Assessing Arturs Zagars

May 16, 2019

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch 6-3 Latvian point guard, Arturs Zagars play for CB Prat Juventud in a LEB Gold game against Magia Huesca in a match that was played on October 14th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via Coach J.Ribas.  Zagars is an early entrant for the 2019 NBA Draft, and he has been getting some mention in the second round due to his offensive skills.  I managed to see him play in a full basketball game.  Here my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how he may stack up as a prospect for the NBA.

Arturs Zagars is an adequate shooter that can knock down threes to space the floor for his team on offense.  He is an agile player that handles the ball well.  He was able to run to the ball to make a quick spot-up three once.  Another time, he dribbled left around the screen and used a behind the back dribble move, and then he dribbled to his right before using a step back move to make a pull-up three-pointer, but he also can tend to be streaky with his jump shot, as he would miss on a couple of open threes, and he also misse on a pull-up three badly late in this game.

He also showed an adequate ability to score on quick drives to the basket.  Though he does not have overwhelming foot speed, Zagars is a crafty player that changes speeds well, as he was able to go to his left after dribbling off of a screen to score off the glass, and he also can draw fouls upon his defenders, but sometimes he will try to force up tough shots in traffic, which can lead him to get his shots blocked.  He also managed to score on a reverse layup on a put back after having used two pump fakes shortly after getting an offensive board.

Zagars also displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  He is a cerebral playmaker that possesses good patience and court vision, as he can find teammates on the move off of rolls and cuts, and he tended to throw nice lobs to set up scores for roll men.  He throws solid touch passes, and he also is a solid ball handler that use dribble moves to create separation before getting his teammates the basketball, but sometimes he can be turnover prone, as he can be too careless with the basketball on occasion.  He threw a couple of hasty, inaccurate passes that ended up getting intercepted, and he also held the ball for too long before getting it taken away by a defender early in this game.

He didn’t grab many rebounds, but Zagars was able to get an offensive rebound off of his own miss, as an opponent had blocked his shot right to him.  Another time, Zagars was able to leap up to get a defensive board, as he then managed to bring the ball up that time.  Defensively, Zagars looked to be about average.  He is an active position defender that will successfully draw charges on opponents that attempt to take the ball to the rim, and he also managed to get back on defense to force his man to miss a shot in transition.  He also helped poke a ball away when defending in the post to force a turnover, and he also managed to get an opponent to slow up and pass out of a transition scoring opportunity another time.

However, he can struggle to guard quicker players.  He can tend to get beat off the dribble as well as on moves to the hoop, as he can struggle to guard drives or cuts, which can lead him to commit fouls.  He also had his hands down once when defending a long outlet pass, which led to a fast break score.  Another time, he gave up too much space to his opponent, as he then ended up allowing his man to score on a long two.

Overall, Arturs Zagars is a smart, skilled playmaker that could profile well into a backup point guard role in the NBA.  He is a fairly good shooter and passer, and he is a crafty player that changes speeds well on offense.  On the downside, he has not played much at the higher levels of international basketball, as he has rarely played in the Spanish ACB League, and he does not  possess elite physical tools for the point guard position. 

Right now, Zagars is a second round prospect for the upcoming draft, and he kind of reminds me of former San Antonio Spurs’ point guard, Beno Udrih.  Zagars could be a likely second round, draft and stash pick if he stays in this year’s draft, and he will likely need to spend some time overseas honing his game, but if he does so, he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.