Analyzing Anzejs Pasecniks and Aleksandar Vezenkov in a Spanish ACB League Game

December 24, 2016

By Alan Lu

I wanted to take the time to scout Gran Canaria’s 7-1 Latvian-born center, Anzejs Pasecniks.  He has recently been receiving vital minutes in the Spanish ACB League, which is one of the toughest leagues from around the world.  Therefore, I set to watch him play in a game against FC Barcelona, who also happened to have a fellow draft prospect in Aleksandar Vezenkov, a player that have previously seen this month when I reviewed a performance of his against Fuenlabrada.

Thanks to YouTube via mesqueunclub gr, I was able to see these two teams and prospects play against each other in a game that was played on December 4th.  Here are my thoughts on how Pasecniks and Vezenkov fared on this day, as well as how they may rate as prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Gran Canaria’s 7-1 center Anzejs Pasecniks put forth a solid performance in his team’s one-point loss to Barcelona.  He made his impact felt early, as he often used off-ball movement to garner scores around the basket.  He also showed off his range from beyond the arc, and he also helped make contributions on the glass as well as on the defensive end.

Pasecniks really excelled at scoring on the move.  He will roll hard to the rim after setting screens for his team, as he can garner a slew of scores around the basket.  He also has good shooting touch from around that area, as he can score on a bank shot, and Pasecniks can also throw down an emphatic dunk off of rolls to the basket.  Plus, he also is a very good finisher around the basket.  He can garner scores and free throws off of put backs, and he can finish broken plays to get buckets at the rim.  But sometimes, Pasecniks may not always play under control, as he can miss easy shots and dunks on occasion.

He also can score on cuts to the hoop.  Pasecniks was able to score on a bank shot after making a quick backdoor cut once against Barcelona.  However, he did tend to struggle to score off cuts in traffic, but it also didn’t help that he was going up against one of the premier defenders in international basketball in Barcelona’s Joey Dorsey.  Also, Pasecniks generally shot the ball very well.  He only took one jumper, but it was a good one.  He faded to the wing to make himself available to get the basketball, and he ended up scoring on a spot up three off the catch to help his team.

Mostly, Pasecniks mostly looks to be either a catch and finish, or catch and shoot sort of big man on offense.  He rarely ever looked to put the ball on the floor.  As a result, he generally took high percentage shots as he made an open three, and he also used off-ball movement to get buckets around the basket.

He also showcased decent playmaking skills.  Pasecniks didn’t look to take many chances on offense, as he would look to make very safe passes, which also helped prevent him from committing turnovers.  He did help set up scores, as one was on a dribble handoff play where he passed the ball back to an open shooter.

In addition, Pasecniks also did a good job of throwing quick, accurate outlet passes to help ignite the fast break after getting offensive rebounds, as some of them would lead to scores for his team.  He also would set good screens for his team, as sometimes opponents would have trouble getting around him, which would allow his teammates to get open for jump shots.  But he may need to improve his rebounding ability.  Pasecniks was not active on the glass early in this game, and it took him awhile before he really started to get involved to help his team collect some rebounds.

He did do a good job of collecting offensive rebounds, especially in the second half, as this would allow him to get scoring opportunities on put backs for his team.  Also at times, he would tip balls to help his team gain possession of the basketball.  Also, Pasecniks showed off adequate defensive skills.  On one play, he was able to rotate on a drive to block a shot inside the paint due to possessing very good length and timing on the play.  In addition, he was able to hedge on a screen and quickly get back to his man, and ended up finding a loose ball to collect a steal for his team.

He generally did a decent job of defending in the post.  Pasecniks would use his length and positioning to force misses around the basket.  But sometimes, he would get outmuscled down low, which would cause him to commit a foul or allow a score.  He also showed an adequate ability to defend drives.  Pasecniks would generally make good rotations, as he would step up on drives to force misses.  But sometimes, he would make an incorrect rotation, which would lead to scores.  Also, he committed a foul after stepping to help on a drive another time due to over-aggressiveness.  Late in the game though, he was late to cover a lob pass on a pick and roll, as this lead his team to allow the other team to score an alley-oop dunk.

