Assessing Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Matthews, and Coby White

November 29, 2018

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the opportunity to watch Michigan play against North Carolina, as this basketball game featured numerous prospects that could end up being selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.  It started out as a competitive game for a good portion of the way, and then Michigan was able to go on a run in the second half before eventually getting a double-digit victory over North Carolina.   Ignas Brazdeikis and Charles Matthews were among the standout performers for Michigan, and their role players also played well.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared in this game, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Michigan’s 6-7 freshman forward, Ignas Brazdeikis played very well to help lead his team to a sizable win over North Carolina.  He played well in virtually every facet of the game, and he showed off versatile scoring skills and a high basketball IQ when he was on the court.  Brazdeikis did a very good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He excelled at making open spot-up threes off the catch, and he also was able to knock down a pull-up, mid-range jumper after driving to his right.  He also excelled at scoring off backdoor cuts, as he is a savvy player that knows when to pick and choose his spots to go the basket to get the ball.

Also, he showed a strong ability to get scores on aggressive drives to the hoop.  Brazdeikis can finish plays using either hand, and he is a shifty player that can score using subtle dribble moves, and he also was able to score on a fadeaway jumper while getting an extra free throw.  He also showed off decent playmaking skills.  While Brazdeikis looked to score quite often, he did a very good job of scoring the basketball, and he also was able to make some good passes to his teammates.  He can find the open man to get them the basketball, as he will find shooters to set up scoring chances for them. He also handled the basketball well, and he also did a good job of not committing turnovers in this game.  However, he fell down once on a drive to almost commit a turnover, but he did manage to pass the ball back to a teammate on offense.

Plus, he showed a decent ability to get rebounds against North Carolina.  He was active in collecting defensive boards, as he was able to help his team out on the glass on that end of the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  He would look to stay in front of his man, and he would actively contest shots, particularly around the mid-range area to force some misses.  Brazdeikis also was able to poke a ball away out of bounds to almost get a steal for his team.  However, he had some trouble guarding opponents off of drives in this game.  He tended to commit blocking fouls on drives, as he would not quite be in position to successfully draw a charge on those plays, and would be a bit foul prone as a result.  He also would give up too much space to his man to allow opponents to score on a couple of mid-range shots.

In general, Ignas Brazdeikis had a solid showing to help lift his team to a double-digit victory over North Carolina.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer on offense, and he is a smart basketball player that can make a variety of plays to help his team in games.  While he may not have much draft stock right now, he is a solid player that could be a sleeper in the 2019 draft or beyond, as his basketball IQ and skill set could allow him to thrive in a complementary role in the NBA.

Michigan’s 6-6 junior swingman, Charles Matthews also played well to help lift his team to a victory over North Carolina.  He is a good athlete that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also played very good defense.  While he struggled with some turnovers, his strong play on both ends of the floor helped enable his team to get the win on this day.  Matthews showed a very good ability to score on drives to the basket.  He has good foot speed, strength, footwork, and shooting touch, which enables him to get numerous scores in the paint.  He was able to use hesitation moves off of left-handed drives to score on turnaround jumpers, and he also can go right to draw free throws to help his team.  He has a solid first step off the dribble, and he does a good job of absorbing the contact to draw fouls.

Also, he was able to score on a thunderous two-handed dunk in transition after driving up the court to do so.  Plus, he also can score on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a high-flying tip dunk while getting an extra free throw simultaneously, but sometimes he can miss shots around the basket, as he may be prone to rushing his shots on occasion.  He also did a good job of making jumpers to space the floor for his team.  Matthews was able to dribble in to knock down a pull-up jumper from the baseline, and he also excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch.

On the downside, he was also quite turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Matthews would routinely hit cutters to set up scoring chances for his teammates when he would look to move the basketball.  However, sometimes he can be inaccurate on his passes, as he had a pass picked off once, and another one of his passes went astray by going out of bounds.  He also can get sloppy with his ball handling, as he lost a ball in mid-air after driving right that ended up going of bounds.  Other times, defenders would poke balls away from him off the dribble, as he almost committed additional turnovers on those occurrences.  He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Matthews was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.

Matthews also played stellar defense in this game.  He was able to jump a pass to get at steal, and he also swatted a shot on a drive out of bounds to get a block for his team.  Matthews is an active defender that will apply heavy ball pressure, and he also managed to poke a ball away on a cut out of bounds to almost force another turnover.  He would actively contest shots from all over the floor to get his opponents to miss a wealth of shots.

