2021 Draft Watch: First Look at Alex Antetokounmpo, Observations on Ziaire Williams and B.J. Boston
September 4th, 2020
by Alan Lu
Recently, Dominican High’s 6-6 high school senior forward, Alex Antetokounmpo signed to play in the Spanish ACB League for UCAM Murcia. Alex Antetokounmpo, who is also another one of Giannis’ younger brothers, is an athletic, skilled basketball player that could be a definite player to watch for the 2021 NBA Draft, so I set out to watch him play for Dominican High in a January 18th game against a Sierra Canyon team that features two potential lottery picks in Ziaire Williams and B.J. Boston, as I saw this with thanks to YouTube via Chicken Fingers. Here are my thoughts on how Alex Antetokounmpo, Williams, and Boston fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.
Alex Antetokounmpo is an athletic, skilled combo forward that likes to handle the basketball, and he is a high-motor player that can make solid plays on both ends of the floor. On the downside, he struggled more to make long-range jumpers or to score consistently off the dribble, and he would sometimes have lapses that would lead him to commit turnovers or to allow scores on the defensive end.
Antetokounmpo can ably score on hustle plays. He appeared to score on an athletic tip slam after leaping up to get an offensive board early on, but instead was called for a basket interference call. He was able to draw free throws on a tip-in after he was not awarded continuation after having been fouled, as he would’ve scored on that if he had been. Late in this game, Antetokounmpo scored on a put back after collecting an offensive rebound. Plus, he also ran the floor and caught a long pass on the break to score on a high-flying, two-handed jam in transition. Plus, he also showed a good ability to score from the post. Antetokounmpo was able to use a pivot move, as he made a nifty fadeaway jumper from the baseline due to possessing good footwork and shooting touch to do so.
However, he struggled more to score consistently off the dribble. On one good play, he was able to use a behind the back dribble move to draw free throws on a drive in transition. However, he tended to miss on contested layups when he would take the ball to the rim, as he generally had trouble finishing plays in traffic. Antetokounmpo was able to make an open three off the catch, but he tended to miss on long-range jumpers from beyond the arc, and he especially struggled to make pull-up jumpers in this game. Too often, he would try crossover and step back threes that would lead to misses. He also attempted a pull-up jumper from the mid-range, but had his shot blocked that time.
Also, he was fairly turnover prone on offense. On the plus side, Antetokounmpo is a ball-handling point forward that can find teammates on the break to set up scoring chances for them, and he also can throw accurate passes off the dribble due to possessing decent court vision. He also can use a behind the back crossover move when handling the ball, as he will look to find the open man to get his teammates the basketball. However, he had a tendency to be too careless when handling the ball, as he had a tendency to lose the basketball at times, and he occasionally would get the ball poked away by his defenders by trying to split double teams on drives to the hoop. He also was called for a basket interference call early on after leaping up to try to get an offensive rebound, and he also dropped a catchable pass out of bounds.
Antetokounmpo did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would actively look to crash the glass, and he was able to leap up to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor. Plus, he would tend to bring the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds for his team.
Defensively, he looked to be about average at best. For the positives, he is an active help defender that excels at forcing turnovers. Antetokounmpo managed to jump on a loose ball when an opposing post player dropped a pass to get a steal, and he also ran in to poke a ball off of an opponent out of bounds to force another turnover. He does a good job of poking balls to prevent opponents from being able to easily handle the basketball, and he will look to stay in front of his man when defending in one-on-one situations. Plus, he also managed to contest a mid-range jump shot to force a miss.
However, sometimes he can tend to have lapses defensively. There would be times where he would not pick up a person or run back hard enough on the defensive end. Another time, he had an opportunity to rotate to defend against an open roll man that was in his area, but opted not to do so nor to challenge the shot, as his team allowed the score that time. He also struggled to defend in the post. Sometimes, he would misplay in his man, as he would allow easy catches down low, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores. Another play, he got outmuscled when defending in the post, as he fell down and was unable to contest the shot, which led his team to allow the score that time.
