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2016 FIBA U18 European Championship Scouting Reports: Wings

2016 FIBA U18 European Championship Scouting Reports: Wings
Dec 30, 2016, 03:55 pm
Scouting reports on eight of the top wing prospects seen at the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championship, including Kostja Mushidi, Arnoldas Kulboka, Tadas Sedekerskis, Dzanan Musa, Olle Lundqvist, Leo Cizmic, Arturs Strautins and Aleix Font.

Kostja Mushidi, 6'5", 18.4 years old, Shooting Guard, Mega Leks, Germany

Strengths:
-Has an excellent frame for an 18-year old. Good wingspan. In very good shape physically.
-Has an aggressive scoring mentality. Wants to put the ball in the basket, which puts pressure on the defense. Scored a very strong 22 points per-40 at this tournament, right in line with his career averages in most competitions he's played in vs other players his age.
-Did a very nice job of creating offense for himself smoothly in transition and the half-court. Made 69% of his 2-pointers at the U18s. Very good driving in a straight line thanks to his strength and quick first step. Shows some budding ability to get low on his drives, change speeds and get into the paint with power.
-Has solid court vision and can creatively deliver passes to teammates for easy baskets. Averaged a strong 5.8 assists per-40 at the U18s, something he's done at a nice rate his whole career.
-Aggressive shooter who is capable of making shots at a good rate with feet set. Makes spot-up jumpers consistently. Struggled with his jumper at the U18s, but has made 3s at a decent rate everywhere he's played.
-Excellent defender when locked in. Covers ground. Gets in passing lanes with his long arms.
-Intelligent and articulate off the court. Has a very good grasp of his strengths and weaknesses in private settings.

Weaknesses:
-Advanced ball-handling skills are a work in progress. Struggles to create out of ball screens or in one on one situations. Doesn't show great burst attacking a set defense off multiple dribbles. Struggles when he gets cut off his initial path.
-Career 4.2 turnovers per-40
-Much better when he's decisive attacking an unbalanced defense in a straight line, as opposed to trying to dance with the ball, which causes him to turn the ball over and throw up bad shots.
-Just an average finisher around the basket. Lacks a degree of explosiveness in traffic. Making just 42% of his 2-pointers on the season with his pro team.
-Finishes on left side of basket with right hand.
-More of a volume shooter than a knockdown one at this stage. Career 32% 3-point conversion rate, on a huge amount of attempts. Struggles to shoot when rushed or not in rhythm. Mechanics fall apart a bit.
-Pull-up takes a while to get off. Not really a threat to make shots off the bounce consistently.
-Very reactive to what's happening in the game. Loses a degree of control at times when him or his team are struggling. Shows bad body language and starts to hunt shots excessively.
-Shot-selection and overall decision making is a work in progress. Tries to force the issue regularly. Doesn't always let the game come to him.
-Seems to put a lot of pressure on himself. Wants to be the guy. Will need to be more of a role-player/fill in the blanks type in the NBA.

Outlook: Mushidi had somewhat of an up and down tournament, posting one very impressive game in the semi-finals against Lithuania (33 points in 28 minutes) while struggling to find his rhythm in others. Looked to be pressing at times like the entire German team, which disappointed in finishing fourth despite having arguably the most talent at the event. Has had some strong games in the Adriatic and FIBA Champions Leagues this season at the pro level and appears more under control playing against men. Ticks a number of boxes with his physical tools, spot-up shooting, budding passing and ability to attack in transition or off closeouts. Still very inconsistent from game to game, struggling to make an impact and demonstrate his versatility when his shot isn't falling. Will need to continue to learn how to harness his talent and improve his polish on both ends of the floor.


Arnoldas Kulboka, 6'9", 18.9 years old, Small Forward, Bamberg, Lithuania
Strengths:
-Super tall. Measured 6'9 in shoes at the 2016 EuroCamp. May still be growing.
-Has a plus-3 wingspan
-Good athlete. Light on his feet. Very agile. Can play above the rim in space. Excels in the open court
-Smooth catch and shoot stroke. Can get very hot with his stroke and knock down a barrage of 3s. Career 38% 3-point shooter according to DX database, on large volume of attempts. Can also make a pull-up
-Has some interesting ball-handling moves and footwork in his repertoire. Can attack closeouts skill-fully at times.
-Has plenty of room to continue to improve, nowhere near maturation.

