile on off the dribble jumpers, 15/32 (nice percentage, good volume). 
    • 97th percentile on C&S
    • Solid read and replace guy and someone who can shoot off movement a bit, although he does need more work here
  • Good isolation scorer, 87th percentile. 
    • Can get into paint or shoot off dribble out of iso situations
  • Slightly turnover prone
    • Handle can get loose at times
    • Drives a bit into traffic, which can lead to some misses in the paint
    • Careless turnovers with passes
  • Can take some questionable jumpers

Film School: Breaking down Kevin Knox’s shooting form

To the naked eye, it looks like Kevin Knox has a really good looking jump shot. Is that true? After reviewing every jump shot he took this year with clips from Synergy, I took a deeper dive into his shooting form and why his inconsistent release point / follow through is why his shooting numbers are not as good as they can be.

Once Knox fixes his jumper, and I think he will as it already looks better than last year, Knox’s percentages on jumpers should go up quite a bit. Enjoy the video!

KFS Draft Watch: Jarrett Culver Through 11/28

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!

Jarrett Culver is an intriguing, likely lottery pick with a nice offensive arsenal. He improved his jumper big time over the summer, in percentage, as well as form. Even though he’s not an explosive athlete, he is a smooth one and gets to his spots. As you’ll see in the video, he really improved his all around game. His increased usage has resulted in a nearly double AST% but a lower TO%. His improved strength has helped him in drawing fouls (and finishing), and his craft around the rim has also looked really good so far this season.

Definitely someone to keep an eye on as the season goes on. The video above highlights his progress through November 28.

KFS Draft Watch: De’Andre Hunter vs MTSU

Once again, I know it’s not amazing competition from a name standpoint, but MTSU actually put up a battle for most of the game – Hunter wasn’t just playing against some small no name team. MTSU has some athletes and individual players who kept them in the game.


Offense

  • Hunter is looking more and more comfortable shooting threes. Even though they are still stationary, he took 9 (!) combined threes vs MTSU and Coppin State. Competition is not as good as ACC play, but he’s taking them. It might be a bit early to go all in on his shooting stock yet, but I’m definitely buying some stock.
  • He was actually close to getting a triple double this game (1 assist, 2 rebounds shy), but most of the playmaking came off of simple pindowns and quick hitters. Instead of including those, I kept those out of the video and focused on the actual playmaking assists, or would be assists. He had a few nice drive and kicks, two high-low passes, and one face-up and drop off against a zone (big bobbled the ball) that popped.
  • He looked more comfortable putting the ball on the floor. This led to some drive and kick opportunities, but also a few drives to the rim. His handle is a work in progress, but he’s using it more regularly than he did last year in tighter spaces, so that is a great sign. Two of the times he put the ball on the floor really popped to me – 1) the BLOB where he stepped around the closeout and to the left of the defender on the inbounds and 2) attacking the closeout, spun away from the help, and finished with an outstretched arm underneath the defense.

Defense

  • Once again, his defense is so fundamentally sound. He gets in a stance, moves his head back and forth tracking his man and the ball, rotates and positions himself well, and gets through screens well (low and tracks man).
  • The getting through screens part of his defense is particularly impressive to me considering his 6’8, ~230 lbs frame. He’s a big guy who moves really well for someone his size, even if he lacks the quick twitch athleticism that makes the crowd go “oooh.” One play that popped to me was where he got bumped with a hip, was pushed slightly off course, but stayed tracking and used his length to defend. He just understands how to defend.

  • The positioning was on full display against Coppin State, so it was not something I highlighted much in this video. He does an excellent job positioning himself in help often cutting off two players in help, and when he’s not needed to cut off two, he does a great job stunting and recovering.
  • Around the 1:11 mark in the video above, watch his footwork on Hawthorne’s crossover. It’s in perfect synch with the ball handler. This tells me he’s watching the defender’s hip vs the ball because he’s moving with the body and not the dribble. I watched this play 10x, including once in slow motion, and it’s still awesome to watch.
  • The last defensive clip starts around the 3:30 mark. I put this in there because he was everywhere on defense. Even when he’s not the main defender, he finds a way to impact the play and help out his teammates. Again, his IQ is unbelievably high on defense – I’d say he’s either the best, or second best, defender in all of college basketball.