Overall, Alex Antetokounmpo is an athletic, energetic combo forward that can make solid plays on both ends of the floor. He is a player that can do a little bit of everything, but he will need to improve his jump shot, ability to score off the dribble, and on-ball defense. He is a versatile player that can operate as a point forward or play off the ball, and he may have a similar game to former Houston Rockets’ forward, Terence Morris. Antetokounmpo will likely need to continue to improve and hone his game with UCAM Murcia, as he may need to spend some time overseas to do so, but he could be an intriguing prospect for teams to consider in the second round portion of the 2021 draft.
Stanford’s incoming 6-8 freshman forward, Ziaire Williams played very well for Sierra Canyon to help his team get a double-digit victory. He is a very athletic player that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor, and his dominant performance showed why he’s projected to be a lottery pick for the 2021 draft.
Williams showed a solid ability to knock down jumpers to help his team space the floor on offense. He was able to dribble right off of a screen to make a smooth, pull-up three early on, and he also made an open spot-up three later on. He did miss a mid-range shot from the baseline, but he did a good job of making three-point shots in this game.
Plus, he really excelled at scoring on the break. He would run the floor to score on thunderous dunks in transition. He grabbed an offensive rebound off of his team’s miss to score on a tip slam early on, and he also ran the floor to score on a high-flying jam another time. On a separate play, he caught a lob off the glass to score on a scintillating, alley-oop dunk.
Also, Williams showed a solid ability to score off the dribble, and he was able to drive the ball really fast to the hoop to score on a high-flying dunk on a separate offensive possession. However, sometimes he can be prone to rushing his shots, which can lead to misses. He missed on a two-handed dunk on a drive in transition once, and he also missed on a contested, one-legged fadeaway jumper from the high post another time.
In addition, Williams displayed solid playmaking skills in this game. He is an unselfish player that can throw crisp, accurate interior passes, and he will look to find the open man to set up scores for his teammates. He can find open shooters, is also a good passer in transition, and he also can ably pass off the dribble to find teammates on the move. However, he did drop a pass that went to an opponent early on, and he also threw a long outlet pass that a teammate dropped out of bounds, as both of those plays led to team turnovers.
Adding to that, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Williams was able to leap up to get an offensive board, and he especially excelled at collecting defensive rebounds, as he would sometimes push the ball up the court afterwards.
He also played solid defense. Williams is a long, rangy defender that can make numerous plays on the ball to get stops for his team. When he is focused, he can make eye-popping plays on the defensive end, as he has the physical tools to develop into a shutdown defender at the NBA level. He moves his feet well when defending out on the perimeter, and he was able to stay in front of his man on a drive and block the shot out of bounds, and he also swatted a mid-range jump shot to himself due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing to do so. He also would actively contest and alter three-point shots to force misses, and he would quickly jump passes to get steals.
However, sometimes he doesn’t always move his feet well when defending opponents off the dribble, which can put his team in scrambling situations that lead his team to allow baskets. Another time, he didn’t pick up a man on defense, as his team allowed a score on the break. On a separate play, he sagged too far off his man, which caused his team to allow an opponent to score on a corner three-point shot.
In general, Ziaire Williams is a very athletic swingman that could end up being one of the best prospects of the 2021 draft. He is a stellar scorer in transition, is a good shooter that can make numerous three-point shots from beyond the arc, and also is a very good defender that can guard multiple positions. If he continues to play up to his abilities and turns in a very good freshman season, Williams could end up going very high in the 2021 draft, as he has the skills to end up being a very good player in the NBA.
Kentucky’s incoming 6-6 freshman swingman, B.J. Boston also had a stellar showing to help Sierra Canyon get the win over Dominican High. Boston is a versatile scorer that shoots the ball very well, and he also really excelled as a facilitator and defender to help his team get the victory.
Boston is a good shooter that excelled at making pull-up threes from beyond the arc. He has a lot of range on his shot, but sometimes he would also miss on pull-up jumpers, as he can sometimes be streaky with his jump shot. Plus, he also excelled at scoring on quick drives to the hoop as well as in transition. He would drive aggressively to the hoop to score on layups and dunks, and he also used a Euro-step move to score on a smooth layup once. Plus, he also drove up the court to score on a high-flying, double-pump, reverse dunk, and Boston can really elevate to finish plays above the rim to score the basketball.
