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Prodigies: Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert

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In the latest installment of the Prodigies Series, we will be evaluating Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. Both big men have a superior level of talent but affect the game in different ways. Davis employs balanced scoring and defensive ability for the Pelicans, while Gobert is a quintessential energy guy whose defense, rebounding and high field goal percentage have been a major asset for the Jazz this season.

Davis is top ten in scoring, rebounding and blocks and is having a historic season. He was recently selected to be a starter in this year’s All-Star game, his 4th All-Star selection. Despite being snubbed from this year’s All-Star game, Gobert is having a breakout season. He is the only player in the league ranked in the top-5 in rebounds and blocks and who averages at least 12.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both Davis and Gobert.

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

12.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 66% FG, 66% FT:

Strengths –

Offensive End

Pick-and-Roll (Roller) – In short clock situations as the roll man in pick-and-roll (P&R) action, Gobert has been highly effective, scoring 19 points on 10 possessions, ranking him as the best player in the league in this category. Gobert has also dominated in high ball screen action, where he ranks in the 99th percentile in the league, averaging 1.5 points per possession. 62 percent of his P&R production is generated from high ball screen action. Not surprisingly, Gobert has no pick-and-pop opportunities this year and solely relies on slips and rolls to the basket out of P&Rs.

Transition – Gobert is feasting in transition, averaging 1.62 points per possession, scoring 60 points on 37 possessions. He ranks as the fourth most efficient transition scorer in the league (99th percentile). Gobert is a great rim runner and is crushing opposing defenses with his scoring efficiency running the middle of the floor.

Post Play – Gobert is also excelling in the post, where he is in the 86th percentile in scoring efficiency.  The majority share of his scoring comes from flashes to the middle, as opposed to work from the left or right block. When flashing middle, the big man likes to turn over his right shoulder, using either a drop step, hook or drive to the rim to finish.

Defensive End

Defensive Stopper – Gobert is a great post defender, currently ranking in the 86th percentile in the league and giving up on average .67 points per possession. He has allowed 69 points on 103 possessions. Gobert is the fourth best right block defender in the league (98th percentile), giving up just 14 points on 33 possessions. His length bothers the opposition and often forces players into rushed or contested shots.

Pick-and-Roll Coverage – Gobert is a stellar P&R defender when it comes to guarding the pop man. He ranks in the 95th percentile overall when defending the roll man, allowing just .56 points per possession. On pick-and-pop situations, Gobert ranks in the 93rd percentile, giving up .53 points per possession. Again, his length and ability to close space quickly on shooters allows him to effectively contest pick-and-pop bigs.

Isolation – In one-on-one defensive situations, Gobert is also highly effective, giving up just .73 points per possession, ranking him in the 75th percentile in the league. He is especially effective at deterring right side isolation play, ranking in the 90th percentile, giving up just .54 points per possession.

Weaknesses 

Offensive End

Offensive Put Backs – Gobert ranks in the 50th percentile in the league when it comes to offensive put back opportunities. Considering over one fifth of his offense possessions are generated off of put backs, improvement in this area would markedly improve his overall offensive numbers. So far this season, Gobert is averaging 1.07 points per possession, scoring 130 points on 121 possessions.

Scoring On Cuts – Gobert often struggles when utilizing cuts to free himself for opportunities at the rim. He has scored 185 points on 149 possessions off of basket cuts this season, ranking him in the 37th percentile. On flash cuts, he ranks in the 3rd percentile in the league in scoring efficiency.

Isolation Scoring – Gobert’s game is not necessarily based off of creating shots for himself or his teammates. This being said, he is posting only average isolation scoring numbers to this point in the season. He ranks in the 54th percentile in the league in isolation and will usually look to take it all the way to the basket in these situations.

Defensive End

Isolation, Hard Drive Right – It is hard to find many faults in Gobert’s defensive skill set. However, when guarding isolation situations, the big man sometimes struggles. On hard right drives, the opposition has scored 25 points on 24 possessions, ranking Gobert in the 29th percentile on this play type.

Face Up Post Moves – Another area in which Gobert could focus on improving is when his offensive opponents face him up in the post. So far this season, Gobert rates in the 11th percentile in the league in this regard, giving up 17 points on 13 possessions.

Going Under the Screen in P&R Coverage When Gobert has struggled this season when he goes under the screen while guarding the ball handler. In these situations, he is giving up 1.14 points per possession, ranking him in the 28th percentile in the league. This is not surprising as Gobert’s forte is not perimeter defense. However, in order to diversify his defensive skill set further, shoring up his P&R coverage is important.


Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

28 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 50% FG, 79% FT, 30% 3PT

Strengths –

Offensive End

Dribble-Hand-Off – Davis ranks in the 100% percentile as the most efficient player in the league with dribble-hand-offs, averaging 1.62 points per possession. Davis finds rhythm in hand-off opportunities and mixes things up often by driving to the rim or taking mid-range pull ups.

