Player of the Week: Ante Tomic
What we are seeing this season from Tomic is both very intriguing, but also highly concerning. Its intriguing in the sense that Tomic emerges as the ultimate finesse big man, but also concerning because his physical development is taking him way too long, seriously jeopardizing his ability to succeed at a top basketball level. Although you can notice some slight bulk added to his body, he still looks very skinny, both in his legs and upper body, while his frame doesnt promise great strides in the future.
Skill-wise, hes showcasing some truly impressive stuff from the low post. He can deliver really refined moves that include fakes, spins, and reverse-moves, as he exhibits excellent footwork and the versatility to use both hands to finish around the basket. As you can guess, hes not a banging type of post guy, but he neither avoids contact; in the end, his great size and abilities makes it work on a regular basis. He nicely complements his low-post game with a pretty solid spot-up mid-range jumper, although perhaps released a bit slowly. He also can easily put the ball on the floor with both hands and work his way to the layup, particularly against centers, showing excellent coordination in the process.
We often miss a degree of aggressiveness in Tomics offensive game. For example, its extremely rare to see him dunking the ball, which is pretty uncommon for a 7-2 and relatively athletic guy. Even when it seems like the logical and easy choice, he usually goes for the layup. It would probably help his pick-and-roll productivity, which is not particularly high at this moment.
That aggressiveness is also missed on defense. To start with, Tomic looks rather underwhelming when it comes to using his great length to intimidate. As fluid as he can look displaying an offensive move, he often seems a bit stiff on defense. His lateral quickness is poor, as he often doesnt bend his knees enough and sometimes struggles recovering his position after a rotation. On top of that, hes not physical with his opponents, with his physical weakness being part of the problem. However, he does seem to care about rebounding and makes an effort to box out his match-up.
Anyway, hes a talented guy with a high basketball IQ, well reflected in his passing game, as he can find his teammates either from the low post or facing the basket.
Its hard to recognize the best scenario for Tomic. By all accounts, hes not ready for the very physical NBA, but at the same time, its not clear that waiting another year will help his draft stock. To move to a better European team might not be easy as well depending on his contract situation. Well see what happens, but it would be a pity to waste such a special player.
A Look at
The thing is, on paper he looks like an intriguing guy: hes 6-10, athletic and he can reportedly play the small forward position. Thats a pretty appealing combination. However, when you actually watch him on the floor, the intrigue soon disappears.
Douglas Nunes is playing in Merida, a Spanish team in LEB Bronze, which is fourth division (a level probably on the range of the weak-to-average second divisions across Europe), and he almost always officiates as a power forward (weve seen him in three different games, and always has filled that position). It makes sense since at 6-10 playing at that level, hes always one of the tallest players on court, if not the tallest. Anyway, its not easy to picture him playing on the perimeter, since his athleticism doesnt translate well to his lateral quickness (hes more of a solid leaper than a very quick guy), while his off-the-dribble game looks really limited.
Still, the biggest issue about Nunes is the fact that hes a soft player that often refuses to use his athletic gifts. Hes actually very soft. In some areas of the game, it looks painful, and his skinny body doesnt particularly help him either (his frame is also average). His defense is highly underwhelming. Hes not particularly strong in his lower body, so hes not solid guarding the low post. As mentioned, his lateral quickness is average at best, and he struggles staying with smaller guys whenever he switches defensively. The worst part comes in defensive rotations, as he lacks any kind of aggressiveness, and wouldnt take a charge to save his life. Instead, he will stay passive, use his hands or look for a block, although his timing is not the best around.
It doesnt get much better in the rebounding department. Nunes often forgets to box out his opponents, fuelling his teams struggles with the defensive rebound, lacking any aggressiveness attacking the ball, and often just refusing to use his leaping ability. At some point, you have the impression that hes afraid of stepping on somebody and hurting his ankle, which did happened in one of the games we saw (by the way, it was odd to see not a single teammate or coaching staff member dropping by to aid him, not even to ask him about his condition, having to limp his way to the bench completely alone).
