Analyzing Yovel Zoosman in an Israeli BSL Basketball Game

April 16, 2019

by Alan Lu

This time around, I decided to watch Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 6-6, 1998-born swingman, Yovel Zoosman play in an Israel BSL basketball game against Hapoel Jerusalem that took place on December 15th, with thanks to YouTube via ערן יצחק.  Zoosman is a second round prospect that recently declared to enter the NBA draft, so I wanted to take the time to see him play in order to assess his skills.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared in this match, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Yovel Zoosman is a skilled basketball player that can shoot and pass the basketball, and he also has a very good motor that can enable him to make some solid plays on the defensive end.  He is an adequate shooter that can make long-range jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense.  He was aggressive in taking threes early on, and he was able to run off of a screen to make a corner three-point shot.  He did miss on two other spot-up threes off the catch, and he seems to have a bit of a slow release when he hoists up jumpers.

He also ran the floor to catch a long outlet pass, as he managed to score gracefully on a layup in transition in the first quarter.  Zoosman did draw free throws after using an overhead ball fake to get to the hoop on an aggressive drive to the hoop in the second half, but shortly after the first couple of minutes of this contest, Zoosman did not make another field goal as he just did not take many shots in general.

Plus, he also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Zoosman is a very unselfish player that will look to find the open man quite often, and he throws good interior passes, as he was able to set up a couple of dunks for his teammates.  He can pass off the dribble, run off screens, and find cutters to get them the basketball, and he can find them on the move to set up scoring chances.  However, he had some trouble handling the basketball, especially when dealing with heavy ball pressure.  He was called for traveling once after dribbling right around a screen, and he also had a ball poked away after trying to drive hard to the hoop another time.  He also threw a loopy entry pass in traffic that ended up getting intercepted late in this match.

However, he will likely need to improve his ability to rebound the basketball.  Zoosman did not come away with many boards in this game, and while he was able to get a couple of defensive boards, he only was able to get them with no one else around to haul them in.  He did bring the ball up after running in to get his first defensive rebound midway through this game, and Zoosman has some ball handling skills for a player his size.  However, there were times where he tried to tip balls to his teammates, but it instead went to his opponents, as his lack of elite leaping ability made it difficult for him to direct it to his teammates. 

He also played decent defense.  Though Zoosman may only possess average physical tools, he is a very competitive player that will hustle to get his team stops.  He was able to recover on a drive to block a shot ferociously out of bounds late in this contest, and he also can tip passes and poke balls away to help his team get steals and deflections.  He also doesn’t give up on plays, and he was able to recover to contest floaters to force misses.

However, he does not possess elite lateral quickness, as he can tend to get beat off the dribble, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  On a separate play, there was miscommunication in which he and his teammate both guarded the same player, which led his team to allow an opponent to score on a long two-point shot.

In general, Yovel Zoosman is a smart, skilled swingman that will compete on both ends of the floor, and he could project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.  His lack of elite physical tools may put a ceiling on how much he could develop for the next level, and Zoosman sometimes may not take enough shots in games, but he has shown solid offensive skills as well as a stark willingness to compete defensively, and he could end up being a good value pick for a team in the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Other Notes:

I also took the time to watch Hapoel Jerusalem’s 1997-born point guard Tamir Blatt play in this game, as he also received a handful of minutes in this contest against Maccabi Tel Aviv.  As he is the son of former Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach David Blatt, I was intrigued to see what Tamir Blatt would do in this match.

Tamir Blatt is a pass-first point guard that can knock down pull-up jumpers on offense, though he can sometimes take some questionable, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses.  He is not particularly quick or explosive, and he often had trouble getting all the way to the rim.  He is a good passer that would often look for his teammates, as he can find open shooters and throw entry passes to set up scores for his teammates, but sometimes, he can be hasty when throwing his passes, as he had a couple of them get intercepted by defenders.

He didn’t get many rebounds in this game, but he was able to haul in defensive rebounds off of tap outs, and he would tend to bring the ball up off of them.  Blatt also played adequate defense.  He would tend to fight through screens to contest threes to force misses, and he also has adequate footwork and agility to defend out on the perimeter.  He also managed to deflect a pass to almost get a steal once.  However, his lack of size made it difficult to guard a taller shooter, as he ended up allowing him to score on a pull-up three midway through this contest.  He also had his hands down when guarding an entry pass, which led the other team to throw an easy pass to set up a score in the low post.

Overall, Tamir Blatt is a skilled point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, but he ended up taking some questionable, contested shots in this game, and his lack of elite physical tools could make it difficult for him to match up to upper echelon players at the next level.  But he is the son of former NBA head coach David Blatt, and Tamir Blatt seems to have a fairly good basketball IQ out on the floor, as he can make some tough pull-up threes, and he is an unselfish player that can effectively run a team at the point.  Right now, he may be an unlikely candidate to be drafted, as he may not be elite in any one particular category, but his ability to knock down shots and run a team could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA.

I also was able to watch Maccabi Tel Aviv’s highly touted, 6-8, 2001-born swingman Deni Avdija play, though unfortunately he did not get many minutes in this contest.  He is an above average athlete that competes defensively, but he did not get much floor time to showcase his offensive skills.  Avdija did use a jab step, but he ended up missing on a corner three.  He also cut to the hoop once, but no one passed him the basketball on that instance.  He did pass off the dribble to find an open shooter once.

He also seemed to have above average defensive skills.  Avdija managed to stay in front of an opposing ball handler to defend a spin move, as he contested a pull-up mid-range jumper to force a miss.  He also appeared to block a shot off the glass on a drive, only to be called for committing a foul that appeared to be questionable at best.  Avdija has fairly good footwork and adequate agility to defend out on the perimeter, and he makes an active effort to contest shots.  He committed a reach-in foul another time when rotating to help a teammate that had struggled to defend an opposing ball handler.

Overall, I can’t say how good or bad Avdija is based on just a mere five minutes of game footage that he played in against Hapoel Jerusalem, as he took just one shot in this entire contest.  He will likely be a heavily scouted player next year, as he has been receiving significant draft buzz for the 2020 NBA Draft, and time will tell to see if he will be able to meet or exceed the high expectations that may be placed upon him next season.