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!

The clip below is the first defensive play of the game against Dayton on 10/22. The clip speaks for itself and I have nothing more to add.

KFS Draft Watch: De’Andre Hunter vs Coppin State

Spencer Pearlman continues our Knicks Film School Draft Watch with a breakdown of De’Andre Hunter’s game vs Coppin State.


I know this game was against Coppin State so there is not too much to read into, but I wanted to make a few quick notes on his game. When UVA’s schedule picks up a bit more, I plan on doing a more in depth report. For now, I’ll keep it short and sweet.


Offense

  • Last year, Hunter’s shot was a major question mark. Even though it still is, we not only saw him hit 4 (!) catch and shoot threes, but also see him show more comfortability shooting off the dribble (1/3).
  • He’s still not being used as an initiator, but he made some nice passes in tight places. I want to see more of UVA using him on ball, even if it is just for a play here and there, with Jerome off the ball. If Hunter is able to flash some passing throughout the season, with Jerome’s shooting, it could be another weapon.
  • Continuing from the last bulletpoint, he also was not asked much to handle. He had two paint drives: one, leading to a foul; and the other, leading to an and-1 opportunity. Aside from that he was mainly just used in action setting up plays at the top of the key (DHOs, weaves, etc). His handle is pretty rudimentary at this point, and he doesn’t have great burst, so I’m not sure if this will be used much, if at all, this year. I will be keeping an eye out for flashes throughout the season, though.

Defense

  • Hunter is very fundamentally sound. He gets in a pretty good stance and does not relax much, if at all, on the defensive end.
  • He’s not super athletic, but he is still a plus athlete and moves well laterally.
  • There should be a few clips above showing his closeouts, which I believe is something he does well. There might be a random slip up here and there, but he stays neutral in his stance, ready to contest, and ready to move either way.
  • Knows how to position himself in help defense, helping from the weak side, cutting off passing lanes / driving lanes, and stunting to help throw a wrench in the PnR. In addition to his positioning, he also does a nice job getting back to his man. Again, he’s not a top tier athlete (although still a plus athlete) so he is not super quick getting out, but his length really helps him here.
  • Hunter has a reported wingspan of 7’2, which could be longer. As I just mentioned, his length is a huge aid for him. Not in that it is a crutch, but he uses it really well on defense. Whether it’s cutting off lanes by keeping his hands out on a stunt or just playing the passing lanes here in an attempted DHO (you will see it in the clip), Hunter knows how to use his length.

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season! (I just posted a mini thread on Sekou Doumbouya’s defensive issues here)

KFS Draft Watch: Romeo Langford vs Marquette Report

Spencer Pearlman continues our Knicks Film School Draft Watch with a breakdown of Romeo Langford’s game vs Marquette.


Editor’s note – I want to apologize for the delay. I have had issues with Synergy over the last few days and getting the video has been difficult. I am still having some issues, but appear to have found at least some sort of workaround for the time being. Without more explanation, let’s dive into the film.

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!

I’m going to try something a bit different here and hoping y’all reach out to me on Twitter or leave a comment below if you like or dislike the new format. Basically I’m going to have four main videos focusing on the good for offense and defense, and the bad for offense and defense. For this report, there are 6 videos – the 4 good/bad + the 2 clips lost from Synergy. In addition to the video, I will have a short blurb on some general thoughts on offense and defense.


