After two sub-par days, Isaac Bonga got back on track to some extent on day three. Tossing in some floaters and scoring one memorable and-one taking contact at the rim, Bonga seemed to gain confidence as the day wore on. Playing almost exclusively on the ball, he showed an ability to find teammates out of the pick and roll thanks to his tremendous size, timing, and vision. At his best when he can grab and go in transition, Bonga's limitations as a shooter and ability to get into the paint against high level competition are still a point of interest, but he looked far more comfortable making things happen with the ball in his hands today.
Isaac Bonga measured 6'8.75 in shoes with a 6'11.75 wingspan, just off the marks he set the Basketball Without Borders Camp a few months ago. After showing well against his peers there, Bonga has faced an uphill battle here, as has traditionally been true of the 17 year olds invited to this camp. His jump shot remains a major work in progress and he wasn't able to create as freely off the dribble against the athletic, experienced group assembled here as he does at the junior level, raising some questions about his position against high level competition.
Isaac Bonga spent much of the 2017 season with Frankfurt's second team in the German Third Division, where he averaged an impressive 10.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4 assists per game amid appearances in the German First Division. A 6'9 wing/point forward with a budding skill-set, a sky-high basketball IQ, a 7'0 wingspan, and tremendous versatility, Bonga is just scratching the surface on the player he'll be in the future. Scouts will be keeping a close eye on his decision-making with the ball and ability to hit jump shots consistently.
Isaac Bonga, 6'10, PG/SF, Frankfurt, Germany, 1999
Strengths: -Measured 6'8 ½ without shoes with a 7'0 wingspan. Has the size of a power forward but the skill-set of a guard -Frame continues to fill out. Legs on skinny side but should get stronger in time -Jumper looks good in drills, mechanics certainly not broken. Will throw in an occasional 3-pointer that leaves room for optimism -Legitimately plays PG at 6'10. Has a tremendous feel for seeing over the top of the defense and finding open man. -Operates at a unique pace, with fancy footwork and change of speeds and directions. Intelligent about drawing fouls -Loves making overhead skip passes. Sees both sides of the floor and uses the weakside intuitively. Makes skip passes right into teammates' shooting pocket -Picks up plays quickly. Very intelligent and absorbent. Directs teammates and likes to run the show -Plays with an impressive motor defensively. Flies all over the place and shows multi-positional potential -Playmaker who gets in the passing lanes, blocks shots and has great instincts getting on the glass
Weaknesses: -Really struggles to make shots in games. Splays his legs apart on the catch. Has a slow release. Demonstrates questionable touch -Career 14/58 for 3 (24%) and 68% FT% in 50 DX database games. Will struggle to reach his full potential without a consistent jumper -Just an average athlete in a traditional run/jump. Not overly quick or explosive. Ranked poorly in many of the athletic testing measures conducted at the Camp. -Had trouble at times at this camp when being matched up with longer and more athletic players who can stay in front of him and take advantage of his high dribble -Not always able to finish in traffic over length -Fairly turnover prone in almost every setting he's played in. Career 30% turnover percentage in DX database games. -Tries to thread the needle with impossible passes. Drives looking strictly for assists
Outlook: An extremely unique prospect, Bonga has a very rare combination of size, creativity, instincts, feel for the game and defensive intensity. Similar to what Kyle Anderson has encountered in the NBA, there are question marks about his quickness, shooting and position, and how his game will translate to the highest levels of competition. He certainly is not the type of guy who will work for every coach and roster, but has such a high basketball IQ it's difficult not to be enamored with his versatility at this age group.
Bogdan Karaicic takes a closer look at Isaac Bonga's 26-point performance against likely postseason qualifier Leverkusen in the German third division (Pro B). Bonga had his best game of the season only few weeks removed from a strong showing at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Kaunas.
Bonga turned 17 in November, but is nevertheless holding his own in a professional league against grown men. The German-born forward of Congolese descent is averaging 18.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per-40 minutes over his last 10 games.
Bogdan Karaicic is a video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out his website BHoops.com for more video breakdowns. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us, so check out his archive frequently.
-Bonga will be one of the main attractions at this camp for NBA scouts, as he's established himself as one of the top international prospects born in 1999 with strong showings at the U16 European Championship, the NBA Basketball Without Borders Europe Camp in September, and recently the adidas Next Generation Tournament in Kaunas. He's already seen a handful of minutes at the pro level in first division Germany with Frankfurt, and is coming off some very strong performances recently in the third division, where he plays mostly at point guard despite standing 6'9. Bonga's ball-handling, passing and overall creativity give him great upside to grow into, but NBA scouts will want to get a better feel for where he stands in terms of his perimeter shooting and explosiveness, areas where he'll have to improve to reach his full potential as a prospect.
