Evaluating Tryggvi Hlinason in a Euroleague Basketball Game

December 31, 2017

By Alan Lu

While I was away on a trip home to Saint Louis for a week, I decided to watch Valencia Basket’s 7-1 center, Tryggvi Hlinason from Iceland, as he played against Maccabi Tel Aviv in a Euroleague basketball game.  With thanks to YouTube via Sergey Danilov, I was able to see him play in that contest that was played on December 7th.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared on that day.

Hlinason sets many screens on offense, and he will tend to roll to the basket.  Though he would usually be moving off of them, he was not called on any of those plays, and some of his screens would help free up shooters to set up scores for them.  He is a tall, wide player that can set hard, firm screens for his teammates, and he can be particularly effective as a screener, especially if he does not get called for setting moving screens.  He looks to move off the ball quite a bit and Hlinason did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He is quite effective as a roll man, as he catch an assortment of passes on the move to score around the basket, but sometimes, Hlinason can rush his shots, which can lead to misses inside the paint.

He also is an active finisher around the basket, as he will look to score off of offensive rebounds.  Hlinason possesses a good motor on the offensive end, and he can be quite effective at scoring on put backs.  He managed to score on a put back dunk after a ball was tipped right to him, and he also managed to score on a tip in after initially appearing to miss on a roll to the rim another time.  Plus, he also managed to draw free throws after getting the ball on a cut to the basket, though he missed both of his free throws after he was able to get to the foul line.

On the downside, Hlinason may not be much of a shot creator, as he did not really look to score off the dribble or in the post, and he also may not really be a jump shooter, as he did not shoot a jumper from the field in this game.  Hlinason exclusively looked to score on off-ball motion plays and off of garbage plays, as all of his scores were around the basket.

However, Hlinason will need to improve his rebounding.  For the positives, he may be a pretty good offensive rebounder, as he will actively look to clean the glass on that end of the floor, and he is particularly adept at getting boards off of tap outs.  On the other hand, he really struggled to go for defensive rebounds.  He tended not to properly block out his man, as he would allow his man to get offensive rebounds over him, and another time, he tapped a ball right to an opponent, which would lead to a put back score.  Hlinason did not show great instincts or leaping ability when attempting to get defensive boards, as he missed out on too many balls in his area.

He also displayed average at best defensive skills.  For the positives, Hlinason is a good shot blocker that can swat shots in his area to protect the paint.  He has a long wingspan, and he has the timing to block numerous shots that come in his path.  He also will hedge out on screens, and he can force his opposing ball handlers to pass off of drives.  However, though he may have some mobility for a player his size, he doesn’t run the floor too well, and there were numerous times where he didn’t get back on defense in time, as this would lead his team to allow scores on fast breaks, or to commit fouls as a result.

Sometimes, Hlinason would be late in his rotations, and he would get beat on moves to the hoop.  Another time as a result of being late to get back to his man, he ended up hastily grabbing an opponent in the post, which led him to commit a foul and allow a score that time.  On a separate possession, he was called for committing a blocking foul on a drive as he rotated late when trying to defend Alex Tyus on the baseline.

In general, Tryggvi Hlinason has not received too many minutes in the top leagues this year, but I had decided to see this game, as he was able to obtain considerable playing time on this day.  Though he did score efficiently and blocked a couple of shots, Hlinason may still have ways to go as a basketball player, as he will need to expand his skill set significantly on offense, and he will need to improve his position defense and mobility.  Right now, he may possess a similar skill set to former Golden State Warriors’ center Ognjen Kuzmic.  He will need to continue to improve his overall game, but it is possible that an NBA team may look to take him as a draft and stash candidate in the second round if he decides to enter the upcoming draft.

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