Dub Nation HQ Draft Tourney: #8 Kai Jones vs #9 Alperen Sengun

Battle of the overseas big men: athletic vs wily

The whole tournament is at 2021 Dub Nation HQ Draft Tournament.

Your mission is to decide which of these two you would prefer the Warriors draft at #7 this year. I’ll bring the scouting reports, you bring the vote.

This also brings our first round to an end, so now we’ve seen all the candidates.


Kai Jones

Profile from Sports-Reference.com

Wizzy’s Comps.

  • Per 40. Hilton Armstrong, Raymond Spalding, Maurice Taylor, Don Reid, Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles, Mohamed Bamba, Moritz Wagner, Meyers Leonard

  • Advanced. Miles Plumlee, Quincy Acy, Jake Layman, Bam Adebayo, Bernard James, Willie Cauley-Stein, Jaxson Hayes, Jordan Bell, Robert Williams,

NBA Draft Room Comp: Jerami Grant

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: This is a home run swing. Jones is one of the more high-upside players you’ll find in the draft. Having just started playing competitive hoops in his mid-teens, Jones is still figuring things out in terms of defensive awareness and passing reads. But he’s a fascinating prospect because he has elite athleticism at 6-11. He moves his feet as fluidly as a wing and has explosive leaping ability as a shot blocker and dunker. He also has the kind of body control you look for as a shooter, with him having already showcased real shooting potential and shot-making upside. He can legitimately attack closeouts and pull up from the midrange to shoot. He’ll pull out Euro steps and maneuvers around defenders with legitimate skill. He’s a project, but he’s one the right team could get a lot out of over the years.

Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF Christian Wood, JaVale McGee

Bahamian big man with tantalizing perimeter skills and the raw versatility to someday become a multi-positional defender.

  • On-Ball Defense

  • Shot Blocking

  • Athleticism

PLUSES

  • Lethal rim-running threat: He’s a bouncy athlete who gets above the rim with ease for lobs, and a coordinated ball handler if he needs to put it on the floor to get to the basket. If he catches the ball from a standstill, he has the patience to use pump fakes to draw defenders, then the explosive verticality to score through contact.

  • Excellent straight-line driver with unusually smooth moves for a player his size. Has a natural feel for shifting gears and changing directions—plus, the footwork to occasionally unleash a Euro-step.

  • Fluid pulling up for jumpers off the dribble. The results aren’t there yet, but bigs who can generate their own shots from the perimeter are hard to find.

  • Incredibly mobile defender capable of switching across positions. Stays in his stance and often deters scorers from even driving inside. Off-ball, he rotates or recovers quickly to alter shots.

MINUSES

  • Hesitant shooter who often pump fakes before launching or attacking off the dribble, which will often result in traveling calls due to his raw footwork.

  • Average pass-catching hands. Fumbles some passes.

  • Lacks any semblance of a post game.

  • Sluggish decision-maker.

  • Inconsistent shooting mechanics and below-average free throw percentage.

  • Stronger opponents plow through him, both on drives to the rim and the boards. Has the frame to add muscle, but is years from adding that weight. Retaining his quickness will be critical if he does get heavier.

  • Still learning the game after picking it up at age 15, so he occasionally misses off-ball rotations or finds himself in the wrong position as the help defender in the pick-and-roll. It’ll be a steep learning curve, so the team that drafts him will need to make a major investment in him.


Alperen Sengun

Profile from Sports-Reference.com

Wizzy’s Comps. None.

NBA Draft Room Comp: Tyler Hansbrough

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Sengun is putting up one of the most productive teenage seasons in recent European basketball history. As our John Hollinger outlined last week, the numbers Sengun is putting up in Turkey are dominant and preposterous at the same time. He is second in the league in scoring, rebounding and blocks. As John pointed out, Sengun’s PER would be the highest of the decade, and his 32.9 PER leads the Turkish league by a wide margin. From a scouting perspective, he can really finish inside, has a great nose for the basket and a great feel for getting separation. His hands are elite. The only problem comes on defense, where I’m pretty skeptical he’s going to be able to guard anyone because he’s a 6-9 center.

Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF Nikola Vucevic, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter

PLUSES

  • He’s a dancer on the low post. He has unbelievable footwork, doesn’t predetermine his moves, and he can finish through tons of contact using either hand from difficult angles. He lives at the free throw line.

  • Sets strong screens and finishes at a high level on rolls to the rim thanks to his good hands and feel. He’ll use spins, fakes, and pivots to create space off the bounce. He can also finish loudly if he has space to leap.

  • Excellent passer with the upside to be an offensive hub. He facilitates from the post, the elbows, and even brings the ball up the court. 

  • Untapped shooting potential: He shot nearly 80 percent from the line this past year and has good touch around the rim.

  • Heat-seeking missile as an offensive rebounder.

  • Good on-ball defensive potential if his athleticism improves in the pros. He has fluidity but needs to work on his technique.

  • Active off-ball defender. His hustle and spirit are major positives when projecting forward as he continues to hone his fundamentals and discipline.

MINUSES

  • He’s a nonshooter right now, but he has potential if he changes his mechanics—he has inconsistent footwork and it looks like his off-hand might be affecting his shot. 

  • He’s undersized as a true center so it might be a challenge for him to battle on the post against larger bigs.

  • What is his position defensively? His slow feet and lack of verticality and length hold him back, meaning he’ll need to learn to be a positional defender.

Hollinger, The Athletic:

As I noted a few months ago, Sengun is the pearl of a strong international class, and he is still flying somewhat under the radar despite winning the MVP of the Turkish League. That league is probably the second-best in Europe right now after Spain’s, and the history says that when a teenager — Sengun turns 19 in July — crushes a good overseas league like that, the fail rate is basically nil.

There are legitimate concerns about Sengun defensively, that he might be the type of guy who gets run off the floor in a playoff series. Overall, I would profile him as similar to Kevin Love — more of a “4.5” than a true five and somebody whose offense will need to make up for non-elite rim protection and mobility. Nonetheless, his offensive skill set is crazy good for a player his age. He has ball skills, passing ability, a good shooting stroke that projects to 3-point range and a dizzying array of spins, pivots and finishes on the low block.

I’ll be surprised if he isn’t able to rack up double-doubles relatively early in his career; it’s the defensive question in the modern game that keeps him out of my top three, and even then I still wonder if I have him too low. A lot of not-very-athletic bigs with average tools but advanced feel have ended up being far better defenders than initially projected — Marc Gasol obviously comes to mind for me — and Sengun could be another example. I wouldn’t just write him off at this end of the floor.


Your Vote

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