Weaknesses:
-Has a very narrow frame that may struggle to put on weight. Body hasn't changed much in the past year.
-Still learning how to use his athleticism to create high-percentage shots for himself and others. Struggles to get into the paint in the half-court. Not a brilliant passer
-Poor finisher around the basket, partially due to lack of strength, but also due to propensity for avoiding contact and lack of left hand. Struggles to draw fouls and finish in traffic. Settles for a lot of pull-ups and floaters.
-Very inconsistent from game to game. Was completely invisible for half the tournament, and very impressive in other moments.
-Poor defender at the moment. Struggles to play tough defense without fouling. Lets opponents drive straight through him, not offering enough resistance. Targeted by opposing coaches with set plays
-Very reactive to what's happening on the court. Not a next play guy. Gets down on himself easily. Puts a ton of pressure on himself

Outlook: Kulboka has significant talent and long-term upside at his disposal with his combination of size, athleticism and outside shooting prowess. When he's rolling and making shots, he shows you some flashes of passing, activity defensively, but is very reactive to the way the game is unfolding. Frame will need to fill out significantly to play a real role in the NBA, especially defensively, something that will likely take at least a few years.


Tadas Sedekerskis, 6'8", 18.9 years old, Small Forward, Caja Laboral, Lithuania

Strengths:
-Has solid physical tools for the small forward position. Great size at 6'8 (possibly taller in shoes). Strong frame.
-Intelligent and versatile player who contributes in all facets of the game and can operate anywhere from the 2-4 positions
-Talented with the ball. Attacks the rim with both hands. Aggressive in early offense. Likes to push the ball off the defensive glass
-Operated as somewhat of a point forward for Lithuania at times, averaging 3.8 assists compared with 2.7 turnovers. Sees the game at a high level
-Passes on the move. Has good vision and is very unselfish. Uses both sides of the court. Shows versatility in his ability to move the ball.
-Has some ability to punish weaker defenders in the post.
-Goes out of area for rebounds on both ends of the floor. Averaged a very strong 10.2 per game at U18s
-Shows timing and feel making plays defensively. Averaged 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks per game at U18s.
-Moves his feet and has good timing contesting shots. Doesn't bite for fakes.
-Has strong intangibles. Serious minded and competitive on and off the court. Looks likely to reach his full potential
-Career 75% FT%. Has demonstrated the ability to make a spot-up 3 in the past. Not a non-shooter

Weaknesses:
-Has average length. Not an exceptional athlete on top of that
-Just how good of an outside shooter is he right now, and how good can he become? Was 0-14 for 3 at this tournament, and just 11-22 from the free throw line. Has never been considered an elite shooter at any stage. 26% of career FGAs in 104 games have come from beyond the arc. 33% 3P% accuracy rate overall.
-Shooting mechanics are not a thing of beauty. Pull-up in particular takes a while to get off.
-Lacks a degree of explosiveness off the bounce. Struggles to create high percentage looks in the half-court at times
-Physically mature already. Lacks a degree of long-term upside due to his average athleticism. Some may question what he can hang his hat on in the NBA.

Outlook: Long-time leader of the Lithuanian national team, already played his fourth junior tournament at the FIBA level. Got off to an exceptionally hot start, but was slowed significantly by a nasty bout of the flu was clearly took a lot out of him in the knockout rounds, and likely prevented us from seeing his best. Still helped Lithuania overachieve by winning a silver medal at the competition. Had a very strong preseason for Euroleague team Baskonia, and saw some decent playing time early in the season, but has had a difficult time getting on the court since. Will be a longtime NBA player if he can find a way to become a consistent outside shooter, as he does everything else at a high level.