Offense

The Good

  • Drew 5 fouls, leading to 7 FTAs. He does a nice job seeking out contact and exaggerating it a bit to get the call. If the defender is too wide, he does a nice job attacking the body once to draw the foul.
  • All of his shots were either at the rim or from three – shot chart tailor-made for the NBA.
  • Nice job finishing through contact and in traffic (his strong frame helps here). The floater he had off the drive showed his touch, which I am a fan of.
  • Two really nice off-ball cuts. One of them lead to a finish in the paint when the defender turned his back to Romeo. The second one was actually my favorite offensive play he made all game – he attempted the cut, which was the right read, but when the defense adjusted, he turned his cut into a flare screen, creating a look from three for Fitzner.
  • Two strong rip through drives, one leading to a secondary assist and one leading to a left-handed finish at the rim (used left to get the inside hand on the defender + get a better look at the rim due to right hand being further out). Both were quick decisions, which is what he needs to do consistently with lack of elite burst or wiggle. I also thought he did a nice job attacking the one time he had the mismatch on the big.
  • Showed a few dribble moves to get the defense off balance: L-R-L cross and the in-and-out dribble. Will have to continue to use these to help alleviate some of the issues created with his lack of burst. Get defense off balance and then attack.
    • I know it’s not a dribble move, but I liked how he snaked the PnR in the video and kept his downhill attack.

The Bad

  • Aside from the play on the secondary break, he really did not show the ability to get by his man from a stand-still. Lack of elite burst/wiggle will be an issue going forward, so his ability to weave, use dribble moves to keep defenders off balance, and use change of pace will be huge for his ability to get into the paint.
  • The jumper is an issue. As Jackson Hoy (JHoyNBA), myself, Mitch Libanoff (Mitch_Libanoff), and Skyfall (Polarfall) discussed on Twitter here, the mechanics aren’t consistent. Sometimes he releases when his shooting arm is extended, other times no; balance isn’t always there, as you’ll see on the last jump shot posted in the video; his left thumb stays on the ball on the release; and he cocks it back far, creating almost a two motion shot. He needs work on his mechanics.
  • Decision making was questionable at times. He picked up his dribble too early on a weak double, deciding to go for a cross court pass even though there was a release valve behind him. To be fair, there should have been one at the top of the key but there was not. I also was not a fan of him pushing the pace in transition where he was called for the offensive foul. He had no numbers and had no advantage there; he should have pulled it back out.
    • The shot selection on his last jumper was a bad shot to take, point blank.
  • He drove into traffic on three of his drives, one time where the paint was completely clogged, another time where it was clogged and might have had an angle for a weak side corner pass, and the third time he had the strong side corner pass on the drive and kick. He can do without those shots – pick spots better, work on drive and kick a bit more, and don’t drive into traffic when there is no space.

Defense

The Good

  • For the most part, I thought his positioning was damn good. Take a look in the video and you will see him splitting the court (which will become 2-9ing the paint in the NBA) and helping on the strong side when he was on the weak side, knowing where to be in the PnR, playing the elbows, and simple positioning on help defense – cutting off passing lanes.
    • One of the plays involved the corner man going to help on the strong side attack, so Romeo positioned himself in a place where he could react to both his man and the corner pass if the ball handler were to attempt the pass.
  • There were at least two times where he stunted on the PnR from the weak side to cut off the roll man and then recover to his man.
    • One of his PnR help defense possessions involved him tagging the roll man and keeping with him until the original defender returned. Once that happened, he got back to his man (had a poor closeout) and ended up switching onto the original roller. Lots of action here, and aside from his poor closeout, it was a solid defensive possession.
  • Had a few nice digs and then showed ability to get back to his man. Not sure what his wingspan is now (last measured at ~6’11 in 2016), but he does a nice job using his length to dig + contest.
  • Even though there were a few times where he was lazy getting through screens, for the most part, I thought he did a fine job here. Instead of going under every time, I liked how he would go over and try to get skinny while getting through, or attacking high to push offensive player back.
  • Last but certainly not least, I liked how he was communicating on defense. It wasn’t happening all game long, but when it was needed, he was there.


