Analyzing Mustapha Heron and Kostas Antetokounmpo

November 30, 2017

By Alan Lu

I decided to tune in to watch Auburn and Dayton because I wanted to get a glimpse at seeing Dayton’s freshman big man, Kostas Antetokounmpo play, as he is the younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo.  But in the actual game itself, it was not his play that impressed me, but rather the performances of other players that were on Auburn’s team.  Mustapha Heron had a really solid game, as did others such as Chuma Okeke and Anfernee McLemore.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day.

Auburn’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Mustapha Heron played very well, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder when he was on the floor to help his team to get a 73-60 win over Dayton.  He did a good job of getting scores off the dribble.  Heron is a patient player that possesses good strength, quickness, and the shooting touch to garner numerous scores and free throws on aggressive drives to the basket.

Plus, he really excelled at knocking down jumpers.  Though Heron has struggled to make them so far this season, this may have been his best game of the year to date.  Heron showed a knack for making three-point shots, and he can knock down contested pull-up threes effortlessly, as he can also use a step back move.  He struggled more to make mid-range jumpers, but generally Heron did a great job of making his jump shots.

He primarily looked to score the basketball, but he did handle the ball very well, as he can deftly maneuver around to get shots up off the dribble from anywhere on the court.  Heron also rebounded well, as he would leap up to get numerous defensive boards.  He also displayed decent defensive skills.  Heron showed a good ability to contest shots to force misses, though sometimes he would be too aggressive in trying to make plays on the ball, which would lead him to commit some fouls.  In general, Mustapha Heron had a solid game in his team’s win over Dayton.  He is an athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and if he continues to play well, he could perhaps end up being a first round pick in the upcoming draft.

I tuned in to this game to watch Dayton’s 6-10 freshman forward, Kostas Antetokounmpo play, and at first, it seemed that he would be on his way to have a good game.  On the first play of the game, he won the tip in a convincing fashion, and he showed a solid first step off the dribble to get past his man, as he appeared to have scored on a quick straight-line drive to the hoop.  However, that play was later waved off, as the referees ended up calling a charging foul on him, which negated the would have been score, resulting in Kostas committing a turnover.

He then quickly picked another foul, as he committed a reach-in foul when defending the post, as he was sent to the bench early in the first half.  He came in later with a couple of minutes remaining in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second half where he would make some positive contributions on the floor, though in relatively small doses.

Antetokounmpo showed a strong ability to finish plays around the basket.  On one play, he was open around the basket, and he caught the ball to throw down a thunderous dunk to help his team.  He also showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble, and in the second half he managed to draw free throws on a quick drive to the basket.  He will still need to improve upon his dribble moves, though.  He will also need to improve his ability to shoot the basketball, as he threw up an airball to miss on a mid-range shot completely, and he continually would pass up three-point shot attempts despite being left wide open.

Antetokounmpo showed decent playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will look to make the extra pass in order to find the open man.  The turnover he committed was questionable, as the defender guarding him that led to his charging foul appeared to have flopped when guarding the drive.  However, he showed a poor ability to rebound the basketball, as he literally came away with no boards in this game against Auburn.  He did not show great instincts to try to haul them in, and he would also tend not to block out, though one play was late in the half, as he already had two fouls and he didn’t want to risk picking up a third foul.  As a result of that, his team did end up allowing a put back dunk towards the end of the first half.

He also showcased decent defensive skills.  Antetokounmpo showed a gifted ability to block shots, as he is a very athletic big man that possesses a solid blend of size, leaping ability, and timing to do so.  He also managed to get his hands up to deflect an entry pass out of bounds.  Also, he was able to stay in front of his man on drives and contest jumpers to force misses. 

However, he had trouble defending in the post, as he would commit bad reach-in fouls, and he also lacks the strength to adequately guard stronger opponents on the block, but sometimes, he would not rotate in time to timely contest shots off drives, and he also gave up too much space once to allow his opponent to score on a mid-range shot.

In this game, Kostas Antetokounmpo could be a player to keep an eye on, as he has great size, athleticism, and he may have a variety of skills that could prove to be useful if he continues to work on his overall game.  However, he still may be very unpolished as an overall player, as he is still learning the game, and he will need to improve his perimeter skills, as well as find more ways to consistently stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble.  He will likely need to stay in school to hone his game, but if he decides to leave school to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, it’s conceivable that an NBA team could take a flyer on him in the mid to late second round as a developmental project that they could invest in for the long-term.

Other Notes:

Auburn’s 6-8 freshman hybrid forward, Chuma Okeke had a solid game, as he played especially well in the first half.  He is an athletic basketball player that possesses solid scoring skills, and he shot the ball really well from downtown.  He was able to make numerous three-point shots from beyond the arc, including one where he used a pump fake and a step back move.   Okeke can make shots with hands in his face, as well as pull-up threes off of step back moves.