Dzanan Musa, 6'8", 17.6 years old, Small Forward, Cedevita, Bosnia
Strengths:
-Has good size for the wing. Upper body is improving.
-Tremendous scoring instincts.
-Really good ball-handler. Uses big wide crossovers on the perimeter. Uses hang dribbles to get into his pull-up. A lot of change of speed to his game, driving in either direction.
-Excellent shooter off the dribble. Can make pull-up 3s out of isolation situations
-Has a knack for drawing fouls. Uses his body well to create space to minimize his lack of explosiveness at this level. Not afraid of contact. Goes straight into the teeth of the defense
-Has good chemistry with his teammates.
-Plays with a lot of heart. Competitor who wants to win

Weaknesses:
-Just an average athlete
-Really struggled to create high percentage looks against better defenders. Forced to overdribble at times and settle for very difficult looks inside the arc.
-Relies heavily on his ability to draw fouls to score efficiently, something that won't be as easy as the level of competition increases
-Not a great finisher around the basket since he isn't usually able to gain a great deal of separation from defenders inside the paint.
-Runs into brick walls and is very turnover prone. 4.8 per-40 at the U18s. Has been the case his whole career.
-Indifferent defensively for the most part. Does not have great length, nor high-level lateral quickness.
-Very hunched over on both his drives and defensive stance.
-High-level shot-maker, but more of a volume shooter than an efficient one at this stage, and really hasn't been anywhere he's played. Made just 21% of his 3s at the U18s. Career 28.5% 3-point shooter in 105 games in DX database.
-Body language gets very questionable when things aren't going his way.

Outlook: Helped Bosnia to a very respectable sixth place showing, just narrowly missing qualifying for the U19 World Championship in the final game. Did not have a great tournament by his standards, but important to note that he was playing up a year in age group. Was the focal point of the team and stayed efficient by drawing fouls in bunches like he almost always does. Worst games came against the best competition he faced in the tournament, France, Lithuania, Spain. Beat up on Finland, Latvia and Israel with 20+ point games. Major question marks about how what he does will translate to the NBA level considering his hunched style of play and average explosiveness. Will need to continue to improve his 3-point percentages and defense, but impossible to teach his knack for scoring and the very unique speed he plays at.


Olle Lundqvist, 6'7", 17 years old, SG/SF, Sweden

Strengths:
-Versatile wing with a high basketball IQ
-Showed the ability to operate anywhere between the 1-4 at the U18s
-Aggressive in the open court, where he attacks the rim with purpose. Draws fouls and isn't afraid of contact
-Will bring the ball up and get his team into their offense. Likes to probe off the dribble using long strides, hesitation moves, change of speeds and crafty footwork and timing
-Good timing on his passes. Uses both sides of the floor. Gets his teammates open shots and easy baskets regularly
-Makes pull-up jumpers with nice touch despite his unconventional form, even off late-clock isolations. Shows enough potential as a shooter to lead you to believe he can improve here in time. Made 9/24 3-point attempts (38%) at the U18s and is a career 78% FT%
-Tough and versatile defensively. Crashes the glass. Gets in the passing lanes. Rotates for blocks.
-Very strong intangibles. Wants the ball in his hands late in games. Shows a great blend of toughness and smarts
-One of the youngest players at the tournament. Only turned 17 in December. Over 18 months younger than many here

Weaknesses:

-Good athlete for a European prospect, but nothing exceptional
-Shooting mechanics are not great. Has a flat-looking push shot with too much of a wind up. Labored off the dribble stroke that makes it difficult to get off quickly with a defender on him
-Career 19/66 (29%) in international play in 23 games in our database
-Does not have great burst off his first step. May struggle to emerge as a high-level shot creator against elite wing defenders. Was better operating as a mismatch threat from the power forward spot
-Shoots with right hand on left side of basket.

Outlook: Lundqvist was by far Sweden's best player and prospect, despite being the youngest one on their roster. He came into this tournament having just recovered from a long bout with mononucleosis, which caused him to lose ten pounds, but showed a great competitive spirit trying to avoid his team getting relegated, which he was unfortunately unable to do.


Leo Cizmic, 6'8", 17.9 years old, Small Forward, Sevilla, Croatia

Strengths:
-Has good size for the wing at 6'8 with a well-proportioned frame and decent length.
-Versatile player who shows flashes in a number of areas
-Likes to push the ball off the defensive glass. Can handle it nicely for his size, especially in the open court.
-Has a good feel for finding the open man. Moves the ball unselfishly. Makes no look passes for layups in transition. Plays the game at a unique pace
-Shows some flashes in the pick and roll, finding open man with lobs and bounce passes.
-Often first to loose balls coming off the glass using his anticipation skills. Career 9.5 per-40 rebounder
-Stroke doesn't look bad, but not consistent with it at all. Can make 3s with feet set or off the bounce with decent shooting mechanics. Comes out of hand nicely.