The Bad

  • He needs work on his closeouts – it’s that simple. Poor footwork, not neutral or balanced, etc. Romeo needs to work on these, because he had issues on closeouts a few times this game.
  • As mentioned above, even though his ability to get through screens was solid for the most part, there were times when it wasn’t – got lazy. This is an effort issue in my book because he showed some flashes with the technique. Just needs to be more consistent here.
  • There was one play where he just made a bad decision to double team, Not only did it have zero impact on the play, but there could have been an open corner three if John saw the look.
  • Two (?) questionable awareness plays he had, but that was all that jumped off the screen to me. One of them was a team based issue where Romeo was not the only one at fault, but the other was him losing his man on the same play / not picking up the open one after his assignment was covered.
  • Lastly, his lateral quickness was an issue here when he was caught on an island by himself. On the second clip in the video below, he recovers nicely with the block at the end…but you still see the lack of lateral movement that he needs. He is able to make up for some of that by being a smart defender in help positioning, but he has to find a way to overcome this. He can use his length more, work on quick hip turn drills like NFL secondaries do, etc. Romeo needs to find a way to compensate for his lack of elite quickness, because it can, and likely will be, exposed at the next level.

KFS Draft Watch: Zion Williamson Game 1 Report

Spencer Pearlman continues our Knicks Film School Draft Watch with a breakdown of Zion Williamson’s first game.


Editor’s note – I want to apologize for the delay. I have had issues with Synergy over the last few days and getting the video has been difficult. I am still having some issues, but appear to have found at least some sort of workaround for the time being. Without more explanation, let’s dive into the film.

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!


The Good 

Ability to Get Into the Paint

  • Zion’s ability to get into the paint at his size (6’6, 283) is unparalleled in college basketball. Aside from the obvious strength he has, his first step is fantastic. When this is coupled with his passing ability, which I will show a bit of below, you have a special playmaking PF who can finish through you and over you. He uses his size/strength, quick first step, and a quick cross to get into the paint when he wants.

Face Up / Finishing in the Paint

  • As one can expect, when you are the strongest player on the court, chances are you can overpower people and finish with authority at the rim. However, Zion is more than just a power finisher – his hands and touch around the rim are soft. I know, I know … Zion is still left hand dominant. However, unlike Bagley, who would contort his body to avoid his right hand, we didn’t see that with Zion against Kentucky. In fact, he actually showed a straight line drive with his right (!) hand. So, even though he should continue to work on his right hand and learn to become comfortable with it, I’m not worried.
  • Zion’s ability to face up and use the pick to get into the paint or simply beat his man off the dribble is impressive for any player, let alone someone his size. He did a nice job showcasing that ability against Kentucky, even though Duke did not use him very often in that role. As the season progresses, I fully expect him to be initiating a bit more of the offense – especially if Duke plays him at the 5.

Transition

  • Even though we only got to see it a few times, anyone who has seen Zion’s YouTube tapes, or any of his games in the past, knows he’s a menace in transition. He not only gets started on his break pretty quickly (solid burst, great burst for his size), but he picks up speed as he’s going. Zion lives for highlight dunks, and fans obviously react accordingly, so his transition ability as a finisher AND as a passer will be something to watch going forward.
  • As you see in the clips, he is also a great passer in transition. Those two bounce passes … were … sheesh. Grab and go is going to be a pretty big skill for him this year, and especially next year. His ability to rise above to grab the rebound and push hard on the break, while making the correct decision in transition is special for a PF.

Scoring in Paint / Postups

  • Even though his post-up moves are not advanced by any means, they are effective – which should not come as a surprise given his strength and quickness combination. He really just does a good job finding the open room and reading where the defense is playing him. In the third clip, they’re playing him high so he feels the weight and spins low. In the first clip, he uses a shoulder fake to freeze Keldon and go middle. In the second one, which admittedly is pushing the “post up” category a bit far, he simply attacks off the fake hard, sees the defense coming, keeps his pivot down, and reverses away from the help. So, even though his moves themselves were not spectacular in any way against Kentucky, they were effective – this is all that matters.

Shooting?