He also is a good inside scorer as well, as he can score on hustle plays as well as when he is on the block.  His first basket was when he ran off of an off-ball screen to cut to the hoop,, as he was able to catch a lob pass to score on a nifty, alley-oop dunk.  Plus, he also was able to score on a drop step move in the post.  He also showed a willingness to pass the ball, and he can spot open teammates to set up scoring chances, but sometimes he would get a ball poked away or one of his passes deflected.

Okeke did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, as he would actively crash the glass to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to draw free throws off of a put back once.  Defensively, he looked to be average.  He was able to deflect a pass, as he can play passing lanes.  But on one play, he overplayed a shooter and bit on a pump fake, which led him to get beat on a drive to allow a score.

In general, Chuma Okeke played very well, especially in the first half, as his strong play in this game helped his team get a road win over Dayton.  He may not be receiving much draft buzz right now, but he may possess an intriguing skill set, as he could end up being a potential first round pick for an NBA team in the future.

Dayton’s 6-5 senior point guard, Darrell Davis had a fairly good game in his team’s loss to Auburn.  He played quite well in the first half, and he is a smart, skilled player that can shoot and score the basketball and also effectively run the team at the point.  Davis showed a good ability to knock down threes from beyond the arc.  He especially excelled at making pull-up, three-point shots, as he even made one that was tightly contested, but he also struggled to make spot-up threes, as some of them were closely contested, and other times he would rush those shots.

He also was able to score on some hustle plays.  Davis managed to score on a put back in traffic after getting his own miss, and he also was able to score in transition.  However, sometimes Davis would try to force the issue, as he would end up getting his shots blocked or missing shots in traffic, and he had more trouble trying to score on drives when he would attempt to go all the way to the hoop.

Plus, he also showed off fairly good playmaking skills.  Davis was at his best when he would play with patience, as there were times where he would demonstrate solid court vision.  He tends to throw solid passes off the dribble, as he can hit cutters and kick the ball out to shooters.  He also can find teammates on the move.  However, sometimes he can be turnover prone due to carelessness.  He committed a charging foul in the post once, and he also had one of his passes intercepted.  Another time, he took his eye off the ball, and he ended up dropping a catchable pass out of bounds.

He also did a good job of getting rebounds when he was on the floor.  Davis has good instincts, and he was able to haul in numerous defensive boards in this game, but there was one play where he didn’t block out a bigger player, as his teammate ended up committing a foul on a put back.  Also, he displayed decent defensive skills.    Davis was able to leap up to break up a lob pass, and he showed an adequate ability to challenge jump shots to force misses.  But sometimes, he would get beat on drives, which would him or his teammates to commit fouls.

In general, Darrell Davis had a fairly good game, as he is a skilled basketball player that can contribute in a variety of ways on offense, and he has the ideal size to play either backcourt position when he is on the floor.  However, he only possesses average athletic gifts for the next level, and he may not project to be an especially dynamic playmaker in the NBA, but with his skill set and with the intangibles he brings to the table, Davis could end up being a solid addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Auburn’s 6-7 sophomore forward, Anfernee McLemore played very well, as he made a lot of solid, energetic plays on both ends of the court to help his team to defeat the Dayton Flyers.  McLemore excels at scoring on hustle plays, as he managed to score on a thunderous put back dunk late in the first half, and he also scored on a floater off of a cut.  Plus, he also can score in the post, and he does a good job of running off of screens to get open to catch the basketball.

Also, he rebounded and defended very well when he was on the floor.  He grabbed many rebounds, as he was basically like a chairman of the boards.  McLemore also did a great job of protecting the paint as he blocked many shots to do so, and he even chased down an opponent to make a nice chase down block from behind to prevent an opponent from scoring on a drive in transition.  McLemore has very good athleticism, leaping ability, and timing, and he can swat many shots around the basket to force misses, but every once in a while, he may commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness, as he may try to block every shot.

McLemore is a very athletic combination forward that has excelled as a solid role player for his team, but it may be unclear if his skills will translate to the NBA.  He has the game of a high motor, energetic, shot blocking, rim protector, but he is only a 6-7 forward, and he does not possess a whole lot of perimeter skills on offense. 

Right now, he may project to be a tweener though, which could prevent him from getting picked high if he were to declare for the NBA draft.  Currently, he may possess a similar game to that of former NBA player, Dominic McGuire.  In the right scenario, McLemore could perhaps develop into an effective role player at the next level if an NBA team decides to develop his skill set for the long haul.