He also managed to get the ball around the hoop to get another score, and he was able to get the extra free throw afterwards. Boston also received the ball on a backdoor cut another time as he caught a lob pass, but he ended up missing on an alley-oop dunk early in this contest.
Also, Boston displayed very good playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that showed a knack for throwing crisp, interior passes to find teammates on the move, as he excelled at finding cutters and teammates in transition to notch a wealth of assists. He also can throw nifty, behind the back passes to get the ball to them, and he also can throw accurate lob passes to notch assists. Sometimes though, he can be careless with the ball, which can lead this team to commit turnovers. On one play, as he dropped a catchable outlet pass out of bounds, and he also had a ball poked off of him that went out of bounds another time.
Plus, he also was able to haul in his fair share of boards when he was on the floor. He would chase down several balls to get defensive rebounds, and he was able to push the ball up the court off of one early in this game.
Boston also played very good defense. He excelled at collecting steals, as he would poke balls away and jump passes to do so, and he also excelled at deflecting passes to make it difficult for his opponents’ passes to get through. Boston would also actively contest threes as well as a fadeaway jumper off of a drive to force misses due to possessing good length, positioning, and instincts.
In summary, Boston is a very athletic, skilled swingman that may be one of the best prospects in the 2021 draft. He is a talented shot-maker that can score from all over the floor, and he also possesses strong playmaking and defensive skills. He is a player that may also possess a great deal of upside, and he has the skills to end up being an All-Star caliber player in the NBA.
Sierra Canyon’s 6-2, high school freshman guard, Bronny James had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Dominican High. He showed off solid facilitation and defensive skills, and he also made a three-point shot, but he struggled to make shots consistently in this game.
James was able to utilize a jab step move to make an open three-point shot on the break. That was his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc, and James showed that he can comfortably knock down threes from downtown.
However, he struggled to score off the dribble. Despite driving aggressively to the hoop, he would frequently struggle to score in traffic, and he would miss on contested layups at the rim. He also tried a windmill tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound, but he also missed that time.
Also, James displayed solid playmaking skills. He throws crisp, accurate interior passes, as he was able to throw a sharp pass to find a cutter to notch an assist, and he also threw a nice lob to a cutter to collect another dime. He did throw one turnover though, as he threw an inaccurate lob pass intended for a teammate on the break that sailed out of bounds.
He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball. James would run in and leap up to get boards on both sides of the ball due to possessing solid athleticism, motor, and instincts to do so.
Plus, he also played solid defense. James managed to run back as he hustled to poke a ball to a teammate to help his team get a steal early on. He also defended an opposing ball handler aggressively up the court, as he forced his man to step out of bounds due to good positioning and playing good physical defense. He also showed a knack for poking balls away to get steals and deflections for his team in this game. Overall, Bronny James is an athletic playmaker that can effectively run the team and defend when he is on the court, but he will need to improve his ability to score off the dribble. It will be interesting to see how tell he can grow over the course of his career. If he can add at least several more inches to his frame, he could end up being a swingman that may have considerable upside as a prospect for the future. Regardless, he will need to continue to improve on offense, and he will definitely be a player to watch sometime down the road.
Sierra Canyon’s 6-4 high school sophomore guard, Amari Bailey also played really well in his team’s in over Dominican High. He is an excellent scorer on the break, as he can frequently score on drives and in transition, and he also is a solid defender.
He is a very good athlete, as he was able to score on a speedy, reverse layup on the break, and he also drove up court to score on a thrilling, 360 dunk in transition another time. Plus, Bailey also used a crossover move to score on an aggressive, left-handed drive to the hoop. He did miss on a pull-up three, but Bailey showed that he can take the ball to the rim to score the basketball.
On the downside, sometimes he may be a bit turnover prone. He threw a low, inaccurate entry pass that a teammate dropped out of bounds. Another time, he also was called for a clear out foul as he inadvertently knocked an opponent in the face while passing the ball that led him to commit and offensive foul and a turnover simultaneously.
