Analyzing Henri Drell and Davide Moretti

February 19th, 2021

By Alan Lu

This time around, I set out to watch Henri Drell and Davide Moretti play in a February 14th Italian League game that was played between Pesaro and Milano, with thanks to YouTube via Victoria Libertas Pesaro.  I had noticed that Drell had been shooting the ball well this year, which was certainly a welcome change, considering that he struggled mightily in the same league last year.  Moretti is an agile shooter that had signed with Milano, and he also was a starter on the 2019 Texas Tech team that was a runner-up to Virginia in the National Championship game.  This was an opportunity to watch both of the players play in this game.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as how they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Pesaro’s 6-9 forward, Henri Drell has shown rapid improvement in the Italian League this season, but with his former teammate, Paul Eboua struggling mightily in the G-League right now, it’s unsure if Drell’s solid performance in the Italian League will be enough to move his draft stock that much in the 2021 draft.
(Photo:
Pesaro VL, via Delfi Sport)

Pesaro’s 6-9 forward, Henri Drell played fairly well in his team’s loss to Milano.  He is an agile, skilled forward that has played well in his role for Pesaro this season, and he showed off versatile scoring skills and an improved effort on the boards in this game.

Drell showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  He would tend to favor going to his left, and he has a solid first step that would enable him to score on strong layups around the basket.  He also managed to score on a crafty reverse layup another time.  Plus, he also would go hard to the hoop, which would enable him to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line, even though he would awkwardly drive in to do so.  He did miss on a tough, contested layup high off the glass once, but he generally excelled as a scorer around the basket in this game.

He also shot the ball well from the outside.  Though he threw up an air-ball from well beyond the arc that missed completely early on, Drell was able to run off the ball to get it and make a quick, spot-up three off the catch late in this contest to show off his shooting skills.  He also moves fairly well off the ball on offense, and he would occasionally look to score on cuts and in transition, but his teammates would not get him the ball in those instances.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Drell is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he can pass off the dribble as well as out of the post.  He would throw sharp passes to find cutters, and he also can kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them.  He’s not the smoothest ball handler, and there were times where it seemed as if he’d lose it when driving to the hoop, but he is effective in where he needs to go when the ball is in his hands.  He did commit a turnover early on, as he looked to field the ball in the half court, but then went back past the half court line to retrieve the basketball, and he was called for an over and back violation early on.

Also, Drell did a satisfactory job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get boards aggressively on both sides of the ball, and there was one play where he pushed the ball quickly up the court after leaping up to get a defensive board.  He also would tip balls to his teammates to help them extra boards in this contest.

Defensively though, he will need to improve.  For the positives, Drell would rotate quickly to opposing ball handlers, and he was able to rotate to contest a floater to force a miss.  He ran back on defense to force his opponent to commit a passing turnover.  He also would actively fight through screens to stay with opposing ball handlers.  However, he had trouble defending quicker players out on the perimeter, as he would give up too much space to shooters, and he was prone to fouling them.  He also would sometimes take bad gambles, as he would occasionally whiff on steal attempts and bite on pump fakes, which would put him out of position and cause his team to allow scores.

Overall, Henri Drell has significantly improved over last season, which is good for his development.  However, it’s unclear how much that may actually help him.  His teammate from last season, Paul Eboua, was a starter on Pesaro, but is now struggling mightily for Long Island in the NBA G-League, as it seems that he now has to adjust to playing both small forward and against more athletic players, and Eboua collected a DNP in his team’s loss to Delaware. 

Eboua’s extreme lack of success in the G-League doesn’t seem to bode well for the Italian League right now.  Of course, Eboua looked to be more of an inside player, and as he is an athletic, but undersized big man that has to play out on the wing, and the 6-7 forward likely has had trouble adjusting to his new position. But he also has really struggled to adjust to playing against more athletic opponents in the United States this year, and given that he was a starter in the Italian League, that might not bode well for Drell’s prospects to be drafted this year.

