NBA Rookies Already Rewriting Their Scouting Reports

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 11, 2017

NBA Rookies Already Rewriting Their Scouting Reports

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    Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    There are a handful of NBA rookies whose predraft scouting reports now require updates. 

    We're talking about players who've either added something they didn't already have in their bag or improved an aspect of their game they previously struggled with. 

    Each one of these rookies has taken on a new identity since arriving. We only included prospects who've made themselves more valuable. 

Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz, SG)

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    Alex Goodlett/Associated Press

    Scouting report modifications

    Original report: Streak scorer

    Updated report: Lead scorer 

    Donovan Mitchell was frustrating at times through two years in college. He'd go for 25 points in a win over Syracuse and follow with a 2-of-9 showing in a loss to Wake Forest. He finished with single digits in scoring during three of Louisville's final five games last year. Sixteen times Mitchell shot below 30 percent from three.

    He is still a streak scorer in the sense that he'll put up points in bunches. But the game-to-game swings aren't as extreme.

    Averaging 17.3 points as a rookie after he'd only averaged 15.6 in his last year of college, Mitchell has emerged as a top gun the Utah Jazz are routinely leaning on for offense.  

    Since November 1, he's scored at least 15 points in 15 of 20 games. He's hit the 20-point mark 10 times in that span. 

    We aren't talk about a sixth-man type microwave anymore. Mitchell now needs to command the attention of a lead scorer. 

    Original report: Struggles at the rim

    Updated report: Creative finisher 

    Though an explosive leaper, Mitchell only shot 49.4 percent at the rim last year, showing questionable judgment in terms of knowing what angle or shot to take to finish through rim protection. He's been more effective this year, shooting 55.9 percent in the restricted area and looking more advanced with his improvisation, anticipation and execution.  

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics, SF/PF)

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Scouting report modifications

    Original report: Erratic shooter from deep

    Updated report: Deadly spot-up threat

    Two questions entering the season were how well Jayson Tatum would adjust to both the NBA's three-point line (34.2 percent in college) and an off-ball role. He's answered both with scorching shooting numbers.

    Tatum leads the NBA in three-point percentage (52.3 percent) and ranks top 10 in spot-up shooting points per game. He's making 56.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes. Whether you credit it to improvement, better spacing or more open looks alongside Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, Tatum is suddenly a must-contest shooter and a threat even when he isn't creating on the ball.  


    Original report: Iso-heavy attack, prefers mid-range 

    Updated report: Less one-on-one, more complementary scoring 

    Tatum's role has changed. Isolation scoring, previously considered a signature strength of his game (22.8 percent of offense at Duke), only accounts for 9.6 percent of his offense in Boston. 

    This year, 34.8 percent of his offense comes on spot-ups, 4.9 percent has been off screens, 5.5 percent has come off handoffs, and 18.6 percent has come in transition. He's letting the game come to him as a complementary cog and opportunistic scorer.  

    Last year, Tatum also took more two-point jumpers (127) than shots at the rim (121) and threes (117). This season, he's only taking 1.5 shots a game in the mid-range. Of his 9.2 field-goal attempts, 3.1 come from behind the arc and 4.4 have come in the paint.  


    Original report: Not a major transition threat

    Updated report: Very effective in open floor

    Tatum isn't the most explosive athlete, and he didn't convert at an overly impressive rate last year in transition (53.6 percent EFG). This year, he's been more efficient finishing in the open floor, registering a 78.8 percent effective field-goal mark in transition. 

Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers, F)

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Scouting report modifications

    Original report: Low-level three-point threat 

    Updated report: Stretch-shooting forward, must get out and contest 

    Kyle Kuzma shot below 33 percent from behind the arc during all three seasons at Utah, averaging fewer than one make per game each year. Through 24 games in Los Angeles, he's already hit 38 threes, two fewer than he made during his final two years in college combined.

    Of his field-goal attempts this year, 34.3 percent have been threes. Last year, it was 23.3 percent. The three-ball has become a bigger part of his game, and it's ultimately helped take it to another level. 


    Original report: Can't shoot off the dribble

    Updated report: Effective scoring off one dribble 

    Kuzma shot just 3-of-22 on off-the-dribble jumpers last season, according to Synergy Sports, via DraftExpress' Julian Applebome.

    He's a bigger threat this season when defenders make him put the ball on the floor. Making 37.8 percent of his pull-ups, Kuzma isn't there yet, but he's shown improvement. He prefers to catch and use one dribble before gathering and getting into his shot, making 55.4 percent of those attempts. And he's been relatively effective when given room to attack, converting 50.9 percent of his 4.4 drives per game.

OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors, F)

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Scouting report modifications

    Original report: Questionable shooter

    Updated report: Will make open threes 

    There were signs in college that OG Anunoby could eventually become a shooting threat, but the sample size to evaluate was small. Playing just 13.7 minutes per game as a freshman, Anunoby made 13 of 29 threes. Then he shot 31.1 percent through 16 games as a sophomore before injuring his knee and missing the rest of the season.

    Through 23 NBA games, the Raptors' first-round rookie has made 42.9 percent of his 63 three-point attempts. He's feasted as a spot-up marksman from the right corner (47.6 percent). Anunoby ultimately looks comfortable from behind the NBA arc quicker than most would have anticipated based on the limited results at Indiana, plus the fact he only shot 56.3 percent from the free-throw line last season. 

    The appeal to Anunoby before the draft mainly stemmed from his defensive versatility, which we've seen. Ranking third on the Raptors in offensive plus-minus, it's the value he's added at the other end that's been the story early.

Semi Ojeleye (Boston Celtics, F)

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Scouting report modifications

    Original report: Questionable defender

    Updated report: Versatile defensive specialist

    Semi Ojeleye led SMU last year in offensive plus-minus. However, he was ninth on the team in defensive plus-minus. Between his stats, limited two-way impact and tools, there were questions about how effective he'd be guarding NBA wings and bigs.

    He measured 6'6 ¾" with a 6'9 ¾" wingspan at the combine, numbers that mirror many NBA shooting guards. Would he be able to stick with perimeter players or man much taller ones inside? The fact that he totaled just 15 steals and 14 blocks all season at SMU (35 games, 34.1 minutes per game) was also alarming.

    But Ojeleye's identity has suddenly flip-flopped through two months as a pro. He's earned minutes early for a perceived weakness that scouts wondered would hold him back.

    "He can be elite defensively, if he isn't already now," said coach Brad Stevens

    Ojeleye has spent time guarding different positions and players, from Devin Booker to Giannis Antetokounmpo. His strength has showed when attempting to hold his ground in the post, and his quickness becomes evident in one-on-one situations away from the basket.

    The Celtics ultimately lost Jae Crowder in the trade for Kyrie Irving, but they may have found his replacement in last year's second round. 


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