Analyzing Amar Sylla and Mario Nakic in a BCL Basketball Game

September 29th, 2020

by Alan Lu

A couple of weeks ago, the Basketball Champions League resumed playing their 2019-20 season, and I was able to watch numerous prospects play on September 16th.  I watched Amar Sylla and Oostende play against Iberostar Tenerife, with thanks to YouTube via Basketball Champions League, and Oostende featured several notable prospects, with Mario Nakic and Keye Van Der Vuurst De Vries on Oostende’s team that also played on that day.  I also took the time to watch Nizhny Novgorod’s 6-7 forward, Aleksandr Chadov play against JDA Dijon, also thanks to YouTube via Basketball Champions League

Unfortunately, pretty much all of these prospects struggled in their first games back, but I thought that Mario Nakic showed some solid distribution and shot-creation skills, and Amar Sylla played some solid interior defense at times.  I also felt that Keye Van Der Vuurst De Vries made some good plays in the fourth quarter, and he is a tough, gritty playmaker that can score the basketball in a variety of ways.  I was the most disappointed in the performance of Novgorod’s Alex Chadov, who was held scoreless in the first half and spent most of the time picking up quick fouls, as he committed four personal fouls in the first half.  He did make a three in the second half and played slightly better in the third quarter, but to me, his performance was just underwhelming overall.  Here is a breakdown of how these players played in their games.

BC Oostende’s 6-9 big man, Amar Sylla is a very athletic, high-motor player that projects to be a defensive specialist in the NBA, but he will need to improve his offensive skills.
Davide Di Lalla/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

BC Oostende’s 6-9 Senegalese big man, Amar Sylla started the game, and I was excited the most to see him play.  Unfortunately, he was held scoreless, as he missed all six of his field goals, and he missed all three of his three-point shots. He didn’t have his best game, and he really struggled on offense, but he did play some good interior defense.  Specifically, Sylla is a very athletic, rangy big man that primarily excelled as a shot blocker, and he made it difficult for opponents to get their shots up in the paint.  Offensively though, he just did not play very well, and his shooting percentages and assist-to-turnover ratios in both the BCL and in Belgium’s top league suggest that his offense may be a significant work in progress right now, as it may need considerable improvement.

Defense looks to be Sylla’s calling card if he were to end up in the NBA one day.  He is a very good shot blocker due to possessing very good athleticism, motor, length, and timing, and he moves his feet well, and would often direct his shot blocks to his teammates.  He was active in contesting shots in the paint to force misses, as he did a good job of staying with cutters, and he also helped his team get a steal off of a deflected lob pass.  Sometimes though, he would over-rotate, which lead him to be out of position defensively.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and Sylla was very active at crashing the defensive glass.  However, there was one play where he tried to save the ball on a defensive rebound attempt, but it instead went to an opponent, and the other team later scored on a three-point shot on that possession.

On offense, Sylla showed a willingness to move the basketball, and he would set screens for his teammates.  However, he missed all of his field goals, and he especially had trouble knocking down long-range jumpers from beyond the arc.  Sylla missed early on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper off of a drive, and he tended to miss on quick three-point shots.  His best opportunity to score came on a breakaway as he ran the floor hard to get the ball, but then quickly missed on an open layup in transition.

In general, Amar Sylla is a very athletic big man that is quite raw offensively, and he still has a long way to go on the offensive end.  He is a solid interior defender that excelled at protecting the paint, but his questionable shot selection and inability to score was perplexing to watch.  He will need to improve his ability to shoot and score the basketball.  Right now, he may project to be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft, but if he can make noticeable strides to improve offensively, he could end up being a reliable role player similar to Golden State Warriors’ center, Kevon Looney in the association.

Mario Nakic had a decent showing for Oostende, and he is a mobile ball mover that showed off solid court vision and the ability to create shots for himself and others on offense.  He did struggle to make shots consistently and committed a couple of turnovers, but Nakic showed the potential to develop into a solid offensive player in the future.

Nakic is a solid playmaker that plays unselfishly.  He would push the ball up the court, and he throws solid passes off the dribble, as he can throw crisp interior passes, and also find shooters to notch assists for his team.  He also can throw timely passes to get his teammates the ball in prime scoring spots.  However, early in the second quarter, he threw a weak pass after being crowded by defenders that got intercepted.  On another play, he drove aggressively to the hoop, but had a ball poked off of him out of bounds to lose it to the other team that time.

He also ran the floor hard to score on a quick layup on the break.  However, he also missed on a quick, spot-up three off the catch after running off of a ball screen.  On another play, he drove quickly to his left and used a eurostep move, but was met by defenders, as he ended up missing an off-balanced, contested runner in traffic. Nakic wasn’t credited with grabbing any rebounds in this game, but he was able to help his team get a defensive rebound after a teammate tipped a ball to him, and he pushed the pace to start the break that time.

It was hard to get a feel for his defense, as it felt as if he was only in the game in the second quarter (though he did play a little bit late in the first quarter), but it seemed like he did a fairly adequate job on that end of the floor.  For the positives, Nakic would fight through screens to try to stay with his man off the ball, and he also switched on a rotation to force an opponent to pass the basketball.  On another play though, he was called for committing a touch foul after trying to fight through a screen off the ball.

