Evaluating Lonzo Ball, Allonzo Trier, T.J. Leaf, and More

February 26, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to watch a Pac-12 basketball game between two ranked teams, UCLA and Arizona, as this featured several top prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft in Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf, and Lauri Markkanen, amid others.

UCLA appeared to have the clear upper hand early on, but they let Arizona hang around, and Arizona ended up taking the lead at times, before both teams traded leads back and forth.  But in the end, UCLA shot the ball very well and displayed great ball movement, as they were able to hold out to get a five-point victory on the road.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day.

UCLA’s 6-5 freshman point guard, Lonzo Ball put forth a solid showing to lead his team to a narrow win over Arizona.  He showed off very good all-around skills, as he generally played well on both ends of the floor.  Ball excelled at scoring off the dribble, as he showed off a gifted ability to do so.  He frequently was able to get scores on fast break drives, and he has very good speed, quickness, and body control to regularly finish plays around the basket.  Also, he has a solid assortment of ball handling moves, and he has the shooting touch to score on runners to the hoop.

Also, he showed off a decent ability to shoot the basketball.  He struggled to consistently knock down pull-up threes, or outside shots well beyond the arc, but Ball was able to roll to the wing to make a quick three off the catch.  In his one make from long distance, Ball showed off a high release, but did display a rather unusual crossfire delivery.  Also, he was able to knock down a quick, pull-up, mid-range jumper to space the floor for his team that time.

Plus, Ball displayed tremendous playmaking skills.  He was incredibly accurate with his passes, as he showed off great court vision throughout this contest.  Ball excelled at making an assortment of passes to set up many scores for his team, and he would also use nifty ball handling moves, and then he would promptly find his teammates to collect assists for his team.  He did commit a couple of turnovers off the dribble, and he showed a bit of a tendency to push off on drives, but mostly Ball excelled at taking care of the basketball.

He also rebounded the ball fairly well, as he would haul in boards on both ends of the court, and he even managed to make a one-handed defensive rebound in this game.  Ball would often push the ball up the court after grabbing rebounds to get his team fast break scoring chances.  He also displayed adequate defensive skills.  Ball was quite active as a help defender, as he would frequently jump passes to garner steals due to possessing tremendous quickness and anticipation skills.  Plus, he also blocked a shot on a taller low post player from behind inside the paint, as Ball showed off very good athleticism and timing to do so that time.

In general, Lonzo Ball had a very good performance, as he showed off a solid set of all-around skills to lead his team to victory.  He played with poise and under control, and he controlled the tempo masterfully to get his team playing the pace he wanted to get them to play.  Ball is a player that has few weaknesses in his game, and he could contend to be the top pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Arizona’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Allonzo Trier had a terrific game, as he played very well offensively to keep his team in the game for much of the way.  He primarily excelled as a shooter and scorer on the floor, and his prolific ability to score the basketball really helped the Wildcats in this game.

Trier showed a tremendous ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He has very good speed, strength, and body control, and he was regularly able to beat his man off the dribble to get buckets around the basket.  Trier managed to score on a couple of acrobatic, switch of hands layups, and he also made a reverse layup, and he showed a knack for getting terrific scores in traffic.

Also, he showed a gifted ability to space the floor for his team.  Trier did a great job of knocking down open threes off the catch, and he also used a step back move another time to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  Plus, he also showed off fairly good playmaking skills.  Trier showed a knack for finding shooters off the dribble, as he would kick it out to them to set up scoring chances.  But on one play, he threw a bad pass that led to a turnover.

He also showed off decent rebounding skills.  Trier showed a willingness to crash the glass, and he was able to haul in his fair share of defensive boards in this game.  Also, Trier showcased an adequate ability to defend opponents when he was on the court.  On one play, he managed to draw a charge on an opponent that attempted to drive the ball to the basket.

In this game, Allonzo Trier played really well, and he did a terrific job of shooting and scoring the basketball to keep his team in this match.  Though it was not enough, Trier showed that he has a good set of skills that could make him a worthwhile pick in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

UCLA’s 6-9 freshman forward, T.J. Leaf also played very well, as he showed a wide array of skills to help lead his team to defeat Arizona.  He really excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, as he was very efficient at getting buckets in the post, off the dribble, as well as on hustle plays around the basket.

Leaf showed off very good low post scoring skills.  He was able to score on a step through move early on, and he consistently showed the ability to score on tough, jump hooks in traffic. Also, there was another time where Leaf was able to throw down an emphatic dunk after being open around the hoop.

