Evaluating Thierry Darlan and Dhieu Deng in a BAL Qualifiers Game
January 25th, 2023
By Alan Lu
This time around, I decided to watch NBA Academy Africa’s 6-6 swingman, Thierry Darlan play in a November 22nd, BAL Qualifiers game against the Cape Town Tigers, with thanks to YouTube via FIBA – The Basketball Channel. Darlan is a very athletic point forward that has been posting up very good numbers in the BAL Qualifiers, and he is a high tools prospect that has been rising up draft boards. He played well, and despite showing some questionable shot selection at times, Darlan is a versatile scorer and rangy defender that showed a great deal of upside. Here are my thoughts on how he and other various prospects fared in this game.
Thierry Darlan is a very athletic point forward that showed off a solid set of all-around skills in this game. He can make some very difficult shots, and he is a rangy defender that was able to make some terrific shot blocks. He did take some baffling shots and was also quite turnover prone, but he showed a lot of intriguing skills that could enable him to rapidly move up draft boards by draft day.
Darlan showed a solid ability to score off the dribble. He is a terrific athlete and has a very quick first step, and he can use his foot speed combined with dribble moves to get past his man to score on powerful dunks. He is a fast, explosive athlete that can easily get past his man, and he would use hesitation moves to finish plays above the rim. He also showed a solid ability to knock down threes in this game. He is a confident shooter that can make pull-up threes with ease, and he showed good footwork and shooting touch from beyond the arc.
He is a good ball handler that can deftly maneuver to make long-range jumpers. However, he also tended to take a lot of tough, contested shots, and he would tend to take his fair share of quick, contested shots that would occasionally lead to misses. He also tended to miss on rushed mid-range jumpers, especially early on, and he also threw up a baffling, one-legged runner three-point shot that missed late in this match.
Also, Darlan displayed decent playmaking skills in this game. He has very good foot speed, which can enable him to make swift drive and kick passes and outlet passes to consistently get the ball to open shooters to notch assists. However, he also was also quite turnover prone, despite being able to get a good number of assists in this game. Darlan would sometimes over-dribble and dribble himself into traps and corners near sidelines, which would get him into trouble. He would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and other times he would telegraph his passes that would get intercepted. He also would drive into crowds, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers. Darlan is a ball-dominant playmaker that likes having the ball in his hands a lot, and he would sometimes tend to be a bit of a ball-stopper, so he may struggle to play as well on offense if he were have to play more of a supporting role on offense at higher levels.
Though he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Darlan was able to chase down an offensive board to get a rebound once. He also tipped a ball to a teammate to help his team get a defensive board another time. He also played satisfactory defense in this game. Darlan is a rangy defender that was able to make a number of impressive blocks, and he also has good ball skills that enabled him to get plenty of steals. He has very good length and recovery speed, which would enable him to block shots hard when defending in the paint due to possessing great athleticism and timing. He has good anticipation skills that would enable him to intercept passes to get steals.
When dialed in, he would use his length and quickness to stay in front of his opponents, which would enable him to contest plenty of threes to force misses, and and he showed that he can cut off penetration to prevent opponents from getting easy driving lanes. However, Darlan didn’t always give great effort on the defensive end. Sometimes he would get beat off the dribble or loaf on the defensive end, which would allow his team to give up scores on drives and in transition. He didn’t always try to hustle back or to recover on the play, which would allow his opponents easy opportunities to score. He also tended to give up too much space to shooters and be late to rotate or contest shots, which would allow opponents to score on open jumpers.
In summary, Thierry Darlan may be one of the most intriguing prospects that could be in the 2023 draft. He is a tremendously athletic player that can make shots from anywhere on the floor, and he’ll make plays that will showcase his superstar potential. He is a gifted pull-up shooter, can throw down highlight reel-worthy dunks off the dribble, and he is a rangy defender that can get steals, blocks, and has shown shutdown defender potential.
On the other hand, he is a very ball-dominant guard that likes having the ball in his hands a lot, can tend to throw up questionable shots, and he didn’t always seem to give enough effort on the defensive end, as he and his team gave up a lot more baskets to their opponents than they should have. He’ll need to show that he can also play off the ball in a supporting role, and he’ll need to show that he can consistently thrive as a shooter off the catch. Currently, Darlan is a talented prospect that may have a great deal of upside, but he will need to show that he can fit into any offensive scheme, as well as give consistent effort on the defensive end. Even still, he could be a very good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2023 draft.
Former Texas-San Antonio guard, Dhieu Deng played very well for Cape Town in his team’s win over NBA Academy Africa. Deng is a very athletic combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he is a high-flyer that can both throw down highlight reel-worthy dunks, and he also racked up a plethora of steals on the defensive end. He did sometimes throw up some questionable shots that led to some misses, but overall he played well on both sides of the ball.
Deng showed a satisfactory ability to knock down threes to help his team space the floor. He was able to make a pull-up three from the corner early on, and he also showed that he can make spot-up threes off the catch. He also took some quick, contested heat-check threes that wound up missing, and he had some awkward misses from beyond the arc at times.
He struggled to consistently score from inside the arc. He was unable to knock down a mid-range jumper, and he missed on a couple of rushed dunks on the break, as he would try to be too fancy with his moves at times. Deng was able to score on a high-flying dunk on a fast break drive to showcase his athleticism in this game.
He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills. Deng would throw timely passes to get the ball to open shooters, and he can throw accurate passes off the dribble to notch assists. He generally did a good job of finding teammates on the move, and he was able to throw a lob pass off the glass to set up a score for a teammate on the break. On one play though, he threw an inaccurate pass and led his teammate too far, which led his teammate to throw an off-target pass that got intercepted. Deng also pushed the pace quickly off of a steal, but ended up losing the ball while handling it up court that led him to commit a turnover that time.
Also, Deng did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would frequently look to push the pace off of defensive boards. He also played outstanding defense in this game. Deng would often run in to poke balls away and jump passes, which enabled him to get a wealth of steals. He also would jump on loose balls to help his team get additional steals. He also would contest threes to force misses, and he also successfully drew a charge when defending an opposing ball handler another time. The only downside was that he would occasionally commit reach-in fouls due to over-aggressiveness.
Overall, Dhieu Deng is a very athletic combo guard that played very well in this game, and he is an energetic player that has shown a good shooting touch in the BAL Qualifiers. He struggled with his outside shot at Texas-San Antonio, but he’s shot the ball much better since. He’ll need to keep shooting the ball well. If so, he could end up making his way to the NBA someday.
In conclusion, those are my thoughts on how Thierry Darlan and the other prospects fared in the November 22nd game that took place between the Cape Town Tigers and NBA Academy Africa. Thanks for reading.