Analyzing Darius Garland, Kevin Porter, and Simi Shittu

November 11, 2018

by Alan Lu

I took the time to watch Vanderbilt play in a non-conference game against USC, and this matchup featured several potential first round prospects in Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., and Simisola Shittu.  It was a very competitive match as both teams traded leads, but in the end Vanderbilt was able to hang on for the win.  The prospects in this game all played well in the first half, and then had their second half struggles, but each player was able to make a positive contribution to his team on this day.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as how their games may stack up in the NBA.

Darius Garland is a smart, skilled point guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also can be an effective facilitator on the floor when he plays under control for Vanderbilt.  Though he is not an overwhelming athlete, Garland’s ability to change speeds combined with his gifted shooting touch allows him to have a pretty big impact for his team, especially on offense.  Garland did a very good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team.  He has a lot of range on his shot, and he can make long-range jumpers from well beyond the arc.  He also was able to knock down a pull-up three after dribbling right off of a screen.

Plus, he also showed a decent ability to get scores off the dribble.  Garland plays well when he operates under control, and he is a shifty guard that can maneuver around in the paint to get some scores.  Garland can score using either hand, and he can do so on floaters, as well as use his agility to get by defenders.  However, he’s not very tall or overwhelmingly fast, and he tended to miss more shots when attempting to score on drives in traffic.

However, he was actually a bit disappointing as a playmaker in this game.  Early on, Garland played with poise and showed good patience and court vision, and he is a deft ball handler that can make good passes off the dribble, especially when he is able to get out in transition.  But in the second half, he was entirely too turnover prone, as he tried to play too fast and really tried to force the issue too much on offense.  

Garland tended to throw hasty passes in traffic, and sometimes he would telegraph them, as defenders would be able to read and react, and intercept them.  He also ended up getting the ball ripped away from him after using a crossover on a drive, and another time he committed an offensive foul by trying to clear out with his arm on another attempted drive to the hoop.   Sometimes, Garland may rush his moves on offense, and he also seems to lack elite top-end speed, which can make it difficult for him to beat his opponents to spots on the floor off the dribble.  Also, Garland did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active in crashing the glass, and he would chase down balls to get numerous boards, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor off of them.

Defensively, Garland was about average at best.  For the positives, he would contest threes to force misses from beyond the arc.  However, he would tend to gamble too much defensively, as he would get beat off the dribble as well as off of a cut, leading him to occasionally commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he tried to contest a long two, but due to his lack of length, his opponent was able to shoot over him to score on that play.

In general, Darius Garland had a fairly good game, as he is a skilled offensive player that could project into being a reliable game manager in the NBA.  Despite having just above average physical tools, Garland is a very good shooter that can really run a team when he plays under control.  He’ll need to be a more consistent player on the floor and show that he can defend upper echelon players at his position, but Garland may be a good prospect that could go in the mid to late first round range due to possessing solid offensive skills as well as a pretty good feel for the game.

USC’s freshman swingman, Kevin Porter Jr. started off by having a really good first half.  He showed off strong scoring skills by taking it relentlessly to the rim, and he also can shoot it from beyond the arc.  He also was able to make a couple of solid defensive plays, as he has very good timing to block shots.

Porter did a very good job of getting scores off the dribble.  He is a strong, powerful guard that possesses a solid first step to the hoop and change of direction skills, and he has great body control that allowed him to score on an acrobatic layup after utilizing a spin move.  Plus, he showed a knack for getting scores and free throws on aggressive drives on the break, and he also used a hop step to score on a thunderous dunk in transition.  Plus, Porter did a good job of scoring on hustle plays, and on one play, he was able to dribble in to score on a powerful put back dunk.

He also possesses a fairly good ability to knock down jumpers.  Porter handles the ball very well, and he was able to use a very quick crossover and a step back move to make a nifty pull-up three.  He also used a similar move to make a long, pull-up two as well.  However, he can be a bit streaky with his jump shot, and he can also be too passive on offense at times, as that combined with foul trouble unfortunately made him considerably less effective in the second half.

Also, he displayed good playmaking skills.  Porter is a patient player that possesses good court vision, as he can throw solid outlet passes, and he also can kick it out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores for them, but sometimes, he can be careless on offense, which can lead him to commit some turnovers.  On one play, he threw an ill-advised bounce pass that ended up getting intercepted, and he also slipped on a left handed drive as he lost the ball after using an overhead ball fake move.  Porter also displayed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  He would leap up to haul in plenty of boards, as he was especially active at collecting rebounds on the defensive end.  There was one play though where he committed an over the back foul when going for a defensive board due to being too aggressive that time.

He also showed off above average defensive skills.  Porter is a good help defender that possesses solid length, athleticism, and timing, as he can position himself well to swat shots off of drives to force misses.  He excels at rotating on drives, as he can change shot trajectories to make it difficult for his opponents to get shots up in the lane cleanly.  However, he also tended to be quite foul prone, especially when defending his man.  Porter would tend to commit reach-in fouls as he would sometimes use his hands too much rather than his feet, and he also fouled another opponent on a drive where he was overly aggressive when defending a smaller player.