He also showed a great ability to get scores off the dribble.  Leaf was able to make a quick rip move to the hoop, and he managed to easily get past his defender to score on a thunderous dunk.  Plus, he showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders.  He did not look to take many jumpers, but he missed his lone three-point attempt after using a jab step to create separation from him and his defender.

Leaf also displayed decent playmaking skills.  He passed the ball well, as he would quickly find shooters to show off good court vision on the floor.  However, he struggled to protect the basketball off the dribble at times, and he also was called for a traveling violation after using a pump fake from the post.  Plus, he also showed off decent rebounding skills.  He was fairly active at hauling in boards on both ends of the floor, and he would leap up to collect numerous offensive rebounds, as he would pass it back out to his teammates to set up scoring opportunities for them.

He also showed off decent defensive skills.  Leaf showed off good shot blocking skills, as he has the athletic ability and the timing to do so to prevent opponents from getting easy shots up in the lane.  Also, he managed to jump a pass from the post to collect a steal.  However, Leaf tended to give up too much space to shooters, which allowed them to knock down jumpers.

In general, T.J. Leaf had a very good game, as he played well, especially on offense to help lead his team to a win over Arizona.  He is a very athletic, skilled offensive player that could be a good value pick for a team in the mid first round range of the upcoming draft.

Arizona’s 7-0 freshman forward, Lauri Markkanen did not have a great game in his team’s loss to UCLA, as he generally struggled to make threes, or consistently finish plays in traffic, and he struggled to grab many rebounds or defend the opposition on this day.  For the positives, Markkanen showed a very good ability to knock down pull-up mid-range jumpers.  He would frequently take a couple of dribbles to make long two-pointers just inside the arc.  Plus, he showed a decent ability to get scores off the dribble.  But he missed all of his threes, and he generally struggled to score in traffic, as he had his shots blocked a couple of times around the basket.

He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills at best.  Markkanen did show an ability to set screens for his team, as he would look to get open off pick and pop plays, and he would look to find the open man on the floor.  However, he had trouble making quick decisions on offense, and he had some trouble protecting the basketball.  On another play, he was trapped in the corner, and had to call timeout to prevent himself from committing a turnover.  However, he struggled to consistently rebound the basketball, as he had trouble collecting boards when matched up against more athletic opponents that were close to his size.

Defensively, he looked to be below average on this end.  For the positives, he would use his length to contest shots to force some misses, and he also tied up an opponent on a drive early on.  However, Markkanen tended to commit fouls on drives, and he would struggle to defend his man off the dribble, as he had trouble guarding quicker opponents on the floor.

In summary, Lauri Markkanen generally struggled for most of this game, as he struggled with foul trouble, and he had trouble scoring efficiently against UCLA.  He did show a knack for making mid-range jumpers, and he showed the ability to defend in small doses.   But overall, he had trouble making shots consistently, and he struggled to keep up consistently on defense.  Right now, he will need to improve his play against Pac-12 teams, as he has generally struggled to shoot the ball well in this month.

UCLA’s sophomore guard, Aaron Holiday showed off a solid ability to get scores around the basket for his team, as he mostly capitalized on hustle plays.  He managed to drive in to throw down a dunk on the break, and he also scored on a put back.  Also, he showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble.   He struggled to make outside shots, but he was able to hit a deep three once in this game.  He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills at best.  Holiday did manage to find an open shooter to collect one assist.  But he did commit a couple of turnovers, as he threw a low pass in traffic that went out of bounds once.  Another time, he committed a charging foul off the dribble.

But he did show off decent rebounding and defensive skills.  Holiday was able to score off of a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound on one particular possession.  On defense, he managed to rip a ball away from an opposing ball handler in the post to obtain a steal, which allowed him to score on a fast break.  He did commit a foul off the dribble, but generally Holiday played fairly well on the defensive end.

In general, Aaron Holiday had a fairly good game as he made a string of good plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get a close win over Arizona.  Holiday showed solid athleticism as well as a variety of skills, and he could be a good find for a team in the second round range of the upcoming draft.

UCLA’s 7-0 junior center, Thomas Welsh played well in a win for his team.  He excelled as a scorer in the post, he made mid-range jumpers, and he also scored on hustle plays on offense.  Plus, he also was active as a rebounder when he was on the floor.  Welsh showed a knack for getting scores in the post.  He was able to score on a jump hook over a smaller defender.  On another play, he made a tough catch in traffic, and he managed to score on a scoop shot.

