Top NBA Prospects in the Non-BCS Conferences, Part 7: Prospects #11-15November 11, 2015
When Columbia found out that upcoming senior Alex Rosenberg, their leading scorer, would miss the entire 2014-15 season with a fractured foot, they needed Maodo Lo, their dynamic scoring guard, to handle a big portion of the Lions' offense.
Lo responded about as well as one could have hoped for, considering his increase in usage. He increased his scoring from 19.1 points per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, to 22.9, and he did so while seeing a slight uptick in minutes played and maintaining his excellent efficiency, with a 61% true shooting percentage.
Lo's offensive game begins with his jump shot, which is an excellent weapon for the German-born combo guard and opens up much of the rest of his game. Lo shows proficiency in virtually every respect as a jump shooter, with an ability to shoot in catch and shoot situations (42.3%, good for 1.269 points per possessions, which ranks just outside of the top-10%), off the dribble (1.074 points per possession), and when coming off of screens. Overall, Synergy Sports Technology has Lo shooting 41.7% on all jump shots, with which he generates 1.171 points per possession from, which places him in the top-10 percentile.
From a form perspective, Lo gets excellent elevation on his jump shot and has a quick, repeatable shooting motion. He does a good job preparing himself before receiving the pass, and gets his shot off very quickly, and requires very little space to do so. He has excellent footwork and balance when shooting coming off of a screen, and shows the ability to shoot off the dribble as well, with comfort using one or two dribbles, primarily to his left, to setup a pull-up jump shot that he gets excellent elevation on and which is tough to guard, and he's also comfortable using a step-back to generate extra space if necessary.
This threat as a jump shooter opens up other areas of his game, primarily creating off the dribble in pick and roll sets or using the attention he receives to attack defenders closing out. Lo is a good, not great athlete, but he is quick with the ball in his hands and has a number of misdirection moves with either hand to help him get into the lane. When he gets into the paint, he has solid touch around the hoop and can contort his body to withstand contact despite his thin frame, but a lack of elite burst or explosiveness around the hoop does hold him back some in that regard.
Lo played largely off the ball for Columbia, but he could still stand to improve as a passer and a shot creator for others. Standing 6'3”, Lo will have to play some point guard in the NBA, but is still working on his vision and creativity to really create regularly for his teammates. His decision making can be suspect at times, as he can frequently find himself trapped coming off the pick and roll, be too far deep in the teeth of a defense without an outlet, or just take risky passes that have a low probability of working.
With only 2.3 assists and 2.5 turnovers per game, his pure passer rating of -2.88 ranks as the second worst rating among any guard in our top-100 database, but to his credit, he fared much better as a point guard this summer with the German national team, at both the World University Games and European Championships. His ball-handling ability, feel for the game, and ability to operate at different speeds gives him nice potential in this area, particularly when surrounded by better teammates in a pick and roll heavy offense.
Defensively, Lo gives good effort, moves his feet relatively well, closes out well on the perimeter, and is mostly engaged on this side of the court. His frame does present some problems for him at the next level, however. While his lateral mobility isn't bad, he would be at a disadvantage against some of the elite NBA athletes he'd be faced up against if asked to defend the point of attack. If asked to defend the two, his short stature and thin frame would be at a serious disadvantage. He also struggles at times fighting through picks, both because of his size and strength, but also because the decisions on how to play who he is matched up against and whether to go over or under the screen are not always correct.
Lo competed with Germany in the EuroBasket 2015 championships, seeing regular time on a team that featured NBA veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Schröder. Lo struggled from the perimeter, making only four of his twelve three point attempts, but was able to get quality looks at the basket from inside the arc and did a good job playing within himself in a more limited role, which bodes well for his future when he's not as much of a focal point as he is now on an undermanned Columbia squad.
Lo has some intriguing skill sets for a potential point guard, most notable his proficiency, and diversity, as a jump shooter. Being such a threat pulling up off the dribble could really open things up for Lo, especially if he's able to show better decision making and more of an ability to run an offense. Columbia will get Rosenberg – who had to withdraw, then re-enroll, at Columbia, because the Ivy league does not allow redshirt seasons – back for his senior season, which should allow Lo to play more of a facilitator role, and his success in that role could have a big impact on his draft stock.
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