In summary, Mario Nakic is an intriguing prospect that showed some solid offensive skills at times in this game, and it seemed that Oostende was clawing their way back in the game in the second quarter with him on the floor.  They seemed to have benefitted from his ball movement, activity on both ends, and from his shot creation ability, and they should get him more minutes in the future.  If he can continue to hone his game and progress as an overall player, he could be a second round pick, as he could project to be an effective role player similar to former San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Roger Mason in the NBA.

Other Notes, Part I:

Oostende’s 6-4 2001-born point guard, Keye Van Der Vuurst De Vries is a tough, gritty playmaker that can effectively run the team, and he was able to make some good plays at times in this game.

He is a decent playmaker that can throw accurate interior passes to set up numerous scoring chances for his teammates, and he also passes the ball fairly well off the dribble.  However, sometimes he can try to force the issue too much.  He tried to fit a ball into traffic when trying to find the roll man, but it got intercepted that time.  On another play, he used a spin move on a drive, but ended up losing the ball to commit another turnover.

Van Der Vuurst De Vries doesn’t shoot the ball that often, but he showed that he can make shots efficiently.  He made a quick, spot-up three off the catch.  He also would tend to draw fouls by driving hard to the basket.  He did miss on a floater, but he showed that he is willing to take on the contact to get to the foul line.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to leap up to get a defensive rebound once.

However, he will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he is tenacious, and he will try hard to fight through screens to stay with his man.  However, he would tend to be called for aggressive, reach-in fouls.  He also had trouble fighting through screens as he would get caught on those at times, which would put his team in compromised situations.  On a switch, he had trouble guarding a bigger player in the post, and he ended up having to foul his opponent.  On another play, he got caught on a screen, and it led his team to allow an opponent to score on a mid-range jumper.

Overall, Van Der Vuurst De Vries is a skilled point guard that can reliably run the team, and he is an effective game manager that can provide solid spot minutes as the backup point guard in high-level international basketball.  His upside may be limited because he lacks ideal size or athleticism to play his position, but he is a gritty player that will compete, and he has a knack for making sound decisions in games.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round prospect for the 2021 draft, but if he ends up making his way to the NBA, he could end up competing for a backup point guard role in the association.

Other Notes, Part II:

I also managed to take the time to watch Novgorod’s Aleksandr Chadov play in a Basketball Champions League game against JDA Dijon.  Unfortunately, his performance was quite underwhelming, as he did not play well at all in the first half.  He was held scoreless in the first half and ran into foul trouble, but he made a three-point shot in the third quarter.  However, his inability to make shots and defensive woes led to a lackluster performance overall.

Chadov didn’t shoot the ball very much, but he showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers.  He made a quick, spot-up three off the catch late in the shot clock in the third quarter, and the three-point shot he made helped him salvage what would otherwise have been a horrendous showing.  He did miss on two spot-up threes other times, but from what I saw, his bread and butter is his jump shot.

He did make a quick cut to the hoop once late in the second quarter, but no one found him on the cut that time, so he did not get a chance to score on that play.  He attempted to score off of an offensive rebound, but he missed on a wild, turnaround put back.

He will need to improve his playmaking skills.  For the positives, Chadov will look to move the basketball, and he will set plenty of screens for his teammates, as he can free up shooters on offense.  He also showed the willingness to move off the ball.  However, after receiving a very inaccurate pass in the second quarter, he then immediately ended up being called for a charging foul shortly after having received the ball to commit both an offensive foul and a turnover.  On another play, he dragged his pivot foot after rolling to the post, and he was called for traveling.  Chadov had trouble creating his own shots on offense, and he will need to improve his ball-handling and decision-making ability in the future.

Also, Chadov was able to chip in to get a couple of boards for his team.  He also was able to chase down a ball to get an offensive rebound, and he also tipped a ball hard to a teammate to help his team get a defensive board another time.  He did box out on a defensive rebounding attempt once, but he was called for his fourth foul of the game by going over the back to try to get the ball.

He will also need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he showed a willingness to contest jump shots, and when he was in position, he was able to force a couple of misses.  However, he tended to over-rotate, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he got beat off the dribble, and then was called for a reach-in foul when defending his man.  On another play, he didn’t communicate to a teammate in how they should defend the screen, and no one guarded the roll man, which led his team to allow a dunk that time.

Overall, Aleksandr Chadov struggled in his team’s loss to JDA Dijon.  Though he started the game, he struggled to make shots consistently, as he scored just 3 points on 1 of 4 shooting, and he wound up struggling with turnovers and fouls when he was on the floor.  He seemed to have been overwhelmed and overmatched by the level of competition he was facing, and he may have been overextended by having started the game rather than coming off the bench.  In addition, he though he showed some mobility at times, he also seemed to only be an average athlete, and so he may not project to have a lot of upside as a prospect for the NBA.  His NBA ceiling may be that of a backend of the rotation sort of player, and he will need to improve his decision-making and defense in games.  If he can make strides to improve his overall game, he could end up moving up draft boards to be considered for a second-round selection by an NBA team in the future.

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