NBA Position: 3&D Wing w/ Ball Skills
1.Positional Size/Athleticism: At reportedly 6’7″ 205 pounds and a 6’11” wingspan, Luwawu has prototype size for an NBA wing. He has more of a traditional “shooting guard” build, but with his length and athleticism he should be able to defend most “small forward” size (there are like 3 people on the planet who can competently guard bigger wings like Durant, which somehow goes consistently overlooked). He doesn’t have a slight frame, and looks to be able to put on muscle with relatively broad shoulders.
Luwawu is an outstanding open court athlete who flashes an outlier speed, burst and lift combination as a transition finisher:
This one is especially fantastic:
The acceleration, raw speed and bouncy athleticism is apparent. This guy is the European Highlight Reel.
2.Shooting: Luwawu is an adept shooter off the catch, possessing clean, fluid mechanics without any wasted motion outside of a slight ball dip, despite having a lower release point. He looks to turn slightly to his left side to better align his elbow keeping it tucked in, a technique becoming more popular for modern day shooters. While he typically follows through in consistent fashion, sometimes (especially off the dribble) he short-circuits his fluid motion.
In regards to off the dribble shooting, Luwawu is a mixed bag, demonstrating positive rhythm tendencies but also exhibiting poor shot selection and mechanics breakdowns.
Spot Ups: Luwawu shows promising signs a rhythm shooter, catching the ball in shooting position on the hop and immediately rising up to shoot:
Again, Luwawu catches in rhythm on the hop in shooting position:
There is even less wasted motion on this attempt with no ball dip, even though he doesn’t hold his follow-through as long as usual:
Off Screens: Luwawu has the ability to run off screens and set his feet quickly with clean 1-2 footwork to get shots off before the defense can recover:
On this BLOB notice how quick he can set his feet and shoot over a contest, which is crucial to combat his lower release point:
This is perhaps the most impressive shot I’ve seen Luwawu make, sprinting off stagger screens on a floppy set, setting his feet to gather quickly and knocking down the shot:
For an off-ball wing, the ability to knock down shots like this (and earn the defenses respect/gravity) is an enormous plus, and Luwawu shows at least promising signs of doing so.
Off the Dribble:Even off the bounce, Luwawu flashes legitimate NBA Range:
Luwawu doesn’t have an advanced handle as will be touched on below, but he has enough juice there for basic step-back moves and the off the dribble shot-making to compliment it:
He is a threat to make off the dribble 3pt shots in PNR, which affords him added scheme-changing potential since defenses have to respect his shot (conceptually):
Here, he takes a little bit of a rhythm hop and again demonstrates the ability to get his shot off even with little airspace:
Again, we see a consistent effort to shoot in rhythm off a slight hop, this time via a DHO:
It’s not all as positive as the above GIFs make it seem. You don’t shoot 40.2% from the field on 393 attempts, 35.8% from 3 on 176 attempts and 69.7% from the line on 142 attempts over the course of a season by accident. While a vastly improved shooter over last season, Luwawu still suffers from shot selection and shot mechanic meltdowns off the dribble.
Here, he takes a contested fadeaway pull-up long 2, never getting his legs fully under him and not getting proper lift:
Again, Luwawu settles for a poor quality pull up contested shot drifting without setting his feet (he also missed his teammate wide open on the opposite side, and had enough time on the clock to diagnose the play):
Finally, he takes another contested long two, kicking his foot out and leaning back:
(I decided to attach one successful GIF to provide evidence he does make these occasionally):
I’ve watched a good 5 or 6 full games of Luwawu this season, and I’m willing to wager a lot of his minus shooting % is tied to shot selection/off the dribble shooting with a higher usage adjusting to a more competitive league. He’s also not a reliable finisher at the basket in the half-court, but shows flashes of ambidextarity and touch.
Handle: Luwawu has a pretty loose handle at this stage, and despite flashing advanced fluidity and control, he is best operating in large spaces at this juncture:
Despite the finish here, you can again see the loose handle losing control on a simple crossover:
But let’s get to the good stuff..
First Step: Luwawu has a plus first step from a stand-still, showing fantastic immediate acceleration and burst to blow by defenders:
Here, Luwawu blows by a closeout to finish with good body control and touch:
Burst: Paired with a plus first step, Luwawu has good burst and speed to turn the corner and get to the basket (admittedly here he probably could have taken a better angle and drawn a foul):
PNR Navigation: As the fulcrum of nearly every NBA offense, it is a huge plus for multiple perimeter players to be able to run a simple PNR set (even if the defense is already in rotation) and playmake out of that action. Luwawu has enough handling juice and the raw athleticism to navigate his way to the basket for emphatic finishes:
Luwawu again uses a cross-over to freeze the big man defender coming off stagger screens to get the basket for the left hand finish:
Dribble Moves + Finishing: Despite a loose handle, Luwawu does put some encouraging dribble drive fluidity potential on tape with fantastic COD:
Here, he freezes the big with a hesitation dribble going left to get to the basket:
Not just pure burst and speed, Luwawu can use his body to dislodge defenders on drives and has underrated body control to finish with either hand:
Again, he’s not an overly adept finisher yet at this stage in the half-court on non dunks, but he has displayed the dribble skills to get to the basket and finish through contact:
Speaking of the finishing concerns, this is one of many ill-advised attempts going towards the basket that contribute to that FG% that keep analytics draft geek twitter up at night:
Passing: With 91 assists to 94 turnovers on the season, Luwawu’s decision-making stats profile isn’t super encouraging, but there are positive indicators beneath the surface on top of just being generally an unselfish player.