In summary, Kevin Porter is an interesting prospect, as he is an athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he may possess enormous upside due to possessing solid physical tools, as well as having the ability to contribute in many different ways.  However, he will still need to improve his position defense and consistency, and his play was disappointing in the second half due to the lack of assertiveness on offense combined with foul trouble.  Still, Porter is a talented player that could end up getting picked in the lottery, and with the right team, he could end up developing into a solid starter in the NBA.

Vanderbilt’s 6-10 freshman big man, Simisola Shittu had a fairly good game in his team’s win over USC.  Shittu excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder, and he also showed off some handles and defensive skills when he was out on the floor.  He also make his fair share of mistakes, but overall Shittu made solid plays on both ends of the floor, and showed considerable promise as a prospect for the next level.  Shittu did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays. He was extremely active on the offensive glass, and he would often score and draw free throws on put backs after getting rebounds for his team.  He also managed to catch a lob pass and drew a non-shooting foul on a separate possession.

He also showed some ball-handling prowess, as he can be a point forward out on the break, and it enabled him to be quite effective as a driver in transition.  He can score on aggressive drives on the break, and he also used an overhead ball fake to score on a powerful dunk in transition.  But sometimes, Shittu can play too wildly at times, as he also can be prone to missing on aggressive drives in traffic.  Plus, Shittu also looked to score in the post, but he had trouble getting his turnaround jumpers to fall, as he had trouble connecting on those shots when he would look to score on the block.  He did get to the free throw line quite often, but he also had trouble making shots consistently when he was at the charity stripe.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Shittu is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can throw accurate interior passes and also set screens to set up scores for his teammates.  But Shittu also can be careless on offense at times, which can lead him to commit turnovers.  On one play, he traveled on a high post drive, and he also lost the ball on another.  In addition, there was a separate possession where he dropped a catchable pass around the basket to lose the ball out of bounds.

Shittu also showed an excellent ability to rebound the basketball.  He is a long, athletic big man that possesses very good ball location skills, and he frequently would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor.  He also possesses a very good motor.  In this game, he showed the willingness to tip balls to his teammates as well as dive on the ground for loose balls, though he can over do it, as he also was called for an over the back foul when going for an offensive board once.

He also showcased adequate defensive skills.  Shittu is an active defender that will contest shots on drives, in the post, as well as mid-range jumpers to force misses, and he also will jump on loose balls to help his team get steals.  But sometimes, he may give up too much space to his man, which can lead his opponent to score on jumpers, and he also would occasionally get beat on moves, particularly off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Simi Shittu put forth a solid performance as he played well in virtually all facets of the game to help get his team a victory over USC.  He is an athletic, energetic big man that can finish plays around the basket, rebound, and defend, and he also seems to be a fairly good ball handler for a player his size.  Shittu is a prospect that may have considerable upside as he could project to be a mid to late first round pick for the upcoming draft, and with the right team, he could end up developing into being a solid starter in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Vanderbilt’s 6-7 senior swingman, Joe Toye put forth a solid performance as he scored 16 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to help get his team a narrow victory over USC.  He did a great job of spacing the floor, as he made numerous spot-up threes quickly off the catch to help his team on offense.  Toye also showed a good ability to score in transition, but sometimes he can struggle to get buckets in traffic, as he also had a couple of shots blocked on half-court drives.  He also rebounded the ball well, and managed to get a steal on the defensive end.  Overall, Joe Toye has been having a good season so far for Vanderbilt, and he could be a Portsmouth candidate if he continues to do so this year.

USC’s 6-11 junior big man Nick Rakocevic quietly played very well in his team’s loss to Vanderbilt.  He scored 19 points and had 18 rebounds, as he mostly excelled as a finisher and rebounder when he was out on the floor.  Rakocevic scored on a plethora of put backs, also made a mid-range jumper, and he also used a spin move to score on a layup from the post.  After initially cutting to the hoop, he received the ball and dribbled in to score around the basket.

He also did an excellent job of rebounding the basketball, and he also blocked a shot off of a drive.  However, Rakocevic tended to commit over the back fouls when going for boards at times, and sometimes he would give up too much space when defending out on the block.  But still, Rakocevic is an energetic big man that provided a solid interior presence for his team when he was out on the floor as an inside scorer and rebounder against Vanderbilt, and he could be a potential second round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Vanderbilt’s 6-6 freshman guard, Aaron Nesmith excelled as a spot-up shooter and scorer on off-ball motion plays off the bench to help his team get the win.  Nesmith looks to be an above average athlete that has a good motor, as he managed to score on a wild put back off of an offensive rebound, and he also can score and get free throws on the break.  Nesmith shot the ball well and was active at crashing the glass, and he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

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