Offensively, Nunes seems to stick to a big-men repertoire. He shows quite a nice spot-up jumper with range out to the three-point line, and nice form on his release. Indeed, he also looks very reliable from the free-throw line, although hes not that frequent a visitor to the charity stripe (logical given his lack of aggressiveness). He also asks for the ball in the low post in order to release turnaround jumpers or jump-hooks trying to cash in off his superior size. We did see him netting a nice left-handed bank-hook, but his footwork seems limited, and his lack of strength and physical game doesnt help him to produce here with any consistency. A significant source of production for him comes from continuations from the high post or receiving the ball near the basket taking advantage of some defensive rotation. If the zone is clear enough, he can get pretty high to finish with a nice dunk. Finally, you can eventually see him putting the ball on the floor to attack his match-up, showing ability to drive both ways, a decent first step, and long strides on his way to the basket.
In terms of passing game, Douglas never shows anything special. Besides, his hands are a bit suspect, perhaps lacking some strength there.
All in all, he exhibits a general lack of aggressiveness, and its hard to come out impressed with any of the stuff he delivers on the floor. Hes averaging 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 26 minutes per game. He could do worse statistically speaking, but its nothing to write home about. In the end, providing his intensity doesn´t suffer a major boost, and his game doesnt improve significantly, I would be pretty much shocked if he ends up being selected in the draft.
Logically, Nocedal often looked a bit out of place, still in the process of merging with his teammates. He played both guard positions, but apparently will primarily fill the point guard spot. Beyond his normal struggles given the fact that hes new to the team, Nocedal again exposed his current limitations as a playmaker. Hes not a consistent distributor and game director. He didnt create much offense for his team, and didnt always take good decisions. Hes a rather explosive player who can easily take his opponents off the dribble, but he would often find himself unsure about how to follow his slashing move, not finding his teammates fluidly, and sometimes running into dead-ends.
However, he did also left plenty of intrigue. Besides his ability to easily beat his match-ups relying on his athleticism and ball-handling, Nocedal looked good shooting from behind the arc, and showcased his remarkable off-the-dribble ability with his jumper, connecting on a wild mid-range attempt. He also showed his athleticism finishing a cut with a layup high off the glass and especially with an aggressive put-back dunk as he attacked the offensive glass storming in from the perimeter. He also looked good in transition, dishing a few excellent passes. Defensively, he had some troubles against the very quick American point guard he had to defend for some stretches, so he might need to work a bit on his lateral quickness.
Theres nothing much more to say. Only that he can really benefit from this stint in Merida, earning valuable experience that should allow him to mature as a point guard and settle his game down.
State of the Prospect: Whos Hot
George Tsintsadze led Tartu Rock past Ural Great to clinch a place in the FIBA Eurocup Final Four. He stepped up in the third game of the series with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists to punctuate his teams historical accomplishment with this achievement. He was also named as a starter in the FIBA EuroCup all-star game later this month, also to be held in Cyprus.
Tadija Dragicevic keeps rolling with massive scoring efforts, and actually this time he went for a career-high 34 points while leading Red Star over the weak Slovan. Dragicevic added 10 points and 4 assists, and now leads the Adriatic League both in efficiency and scoring (20.4 points per game).
Nando De Colo, of course, with another ridiculous performance this past weekend in the LNB. 29 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists to lead his team Cholet over the league leader Le Mans. Hes probably a top-5 international prospect in terms of performance level (lets throw him in with the likes of Rubio, Gallinari, Pekovic and Dragicevic, for example).
Serge Ibaka delivered his sixth double-double of the season (hes barely fallen short a few other times as well) with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a monstrous 7 blocks. His input was instrumental for LHospitalet to beat Ciudad de la Laguna Canarias. He leads the LEB Oro in rejections, with 3.1 per game.
State of the Prospect: Whos Not
Miroslav Raduljicas first season with FMPs first team is going pretty unnoticed. Working under the shadow of the rather effective Peja Samardziski, he has only been able to crack the court for 8 minutes a game, averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds (which, on the other hand, is not bad production for that highly limited playing time). Since mid January he hasnt been able to stay on the court for double digit minutes, and his scoring high dates back to October. Its not precisely the situation we would have envisioned for a guy who cracked the all-tournament team back in the 2006 European Junior Championship.