NBA Position: SG/SF
General Information: 21 year old freshman, played for Mega Leks. Born in Cannes, France.
Measurables: 6'7", 205 pounds
2015-16 Season Statistics: (Stats as of 5/25/16) - 14.48 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 2.8 TOPG (33 games played, 30.1 minutes per contest) - 40.2% FG, 69.0% FT, 35.8% 3P
An emerging French prospect playing for one of the better programs in Europe, Luwawu will enter the league with NBA-level athleticism and length and emerging skills as a shooter, rim-runner, and defender. The biggest concern for him is his resumé; he's only had one year of consistent success, but his competitive streak, growing basketball instincts, and high ceiling make him my underdog pick for the Kings.
Luwawu offers the full-package of an offensive prospect—he's a developing deep-shooter, a decent passer, and has a good ability at attacking the basket and finishing way, way above the rim. I predict he will be a more NBA ready prospect than expected, and thanks to his well-rounded foundational skills and great physical tools, he's got a very high ceiling.
His three-point shot has emerged this year, and his overall improvement over the past year while playing in one of the best European leagues gives reason to believe he's got the work ethic to become a good NBA weapon. He seems more confident on the catch-and-shoot three than when he's trying to create space on his own, but this isn't a big weakness considering his ability to get himself open (again, thanks to his quickness and length).
It is important to note that since the start of the Serbian KLS season (which started in early May), Luwawu has struggled with his shot; his three-point success has dropped to 25% (mainly due to a 3-15 FG outing on May 11th, where he was 1-7 from three). His shooting success this season may be a bit of a mirage; he didn't start shooting threes in recorded contests until 2014-15, and only hit 28.7% of his looks that season. While scouts (and this armchair scout) don't see any issues with his mechanics, he may not enter the league as an immediate weapon from three—but again, there's no reason to think he won't improve.
From the games I watched (see below), Luwawu showed the skills and the tools to be an above-average slasher. Mega Leks played a fast-paced system, and Luwawu showed he can change gears to get by defenders, finish with either hand, and provide highlight dunks. His decision making isn't great, and too often he attacks a crowded paint and coughs the ball up. He also keeps his dribble too far away from his body, and while he's used this to bait defenders, he'll be entering a much lengthier, more athletic league where this will not be acceptable.
While Luwawu is a capable scorer from the paint out the three-point line, he's also a capable passer who showed a willingness to keep his teammates involved. His passing and offensive instincts will need to improve, but I love the idea of using Luwawu in the pick and roll, although he'll need to learn that he can't always pass over the defense in the NBA.
Much like his offensive game, he's shown a solid defensive foundation with a significant ceiling—he offers the potential to be a multi-positional, versitility defender.. He's quick enough to handle guards and should fill out enough to handle small forwards. His length and quick handles snagged 1.7 steals a contest, and he's shown the ability to react to fast-paced defenses (see the contests below. He goes for the steal too often and was able to compensate with his length and quick feet, but this won't be the case in the NBA.
Luwawu is a solid rebounder who will work against stronger competition, but he'll need to get stronger if he wants to outmuscle NBA threes.
Drafting a 21-year old prospect with only one year of proven stats isn't the safest draft options, but Luwawu has been emerging in the European farm system for the past three years, so teams have plenty to track his progression. While it's always harder to predict how foreign players will adapt to life in the NBA, Luwawu has been playing for Mega Leks, one of the premier programs in Europe (who recently produced Nuggets big Nikola Janković). He shows an edge to his game, a strong court awareness, and a willingness to play physical.
Fit with Sacramento:
On my Kingscentric Big Board, Luwawu currently sits at 7th, above Denzel Valentine and Jaylen Brown. Check out this report if you want my full breakdown of Valentine's game (and why I worry about him fitting in with Sacramento) - while I do favor Luwawu's long-term potential, especially as a defender, I can easily see why the Kings would favor a more proven prospect like Valentine. Valentine offers a proven resume that Luwawu can't match, and is a much better shooter (at this stage in their careers) and passer than Luwawu. It's Luwawu's defensive versatility and potential that swings me in his favor; Valentine was a defensive liability in college, and Luwawu has a much higher defensive ceiling (and arguably a higher floor).
While I have serious doubts that the Kings would draft a project like Skal Labissiere or Marquese Chriss, I think Luwawu isn't as raw as either of those two and could contribute decently early into his rookie season. If there's any player in this class I'm potentially overhyping, it's Luwawu, but I'm a big fan of his entire skillset, ability to play (and defend) multiple positions, and his NBA athleticism. I think in four years, we'll be looking at him as one of the better picks in the class.
If you have three hours of spare time, I'd recommend checking out these videos below. Two are excellent highlight reels of Luwawu's offensive skills (including an awesome dunk), but the last three are full-game videos of three Mega Vizura contests this season, which show off Luwawu's range of skills, both good and bad.
January 24, 2016 - Win, 19 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, five turnovers, 5-14 from the field.
October 4, 2015 - Win, 27 points, five rebounds on 9-16 from the field and 6-9 from three.
December 6, 2015 - Loss, eight points, five rebounds on 2-12 shooting