Notebook: 3-Nov-2017

Lessort’s jumpshot, Braunschweig’s Backscreen, Full Court Press, Walkup’s Defense and an Isaac Bonga Update in today’s notebook entry.

Small Sample Size Theater? Lessort knocking down jumpers

Mathias Lessort is known for verticality and ability to cover ground on defense, but his jumpshot appears to be coming along nicely too. After reviewing video, he’s 7-9 now on jumpshots; the only misses came on a late-clock three yesterday against Bamberg and an out-of-rhythm mid range two versus Zalgiris.

Lessort was 14-35 on jumpshots last season, according to Synergy Sports.

Braunschweig’s Backscreen & Press

Braunschweig came off a nearly two week break yesterday to produce their best offensive game to date in a 92-87 win in Erfurt, combining for 31 assists and 10-19 three point shooting.

In a game that was close throughout 40 minutes, clinical 4th quarter execution put them over the top, largely by causing — and capitalizing on — confusion with pick and roll back screen plays (commonly referred to as “Spain” now, though “Željko” would be more fitting).

Erfurt did defend this poorly, but confusion is what can happen when you throw the pick and roll backscreen at opponents late in games without having used it frequently prior to that.

Braunschweig hold a 3-4 record despite being one of the BBL’s low budget teams, and they were highly competitive in their losses, with the exception of a blow out defeat in Munich.

Their staple so far has been pesky full court defense, where they (especially Dennis Schröder BFF Bazou Koné) apply a lot of pressure & disrupt. They currently sit at number five in press percentage in Synergy Sports’ international leaderboards.

Full Court Press %

Team % PPP TOV%
1 Ludwigsburg 41.7 0.79 24.1
2 Latvijas Univ. 36.6 0.94 14.0
3 Illawara Hawks 35.1 0.86 18.4
4 Adelaide 36ers 30.6 0.72 16.1
5 Braunschweig 30.1 0.89 22.1
6 Zalgiris 27.9 0.89 23.9
7 Leicester Riders 26.8 0.84 16.2
8 Mega Bemax 26.7 0.84 15.3
9 Bakken Bears 26.5 0.82 22.2
10 Leuven Bears 26.1 0.99 16.7

Leading the full court press top ten is Ludwigsburg, who held top position in two of the previous three years too (John Patrick gets booked for full court press clinics all over the globe). Illawara and Mega Bemax also appear regularly in the top ten.

Speaking of Ludwigsburg:

Walkup wreaking havoc

Even the most casual college basketball watchers remember Thomas Walkup dropping 33 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists on West Virginia in the 2016 NCAA Tournament’s 1st Round. Following his exceptional career with Stephen F. Austin was a rather quiet year in the D-League, where he averaged 7.6 PPG in 24.4 MPG, and 28.2% three point shooting.

Scoring is slightly up this season for Ludwigsburg, largely thanks to 16-40 three point shooting, but it’s defense & hustle (+ passing) that make Walkup an impact player.

He’s a tremendous full court defender, mentally locked in, covering ground, anticipating. He’s also arguably one of the BBL’s top ball screen defenders, fighting hard over screens, contesting shots & passes, executing quick switches when necessary, holding his ground in box out situations.

This isn’t coming out of nowhere. Walkup has long been an incredibly pesky defender who goes to work no matter the situation, even in garbage time of an NBA preseason game:

Bonga Update

Isaac Bonga’s season has been positive so far: 3 starts in 7 BBL games, 22.5 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 8-18 from two, 5-9 from three. He’s one of multiple ballhandlers on a team that usually employs three guard lineups, and the move from full time ball dominator (for the Skyliners’ junior team) to more of a balanced role has helped him showcase his improved spot up shooting and accurate high low passing & ball reversals in perimeter catch situations. He’s also shown good decision making & court vision as a transition passer.

Furthermore, he’s making strides as a defender particularly off the ball (small forward is his current and likely future defensive position), reading the passing lanes, getting deflections and generally making use of his length/mobility.

Bonga has been an on ball player for all of his junior basketball career so far, yet (naturally) in the BBL this is the area he’s having issues in. He’s committed 8 turnovers in 33 pick and rolls and is 0-1 on pull up jumpers. He did show glimpses of an off dribble jumper last January at the Kaunas Adidas Next Generation Tournament but needs time & space to release. He’s 3-8 from two and 0-9 from three in a ball-dominant role for Frankfurt’s junior team in the 3rd Division.

He’s not a close range finisher at this point, often ending dribble drives on runners (which he has good touch on though) and rarely getting all the way to the rim.

This is an issue of upper body strength & footwork. No reason to panic though; Bonga is only turning 18 on the 8th of November.