The 17-year-old Domantas Sabonis has been very impressive in Euroleague this season
Position: PF | Club: Unicaja Malaga (Spain) | Height: 6-foot-9 | Age: 17
2013-14 Euroleague Stats (4 games): 2.5 PPG | 2.3 RPG | 41.7 FG% | 12.0 MPG |
Look 1.0 11.15.13
Easily the youngest big earning decent minutes at the Euroleague level, Domantas Sabonis is years ahead a number of other European prospects at his position, at least in the skill department.
He exhibits often what very few other prospects his size can- a mature and refined post game. Sabonis hasn’t blown anyone away with his statistical efforts through four games (and received his first DNP of the Euroleague season in Round 5) but his understanding of the game and overall skill level has been very impressive.
Sabonis has shown he is capable of complicated back to the basket moves from the mid and low post against quality opposition by employing a number of fakes, up-and-unders, drop steps and some beautiful touch with both hands in his first action against more experienced opposition. He isn’t converting as well as he would probably like, but that will likely change as he becomes more accustomed to this level of play.
In addition to the variety of moves he has shown when backing his defender down, Sabonis has also looked to use some of the face-up game we saw earlier in this year at the U18 European Championship, turning in on his man and throwing a couple of ball fakes and jab steps at opponents to see if they bite.
Malaga seem determined to run the 17-year-old off the three-point line every now and then. Here he is used as a receiver on swings, opening up driving lanes or feeding the post, but he has also shown potential with his ability to use a first step and a two-dribble straight line drive to get to the hoop. I have also been a fan of Sabonis’ recognition in other situations, most notably when he aggressively swinging the ball across his body and through a defender’s arm to draw a foul the second his man overreaches.
Defensively, he has shown zero ability containing dribble penetration from the perimeter, all but ruling out any notion of him eventually playing the three. Although not a poor athlete, he is clearly more suited to playing out of the mid-post. He has impressed with his intelligence and awareness on this end, constantly turning his head between the position of the ball and his man and making good rotations when called upon.
Other than lateral foot speed, the other big knock on Sabonis is that he doesn’t always demonstrate the best body language. It has been prevalent a couple of times already in his short Euroleague career, and was on full display in Latvia last summer. Having had a chance to speak to Sabonis at length, he is actually a great kid and it is simply something he needs to work on when things aren’t going his way.
I believe Sabonis has the potential to further develop a number of areas of his game, possibly becoming one of the more exciting European prospect in the coming years.
Just a couple of his field goal attempts have been mid-range jump shots, but from what I saw in Latvia this should become a dangerous option for him along with what I expect to become a lethal post-up game.
Unlike a lot of other young guys, Sabonis isn’t reliant on his athleticism. His ability to run the floor and execute quick moves is quite good and overall could evolve into a real bonus with some additional work to his lateral movement and leaping ability.