In general, Anzejs Pasecniks is an intriguing prospect.  He is a very tall, mobile center that has a useful set of skills on offense, and he may also project to be a decent rebounder and defender at the next level.  Offensively, he excels at using off-ball movement to garner scores, and he is also a strong finisher around the basket.  But he also can shoot the basketball, as he can shoot the three-ball at the international level.

He does have some weaknesses in his overall game.  Pasecniks did not look to post up or score off the dribble, so he may strictly be a catch and shoot or catch and finish type of player on offense.  He also may not always be active on the glass, as his effort on the boards can seemingly come and go.  Defensively, while he has quick feet to make plays defensively, he may not really project to be a shot blocker in the NBA.  Right now, Pasecniks may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft.  He has the skills to be a useful role player in the NBA, as his skill set could allow him to create mismatches in his favor in the association.

It was another opportunity to see Barcelona’s Aleksandar Vezenkov play in the Spanish ACB League for the 2016-17 season.  This time around, he did not shoot as well from the outside, but he did excel in many of the other facets of the game.  Generally, he showed a great motor, as he excelled at using off-ball movement to garner scores, and he also passed the ball well against Gran Canaria.

Vezenkov really excelled at scoring on the move.  He did a great job of scoring on quick backdoor cuts to the basket, as he was able to score once on a reverse layup, and he also showed surprising athletic ability by throwing down an emphatic dunk late in the game.  He would make quick, strong cuts to the hoop, as he would take advantage of defenders when they would either have lapses pr stare at the ball too long.

Additionally, he also was able to score on a tip in off of an offensive rebound.  Vezenkov also showed a strong ability to finish plays around the basket, as one one play, he drove the ball up the court to get a bucket on a fast break.  But he did struggle to make threes in this game, however.  Normally a very good outside shooter, he missed a couple of threes off the catch, and he ended up passing up shots from beyond the arc later on, though he did end up making solid passes throughout this contest.

Vezenkov did display solid playmaking skills.  He showed great patience in making his decisions, and he was very accurate in making his passes to his teammates.  He would throw sharp passes to shooters and big men, as he would help set up an assortment of scores for his team.  Sometimes, he would run off the ball to catch the ball, and promptly throw a quick pass to a teammate, other times, he would create a play off the dribble.  But generally, he would think two or three steps ahead of the defense, as he would make very crisp, accurate passes that would get there to his teammates before the defense would have a chance to react on those plays.

He did show a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Vezenkov was fairly active on the glass on both ends of the floor, as he would either come down with the board, or tip a ball to help his teammates get the rebound.  Also, he appeared to showcase decent defensive skills.  Vezenkov at times would show adequate lateral footwork when defending drives, as he would occasionally force a pass or miss on the floor.  Also, he would use his length to contest jumpers to force additional misses.  However, he struggled to defend the post in this game, as he would be caught out of position, which would lead him to commit a foul or allow a score as a result.

In general, Aleksandar Vezenkov put forth a solid showing even when his threes were not falling.  He showed off a high basketball IQ and motor, and his ability to think on his feet helped him make many plays for his team on offense.  With his skill set, he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

In summary, this game was an entertaining one to watch.  It was very competitive strictly from a team perspective, as both teams traded leads back and forth, and Gran Canaria nearly came back to win the game, as they took a brief lead at 78-77, until it was taken away when a Barcelona player drove hard to the hoop to draw free throws on a controversial late game call that ended up deciding the game.

Ultimately, Barcelona won 79-78, and while that had to be a crushing home loss for Gran Canaria, they have to be proud at the way they fought throughout the contest.  For Barcelona, they made key plays down the stretch to hold off Gran Canaria.  Also, both Pasecniks and Vezenkov generally put forth strong performances, as they showed off interesting sets of skills in their own ways.  With that in mind, that is more or less the conclusion of this write-up, and thank you for reading.

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