Also, he showed a knack for scoring on mid-range jump shots.  Welsh showed off a very good ability to make face-up, mid-range jumpers, and he also made one off of a pick and pop play after setting an on-ball screen for his team.  Plus, he excelled at getting scores on the move.  He managed to score on a tip in, and he also ran the floor to throw down an emphatic dunk on the break.

In addition, Welsh rebounded the ball well, as he was quite active at crashing the glass.  He hauled in numerous boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively though, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, he would use his length to force misses, as he was able to do so when defending a three as well as in the post. But he was also quite foul prone at times, as he committed a couple of fouls on drives as well as in the post.

In general, Thomas Welsh put forth a solid showing, as he played a pivotal role in helping to lead his team to a narrow victory over Arizona.  He is a skilled, offensive minded big man that can score and rebound the basketball, and he may be an underrated prospect that could be a good value pick for a team in the second round range of the draft.

UCLA’s senior guard, Bryce Alford played very well against Arizona, as he really excelled as a shooter, and he also showed solid playmaking and rebounding skills in the win for his team.  Alford showed a great ability to make threes from beyond the arc.  He really excelled as a floor spacer for his team, as he would knock down quick shots off the catch, and he has great range on his shot, as he was able to make one from well behind the three-point line out on the wing.

Also, he is a crafty player that managed to draw free throws on another attempt from downtown, as he was able to take advantage of his terrific shooting to draw a foul on his defender that time.  Alford also showed a good ability to get scores off the dribble, as he was able to use a hesitation move to score on a tough leaner.  However, he did tend to miss shots after running off of curl cuts to get open.

Plus, Alford displayed solid playmaking skills.  He would make quick passes to find open shooters to set up scores for them, and he also set an on-ball screen to free up a shooter, which allowed his teammate to get open on another play.  Also, he did not commit a single turnover on offense.

He also rebounded very well in this game, as he would fight and battle to get tough boards, and he even rebounded his own miss, and found an open teammate to set up a three-point basket for him.  Alford hauled in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, as he excelled as a rebounder in this game.

Defensively, he looked to be average at best.  For the positives, Alford would compete to try to stay with his man, and when he did so, he would contest shots to force some misses.  However, he had trouble guarding quicker players on occasion, this would leave him to give up too much space, or him getting beat off the dribble to allow scores and free throws as a result.

In general, Bryce Alford played very well, as he excelled on offense as well as on the boards to help get his team the victory.  He showed off a great ability to shoot the basketball, but he also showcased better than advertised playmaking and rebounding skills.  He has played off the ball this year next to Lonzo Ball, but with his ability to make good decisions on the court, Alford may potentially have what it takes to capably play either guard position at the next level.

UCLA’s freshman big man, Ike Anigbogu had a fairly good game in a win for his team over Arizona, as he provided them with meaningful minutes off the bench.  He displayed solid scoring skills, and he also was active as a defender on the floor.  Anigbogu showed a solid ability to get scores inside the paint.  On one play, he was wide open to catch the ball around the basket, and he promptly threw down a powerful dunk to get a score for his team.  Also, Anigbogu was able to draw free throws on an offensive rebound attempt, as well as a high post drive to the hoop.

He also showed off great length, athleticism, and timing to make some plays on the boards as well as on the defensive end.  Though he did not do well consistently in those categories, he showed a deft ability to block shots, as he swatted an opponent’s runner to the hoop, and he also snared a tough defensive board.  On the other hand, Anigbogu tended to commit fouls inside the paint due to over-aggressiveness.

In general, Ike Anigbogu may have considerable potential to develop as a player for the NBA.  He may not be ready to play in the league right now, but he is a very athletic big man that can contribute on both ends of the floor.  With his skill set, he could end up being a likely pick in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Other Notes:

Arizona’s 5-11 junior backup point guard, Parker Jackson-Cartwright played really well off the bench, as he provided a spark for his team in the first half.  He did a great job of getting scores on drives in transition, and he also shot the ball well, as he made a spot-up three in the corner, as well as a pull-up, mid-range jumper.

Plus, he showed a good ability to find shooters to collect assists, and he also displayed adequate defensive skills.  Jackson-Carwright showed a knack for drawing charges, and he also managed to jump a pass to get a steal.  However, there was one play where he was caught ball watching, as he ended up allowing his man to make an open three.

