Evaluating Aleksandar Vezenkov and Ludde Hakanson in a Spanish ACB League Game

December 22, 2016

By Alan Lu

I wanted to take the time to watch a couple of international prospects this week, as Barcelona’s 6-8 forward Aleksandar Vezenkov and Fuenlabrada’s 6-3 point guard Ludde Hakanson had squared off against each other in a Spanish ACB League game.  Thanks to YouTube via HOFCB Basket, I was able to see them play against each other in a game that was played on October 30th.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared that day, as well as how they may rate as prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Barcelona’s 6-8 forward, Aleksandar Vezenkov has been very productive in the Greek League and in the Spanish ACB League throughout his professional career to date.   He is said to be a second round prospect that is known for having strong shooting skills on the court.  In this game against Fuenlabrada, he did not disappoint.

Vezenkov is a very good shooter that can knock down numerous long-range jumpers off the catch.  He has the size to shoot over the top of most defenders, and he also can use off-ball movement to knock down plenty of threes, as he can quickly take advantage of opponents if they give him any sliver of space to shoot the basketball.  He also has deceptive quickness, as he can accelerate to get past his man to garner scores or free throws off the dribble.  However, he will need to improve his ball handling, as he can be prone to losing the basketball on drives in traffic, which can cause him to commit turnovers.

Vezenkov generally has the strength, body control, and shooting touch to garner numerous buckets around the basket when he can get there off the dribble.  But sometimes, he may struggle to finish plays in traffic, as he does not appear to have great vertical leaping skills, and he can also rush plays at the rim at times.

He may also possess adequate playmaking skills.  Vezenkov is an unselfish player that will consistently look to find open shooters, and he also can throw accurate long, outlet passes to help set up scoring chances for his teammates on the break.  But he may struggle to consistently create his own shot off the dribble, as he can be turnover prone when he tries to score on half-court drives to the hoop.

Also, Vezenekov is a very good rebounder.  He has great motor and instincts to collect plenty of boards on both ends of the floor.  Vezenkov will leap up to come away with some defensive boards, and he has great hands to collect them for his team.  Plus, can tip balls to himself to help his team collect offensive rebounds.

In this game, Vezenkov played fairly good defense against Fuenlabrada.  Despite only being perhaps an average athlete, he showed good anticipation skills, as he was able to jump a pass and find loose balls to help his team collect steals.  Also, he would actively contest shots to force misses.

However, he also struggled to defend quicker players in this game.  There were a couple of times where he would not run back on defense in time, as his team would be prone to allowing scores in transition.  Another time, he misplayed a ball when going for a steal after helping a teammate defend a pick and roll, which led to his team allowing a dunk off of a roll to the rim.

In general, Aleksandar Vezenkov is a smart, skilled basketball player that could project to significantly help a team with his shooting and rebounding skills in the NBA.  On the other hand, his athletic limitations could make it tough for him to be much more than a specialist in the league.   Regardless, Vezenkov may have the ability to be a solid role player in the association.

Next, Fuenlabrada’s 6-3 point guard, Ludde Hakanson started the game for his team, and he showed off an impressive set of skills in a narrow loss for his team.  He is a young point guard that has been getting plenty of minutes in some of the toughest professional leagues from around the world, and he looked to be a very skilled offensive player that shoots and passes the ball well in games.

Hakanson is a very good shooter that showed off great footwork and shooting touch to knock down threes and mid-range jumpers for his team.  He can make quick, open pull-up threes after dribbling off screens with ease, and he can aggressively get scores by making jumpers off of pick and rolls.  Plus, Hakanson has a nifty step back move that he can use to create separation in order to knock down jumpers.

In addition, he is a gifted playmaker that possesses great court sense on the floor.  Hakanson will aggressively push the ball up the floor, and he can dribble up to find open teammates ahead of him to set up scores on the break.    Hakanson is a fearless playmaker that isn’t afraid to take chances, and his vision can help set up an abundance of scores.

He also can dribble off pick and rolls to quickly find the roll man to set up a dunk, as Hakanson showed a surprisingly strong ability to operate off of pick and rolls as the primary ball handler and he also is an unselfish player that can get the basketball to his teammates in an assortment of ways.  But sometimes, Hakanson can make hasty decisions, which can lead him to commit an occasional turnover.  In this game, Hakanson rebounded the ball well.  He showed a strong willingness to crash the glass, as he was able to collect numerous defensive rebounds, and he would push the pace up the floor off of them.

Hakanson also generally showed off fairly good defensive skills.  He was very active defensively, and he used his anticipation skills to block a three-point shot to force a miss in the first quarter of this game, as he generally excelled at contesting shots to force misses.  Plus, Hakanson also was able to knock a ball off of an opposing ball handler to collect a steal for his team.   He also would try to disrupt his opponents’ ability to make passes, as he was also able to deflect a pass in this game.

He also held his own when defending in the post against a bigger player, as he forced his opponent to pass the basketball.  However, Hakanson struggled to fight through screens, as his teammates may not have talked much on defense, leaving him to struggle to fight through screens at various times of the game.  He also was a bit prone to committing touch fouls, as this was generally due to over-aggressiveness.  In summary, Ludde Hakanson is a smart, skilled basketball player that has a high basketball IQ, and he may have the offensive skills to succeed in the NBA.  He may not have elite athletic tools, but he may have the skills and smarts to excel as a solid role player in the association.

Other Notes:

2016 undrafted center, Moussa Diagne generally put on an impressive performance for Fuenlabrada.  Standing close to 7 feet tall, Diagne generally excelled as a finisher, rebounder, and shot blocker around the basket.  He threw down numerous emphatic dunks on rolls to the rim, and he was also an active defensive presence for his team.  He also drew many free throws to help his team on offense.   Diagne did pick up some fouls, but generally he played well on both ends of the floor.

He also passionately defended his teammates when Dorsey hard fouled a teammate of his in the 4th quarter.  Diagne is a very athletic center that could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA that also may have some scoring potential, and if he comes over to play in the association, he could end up being a Marcin Gortat type for an NBA team sometime in the near future.

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