Weaknesses:
- Fluid athlete, but nothing exceptional from an NBA standpoint.
-Had a very poor tournament productivity wise. Really struggled to score efficiently at the U18s. 26% 2P%, 32% 3P%
-Still trying to figure out how to create shots in the half-court at a high level.
-Shies away from contact around the basket. Barely gets to the free throw line
-Has a low release on his jumper, making it easy to contest. Little bit of a one-handed fling/push going on. Shot takes a while to get off. Super flat-footed pull-up with too much of a wind up.
-Lacks a degree of character. Little bit too unselfish. Defers when they need him to be aggressive. Then tries to force the issue. Had a difficult time finding his rhythm. Didn't want the ball late in games
-Gets down on himself visibly when things aren't going his way. Doesn't play off his instincts
-Gets beat off the dribble a little more than you'd hope.

Outlook: Big wing with nice versatility and talent. Was likely the best long-term prospect on the roster, but couldn't help Croatia avoid relegation.


Arturs Strautins, 6'6", 18.1 years old, SG/SF, Reggio Emilia, Latvia

Strengths:
-Aggressive offensive player with natural scoring instincts. Averaged 22 points per-40 at this tournament.
-Showed the ability to put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways, be it via straight line takes off closeouts, attacking the paint to draw contact and free throws, or throwing the ball in the basket from the perimeter
-Has nice timing on his drives. Has a solid first step and the ability to change speeds. Gets to the rim powerfully going left. Shows good footwork and body control weaving around defenders smoothly.
-Can create shots in the mid-range using sharp step backs
-Throws in catch and shoot jumpers with some volume. Capable of making spot-ups in rhythm with feet set. Ball comes out of hand nicely.
-Has a solid feel for the game. Makes post entry passes with pinpoint entries.
-Shows flashes of competitiveness defensively. Rebounds at a high rate

Weaknesses:
-Frame is very mature. Doesn't have a lot of upside physically. Thick upper body and wide hips. Will likely struggle to play anything besides the forward spots
-Very streaky shooter. Doesn't shoot it the same every time. Displays somewhat of a big windup and slingshot action at times, with side-spin rotation. Converted 29% of his 3-point attempts at the U18s. Career 22% on huge volume in 60 games in DX database
-Doesn't always let the game come to him. 4.6 turnovers per-40 at U18s.
-Lacks the length and explosiveness to finish around the basket at times against better competition. Converted 40% of his 2-pointers at the U18s. Career 37% 2P%
-Not clear who he defends at the pro level. Lacks a degree of lateral quickness to guard slashing wings and doesn't have great size/length for the forward spots.

Outlook: Saw the first pro minutes in First Division Italy as a 16-year old, despite his import status. Still trying to crack through and find a consistent rotation place with the pros now. Had an up and down tournament at the U18s, scoring with nice volume but being unable to do so efficiently on a team that barely escaped relegation. Will likely have a good career in Europe but may lack ideal physical tools or upside for the NBA.


Aleix Font, 6'4", 18.7 years old, Shooting Guard, Barcelona 2, Spain

Strengths:
-Fluid player who is light on his feet.
-Confident perimeter shooter. Makes 3-pointers consistently with his feet set. Rises up over defenders. Ball comes out of hand nicely
-Career 37% 3-point shooter in 46 games
-Solid ball-handler. Shows some quickness in the open court. Likes to attack the rim with straight line drives
-Tough kid who plays with a chip on his shoulder. Likes the big moment. Not afraid to use his body to get things done
-Rebounds and competes

Weaknesses:
-Lacks great height for a wing at around 6'4.
-Has a narrow frame, especially in the lower body. Has clearly worked on it, but will likely always be on the skinnier side.
-Just an average athlete by NBA standards
-Struggles to create his own shot in the half-court. Doesn't have a great first step, making it difficult for him to create space to operate. Forced to take a lot of tough shots.
-Not going to rise up over defenders inside the paint for explosive finishes. 48% 2P% at this tournament
-Tends to dribble with his head down at times. Negative assist to turnover ratio everywhere he's been

Outlook: Versatile shooting guard who has a nice combination of toughness and intelligence. Makes the most of his average physical tools. Doesn't have a great deal of upside by NBA standards, but looks destined for a very good career in his home country.

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