Strengths -Impressive set of physical tools for a point forward at 6' 10 with a 7' 0 wingspan. Somewhat narrow-shouldered but a solid frame that will continue to fill out. -Extremely fluid with impressive footwork for his size. Long strides. Can weave in and out of traffic in transition. -Very impressive basketball instincts and court vision. Plays an unselfish brand. Plays point guard and really always has. Sees over the top of the defense at 6' 10. Very comfortable finding the roll man out of ball screens. Uses both sides of the floor. Can push and playmake in transition. -Quick feet allow him to change speeds and directions on a dime as the primary ball handler. Fairly advanced handle for his size. Regularly uses hesitation dribbles to beat his man and get into the teeth of the defense. -Fairly quick twitch defensively in large part due to his agility. Plays hard on the defensive end regularly picked up point guards 94 feet, sliding quite impressively for his size. Length and anticipation allows him to make plays off the ball 4.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes at the ANGT. -Stroke isn't broken when he's left alone. Has made strides there. A bit slow and mechanical but the ball comes out okay with decent rotation. -Solid instincts on the glass. -May not have reached his athletic potential first action back after missing time with a thigh injury. Could gain some explosiveness as his lower body fills out. -Great teammate and high intangible kid. At his best with talent around him, which Frankfurt didn't have all that much of at the ANGT.
Weaknesses -More smooth than explosive, especially as a leaper. Plays almost exclusively below the rim at this stage. Lack of bounce really hurts him as a finisher 43.2% from two in Kaunas. -Can he score efficiently in the half court? Not much of a threat to pull up off the dribble unless he's given time and space. Has some touch but jumper still needs work, especially the speed of his release. Lack of speed, average explosiveness at the rim coupled with a shaky jumper makes him quite guardable in the half court once he's playing with players that have similar physical profiles -Improved as the tournament went on but he lacks a degree of alpha dog mentality. Tends to defer a little too often. Very unselfish but, with a fairly underwhelming supporting cast next to him, Frankfurt could have used more of a scoring punch and aggression from him. -Turnover prone in large part due to his tendency to overpass. Will get into the teeth of the defense with a chance to finish at the rim and force a pass to the dunker or kick to a non-shooter. Playmaker by default at times. -Tall and long, but he isn't overly wide shouldered. -Will a team make him their primary ball-handler? Not very effective off the ball because he's not a great shooter and is really best as a playmaker. Will be best on a team that will play him on the ball.
Outlook The 17-year-old German (Congolese parents) point forward was far and away the best long-term prospect in Kaunas thanks to his unique blend of physical tools and basketball instincts. Without much talent around him, Bonga struggled at times to score efficiently, something that's not exactly in his nature anyway, but he showed enough of his talent and versatility on both ends of the floor, averaging 18.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes. Bonga has some clear areas for improvement namely scoring in the half court, limiting turnovers and knowing when to score and when to facilitate but 6' 10 point forward types with length, fluidity, defensive potential and a strong basketball instincts don't grow on trees, making Bonga a very intriguing prospect for the 2018 NBA Draft.
Strengths -Has tremendous size for any perimeter position, having measured 6'9 in shoes -Body is underdeveloped but has significant potential to continue to improve. May be able to increase his athleticism significantly in turn -Big hands and very long arms -Rangy and fluid athlete who operates at different speeds. Has long strides operating downhill -Spent quite a few minutes at the point guard position and looked comfortable doing so -Extremely effective taking rebounds off the defensive glass and igniting the fast break -Has a highly advanced feel for the game for someone his age -Plays with a calm and mature demeanor -Creative and unselfish passer who regularly makes highlight reel caliber plays seeing over the top of the defense. Finds teammates sprinting the floor in full stride with pinpoint passes for layups -Shows solid touch from the perimeter. Regularly makes 3-pointers. Throws the ball in the basket when left open despite his unconventional mechanics. -Already a highly versatile and effective defender with the potential to develop into a huge threat on this end of the floor. -Likes to play defense and has incredible tools to do so thanks to his size, length, instincts and competitiveness. Covers ground extremely well. Gets in a stance, moves his feet and can pressure the ball -Racks up blocks, steals and rebounds at a very impressive rate.
Weaknesses -Not overly explosive vertically. More fluid than anything. How much more athletic will he get in time? -Misses more shots around the basket than you might hope -Only 188 pounds. Lacks strength in a serious way at the moment, especially in the lower body. Affects him significantly as a driver where he isn't strong enough currently with the ball -Jump-shot is a work in progress. Doesn't have a natural stroke. Has a long and slow release. Guides the ball with his off hand Doesn't show much ability to make pull-up jumpers if the defense cuts off his driving angles. Needs to work on his off the dribble shooting ability. -Needs to improve his ability to operate without the ball. Not just with his shooting but also as a cutter. Needs a lot of dribbles at the moment to be effective -Still figuring out how to value the ball consistently. Makes a lot of unnecessarily risky passes trying to thread the needle for highlight reel caliber passes. -Has suffered some nagging injuries early on that hopefully won't hamper him long term
Outlook: Easily the best long-term prospect at the event. Draw quite a few comparisons to Giannis Antetokounmpo from scouts in attendance with his style of play. Born in Germany, but parents emigrated from Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the early 90s. Comes from a soccer family. Older brother plays professionally for Leverkusen, while older sister also competes at a high level. Has all the makings of a special prospect with his size, ball-handling ability, passing and defensive versatility, but will need to improve his shooting significantly to reach his full potential long term, as he isn't an overly prolific scorer at the moment. Was identified early on as a top-level talent in his age group in Germany. Invited to play at the U16 European Championship already as a 14-year old.