Observations on Paul Eboua

June 8, 2019

by Alan Lu

I took the time to watch 6-8 forward Paul Eboua from Cameroon, as he played for the Stella Azzurra Junior Team against the BC VEF Riga Junior Team that took place on January 19th, 2018, and I was able to see this game with thanks to YouTube via BC Zalgiris Kaunas.   Recently, Eboua has been catapulting up draft boards, to the point where he could be a second round pick this year if he stays in the draft.  There wasn’t a whole lot of full game footage of him playing though, so I decided to see this one to get a glimpse of his skills.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared that day, and how his game may translate to the NBA.

Paul Eboua is an athletic, combo forward that could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA.  Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense, as he will really work on the defensive end, and he has good agility, instincts, and the awareness to excel on that side of the ball.  Eboua played good defense in this game.  He is an active help defender that will play passing lanes to get steals and deflections for his team, and he also will poke balls away to make it tough on opposing ball handlers.  On one play, he managed to run back on defense to intercept a pass to get a steal.  He also generally does a good job of staying in front of his man when guarding out on the perimeter, as he moves his feet well, and he has solid footwork and lateral quickness which enables him to contest shots off the dribble and off cuts to force misses.  Eboua does a good job of cutting off penetration to prevent opponents from getting all the way to the basket, and he also will actively contest shots to force misses.

However, sometimes he will sag too far off his man, which can lead him to close out too hard as opponents can drive by him to score around the basket.  Other times, he may shade too far to one side, as he can get beat off the dribble, which prompted him on one play to commit a reach-in foul to prevent an opponent from getting an open look at the rim.  He also gambled for a steal and missed badly once, which caused him to be out of position when defending a pull-up three.  Other times, he can have lapses defensively, which can lead him to allow scores off of cuts and in transition.

Also, Eboua is a very good rebounder.  He will aggressively leap up to get boards on both sides of the ball, and he will sometimes swoop to haul in rebounds in traffic.  He has a keen nose for the basketball, and he will also push the bell up the floor every once in a while.  Paul Eboua possesses adequate low post scoring skills.  He especially can score from the block when he gets deep position down low, as he was able to use a drop step to score on a right-handed jump hook once, and he also made a turnaround face-up jumper another time due to possessing adequate footwork, strength, and shooting touch to do so.

He also flashed the ability to score on quick drives to the hoop.  He would have scored on a dunk off of a quick baseline drive, except his teammate was called for committing a three seconds in the key violation earlier.  Eboua also managed to draw a non-shooting foul on a hard drive to the rim from the high post.  He also used a rip move to drive to the hoop and used a pump fake, but he ended up missing on a contested floater, and he didn’t look to change directions when his opponent was guarding him on that play.

Plus, he also will look to score on hustle plays.  Midway through this contest, Eboua dribbled in powerfully to draw a foul on a put back attempt.  He also will run the floor to provide his team with chances to score in transition.  However, he also can tend to miss put backs in traffic, as he was off-balanced on one occasion as he tried to avoid the contact while taking a fadeaway jumper once, and he also missed on a wild tip dunk attempt as he tried to unsuccessfully throw one down from a pretty far distance over a defender.

In addition, Eboua will need to improve his jump shot.  On one good offensive possession, he was able to make a spot-up three off of a pick and pop play after initially setting the screen for the ball handler.  However, he tended to miss on open, spot-up threes, as he may need ample time and space to get his shot off.  He also had trouble knocking down mid-range jumpers, as he generally tended to struggle to shoot on the move when he was away from the paint.

In this game, Eboua was quite turnover prone on offense.  Eboua tended to throw hasty passes that would either sail out of bounds or get intercepted, and he would sometimes pass the ball quickly without making sure if the ball will get there to his teammates, and he will often attempt difficult passes that will lead to turnovers.  He also attempted to post up off the ball, but was called for clearing out with his arm to commit an offensive foul and a turnover another time.  In addition, he can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball, as opponents can poke balls away from him when he handles it.  On the bright side, Eboua will look to find the open man, and he was able to throw a long, accurate outlet pass to find a teammate in transition to get one assist, as he made a good read on that play.

In general, Paul Eboua is an athletic, combo forward that may have considerable upside as a prospect for the 2019 NBA Draft, but he may be quite far away from being able to contribute to an NBA team right now.  He will likely need to spend at least a season in the G-League or overseas to improve as an overall player, and he will have to work hard to be at least a serviceable player for a team on offense.  Eboua could project into a 3 and D role over time, but he will need to work on his jump shot, shot selection, and decision-making ability.  If he can make significant strides to improve his game, he could end up being a solid role player in the mold of a Luc Mbah Moute type of player in the league, as he could be an intriguing option for NBA teams to look at in the second round as a draft and stash candidate.