In summary, Charles Matthews put forth a solid performance to help lead his team to a double-digit victory.  He is an athletic swingman that has a variety of skills that could prove to be useful at the next level, and he may have the skills to end up being a first round pick in the upcoming draft, as his ability to make shots and defend could allow him to thrive as a complementary role at the next level.

For North Carolina’s 6-5 freshman guard Coby White, his performance was a mixed bag in this game.  He played well in the first half due to doing a good job of scoring quickly off the dribble while also making good passes at the point, but in the second half his play fell off a bit as he started to force the issue too much on offense.  White did an adequate job of getting scores off the dribble.  He is a fast, agile playmaker that excelled at driving to the hoop when going to his left, as he was able to make a fadeaway jumper off the glass, and he also used a behind the back dribble move to score another time.  Plus, he also showed good change of direction skills and used a nice stutter step move to score on a pull-up jumper, but sometimes, he had a tendency to rush his shots, which would lead him to miss shots around the basket.  He also struggled to knock down jumpers from beyond the arc.  Though he did take a couple of long-range shots from downtown, he was unable to connect from that distance.

He also displayed good playmaking skills when he was on the court.  White has very good speed to draw in defenders when look to create off the dribble, and he can kick the ball out to shooters to set up scoring chances for his team.  He also managed to throw an accurate interior pass to a teammate in transition to notch an assist, but sometimes, he can be inaccurate on his passes, which can allow defenders to get deflections every once in a while.  He also was active on the glass, and he was able to chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, White did not look to be too noticeable on that end of the court, but he did get beat off the dribble once to allow a score.

Overall, Coby White had his ups and downs, but he had some very good moments in this contest, and his performance was among the best out of the North Carolina players that participated in this game.  White is a speedy combo guard that can knock down a variety of shots, and if he can establish himself to be a reliable shooter and defender on the court, that could help him considerably.  Right now, he may be a mid to late first round prospect for the upcoming draft.

For North Carolina’s 6-6 freshman swingman Nassir Little, he did not seem to get many chances to show his stuff in this game against Michigan, but when he was out on the floor, unfortunately, he did not seem to do much of anything particularly that well in this contest.  For the positives, he did do a decent job of scoring on drives when he would look to go all the way to the rim.  Little tends to favor going to his right, and he can draw fouls upon his opposition by taking the ball strong to the hoop, but sometimes he can dribble around for too long, as he can tend to be a bit of a ball stopper on offense.

However, he struggled to knock down jump shots consistently.  Little did use a crossover to make a pull-up, long two-point shot.  However, he tended to miss on pull-up jumpers too often, and he tended to settle for contested mid-range shots off the dribble.  Little did not seem to make any noteworthy passes in this game, and he did not look to move off the ball on offense.  He almost traveled when driving into traffic once, as he used a jump pass maneuver to get the ball back to a shooter, as it got there, but he didn’t get much mustard on the pass, and his teammate was not in a prime position to score off of that.  Little did travel on one drive to the basket, as he was caught shuffling his feet on a separate play.

He also did not grab many rebounds, though he did manage to get a defensive board in this game.  However, Little also did not play very good defense.  He tended to over-help in the paint or roamed too far to press up on an opponent, as he would leave his man wide open to score on three-point shots.  Another time, he didn’t get back to his man, and he got beat off the dribble to allow his opponent to score on a drive in transition.

Overall, Nassir Little did not play very well against Michigan, and he continues to show a questionable feel for the game, as he has continually struggled against the upper echelon teams in college basketball.  Some of this may be because his head coach doesn’t cater to him by giving him shots and minutes to work out his struggles, but Little also did not help himself by not looking to move off the ball to get open on offense, and by taking some bad shots that hurt his shooting efficiency.

Right now, he will need to work on being a more efficient scorer in games, and to improve his ability to play off the ball.  From how it looks so far, Little may be quite overrated as a draft prospect.  Though he is rated as a lottery pick across nearly all draft sites and some list him as a top 5 prospect, he may not nearly be as polished a player as he was thought to be.  He will need to improve his jump shot, shot selection, ability to move off the ball, and position defense.  If he can do those things, he could maximize his full potential.  Otherwise, Little could perhaps use another year in school to hone his overall game.

