Assessing Rodions Kurucs
June 7, 2018
by Alan Lu
Recently, I took the time to watch 6-9, 1998-born Latvian forward Rodions Kurucs as he has split time between playing for FC Barcelona and FC Barcelona II in Spain.
To get a better feel for his current skill set, I decided to watch him play in two games, as he played for FC Barcelona in a Spanish ACB League game against MoraBanc Andorra that was played on January 21st, as the first quarter was from YouTube via mesqueunclub gr, while the second quarter was from YouTube via Mickey Mickeal, and the last two quarters of the match were also from YouTube via Mickey Mickeal. I then watched Kurucs play in an LEB Gold contest for FC Barcelona II that was played on April 20th against C.B. Valladolid, with thanks to YouTube via Onda Joven Radio. Here are my thoughts on how he fared in both games, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.
Rodions Kurucs is a good shooter that can knock down plenty of open spot-up threes off the catch, and he also can make them in transition. Also, he can dribble off of a screen to knock down a pull-up three off the dribble. He tended to be used in far more spot-up situations in the Spanish ACB League then when he was playing in the LEB Gold, as he would have the ball more in his hands when he would play for FC Barcelona II.
He is an athletic, fairly energetic player that can score on hustle plays. Kurucs was able to make an aggressive cut to the hoop for FC Barcelona II, as he managed to catch a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk. However, he struggled more to score on drives to the basket, and though he has a fairly good first step off the dribble, he generally had trouble finishing plays in traffic. Though he did get an offensive rebound against C.B. Valladolid, he ended up getting his shot blocked after attempting to score on a put back off of a high post drive.
Plus, he will also need to improve his ability to score in the post. He set up too far away once, and though he used a quick shoulder fake, he missed on a turnaround jumper. Kurucs has looked to add more strength than last year, but he still doesn’t seem to be comfortable playing with his back to the basket, as he will tend to pass out of the post instead.
Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that can pass and handle the basketball, and he will look to push the ball up the floor when he gets the ball in the backcourt. He does a good job of finding the open man in transition, as he can make a dump off pass as well as hit the trailer, and he can occasionally hit the cutter. Plus, he also used a behind the back move once to show off his ball handling skills against MoraBanc Andorra. However, Kurucs also can be turnover prone, as he can tend to get the ball poked away at times, and he also dribbled off of his foot that resulted in him committing another turnover.
However, he will need to improve his ability to rebound the basketball. For the positives, Kurucs can get a few defensive boards, and he will sometimes look to push the pace. He also can tip balls to teammates to help teams get defensive boards. However, he did not seem to get enough boards in his area, and he also committed a reach-in foul on an opponent’s defensive board due to over-aggressiveness.
He also showed off fairly average defensive skills. On the plus side, Kurucs is an active help defender that can get blocks and steals, as he can make quick rotations and stay with opposing ball handlers to block shots to his teammates, and he also can heap on loose balls to help get steals. He also can poke a ball away when defending an opponent out on the perimeter, and he also will look to contest jumpers to force misses.
However, he can tend to be too aggressive on this end, which can lead him to be out of position. Kurucs has a tendency to commit fouls when defending out on the perimeter, as he can be prone to be caught reaching in, and he also may be prone to fouling when trying to contest shots inside the paint. Every once in a while, he may not always hustle to make plays on the defensive end, which can lead his team to allow a score around the hoop.
In general, Rodions Kurucs is an athletic, skilled combination forward that has a variety of skills on offense, but he still has not received much playing time in Spain’s top league, the Spanish ACB League. In looking at his statistics on RealGM, he only has made 33% of his threes in all of the leagues he has played in combined, so he will need to be a more consistent shooter in games. Right now, he will need to improve his rebounding and position defense and work on his outside shot. Still, his ability to make shots and his ability to handle the ball for his size could enable him to be a likely second round pick in the upcoming draft, and if he continually improves, he could end up being an effective role player in the NBA in the mold of a Khris Middleton type in the association.