Assessing Lachlan Olbrich, Bobi Klintman, and A.J. Johnson in a 2023 NBL Blitz Game
September 24th, 2023
By Alan Lu
Recently, I took the time to watch a September 22nd NBL Blitz game that featured Cairns and Illawarra, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via National Basketball League. Bobi Klintman is a tall, athletic forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he has drawn significant buzz as a first round draft prospect for the upcoming draft. Also, it was a chance to watch 6-5 guard A.J. Johnson play in an NBL Blitz game, and it also presented an opportunity to watch other prospects such as Taran Armstrong and Lachlan Olbrich. In this game, Lachlan Olbrich played very well, and he may have put himself on the map as a draft prospect. Here are my thoughts on Olbrich, Klintman, and other various prospects fared in this game, as well as how they currently rate as prospects for the NBA. Also, for those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.
Illawarra’s 6-10 big man, Lachlan Olbrich (wearing #30) has shown an impressive scoring touch from close range as well as some passing skills that has put him on the map as a prospect for the 2024 draft.
(Photo: Russell Freeman/Getty Images for NBL, via Illawarra Mercury)
Lachlan Olbrich had a strong showing to help lead Illawarra to a double-digit win over Cairns. He is an agile, high-motor big man that would consistently make hustle plays to help his team in this game. Olbrich showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays. He would often run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he showed good strength, scoring touch, and finishing ability at the rim. He also would score on quick put backs after getting offensive rebounds. He also managed to score on a backdoor cut. Plus, he also showed some ability to put it on the deck and score by being able to do so over a smaller defender to score off the dribble.
Plus, he also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills. Olbrich was able to make some solid passes off the dribble and in transition to set up scores for his teammates, and he is an unselfish player that can find open teammates on the move. He also would set solid screens, which would enable his teammates to get open driving lanes and jump shots. On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to handle the ball when pressured, which would lead to some ball-handling turnovers. He also would sometimes throw careless, inaccurate passes, as one sailed out of bounds, and another got intercepted.
Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Olbrich was able to get boards on both sides of the ball, and he would sometimes push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds. He also played decent defense in this game. Olbrich was able to rotate to block a shot to a teammate to help his team protect the paint due to possessing solid length and timing. He also would jump passes and poke balls away to get steals. Plus, he would use his length to contest shots off the dribble as well as out of the post to force misses. On the downside, he would sometimes not move his feet very well, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would be late on his rotations and on his close outs, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on three-point baskets.
In general, Lachlan Olbrich played very well, and he did a great job of making hustle plays to help his team in this game. Though he doesn’t possess elite athleticism, Olbrich is a high-motor big man that showed a solid feel for the game, and he consistently made hustle plays, especially on the offensive end. He’ll still need to extend his shooting range and work on his outside shot as well as show that he can guard quicker players out on the perimeter, but he is a high-motor big man that could end up being a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2024 draft.
Bobi Klintman had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Illawarra. He is an athletic forward that has been having a solid NBL Blitz, despite not shooting the ball nearly as well from deep compared to last season. He’s shown more of his all-around skills and has looked to be more of a complete player in the first couple of games he’s played. However in this game, he didn’t do a very good job of making shots in this game. He still showed more playmaking and defensive skills than anticipated, but his performance looked to be a mixed bag overall.
Klintman generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He would run the floor to get the ball on fast breaks, and he was able to score on a powerful dunk. He also would make strong moves to draw free throws, as he did so on a drive in transition as well as off of a put back. However, sometimes he would rush his moves and take wild, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses.
In this game, Klintman was able to show his trademark shooting skills by pulling up to make an open three-pointer smoothly on the break. However, he didn’t shoot the ball very well from the outside overall, as he tended to miss on jumpers both off the catch and dribble.
He also showcased fairly average playmaking skills. Klintman has shown improved passing and ball handling skills, and he was able to make a couple of drive and kick passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He also was able to find a cutter from the mid post to help set up a score another time. Plus, he also was able to throw a lob to a teammate on the break to notch an assist. On the downside, he would sometimes throw hasty passes that would get intercepted. Another time, he was careless when handling the ball on the break, which led him to get the ball stolen away from him.
Also, Klintman was able to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor. He was especially active at crashing the glass to get offensive rebounds, and he would swoop into do so, but it was rare when he would get a defensive board in this game. On one play, he was able to leap up to get a defensive rebound and he then pushed the pace afterwards. On another, he got caught ball watching and didn’t block out, as he allowed an opponent to get an offensive rebound in his area.
In addition, he played satisfactory defense. Klintman is a rangy defender that did a great job of getting blocks and steals in this game. Klintman was able to rotate to block a shot in the post. He also successfully defended out on the perimeter and stayed with his man in order to block the shot hard to a teammate due to possessing solid length, athleticism, and timing. He also would jump passes and on loose balls to get steals. He also would contest shots and stay in front of his man to cut off penetration to make things more difficult for his opponents. On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to defend in one-on-one situations. Sometimes, he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores. Other times, he would get outmuscled when defending stronger players in the post.
Overall, Bobi Klintman didn’t have his best game in his team’s loss to Illawarra, but it seemed that he had a fairly solid NBL Blitz overall. On one hand, he looks to be a significantly better all-around player than when he left Wake Forest. On the other hand, he didn’t shoot nearly as well from the outside as he did at Wake Forest, so he’ll need to work on his jump shot more. Right now, Klintman is an athletic, skilled forward that can make plays on both sides of the ball, but will need to be more consistent in games, but his size, athleticism, and upside could make him a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2024 draft.