Other Notes:

North Carolina’s 6-8 senior combination forward, Luke Maye had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He started off playing rather well, as he was able to knock down a couple of mid-range shots as well as a spot-up three to generate early offense for his team.  He also was able to score in the post on a jump hook, and he also got to the foul line on a drive as well as on a roll to the rim.   However, he missed more shots as the game wore on, as he generally had trouble finishing plays in traffic due to possessing below average athletic abilities.

He also was about average as a playmaker in this game. Maye did throw one good pass, as he threw a sharp pass from the post to find an open man underneath the hoop to get an assist.  However, he also can be inaccurate on his passes, as he threw a high entry pass that ended up sailing out of bounds.  Maye did a great job of rebounding the basketball, and he collected many defensive boards in this game.  On the downside, he just did not defend very well.  Maye possesses poor lateral mobility, and he really had trouble defending his man off of drives and cuts.  He would tend to get beat on those plays, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In summary, Luke Maye is a smart, skilled basketball player that is at his best when he’s knocking down shots, throwing good passes, and crashing the glass, but his lack of ideal size or physical tools may limit his ceiling as a draft prospect.   It’s probably unlikely that he will be much of a shot creator or defender at the next level, but if he can make high efficiency plays on a consistent basis, Maye still could find a niche as a role player in the NBA similar to Utah Jazz’s forward, Georges Niang.

North Carolina’s redshirt senior forward, Cameron Johnson did not play very well against Michigan.  He really struggled to knock down shots or create off the dribble, committed a couple of careless turnovers, and he really struggled with his position defense as he had trouble getting stops when defending opponents off the dribble.  He did score in transition and draw an extra free throw after running the floor late in the game, and made a spot-up three, but generally Johnson did not seem to do much of value in his team’s loss on this day.   He’ll need to play significantly better than how he did in this contest, but if he can shoot as well as he has in the previous games this season, Johnson could perhaps be a potential second round pick due to his ability to shoot the basketball.

North Carolina’s 6-4 senior guard, Kenny Williams had a satisfactory showing in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He played especially well late in the game, as he was able to knock down several spot-up threes off the catch to show his strong shooting skills.  He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  He managed to score after going to his left once, but he missed another time while driving into traffic.  Williams also played adequate defense.  He was able to heap on a bad pass to get a steal, and he also blocked a three-point shot due to possessing good mobility, timing, and instincts.  However, he also tended to get beat off the dribble, which caused him to commit fouls and allow scores, and he may need to improve his position defense.

In summary, Kenny Williams had a good showing as he scored 11 points and made 3 threes in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He has a solid motor, and he made some very good plays even when his team was down significantly in the second half.  Williams is an athletic combo guard that can shoot the basketball, and he could be a likely candidate to end up on an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Michigan’s 6-5 sophomore guard Jordan Poole had a very good game, as he scored 18 points and made 5 threes to help lift his team to a win over North Carolina.  He did a great job of knocking down three-pointers from beyond the arc, and he even used a step back move to make a deep pull-up three late in this contest.  He also utilized a quick spin move to score on an acrobatic layup off of a drive.  Poole is a talented player that can shoot and score the basketball, and he could be a player to watch in the future, as he is an interesting prospect that could end up being like an E’Twaun Moore type of player in the association.

Michigan’s 7-1 junior center, Jon Teske also played well to help get his team the victory.  He was very effective at using off-ball movement to score off of rolls and cuts, and he was able to score on a couple of emphatic jams after being thrown good passes by his teammates.  Teske has very good hands, and he was able to catch a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk off of a roll to the rim.  Plus, he also showed the willingness to shoot the three ball as he may have some stretch big potential, but he missed both of his three-point attempts.

He also was able to hit the cutter to notch an assist.  However, he threw an inaccurate pass another time that ailed out of bounds.  Also, Teske played solid defense.  He did a great job of blocking shots inside the paint to force a series of misses, and he is a tall, mobile center that moves his feet well to do so.  He did a good job of actively challenging shots to get stops for his team.

Overall, Teske quietly had a good game in his team’s win over Michigan, and he is a mobile big man who can finish plays around the basket and also block shots on the defensive end.  He could be a player to watch in 2020, as his size, mobility, and instincts could perhaps enable him to be a defensive specialist in the NBA.