PNR Passing/Reads: Luwawu is capable of making all the reads in pick and roll, flashing good vision (albeit inconsistently) on passes such as this hitting the dive man:
He is also capable of making the simple read as he hits the big popping on a pocket pass:
Passing On the Move: Luwawu demonstrates the ability to read the defense on the move attacking the rim, here off of a closeout at high speed showing outstanding vision:
This is another theoretically simple but promising display of understanding and intelligence on the dribble-drive drop-off:
Unselfish Nature: Luwawu is generally reported to be an unselfish, team first guy, and that stands out on film with his ability to immediately swing the ball and not hold to let the defense reset:
Cutting: Similar to rebounding below I wont expand on this much, but Luwawu is a very capable cutter/slasher with his speed and athleticism:
4.Defense/Rebounding: Luwawu possesses fantastic speed, quickness and quick twitch change of direction defending the perimeter. Right now he’s most promising on ball, where his raw physical tools are put on full display harassing ball-handlers.
On Ball Pressure Defense: Here, Luwawu picks up full court and mirrors the ball-handler stride for stride applying incredible on ball pressure. Notice the immediate acceleration back to the handler once he gets slightly dislodged. That’s rare:
Again, Luwawu picks up beyond mid-court, turns the ball-handler once and ultimately cuts off his path in transition:
Not to be outdone, Luwawu turns the handler twice this time before picking him clean with his plus wingspan:
Speaking of picking ball handlers clean:
The speed and agility to stay right on the handler’s hip pressing here is just absolutely mesmerizing (also notice the arms out):
On Ball PNR/Perimeter D: Luwawu is not the most consistent pick and roll defender, but when he sits down and stays technically sound he can be incredibly effective. In terms of getting around screens at the point of attack, Luwawu shows fantastic foot speed, agility and footwork to get over the screen and maintain heavy ball pressure on the handler:
Here, he switches onto the handler, diverts him almost all the way back to mid-court cutting off penetration before switching again to a big:
He shows core strength here absorbing the screen but bounces right off to complete the trap:
With all Luwawu’s in your face pressure defense, he is bound to get blown by at times, which happens in the following situation where he shades too far inside and doesn’t move his feet:
Off Ball Defense: Luwawu doesn’t have elite off of ball instincts that result in an obscene amount of steals, but he has outstanding closing speed to shoot gaps and cover ground quickly. This SLOB is pretty telegraphed, but Luwawu’s closing speed is on full display:
He’s also not an advanced team defender in terms of intelligence yet, but at least puts simple actions like stunting and recovering on film to see:
As with many younger wings, Luwawu is prone to ball-watching sometimes and sagging overaggressively down to the paint. Here, he gets caught in no man’s land for no apparent reason and gives up the corner 3 look:
Here, Luwawu helps one pass away digging down on the drive when it’s not his help assignment, giving up a made 3 this time:
Transitioning to closeout defense, Luwawu shows an outstanding combination of quick twitch agility, change of direction balance and effort to finish the play here on a closeout contest:
Conversely, here he doesn’t use choppy steps to stay balanced, instead lazily closing out with longer strides and getting blown by:
Rebounding: I’m not going to go in to detail here, but as you could imagine Luwawu has the athleticism and bounciness to high point rebounds over taller players in traffic:
5.Intelligence/Intangibles: There were potential yellow flag reports for a while that Luwawu’s demonstrative on-court nature at times carried over to the locker room in negative fashion, but I asked around and multiple connected people have only heard positive things/he’s a good kid.
Luwawu is a rare potential two-way big who has enough ball-skills to run a pick and roll + pass while having promising shooting mechanics. That archetype does not grow on trees, especially with Luwawu’s bouncy athleticism. Every team in the league could use a player like Luwawu, as the league currently has a shortage of two-way wings who can shoot and playmake. Despite all this, Luwawu is somehow still flying under the radar in draft circles, placed outside ESPN’s top 30. This player archetype who puts the above content on tape should be given across the board top 5 consideration.
Floor Outcome/Player Comparison: A taller Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with more advanced Ball Skills
Ceiling Outcome/Player Comparison: Poor Man’s Shorter Paul George (very small %)
*Note: He HAS Ball-Skills, so he SHOULD NOT be compared to Thabo Sefolosha.
Big Board Rank: #4