Assessing Arnoldas Kulboka in a BCL Qualification Game

October 3, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, 6-9 Lithuanian forward Arnoldas Kulboka played for Capo D’Orlando against Avtodor Saratov in a Basketball Champions League qualification game, so I wanted to take the time to check that out.  Kulboka is considered to be a potential first round prospect in 2018 due to having advanced offensive skills for a player his size.   This year, he will also be playing in the Italian League, so many NBA teams and scouts will watch him to see how he fares this season.

With thanks to YouTube via the Basketball Champions League, I was able to see him play in a match that was played on September 29th.  Here are my thoughts on how Kulboka fared, as well as how he may currently project as a player for the NBA.

Kulboka is a good shooter that can make numerous shots off the catch, especially when he is open.  He excels at knocking down threes in spot-up situations, and he also can move quickly off the ball to get open looks from beyond the arc.  Plus, he also excels at scoring on the move.  Kulboka has good speed and motor, which can help him get numerous transition scoring opportunities in games.  On one possession, Kulboka sprinted down the court to catch a bounce pass in stride in order to score on a layup high off the glass while simultaneously drawing an extra free throw on that play.

However, Kulboka rarely looked to create his own shot on offense.  He did not look to dribble often, and he was often appeared to be roaming from the wings to the corners.  On the bright side, he did move well off the ball, and his ability to make spot-up threes in combination with that could make him a threat to knock down outside shots on floppy sets.

Also, he showcased decent playmaking skills.  Kulboka did not often have the ball in his hands, but he would find open shooters, and he showed a good ability to throw interior passes.  On one particular play early on, he manage to drive to the hoop and threw a nifty dump off pass to a big man to find him open underneath the hoop, though his teammate later bobbled the catch.  But he also can be careless on offense every once in a while, as he also threw an up for grabs pass towards an area packed with defenders that ended up being picked off.
On the other hand, he did not do a very good job of rebounding the basketball in this game.  Kulboka did manage to leap up quickly to snag an offensive rebound once, as he was able to dribble the ball back out to the perimeter.  He also tipped another ball to a teammate, and showed a willingness to crash the glass on both ends of the floor, but Kulboka did not come away with many boards, as he would be out of position at times, on one play he committed a loose ball foul fighting for a rebound, and on another occasion he did not block out, which led his team to allowing a put back score.

Plus, he also showcased adequate defensive skills.  Kulboka is adequate lateral quickness as he moves his feet fairly well, and he can stay in front of his opponents on drives to force misses and passes.  Plus, he will also generally hustle back on defense to prevent opponents from getting easy transition scoring opportunities.  Also, he managed to hold his ground when defending the post as he contested the shot to force a miss inside the paint, but sometimes he doesn’t quite get back on defense or stop the ball, which can lead his team to allowing fast break scores.

Right now, Arnoldas Kulboka projects to be a borderline first round pick for the 2018 NBA Draft as teams in the association may covet his size and shooting ability, and his offensive skills combined with possessing fairly good athleticism could make him a good fit for today’s NBA.  Still, he will likely need to show that he can shots in a variety of ways, though his ability to knock down jumpers in spot-up situation should serve him well at the next level.    If he can diversify his offensive game and improve his defense, Kulboka could be a lock to go in the first round in the upcoming draft.

Other Notes:

Capo d’Orlando’s 6-4 guard, Mario Ihring played sparingly in the second and fourth quarters of this game against Avtodor Saratov.  The 1998-born combo guard from Slovakia produced mixed results, as he struggled with turnovers, but he also managed to make a nifty shot as well as a couple of good passes that went unaccounted for on the box score.

Ihring’s lone basket that he made came on a patient drive to the hoop, as he scored off the glass in traffic.  On that play, he showed the ability to maneuver his way into the paint, as well as a nice shooting touch, as he managed to take a bigger player off the dribble to score that time.  He played unselfishly, as he would usually find open shooters, and he even made a nifty behind the back pass off of a drive on the break.  But Ihring committed a slew of turnovers due to reckless play, as he had a ball ripped away from him once while handling it, and another time he threw a weak bounce pass in traffic that got intercepted.

He did do a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Ihring showed a knack for collecting boards on both ends of the floor, and he excelled at getting rebounds for his team when he was on the floor.  Also, he displayed average defensive skills.  Ihring showed off decent lateral quickness, and he managed to stay in front of his man to force his opponent to miss a mid-range shot.  However, he did commit a reach-in foul once after overplaying a passing lane.  Another time, he sagged off of his man after appearing to over-help in the paint, but his opponent missed a wide open jumper.

In all, Ihring probably did not show enough to prove himself to be worthy of draft consideration at the moment, but it should be noted that he has been getting some minutes in a reasonable tough Basketball Champions League, even though this was a qualification game.  He also showed the potential to excel at running the point, as well as the ability to score the basketball when he would elect to shoot.  Right now, Ihring does not project to be a draft pick in the future, but he could end up developing into being a solid role player overseas over time.

Overall, Arnoldas Kulboka showed some interesting skills, as he is a tall forward that shoots the basketball well, and he also is a fairly good athlete.  Based on what I have seen so far, he may have the skills to end up being a quality role player in the NBA as he may project into being a shooting specialist at the next level.

For Mario Ihring, I did not feel he played very well as a whole, but he flashed enough potential to suggest he could improve steadily to the point where he could be a reliable contributor in professional leagues if he can continue to improve as an overall player.

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