From a physical standpoint Ayton looks like a man amongst boys with his overwhelming physique. He’s has incredibly long arms and wide shoulders, looking far too developed for a 17 year-old. He really looks fluid running the court and changes ends with great mobility. As a finisher, Ayton showed the ability to finish off 1 or 2 feet at high speeds with impressive power. Offensively, Ayton was a mixed bag. In catch and shoot drills he was making a majority of his threes. He turns a bit to the side when he shoots, but he looks to have consistent mechanics. He’s definitely more comfortable in face up situations (though in the 5 on 5 scrimmage Ayton missed all of his jump shots from my tabulation) and even flashed as a passer hitting a cutter. One consistent theme throughout the practice was World coach Roy Rana instructing Ayton to dive harder in PNR. Ayton finally did on the best play of the night, a 4/5 PNR with Justin Jackson in the third installment of the scrimmage, and he finished with a thunderous dunk. Defensively is where Ayton can potentially really shine. On the first play of 5 on 5s he picked up Ziming Fan near the three-point line and just dislodged the hell out of him. He was matched up with Fan throughout most of the scrimmage and just overwhelmed him physically. He also flashed defending PNR with quick feet and the ability to recover, as evidenced by one play where Jackson thought he had an easy finish and Ayton recovered to challenge with his long arms. Overall, Ayton looks like an absolute physical specimen from a few feet away, and while he is raw offensively his baseline skill-set as a versatile offensive player, defensive mobility and rebounding dominance is there.
Cordinier flashed his explosive athleticism with two sudden yet tremendously bouncy/powerful finishes in 2 on 1s. I’ve seen some of him before but it’s another thing to see him do it in person. He’s not very big or physically imposing despite having broader shoulders then I expected, but he can really elevate. In shooting drills Cordinier probably went 5-20 from 3, but his mechanics were consistent with good elevation and high release point shooting on the way up. I’m guessing he’ll shoot better over the next few days. He really stood out to me in ancillary ways throughout the practice with things like stopping Ayton on a 2 on 1 and finishing box outs. He also had a really nice back cut (I believe in the scrimmage). He didn’t handle the ball much, ceding that duty to Andres Feliz, so it’s hard to assess his handle (though he did get stripped in his one straight line drive during 3 on 2s). Defensively, I didn’t get a great read on his consistency having to watch 10 guys at once, but he definitely flashed his insane lateral quicks.
Jackson is the second most physically developed player here behind Ayton (he mostly manned the 4 spot in the scrimmage as a result) but doesn’t have Ayton’s raw athleticism or explosiveness. Jackson really flashed throughout the practice with his catch and shoot 3 point shooting prowess. He has more of a set shot, getting little elevation, but he has great arc and consistent mechanics. He shot well over every stage of the practice, and his combination of size, strength and shooting is apparent. He also has some off the bounce game, cooking Froling once and making a great read/pocket pass to Ayon in PNR as mentioned above.
As expected, Kostas has noticeable length to pair with plus athleticism, being the only player to my knowledge that logged multiple deflections denying the ball in shell drills. He’s incredibly raw offensively with an inconsistent release, but his combination of size, length and athleticism is intriguing. He also had a sweet block on Froling during the scrimmage.
Fan is definitely more of a face-up shooter with good skill level than a physical back to the basket player. His looks like a plus shooter and hit an impressive fadeaway jumper over Ayton in scrimmage, but Ayton overwhelmed him from a physique standpoint. Fan also gave up the corner in PNR D numerous times to penetrating guards, and doesn’t look to have plus mobility laterally.
Froling definitely does not look the part of a legitimate prospect, looking like the antithesis of athletic with his build. But throughout the practice I understood why he is here. His shot is flat and a set shot with no elevation, but it’s pretty effective (he shot well in drills). He did the small things in 5 on 5s like hustling down for an early seal catch and making one of the best plays of the practice in completing a direct tip pass off an offensive rebound to a cutter for the basket, showing tremendous vision/awareness. That being said, Froling’s lack of athleticism was apparent, as he got blowtorched several times in isolation defense and failed to contain in PNR. He’ll need to win in the mental and skill game to be an effective player.
Edin Antic and Martynas Varnas
Neither player really impressed from a physical standpoint or with flash plays in drills (Antic was pretty physical throughout blocking Fan in 2 on 1s and taking a charge in the same drill, while Varnas won the team sprint). But when 5 on 5s started both players looked like different guys. Varnas made two catch and shoot 3s and had a few advanced passes on drives with small reaction time on the move showing great feel. He also rejected a screen and finished on a contested floater through contact despite not having good burst or lift. Similarly, Antic made some nice passes/reads on the move off of cuts, and also added good instincts defending the perimeter with two deflections. Again, both players don’t really stand out at first glance, but both seem like gamers.
Andres Feliz, William McDowell-White and Moji Silva
I didn’t see a ton of either of the lead guards or Silva in individual drills because they were all positioned on the other side of the court. From what I saw Feliz is definitely a below the rim player, but was clearly the leader of his squad in scrimmage calling multiple huddles. McDowell-White has an effective set shot from 3 but doesn’t have much going towards the basket. Lastly, Silva displayed quick feet with choppy steps on closeouts in defensive drills and seemed to shoot really well off the catch squaring up in shooting drills, but didn’t flash at all in the scrimmage.
I was disappointed to see Thon Maker (as well as Lauri Markkanen) drop out. I saw Maker in person a year ago and he looked woefully uncoordinated with almost no feel on the court. Was looking forward to seeing the improvement from the Youtube phenom. Apparently Udoka Azubuike is on his way here (he wasn’t at practice today). After seeing him in the McDonalds game the matchup with him and Ayton from a physical standpoint should be fantastic.
Tomorrow’s practice is again just the World team from 6-8 pm PST. I might throw up more thoughts after.
GM Count in Attendance: 3
Neil Olshey reminds me so much of Pete Carroll in person it’s scary.