  • I put a question mark next to this one, because he took two jumpers during the game and made them both. I’m not calling this a strength because a) it’s not, at the moment; and b) a two shot sample size is nothing. However, I did like how he took the three and made the defense pay attention to him on the perimeter a little more than they’d like, and I also liked his off-the-dribble jumper, which actually looks more fluid to me from a form perspective. Even though he still needs work on his form (FTs look Dwight-esque with the flick and non-full extension on the release – watch where he releases it), the fact that he’s taking them shows me that he’s confident in taking them. Further to that point, he took the three without any hesitation and it was his first attempt as a collegiate athlete, which also shows confidence in my eyes. Teams are going to play him for the drive, as they should. If Zion is able to hit spot up threes at a respectable clip, his stock rises and Duke’s March Madness potential does as well.
  • I put his FTs here, too, just to get a better look at his shooting form.

Passing

  • Just as above with face-up, we only saw flashes against Kentucky. Two of the passes were BEAUTIFUL bounce passes and one was an easy read to find the open man underneath after facing up. The third clip is questionable because of the spin into the double (he loves that spin move), but the vision is there so I kept it.

Drawing Fouls

  • Defenses know it’s better to take their chances fouling him and making him live at the FT line vs giving up a finish in the paint, even if contested. I think his FT rate will be somewhere around 0.55-.060 throughout the season and average around 8 FT attempts a game.

The Bad

Rim Protection

  • This is where Zion’s lack of length hurts. Yes, his extreme burst will help him contest shots around the rim and on the perimeter, but when he’s playing against bigger players who are also great athletes, he will likely be exposed. In the first clip, he was later on his rotation than you’d like, but his lack of length really hurt him here. The second clip was a bad rotation. He’s already undersized from a length perspective, so his rotations need to be crisp (they were closer in the second clip, but he was still in poor position and rotated a bit slowly).

Forcing Some Shots / Not Seeing Full Court

  • Defenses will collapse on Zion both in the post and when he’s facing up. This means, there will be open passes for him to make. He needs to work on getting to his spot AND reading the defenses simultaneously, or at least projecting where the defense will be coming from.

Miscellaneous

  • He had a closeout here and there that made me scratch my head (late, footwork), but this can be worked on by stressing technique and by stressing on the importance of simply getting out to shooters.
  • There were a few possessions throughout the game on defense where you saw some flashes of the quickness that scouts like to see from bigs. However, some of that is projection based on him continuing to lose weight. Defensive IQ is a continued work in progress as it is with almost all players his age, so you should look for flashes – he has those.
  • His athleticism is scary good. He’s quick laterally, but not elite in that area – however, he is an elite vertical athlete. I think the lateral quickness should come as he continues to lose weight, but that’s a projection at this point.
  • Zion’s crossover is VERY quick and his face-up ability will be more apparent at the next level with more spacing and a clearer lane. Add that with his quick first step which opens up a jab series, and his face-up projection at the next level is special.
  • He apparently got to Duke and weighed in at 283, which is heavy – that would be the second heaviest player in the NBA behind Boban. He is apparently in the low to mid 270s now, but I want to see that number get to the 250s. If possible, I’d love to see him in the low 250s … but that might be tough. If not that, then the 250s – low 260s is probably a comfortable weight for him. He’s very strong with little fat, so he’s not holding much “bad weight.” However, weight is weight and could lead to lower body issues in the future. **Key word, COULD. While he has had rest in HS/AAU because of soreness, he has had no major lower body injury. So, to the people who say he’s going to get injured, because you clearly have some insight into future events, if you could please DM me the lotto numbers on Twitter, I’d be forever grateful!

I leave this scouting report on this note. Enjoy watching Zion fly through the sky in tune with “I Believe I Can Fly.” (SOUND ON!)

KFS Draft Watch: Cam Reddish Game 1 Report

Spencer Pearlman continues our Knicks Film School Draft Watch with a breakdown of Cam Reddish’s first game.


The Good

Random

  • I wasn’t sure where to put these clips below, but I loved these finishes. They were both aggressive (maybe it could have gone there?), they were to his weak hand (including one lefty finish), and they both showed the soft touch. I actually wrote “awesome attacking paint finish” and “great strong paint attack and finish” in my notes while watching the game. I know…poor grammar, but I think it’s fair to give myself some grammatical leeway after working all day reading and writing legal documents.