He also played solid defense. Bailey was able to poke a ball away from an opponent as he dove on the ground to get a steal due to making a nice hustle play once. He also jumped on a loose ball after his teammate had poked a ball away to help get his team another steal. He did get beat off the dribble to allow a score once, but Bailey is an active defender that showed a penchant for helping his team force turnovers.
Overall, Amari Bailey is a very athletic, combo guard that may possess a great deal of upside as a prospect for the NBA. It will be interesting to see how well he can develop his game throughout his career, and in the meantime, he will need to work on his jump shot and also perhaps look to be more of a facilitator on offense. Right now, he may be one of the best prospects in his recruiting class, and he could project to be a first round pick in the 2023 draft.
Sierra Canyon’s 6-5 high school sophomore forward, Shy Odom also put forth a solid performance to help his team get a win over Dominican High. He excelled at finishing plays around the basket and rebounding. He also defended well in this game.
Odom excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He in particular did a good job of scoring off of cuts and put backs, and he can throw down powerful dunks after getting the ball on backdoor cuts. He also was able to score on tip-ins and put backs after leaping up to get offensive rebounds, but sometimes he would miss shots in traffic due to rushing at times. He also ran the floor and caught a lob pass to score on a thunderous, alley-oop dunk on the break. He also attempted to take a mid-range jumper, but missed completely that time. In addition, he also attempted to score from a high-post drive, but he missed on a rushed layup on a separate occasion.
He also displayed adequate playmaking skills. Odom was able to handle the ball on the break, as he threw a solid interior pass ahead to a teammate to set up a score for him, and he also passes the ball well off the dribble. However, he tried to post up once, but he then immediately had the ball poked by a defender.
Plus, Odom also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was active at crashing the boards on both ends of the floor as he would chase down balls to get them, and he also managed to push the ball up the court after getting a defensive board midway through this match.
Plus, he also played good defense. Odom showed a knack for blocking shots in the paint, as he swatted one out of bounds, and he also swatted off the glass to a teammate due to possessing solid length, leaping ability, and timing. He also would deflect passes and poke balls away to nearly force turnovers, and he also would contest threes to force misses. On the other hand, there was one play where he sagged too far off his man, as he ended up allowing his man to allow a corner three once.
Overall, Shy Odom is an athletic, physical player that can make solid hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor. He will need to improve his jump shot and ability to create his own shot off the dribble, but he is a talented player that can play in a high-major conference in college basketball, and he could project to be a defensive specialist if he ends up making it to the NBA.
Sierra Canyon’s 7-3 high school junior center, Harold Yu played fairly well in his team’s win over Dominican High. He excelled as a scorer in the post in this game. He can back down his man to get deep position on the block, and he would tend to score on jump hooks. He also managed to score on a fadeaway jump hook once. He also caught the ball and went up to score early on. Plus, he also managed to score on a roll to the rim, and he also drew free throws on a put back after leaping up to get an offensive board another time.
However, he was a bit turnover prone on offense. For the positives, Yu is an unselfish player and he can throw solid passes to find the open man. He threw a long outlet pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition, and he also threw an accurate entry pass another time. However, he will need to improve his hands. He had a tendency to drop catchable passes, which would lead his team to commit turnovers.
While he didn’t seem to grab many rebounds in this game, Yu was able to get a few boards on both ends of the floor. He also played adequate defense. Yu showed a solid ability to rotate to block and contest shots off the dribble to force misses, and he would also use his length to contest jumpers to get stops for his team. Sometimes though, he would sag too far off his man, as he would tend to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. On a separate play, he ended up getting beat off the dribble, as he was unable to stay in front of his man, and he allowed his opponent to get a score at the rim.
Overall, Yu is a mobile, physical center that can score with his back to the basket, and he also is a capable interior defender when he is on the floor. He will need to improve his hands and mobility to enhance his ability to defend opponents out in space, but he is a skilled big man that has the talent to play in a high-major conference in college basketball. If things break his way over the next few years, he could project to be a rotational backup center if he ends up making it to the NBA one day.