Often you can hear that scouting is a business of making least mistakes possible. We all make them in life. Key is to make a homework and not to repeat the same ones. Scouting is also heavily experience based business. Talent evaluators are not mistake free people but those who spend life making conclusions about players past, present and future. Those who has been doing it for years has a privilege of comparing the likewise players and knowing what and why failed during the process and eventually prevented given prospect from reaching full potential. It works both ways and at times you can learn by identifying the overlooked aspects which allowed someone to overachieve.
Nowadays with such a big information spread online there are no longer totally hidden gems at the age of 18, 19 or even younger. Top of the stock usually seems pretty obvious and where you can make a difference as a scout is being precised with identifying how second unit guys can translate onto the league and by selecting sleepers likely to step up and get a buzz next months. Despite growing number of experts every season there are stories like Queta when majority of those who project future of talented players are like “Damn who is this guy from?” or “I knew this kid but I was too low on him”. It wasn’t any different with me. Here are old reports on Portuguese big man including his presence in our rankings and updated one on the bottom:
AFTER FIBA U18s (summer 2017):
-phenomenal length. Standing at average 6’9 for the Center but possess impressive 224cm wingspan
-moves a bit awkward because of knee problems but overall fairly ok mobility
-knows and stays in his role. Fights for the rebounds. Wants to make his presence felt in the paint
– length and big hands help him to catch difficult passess. Either high or low
– promising instincts for the big man. Knows how to position himself in the paint. Good nose for offensive rebounds
– not a broad offensive repertoire but at least plays at the very good field goal percentage. Not overly soft touch but puts the ball in the net
– plays with very good effort. Fights for every loose ball
– doesn’t use it a lot but mid range jumper looks developable
– may have ok mobility but knees are very knocked. How long career can he have with such issue?
– not that bouncy. Disappointing to see guy with such a tremendous length who often plays below the rim
– frame has ways to go and also has some coordination problems. Falls down on the court often
– exclusively right handed as a finisher
– has some problems with double teams and with finishing in the traffic
– lacks strength in upper body. Struggles defending the low post. Too slow first step to guard on the perimeter. Cannot play up to his defensive potential for now
OUTLOOK: Queta remained unknown until the FIBA U18s in Tallinn in 2017. That was his first national team experience and no one remained indifferent towards him. Neemias may not be talented but he has incredible asset in his length which can be utilize in much better way than it is now. This makes him intriguing prospect and must follow while moving forward.
PLACE IN THE RANKING: Unranked (fringe 3 stars)
AFTER FIBA U20s last summer:
REPORT: Super long big man. Wingspan by eye test is about 7’4 – 7’5. Seems that beside growing into his body (still needs to strengthen his core, can get pushed) got even additional inch to his height comparing to last summer. Moreover is really mobile (even takes part in transition sometimes) despite having knocked knees (how about the longevity?). Excellent rebounder – besides length also has some instincts and takes pride in this. Cuts wisely off the ball to be on the passing lane – rare for player from non basketball country who emerged late mostly thanks to tools. Also deeps seals well to finish with his reach over defender nearby rim. Barely has to jump to dunk. Not a overly great touch but plays simple game and has high FG%. Not polished post up but developable and shows flashes. Started to take his game outside but shooting is definitely not textbook like yet. Alters shots, protects the rim but perimeter defense or hedging screens will surely be adjustment vs American guards. Could be more explosive athlete to have NBA chance. Looks very serious on the court. Committed to play for small school in decent conference – Utah State. Still never tested by good competition. Played only reserve Benfica team and Division B with Portugal. Anyway must follow moving forward given being late bloomer and improvements since last year.
PLACE IN THE RANKING: 28th (legit 3 stars)
Currently together with Sam Merrill, Queta is main figure behind taking Aggies game to another level under the new head coach Craig Smith. Team projected to be at the bottom of Mountain West Conference sits only behind Nevada with 9 victories in 11 games. Average winning margin is ridiculously high, Utah State is on pace to have the best record and maybe first tournament appearance since 2010/11 season. Here’s collection of facts and stats emphasizing Queta’s impact on dark horse of college basketball:
- Neemias Queta Top 5 kenpom similarity scores: Willy Cauley Stein, Robert Williams, Derek Favors, Joel Embiid, Tyrus Thomas (three Top 5 picks, one Top 10 pick and one first rounder)
- FRESHMEN BPM: 1. Zion Williamson (20.4) (…) 5. Neemias Queta (10.5) (…) 7. Bol Bol (9.9)
- The stat line of 24 points, nine boards, five blocks and two assists has only happened two times this season, once for Neemias Queta and once for…Zion Williamson
As a player who didn’t sign NLI until very late August, Queta is the biggest surprise in college basketball season. You can’t say anymore that he is raw. Let it speak for itself how he scored points vs UCI: put back dunk, low post move to the left (he does get enormous extension and has a feel for making a spin move with good timing while smaller defender tend to get physical by putting elbow on his core and he can’t gain space to operate given his higher gravity center), top of the key drive to the right, pick and roll finish on the move, right top of the key three. Obviously he is not able yet to make those plays on regular basis vs HM competition but there is a promise he can become a bit more than catcher and finisher. However what is the most surprising in my eyes is passing ability. Neemias averages solid 2.2 ast per 36 which is added value for someone who seems rim protector and dunker type of player at the first sight. Also given his gritt and competitive spirit you can hope he won’t fail on next level in cleaning the glass like some other college standouts before in this particular skill. Queta plays with high motor, tries to seal opponent early in secondary fast breaks which he can do thanks to solid speed. He is also quick and reactive in PnR drop coverages, possess nice awareness while moving off the ball and boxes out hard. Lastly he is still on the rise and seems positive for team spirit. How about some key areas to improve while moving forward? Besides continuing to gain overall polish it’s definitely coordination. While you probably can’t fix those knocked knees much, you can at least try to improve balance as Queta still often loses it and lands on the floor. However most crucial is getting I would call it offensive reliability. As much as 25% of his overall offense were…turnovers. He averages 4.2 per 36 (as much as blocks) and among few thousand players only 17 of them turned the ball over more frequently than Portuguese prospect.
PLACE IN THE RANKING: 6th (legit 4 stars)
Basically since drafted players are removed from our Top 30s, ultimately Queta can even catch up with almost all the players above him given development pace and how much he fits modern game in the NBA. I think this time by saying that Queta has potential to even slip into late first round consideration (this or) next season if he continues to improve like that I will avoid another undervaluation. However proving himself vs big programs when he is no longer unrecognized x factor but more & more highly regarded prospect won’t be a simple task. At the same time I hope that Neemias is not having temporary Linsanity type of performances (or rather “Quetsanity”) and that I will avoid another mistake in my profession which this time would be overstating his upside.