Isolation – Davis also excels going one-on-one, averaging .96 points per possession, ranking him in the 72nd percentile in the league. He is equally effective from the right and left sides of the floor, ranking in the 79th percentile in the league in scoring efficiency from both. Davis can drive it both right and left and has been successfully getting to the middle of the lane for finishes as well as driving it baseline. This being said, Davis prefers getting to his left hand drive. He is an efficient drive and pull-up jump shooter in isolation situations.

Transition Scoring – Like Gobert below, Davis is a highly effective transition scorer. He is averaging 1.19 points on 122 possessions. This ranks him in the 66th percentile in the league. Davis’ versatile skill set allows him to run the break. As the ball handler this season, he has been superb, ranking in the 92nd percentile in the league. Davis has also scored the ball well as the trailer in transition, where he fills in for open jumpers and at times will use his momentum in transition to get downhill at the rim off-the-dribble.

Defensive End

P&R Coverage (Roller) – Davis has been effective guarding pick-and-pop screeners thus far this season, holding the opposition to .58 points per possession and ranking him in the 88th percentile in the league. When the screener has slipped to the rim, Davis has also proven effective, ranking in the 68th percentile, while limiting opposing teams to .9 points per possessions. His mobility and length allow him to close the distance to shooters on pops.

Isolation Coverage – As a one-on-one defender, Davis has been great this season. He ranks in the 65th percentile, giving up 35 points on 44 possessions. He is capable of guarding from either wing and ranks in the 82nd percentile in the league when it comes to guarding jump shooters. His length, athleticism and ability to close the distance to a shooter have helped in this regard. He also will look to contest the sight line of the shooter, further throwing off the offensive player.

Spot Up Defender – When players are spotting up within their offensive schemes, Davis has been very effective in limiting their scoring efficiency. In pure catch-and-shoot situations this season, Davis ranks in the 72nd percentile, scoring 91 points on 94 possessions. On drives to the basket, Davis has limited opponents to 26 points on 25 possessions.

Weaknesses –

Offensive End

Perimeter Shooting – As versatile as Davis has become, his three-point shooting stands to improve. He is shooting 29 percent from the three-point line, making 21 out of 72 attempts this season. Three-point jump shots make up 20 percent of Davis’ overall field goal attempts. Thus, any improvement upwards in percentage could have a huge impact on his overall scoring efficiency.

Isolation jumpers – In isolation plays where Davis shoots a no-dribble-jumper, he is shooting just 33 percent, ranking in the 24th percentile in the league. He is averaging .73 points per possession in this category, scoring 21 points on 29 possessions. It seems as if Davis lacks rhythm when shooting a jumper without a dribble. Working in a jab step series could help provide the flow he might require to become a consistent isolation jump shooter with no dribble.

Top of Key Isolation – Davis has struggled when he has gone one-on-one from the top of the key. He currently ranks in the 23rd percentile in the league in this category and finds himself either driving it left or shooting without driving. His tendency to drive it hard left often leaves him running into help side defenders.

Defensive End

Top of Key Isolation Coverage – Davis has also struggled guarding from the top of the key when it comes to isolation play. He has scored 21 points on 19 possessions, averaging 1.1 points per possession. Davis has a tendency to come out of his defensive stance when guarding ball handlers. This hurts him as players look to drive it right by him. He ranks in the 25th percentile from the floor in this category.

Left Block (Right Shoulder Finishes) – Davis has given up 22 points on 21 possessions when players turn over their right shoulder in the post. This ranks him in the 30th percentile in the league. Often, players look to drop step Davis baseline to finish at the rim.

Pick-and-Roll (Ball Handler) – When the pick-and-roll ball handler goes away from the screen, Davis has struggled this year as he is giving up 1.1 points per possession. When players refuse screens like this against Davis, most of the time they are looking to get to a one or two dribble pull-up. Davis ranks in the 16th percentile when guarding refusal pull-ups in ball screen action.

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It’s clear that both of these are very talented and are big-time difference makers for their respective teams. Amazingly, both of these young players have a lot of room for improvement and still haven’t hit their physical primes yet.

In the next part of this series, Basketball Insiders will evaluate the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond and The Los Angeles Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell.

 

 

* All statistics are courtesy of Synergy and Basketball-Reference.com and are current as of February 2, 2017.

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About Jake Rauchbach

Jake Rauchbach

After playing four years of college basketball at Drexel University, Jake Rauchbach coached at the collegiate level, founded The MindRight Pro Program and trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes. Now, Rauchbach writes about the NBA and college basketball for Basketball Insiders and serves as the Player Performance Specialist for Temple University's men's basketball team.