Before we dive in to my prospect profile on Petty_Andretti, I want to make clear my evaluation process and that these are my thoughts independent of the in-game rating system. I start by watching the first game of every prospect. I evaluate their performance on every offensive and defensive possession. Meaning I watch a possession, pause and take notes, watch a possession, pause and take notes, and repeat until the game’s completion. Then, I watch their other two games to see growth, regression and consistency. The overall grade provided is purely based on my evaluation, and how that player performed in the three games I watched.
Petty_Andretti (PA) has chosen to play center, with the slashing stretch five archetype. His choice is interesting. PA has chosen to naturally be an offensive player without any natural defensive abilities. Surprisingly, you’d never know by watching him play defense and rebound.
Overall, I was impressed with the group of centers I watched this weekend. It will no doubt be a highly competitive group. As a side note, I would strongly advise any fringe centers to switch to power forward given the position scarcity and archetypes available to that position.
I was thoroughly impressed with PA’s performance. After the first few possessions, you’ll notice that the point guard PA is playing with is a huge defensive liability. Sadly, this meant that PA had to spend the majority of the game guarding two positions, given the undisciplined defense of their point guard.
PA adjusts beautifully and consistently plays an aggressive hedge defense to compensate for their Point Guard. Below I’ve included a few plays that stood out to me, and a short breakdown of each.
It might look like he’s playing lazy defense, but the high screen is meant to draw him up and out of the paint. PA doesn’t bite. He’s anticipating the point guard getting beat on the screen, which happened, and would rather force the opposing center to attempt a lower percentage shot and stop the dribble penetration.
Here’s a great example of how to play the oppositions pick and roll. PA and his teammate wait for the opponent to initiate. Instead of committing and making a mistake, they slow play, communicate, and have a great switch. While the result is not good, his verbal communication and patience creates a great example of how to play the pick and roll. He has this same patience throughout the game and as a result, forces turnovers and ill advised shots.
While PA demonstrated some great defensive qualities and awareness, it wasn’t all great. Multiple times in my evaluation, I had to give him a minus because of unnecessary block attempts. He wasn’t spamming block. But, his ill advised block attempts left him out of position for key rebounds and help defense. This continued for most of the game and into overtime.
In the first half, PA was also not fully committing to switches. He wanted to make sure he was protecting the rim and not hanging his teammate out to dry. Thankfully, he was able to verbally communicate with his teammates and establish when and how to do a fully committed switch.
The center position has garnered a lot of conversation after the first weekend. This is an unofficial stat, but I believe just over 4,000 Centers are averaging around 30 points and 20 rebounds per game. That tells me it isn’t hard to accumulate stats at that position, so they become increasingly less valuable. It’s about the process, not the result.
PA demonstrated great spacing in his games. He wasn’t simply a static player camping out in the paint. He would set off-ball screens, run high pick and roll and know when to draw his man out to open up the lane for a teammate. His ability to set effective screens really opened up the offense in game one. Below is an example on how to truly set an effective screen instead of obviously getting set, and having the point guard react late.
This is something every player can immediately integrate into their game. Don’t be lazy and obvious about setting screens. PA makes this screen look like he’s simply getting to his spot or cutting across the court. By taking this approach, he doesn’t tip off the defense and their offense gets an easy two points. Now let’s look at how this evolved into a pick and roll/pick and pop.
While this screen wasn’t as deceptive as the previous one, it’s still effective. Once the point guard clears, he holds his ground. This was the right decision because he doesn’t need to unnecessarily clog the paint. The point guard makes a good read to get the ball back to PA, and without hesitation, he drives inside.
While the numbers aren’t as eye-popping as some of the screenshots you’ve seen on Twitter, PA’s offensive game is sound and effective. However, there are things I’d like to see him do less. He’s obviously a good screen setter. But, I don’t like how PA comes up to the three point line to initiate the play. By setting the screen so high, he takes himself out of contention to grab a rebound. He also tries to run similar offensive sets later in the game even when the defense was prepared for them. It’s minor, but it led to wasted possessions and turnovers later in the game.As a side note, I would also like to see PA be more aggressive with scoring opportunities, specifically, back-to-the-basket post moves.
communication and attitude Evaluation
PA was strong in both of these categories. His communication on offense defense was good. I’m not saying good is average, but to be great, the communication needed to be just a bit more detailed. Meaning, instead of just saying “watch it, watch it” to call out a screen, be more specific. “Hey PG on your left I got switch”, would be an excellent example of communication. PA would routinely call out screens, switches and potential offensive sets. It was great to see such leadership and initiative from the center position.
I’m a huge fan of his attitude. PA is never too high, never too low. If he finds out a teammate doesn’t have a mic, he doesn’t complain and start making excuses. He simply adjusts his strategy, and plays his game. PA is encouraging to all of his teammates no matter the situation, and takes ownership of his mistakes. And the best part it, this is completely authentic. PA is not “putting on” for the scouts. He’s truly a calm, smart and passionate teammate.
I want to preface this by saying I’m an extremely tough grader. So, my first grade I’m giving to Petty_Andretti is a “B”. There are a few things PA can work on to easily earn an “A” grade. Chief among them would be to eliminate unnecessary block attempts, stay away from setting so many screens at the three point line and develop a better back-to-the-basket offensive game. With all the incredible stat lines being put up by Centers, PA will have to raise his game offensively to truly be among the best. I am incredibly excited to see how Petty_Andretti develops throughout the combine.
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