Besides background calls, scouting is all about going through tons of video tapes those days during pandemic. There is a lot of uncertanity regarding upcoming draft. Lack of exposure may stop some of early entrants from declaring and most likely only surefire and legit candidates will put their names in. Neither of two players evaluated below belong to that group but they seem to have what it takes to be in a wide list to follow and to attract more attention with increased role on higher level of competition next season. Here’s our take on interesting sleepers of 1999 generation:

Mbaye Ndiaye (SF/PF, 6’8, 1999, Senegal, Bourg)

Game scouted: LNB Espoirs,  Bourg at Le Mans, 29.02.2020

Senegalese comboforward passes eye test of an NBA scout. He has a wide frame which got toned nicely and still looks improvable. He is lengthy, agile and light on his feet. It allows him to excel as a defender. He is able to check pretty much all the players on the court, maybe except some dominant inside 5 man. Mbaye disrupts passing lanes, takes pride in challenging attempts vertically around the rim which he has good timing in, lowers his hips notably well, slides laterally quickly and has a very active hands. He may be less impactful defending guards in pnr action without switching as he is used to covering ground so easily when he doesn’t get screened on that it develops a habit of taking small step back and not being able to go over on time but this is small flaw fixable with repetitions and better communication.

Another selling point could perhaps be his versatility on offensive end. It’s super rare and attractive to see a guy with this size & length operating from hand-offs or trying to initiate plays as PnR ball handler. However despite filling the statline, Ndiaye’s dribbling is not polished by any means and his facilitating skills doesn’t seem overly translatable. Truth, to a high degree is that he is a 21 years OLD player stuck in pretty bad level of competition. Good thing about it is that he doesn’t really need to excel in this particular skill as a pro. He still has good enough profile to take a power forward role as much as SF or primarly if it fits the concept better or situation forces that. It’s more than enough if he makes simple stationary extra pass or sprints with the ball after grabbing the rebound and is capable of delivering it to the teammate in fast break. And it already belongs to his assets.

In fact he is predicted to spend much more time off the ball. His motor is not always red hot (may be the lack of incentive in U21 league) but he happens to be quite instinctive of when to speed up in order to grab a put back or free himself on the rim cuts. Also he displays solid potential to attack the closeouts given being coordinated in catch & go actions, decent explosiveness, body control and extension he gets thanks to lengthy limbs. Spot up jumper is definitely biggest flaw. He is changing proportions of 3s and 2s he takes but still has a very long way to go and it seems unlikely whether he becomes acceptable shooter. 

Mbaye shows glimpses of nice face up abilities, brings to the table highly intriguing mix of measurements and untapped defensive potential but time is not only running out for him but it almost run out already. He needs badly to take the next step and get some pro experience on loan in Pro B if there is still no room for consistent playing time in Bourg for him.

Imru Duke (C/PF, 6’10, 1999, Trinidad & Tobago, Zentro Basket)

Game scouted: EBA Liga, Zentrol basket at Alcobendas, 01.02.2020

Imru Duke not only looks like an NBA prospect from body perspective but even attracts extra attention among them. He stands around 6’10 and spreads ridiculous 7’3 wingspan. He possess big palms, wide base yet still good agility and fluidity. However despite good rim running, he doesn’t appear to have above average quick twitch explosiveness and moves somewhat at one pace.

It’s also easy to notice his determination but it gets much worse while looking at the basketball fundamentals. Given his late start Trinidad and Tobago native spends a lot of hours working individually in the gym with good trainers but it didn’t do wonders yet. Saying that he has ways to go would be an understatement. He wants to help the team but as of now is suitable exclusively for low level of competition and it will take some time until he shows things learnt by making drills in game situations. 

Despite great tools game is too fast to him. We usually label with this statement slow, too tall for position players but it applies to slow thinkers as well. Imru often doesn’t know where to position himself which limits his potential selling point – finishing. It’s hard to deliver the ball if you don’t roll hard (and btw lack screening technique) and don’t keep accurate spacing in passing lane. Shooting touch looks ok for the size. Small statistical sample doesn’t indicate much hope at this point (3/25 3s & 18/30 FTs) but it may get better moving forward. Plenty of actions requiring to dribble the ball and coordinate it with your own movements end up as travelling. Either with face and back to the basket.  

Best part of his game is rebounding and defensive potential. He grabs decent amount of put backs and nose for the ball may be the most ingesting instinct so far in his craft. Only 10 blocks in more than 250 minutes is somewhat disappointing but he alters a lot of attempts at the rim. He stills misses bodies to boxout at times because of ball watching or gets backdoor cut against but it could be worse.

We tend to call this type of prospects “low floor, high ceiling”. But when the floor is REALLY low it’s hard to reach the very high ceiling. Duke is soon to be 21 years old and is not a freak athlete to compensate for his poor IQ or lack of skill. For example Tyson Perez at his age averaged almost 20 & 10 in EBA liga…He would need astonishing pace of development to get serious looks in next year draft. G League is one of rumoured potential destinations for him next year but if ready at all he is end of the bench player there. It may surely help the development but is unlikely to make miracles for his stock.