NBA draft profile: Skilled 7-footer Pokuševski will require patience originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Our scouting report on NBA draft prospect Aleksej Pokuševski:
Weight: 201 pounds
Team: Olympiacos B (Greece)
Aleksej Pokuševski’s defining trait is that he doesn’t play like most players his height. The 18-year-old Serbian has a skilled, diverse game and is drawing buzz as a potential first-round-pick. Though he became the youngest Olympiacos player to appear in the EuroLeague last March, he spent most of his time this season with Olympiacos B in the Greek second division.
Pokuševski’s fluidity jumps out. He doesn’t lumber or take much time to change gears, but instead moves around the court like a conventional wing — one who happens to be especially tall.
He shows good feel and vision as a passer and seems to enjoy grabbing a rebound, starting a fast break on his own and looking for a flashy pass.
Though he shot 17 for 53 from three-point range (32.1 percent) this year, Pokuševski has potential as a shooter, with a quick release for someone his size (there’s that theme again). He’ll need to improve his consistency, as it appears he doesn’t always correctly calibrate the right distance to extend his very long arms and often doesn’t follow through.
Pokuševski has some ability as an off-ball defender, especially in terms of his shot-blocking instincts, and averaged 2.8 blocks and 2.0 steals per 36 minutes. That said, he has lapses with defensive effort and fundamentals, much of which can be attributed to youth.
Pokuševski is skinny, and not just by the standards of a professional basketball player. Gaining muscle will be critical to his development and it’s going to have to be a gradual effort, not something he’ll address sufficiently in one offseason.
He’s not much of an interior player right now, in part because of that lack of strength. That might not ever be his game, but he’d be more viable in the NBA if he could do things like post up smaller defenders and occasionally guard opposing big men if necessary. He’s not there yet, and the team that drafts him will need to be patient.
Another skill that requires development is his shot selection, which again isn’t unusual for a player his age. He shot just 40 percent from the floor and attempted a lot of contested jumpers.
If there’s an argument for the Sixers drafting Pokuševski in the first round, it’s that the team has two high second-round picks with which it can target guards who can shoot and/or create their own shots, giving them the leeway to take a high-upside player.
On the surface, that doesn’t seem likely. Instead, Pokuševski would make much more sense on a team like the Celtics. Boston has three first-round selections and could spend one on a player that wouldn’t immediately fill a need.