Shooting

  • Cam’s shooting has been inconsistent throughout high school, but it started off on a good mark last night – 3/8 from deep, the makes coming on catch and shoots. His form is not perfect and needs some tweaks, but his shots yesterday had consistent form, which was an issue for him in the past.

Aggressiveness

  • This is going to be different than for other players, but his “bad” shots are not necessarily the same as “bad” shots for other players. The clips in the video below are not the best decisions, but Cam’s issue throughout HS / AAU was his mentality – he’d zone in and out of games. I’m looking for him to be aggressive, and if that means he takes a few bad shots or drives into a crowded lane a few times, I’ll live with it. I don’t want him taking bad shots every time down, or often, but he needs to stay aggressive because when he’s looking to score, his passing becomes so much more valuable.
  • Cam also led Duke in FTA, which is a great sign, and was second on the team in fouls drawn (tied with Zion, 2 below RJ) with 4. Plays like the first clip are what scouts need to see this year.


Length on Defense

  • This one is simple – I love how he used his length in this game. His hands were out and active, often getting tips leading to steals. One of my biggest issues with Kevin Knox last year was the poor use of his length. Cam is already off to a great start with his 7’1 (+?) wingspan.

Overall Defense

  • He got burned a couple of times by Herro, but I thought his defense was good on the whole. He rotated well and positioned himself well off ball, had deflections and used his length well (see above), battled in the post when forced to, and was active.

The Bad 

Passing

  • This one is going to be short because he wasn’t too involved as a creator. Cam’s passing and vision is one of his best skills. However, last night, he was often relegated to the fourth creator on offense behind Zion, RJ, and Tre. The flashes were solid (see below), but I want more. I’m hoping as the season goes on, Coach K lets him run the show a bit more (at least when Tre and one of Zion/RJ are on the bench). Cam has legit point-forward ability, and putting him as an off ball spot up shooter is a misuse of his skills (although, admittedly some of it falls on Cam – he was standing around too much in this game).

Too Stationary At Times

  • This is where the lack of aggression comes into play. As mentioned above, one of Cam’s issues was consistency and keeping the foot on the pedal throughout the game. The issue wasn’t that he would zone in and out for a few minutes here and there or be passive on offense, it’s that he would disappear from the action entirely. That is why I am 100% ok with a few bad shots here and there – it shows he’s still active, in tune, and ready to go.
  • I know it will be difficult to stay engaged playing with Zion and RJ (which is why I wanted to see him go to a program where he could be “the guy”), but it’s something to keep an eye on. He doesn’t have to touch the ball to be an active participant on offense, so looking for cuts, screens, etc are important. I admit I might be a little picky with some of these clips, but because it’s something that has plagued him in the past, starting off on the safer side is what I plan on doing. Instead of conceding the ball to Zion or RJ, I would have liked to see him run to the ball and be more assertive. Hopefully that comes as the season progresses!
  • I have two clips below for this section. The first one demonstrates his lack of movement off ball and the lack of aggressiveness question mark, and the other demonstrates that he CAN cut to the open spot nicely when he wants to. Basically showing a contrast and what to look for going forward – the good and the bad.


Shaky Closeouts

  • It’s hard to put a big strike against him for this considering Herro is one of the top shooters in the country as a freshman and needing to close out on shooters is obviously important, but there were a few closeouts that show he needs to work on his footwork a bit. One positive to take from his mistakes is that this is correctable from film + being cognizant of the issues. For his size, I thought he did a good job overall defending a pure shooter.

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!

KFS Draft Watch: RJ Barrett Game 1 Report

Throughout the season, Knicks Film School contributors will look at NCAA prospects to help Knicks fans better understand potential lottery picks leading up to the 2019 NBA Draft. Spencer Pearlman kicks off this series with a look at R.J. Barrett.