The Italian League was once considered to be a very good professional league overseas, but right now, it may be more like a mid-tier pro league currently.  Notable NBA players that have come from the Italian League that both got drafted and played in the NBA include Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli, Danilo Gallinari, and Brandon Jennings, the latter whom is an American-born guard that had bypassed college to play overseas for Lottomatica Roma.  Jennings may have been the last player to have gone from playing in the Italian League to get drafted and play in the NBA in the following season.  Nicolo Melli played in the Italian League during the 2014-15 season, but he had played for Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey just before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019.  As for now, it seems that there haven’t really been many recent Italian League prospects that have been drafted by NBA teams that have succeeded recently.

For Drell, there were numerous times where opposing ball handlers would not attack him quickly enough when he was on defense, and there would be fairly long stretches where Drell would not touch the ball on offense.

Currently, Drell may still be a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft, and he may face pretty good odds to go undrafted, much like his former teammate Eboua, despite playing well in his role in Italy.  Most likely, Drell will need to show that he can make the transition to playing against more athletic opponents in a faster-paced game, and he will likely need a season in the G-League to do that.  If he can show that he can play well at higher levels, in a favorable scenario, Drell could end up projecting to be a 3 and D type of player similar to former NBA journeyman, Alan Anderson in the association.

Big things were expected out of Davide Moretti this season. He’s played very well at times, but he’s been disappointing this year due to his lack of playing time and subpar shooting percentages, and he may be a long shot to be drafted by an NBA team in 2021.
(Photo:
Mattia Ozbot/Ciamillo-Castoria, via Basket Magazine)

Milano’s 6-2 guard, Davide Moretti played fairly well in his team’s win over Pesaro.  He didn’t play nearly enough minutes, but he provided an immediate scoring punch off the bench during the fourth quarter, and he showed that he can quickly put up points in a hurry on offense.

Moretti shot the ball well, especially from downtown.  He ran off of a ball screen quickly to make a deep spot-up three off the catch.  Moretti also drove in and used a crafty pump fake to score on a mid-range floater from the baseline.  However, late in this contest, he did miss on a quick corner three another time, but he excelled at knocking down jumpers when he was on the floor.

He displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He didn’t get the ball nearly enough in this game, but he was able to throw a crosscourt pass to find an open shooter once in this game.   Moretti also handles the ball well.  However, sometimes he can struggle to handle the ball in traffic, and he also threw a loopy pass that was nearly intercepted, but it still managed to get to his teammate.  While he did not collect an assist in this game, he also did not commit a turnover on offense. Also, Moretti displayed a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Late in this match, he was able to leap up to aggressively get a defensive board in this game, and he has a keen nose for the basketball.

Defensively though, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he was able to deflect a pass to nearly get a steal.  He also quickly went around a screen to stay with an opposing ball handler another time.  However, sometimes he would struggle to defend quicker guards out on the perimeter, as he was called for an aggressive foul once, and he also got outmuscled on a drive, as he allowed his opponent to get a step on him to make the pass to set up a score for a teammate around the basket.  He also was caught ball watching and over-helped in the paint another time, and he was late to rotate back to his man, which led his team to allow a three-point basket to his opponent.

Overall, Davide Moretti shot the ball very well in limited minutes in his team’s win over Pesaro.  However, he has not played nearly as much as anticipated this season, and he has also struggled to shoot the ball well in limited playing time this year.  Prior to the start of the season, it was anticipated that he would put up strong numbers, but Moretti has had trouble getting consistent playing time on the floor.  Right now, because due to his lack of playing time, elite physical tools or playmaking skills, he’s probably likely going to be undrafted in 2021.  He will need to spend a season in the G-League to prove himself, and if he can prove that he can play well at higher levels, he could project to be a shooting specialist off the bench similar to former Miami Heat guard, Chris Quinn in the NBA.

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