Evaluating Theo Maledon In The World Cup Qualifiers

October 10, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Theo Maledon play in a World Cup Qualifiers game that took place on February 24, 2019 between France and the Czech Republic, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via FIBA. Maledon is a smart, skilled playmaker that has been playing rotational minutes in the French League this year, and he also is a strong candidate to go in the lottery in 2019. I decided to use this opportunity to further assess his skills, and to see how his game may stack up in the NBA. Also, for those that are interested in the box score of this match, here is the link.

Theo Maledon is a very talented player that could be a likely lottery pick in 2020.  (Photo: Valéry Hache/AFP.)
French point guard, Theo Maledon is a very talented player that could be a likely lottery pick in 2020. (Photo: Valéry Hache/AFP.)

Theo Maledon is a solid playmaker that possesses very good court vision. He is a patient, cerebral ball mover that sees the floor well, as he will look to find the open man, and he can kick balls out to shooters to set up scores for them. He also will throw long outlet passes to get balls to his teammates in transition, and he also will probe the defenses before finding open teammates on the court. Sometimes, he isn’t aggressive enough in looking to make plays, but Maledon does a good job of getting his teammates involved on offense when the ball is in his hands.

He also possesses an adequate ability to get scores off the dribble. Maledon is a crafty player that can patiently score on runners and floaters, and he also used a head fake to score on a smooth layup off the glass once. He has a good first step to the hoop, and he also has a nice herky-jerky, hesitation crossover move that he can use to get past defenders.  However, he can struggle to score in traffic, and he may not always go strong to the hoop, which can lead to misses.

He did take a couple of three-point shots, but Maledon missed both of them in this game. He air-balled a corner three after he brought the ball back down before shooting it, which gave his defender enough time to close out on him. He also ran to get open another time, but he missed a quick open, spot-up three on the left wing, as he struggled to knock down jumpers outside of the paint area.

Plus, he also was able to get a defensive rebound late in this game. He didn’t grab many rebounds, but he was able to get one to help his team on the glass.

Maledon also played good defense in this game. He is a quick, instinctive defender that will use his length and anticipation skills to help force turnovers and lock down his man. He was able to run in to deflect a ball off of an opponent to force a turnover, and he also leapt up high to deflect a pass out of bounds another time. Plus, he also will make quick rotations, and he would close out hard to get opponents to miss their jump shots.  He did have one miscue though late in the game, as he got turned around after his opponent used a behind the back dribble move, which prompted him to commit a reach-in foul on a drive on that occasion.

In general, Theo Maledon is a smart, skilled point guard that could be a likely lottery pick in 2020. He is a cerebral, pass-first playmaker that tends to make sound reads on both ends of the floor, he is a solid defender, and he also can score when he’s called upon to do so. He will need to improve his jump shot and be a more assertive player on offense, but he is a very talented prospect that could be a solid player in the mold of a Kirk Hinrich type in the NBA.

6-8, 2000-born point forward Vit Krejci from the Czech Republic was the other draft-eligible prospect that participated in this game, and he showed some interesting skills on this day against France. He is an athletic playmaker that can quickly get to the rim, and he is an active defender that will use his length and anticipation skills to get stops for his team. Also, he is currently playing in the Spanish ACB League, so he is a prospect that could swiftly move up draft boards if he plays well this season.

Krejci possesses a fairly good ability to score on aggressive drives to the hoop. Though he didn’t look to score often, he has a good first step off the dribble, and he can regularly draw fouls on defenders to often get to the free throw line. Late in the game, he even used a nifty behind the back dribble move to catch his man off guard due to possessing good agility and deft ball handling skills, which allowed him to get to the hoop to draw free throws on that play.

He also is a high-motor player that also was able to draw a non-shooting foul after leaping up to get an offensive rebound early on. Krejci also took a couple of spot-up threes, but he missed on both attempts from beyond the arc.

He also possesses fairly good playmaking skills. Krejci is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can kick balls out to shooters to set up scores for them. He also handles the ball well, especially for a player his size, as he was able to use a deft behind the back dribble move to get past Maledon to get to the foul line once. Krejci’s lone turnover came when he had a pass intercepted when trying to throw an outlet pass off of a defensive rebound, as an opponent made a good play on the ball that time.

Plus, he is also a very good rebounder. Krejci would chase down balls to get offensive boards for his team, and he also leapt up to get a tough offensive rebound in traffic once. He also managed to box out to tip a ball to himself to get a defensive board, and he would tend to leap up to haul in rebounds to help his team.

Krejci possesses decent defensive skills. He is an active help defender that will use his length to get stops and to force opponents to commit turnovers. He was able to run in to quickly to tip an entry pass to a teammate to help his team get a steal. Another time, Krejci switched to a defender when screened, then spun to tip a pass to a teammate to force another turnover due to possessing good agility, instincts, and anticipation skills. He would use his length to poke balls away from opposing ball handlers from behind, and he can use his length to pressure passers and opposing ball handlers to force turnovers.

However, he doesn’t always move his feet very well when guarding opposing ball handlers, especially when defending out on the perimeter. Sometimes he would tend to get beat off the dribble to his left to allow scores, and he also would tend to commit fouls when defending ball handlers on the break. He was called for a committing a blocking foul early on, and he also was called for a clear-path foul when reaching in on an opposing ball handler in transition that led his team to give up two free throws on the ball to the opposition. He also can sometimes take bad gambles such as missing on a steal attempt, which can lead him to trail on plays and to him being late on his rotations.

In summary, Vit Krejci is an athletic, skilled combo forward that could be a prospect to keep an eye on either this season or down the road. He is a talented player that can help a team in many different ways, but he will need to regular playing time in professional basketball. So far, he’s been in the lineup early this season in the Spanish ACB League, which is good, as his performance there could be indicative of what to expect from him in the future. Krejci will need more seasoning overseas, but he is a second round prospect that could be like a Marquis Daniels type in the NBA if he can continue to hone his game and progress as an overall player.