The Good:

Passing

  • RJ flashed some good vision in Indianapolis, showing the ability the get defenders to commit and hitting the open man both on the wings and on the dive. (Note, he ended with 6 assists, but I did not include a few of them due to their basic nature.)


Shooting

  • RJ’s shot looked better. His balance looks better, shot is more fluid, and he looks way more comfortable shooting it than he did during HS/AAU/FIBA. He went 3/7 from three, with his makes on catch and shoot looks. He has a nice step in, and even though there is a slight dip, I don’t think that’s an issue. Going forward, I’ll be looking to see if he is able to expand to a bit of an off the dribble jumper game.

Driving/Getting Into Paint

  • One of RJ’s biggest strengths, if not his biggest one, is his ability to get into the paint (and draw the foul). He drew 6 fouls yesterday and took 8 FTs, both team highs. He uses a combination of long steps, balance, and strength to get where he wants. He doesn’t have an explosive first step, but he uses his size very well.

Defense

  • There wasn’t much to take in a positive light on his defense from this game. To be honest, I only marked a few clips as being “+ defensive plays.” He was beaten by Keldon Johnson a few times early on and didn’t always move his feet quickly, although he has never been known as a great athlete so it was expected, but two clips I thought were solid can be found below. The first being a nice rotation, both of them being rotation based and not iso based.

Shooting Chart

  • I admit I might be reaching with this being a positive, but given the trend of NBA games, his shot chart is a thing of beauty. *NOTE, Synergy does not have every shot listed in their shooting chart, which is odd…but it is what it is.* Aside from a few elbow jumpers, RJ did the vast majority of his shooting in the paint (near the rim) or outside three. If he ever gets that three point shooting down, with his ability to draw fouls, his efficiency has a chance to be good on high volume.


The Bad:

Shot Happy

  • I know RJ is a volume scorer, but there were still a few times when I thought he got a bit “shot happy” and took the shot instead of finding the open man. In each of the clips below, RJ takes the shot before surveying the court (or just straight up misses the open man). Now, he is a scorer and does a hell of a job attacking the rim. However, there are some times where you wish he’d kick it out more when after he gets the defense’s attention. RJ’s passing is underrated as a whole, but if he were to flash it a bit more, it’d be talked about a bit more.


Defense

  • As mentioned above, RJ was not at his best on defense last night. RJ rotated a few times nicely on defense, but his lateral quickness isn’t there. Although he would get in his stance (which is great to see), I think it might have been too upright – this limits his lateral quickness. Lastly, I thought he would do half-hearted shot contests, but I might be nit-picking with that.

Paint Finishing

  • RJ had some nice finishes in traffic and showed really nice touch on two finishes in particular (see the first clips below), but there were a few finishes that highlight his lack of vertical explosiveness in the half court (second clips). RJ has strength, awesome body control, and long strides while attacking, but the lack of explosiveness even showed back during his FIBA Canada run where he finished only 54% of his shots at the rim (58th percentile) Some of these finishes might not be shot attempts as the season progresses and he hones his drive and kicks, but his finishing ability is still something to pay attention to going forward.


Overall

  • All in all, I thought it was as expected. RJ flashed the ability to create for others while being the main focus of the defense on drives, showed an improved jumper (after shooting poorly in Canada during the exhibition games, this was huge for me), had some nice defensive rotations, and showed an uncanny ability to get into the paint with a nice combination of size, strength/balance, and long steps.
  • In the next game, I’m looking for him to reign in some of the shot attempts. A few of the mid-range jumpers he took should be removed next game, and I’d like to see his head up a bit more when he drives – he really can create so many open looks with his ability to get into the paint, and finding the open spaces can get Duke many more open looks. I would also like to see him fix his defensive technique – get down a bit more in his stance and not be so lax. This is an easy fix and I’d be willing to bet that Coach K showed him his defensive lapses either right after the game or the day after.
  • One final note – next game, I will turn all of these single clips into a cohesive video for each section.

Be sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter for NBA and Draft talk and reports throughout the season!