In general, Jackson-Cartwright played very well in his team’s loss to UCLA.  Though he has put forth fairly pedestrian numbers throughout his collegiate career, his strong performance in this game could make him a prospect to watch in 2018.

Arizona’s 6-4 freshman guard, Rawle Alkins excelled as a scorer on hustle plays, as he managed to throw down a dunk to score on a fast break drive, and he also scored on a reverse layup after finding himself wide open around the basket.  Plus, he also showed off a good ability to find shooters off the dribble.  Also, he showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  However, he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, and he did not defend well.  He tended to allow scores to the opposition in an assortment of ways, as he struggled to defend them when he was on the floor.

In general, Rawle Alkins did not have his best game, but he is an athletic player that plays with a high motor.  He will need to improve in the finer points of the game, but with his skill set, he could be a potential second round pick in the upcoming draft.

Arizona’s 6-5 freshman guard, Kobi Simmons did not have his best game, as he struggled offensively, but he did do some good things on defense.  On the offensive end, he showed a decent ability to score off the dribble, though he also missed a point blank shot on the break.  He also struggled to knock down jumpers, and set a moving screen on offense.  But on defense, Simmons appeared to be solid on that end of the floor.  He managed to poke a ball away off of a drive to get a steal, and he also leapt up to block a shot on the drive.

Right now, Kobi Simmons may be a second round prospect, as he is an athletic combo guard that has a variety of skills.  But he can be quite inconsistent in games, and he can seemingly disappear for prolonged stretches.  He will need to be more of a factor against tough teams, but his skill set and athletic ability could potentially allow him to be a second round pick in this year’s draft.

Senior guard, Isaac Hamilton had an up and down game for UCLA.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, but he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, despite having one bucket where he used a spin move to get past his man.   He also had trouble knocking down mid-range jumpers.  He showed a decent ability to pass the basketball, as he would look to find the open man, but he once telegraphed his pass, which led to a turnover.  He played good defense in this game, as he managed to collect one steal, and he also would use his length and quickness to force misses.

Right now, Isaac Hamilton may be a longshot to be drafted, but he may have the athleticism and the ability to make an NBA summer league roster.  He will need to be more consistently productive in games, but he may have the potential to be a two-way player at the next level if he continues to improve down the road.

Arizona’s sophomore big man, Chance Comanche played well off the bench, as he had a solid game in a loss to UCLA.  He showed off very good low post scoring skills, as he managed to use a pivot move to score on a contested turnaround jumper.  Another time, he utilized a drop step move to score on a leaner.  Plus, he also managed to draw free throws off of a jump hook.  Plus, he excelled as a finisher around the basket.  On one play, he set an on-ball screen for his team, and he rolled hard to the rim to draw free throws for his team.  On the downside, he was quite turnover prone at times on offense, as he struggled to protect the basketball on occasion.

He also showed a decent ability to rebound and defend when he was on the court.  He would leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and Comanche was able to force a travel when defending the post.  However, he did commit one foul on a high post drive, and another time he ended up allowing a mid-range score to the opposition.

In general, Chance Comanche put forth a solid showing in this game, as he provided good energy to his team, as he was able to help them on both ends of the floor.  He is an athletic big man that has improved noticeably over the course of this season, and he could end up being firmly on the draft radar if he continues to play well this year.

Keanu Pinder did not play much for Arizona, but he provided them with very good energy in limited minutes.  He managed to score on a put back, and he rebounded and defended well when he was on the floor, as he made two ferocious shot blocks on opponents’ drives to the hoop.  While he has a big man’s game but is the size of a small forward, Pinder could be a player to watch next year, as his defensive skills could allow him to make an NBA summer league roster down the road.

Overall, this was a fascinating game to watch.  UCLA appeared to have a fairly comfortable lead at first, but Arizona kept clawing back, as they managed to find ways to stay in the game.  Allonzo Trier was fantastic for his team, as he did an outstanding job of making shots for the Wildcats.

But UCLA moved the ball well and made timely shots down the stretch, and Arizona struggled to rebound or make shots from beyond the arc.  Arizona was able to get themselves a chance to tie the game on one of the final possessions, but they came up short, as UCLA held on to get a tough road win.  Lonzo Ball and Allonzo Trier were among the standouts out of the numerous players that performed well in his game, and both of the teams could end up going far in the NCAA Tournament this year.