A.J. Johnson is a very athletic combo guard that had previously really struggled in the 2023 NBL Blitz prior to this game, but he played well to help lead Illawarra to a win over Cairns. He was aggressive and made plays early on, and he did a good job of making plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory.own
Johnson did a good job of attacking the hoop to score the basketball. He was able to drive hard to the hoop and used a ball fake to score on a strong runner. He also ran the floor and got the ball in transition to score on a powerful, two-handed slam.
Early on, he was able to pull up to make a quick three smoothly from beyond the arc. On the downside, he struggled to consistently knock down threes off the dribble, despite showing very good dribble moves and footwork to get his shots off.
Plus, he also displayed solid playmaking skills in this game. Johnson was able to throw a no-look bounce pass on the break to notch an assist. He also is an unselfish player that will quickly find the open man to set up scores for his teammates, and he also can make drive and kick passes. On one play though, he over-dribbled and threw a hasty jump pass that got intercepted.
Also, Johnson is a willing rebounder, and he was able to get a defensive board and push the ball up the floor afterwards. He also played solid defense. Johnson was able to leap up to deflect a cross court pass out of bounds. He also would stay in front of opposing ball handlers, which enabled him to help force a passing turnover, and he also contested a three to force a miss. He also fought through a screen another time, and he played tenacious on-ball defense in this game.
In summary, A.J. Johnson quietly played very well, and this may have been his best game yet in the NBL Blitz. He is an athletic combo guard that can make shots and run the point, and he also defended well. He’ll need to be a more consistent player, especially on offense, but he is a very athletic playmaker that has the talent to be a first round pick in the 2024 draft.
Taran Armstrong had a decent showing for Cairns in their loss to Illawarra. He did a good job of passing and rebounding the basketball, and he is a high-motor point guard that continued to excel as a facilitator on offense.
He displayed good playmaking skills in this game. Armstrong will push the tempo, and he is a creative player that can get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways. He was able to throw a lob pass to set up a score for a roll man. He also threw a no-look pass off the dribble to get the ball to an open corner shooter, and set a screen for him to set up the score. Armstrong has very good court vision and he would consistently find open teammates on the move, especially off the dribble and in transition. Sometimes though, he would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.
On offense, he flashed the ability to score on aggressive drives to the hoop, and eh also would draw fouls in order to get to the free throw line. However, Armstrong would also sometimes go too fast and out of control, as he would miss on tough, rushed layups in traffic.
He also was able to run in to score on a quick put back off of an offensive rebound. Armstrong showed great footwork to take a stepback three, but he missed it that time.
Armstrong did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He has a keen nose for the ball, and he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor. Sometimes, he would push the pace after getting defensive boards. He also played decent defense in this game. Armstrong would often rotate to poke balls away to get steals, and he also would get his hands on passes to get other steals. Early on, he was able to deflect a pass and he then dove on the ground to get the loose ball to help his team force the turnover. He also was able to contest. A deep three to force a miss, and he showed the willingness to fight through screens to stay with his man. On the downside, he would sometimes be caught ball watching and wander too far away from his man or not rotate in time, which would lead his team to give up open shots to the opposition. Other times, he would struggle to cut off penetration when defending off the dribble, which would put him in disadvantageous situations.
Overall, Armstrong had a good NBL Blitz this year, and he is a cerebral playmaker that sees the floor well, and he also will scrap to make plays on both ends of the floor. He will need to improve his jump shot, but his basketball IQ and solid skill set could make him a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2024 draft.
Perth’s 6-9 forward, Sam Mennenga had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Illawarra. While he showed an improved jump shot in this game, he still didn’t take nearly enough threes, and he didn’t shoot well overall, as he tended to take and miss on a lot of contested jump shots. He also did not grab enough rebounds, and he played poor defense. On the bright side, he did pass the basketball very well, but it was not enough to wash away his bad shooting night and the mistakes he made in this game.
For the bright side, Mennenga showed off the ability to knock down outside shots and score off the dribble. He was able to make an open, spot-up three off the catch. He also drove hard to the hoop and got fouled to get to the free throw line.
Plus, he also looked to score on hustle plays. He was able to use a drop step move to score on a put back. He also ran the floor to score in transition early on. However, he tended to miss on contested shots in transition, and he also got his shot blocked off of a cut. He didn’t always go up strong, and he tended to struggle to score in traffic.
Mennenga also showed some low post scoring skills. Mennenga was able to use a drop step move and a pump fake to score around the basket. On the downside, he would take tough, contested shots that would tend to lead to misses.
He also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills. Mennenga passed the ball well, and he would consistently throw accurate passes to find open teammates on the move. On one play though, he tried to make a quick rip move from the high post, but instead was called for the clear out, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.
He didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, but he was able to get a board on both ends of the floor. He also played adequate defense. For the positives, he would rotate to contest shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to force misses, and Mennenga would close out on there-point shooters to get stops. On the downside, he would sometimes stray too far off his man and then overcompensate by over-rotating, which would lead him to be out of position and put his team in scramble situations that would lead his team to eventually give up three-point baskets.
Overall, Sam Mennenga is a skilled combo forward that has a versatile skill set, but he didn’t seem to play too well in the NBL Blitz this year. Still, his versatile skill set could enable him to be a solid role player in the NBL in the regular season, and time will tell to see how well he can adjust to the competition at that level. Right now, he may be a long shot to be drafted, but he is an agile, skilled forward that could end up playing a 3 and D role at the NBA level someday.
All in all, those are my thoughts on how Olbrich, Klintman, Johnson, and other various prospects fared in this game. Thanks for reading.