Lucas Mariano scouting report

With José Luiz Galvão, from the Go-to Guy blog, and Rafael Uehara

Versão em português (Portuguese version)

With the NBA Draft fast approaching, taking place on June 26th, at the Barclays Center, the blog decided to gather info on Brazilian prospect Lucas Mariano, who will be the only player born in the country in the event.

Lucas Mariano with the ball (Allan Conti/NBB)

Mariano is a 2.05m (six-foot-seven), 20-year-old power forward who plays for Franca, in Brazil. He averaged 13 points (46.8% FG, 34.7% 3 PT, 78.5% FT), four rebounds and 29.3 minutes per game in the 2013/2014 Brazilian league regular season, and 11.7 points (45.4% FG, 35.3% 3 PT, 73.8% FT), 3.2 rebounds and 28.8 minutes per game in the postseason.

The Brazilian prospect has the upside that many prospects don’t have: experience at pro basketball. Mariano already played 103 games in the Brazilian league (NBB). His debut was back in the 2009/2010 season. Since then, he played 80 regular season games and 23 playoff games, averaging 10.2 points (52% FG, 34.2% 3 PT, 73% FT), 3.8 rebounds and 22.6 minutes per game.

Taking a first look at Lucas’ averages, it is possible to notice that he is getting more time on Franca’s rotation. His points and minutes per game are increasing. But what really draws attention is his work developing the 3 point shot.

During his first four professional seasons, Mariano played 1,140 minutes and shot a total of five 3 point attempts, all of them in the 2012/2013 season. He missed all five. But in the 2013/2014 season, he took a 3 point shot every 7.7 minutes, and hit a 3 point shot every 22.4 minutes. Clearly something that has been a priority for him.

In his 41 appearances last season, Mariano hit 35.1% of his 3 point shots. Not bad for a big man who is still taking the first step in the outside game. During the last NBA regular season, 22 big men shot better: Jon Leuer (46,9%), Matt Bonner (42,9%), Spencer Hawes (41,6%), Anthony Tolliver (41,3%), Drew Gooden (41,2%), Ryan Anderson (40,9%), Boris Diaw (40,2%), Roy Hibbert (40%), Dirk Nowitzki (39,8%), Mirza Teletovic (39%),  Josh Harrellson (38,7%), Serge Ibaka (38,3%), Marcus Morris (38,1%), Kevin Love (37,6%), Darrell Arthur (37,5%), Byron Mullens (37,1%), Channing Frye (37%), Glen Davis (36,4%), Al Horford (36,4%), Patrick Patterson (36,4%), Josh McRoberts (36,1%) and Paul Millsap (35,8%).

It’s important to note that some of those 22 aren’t shooters, and only occasionally took 3-point shots – which is why they’re here. But, on the other hand, Mariano will have to face better and more athletic defenses if he goes to the NBA – will he be able to sustain that production?

Anyway, Mariano’s development is so far, so good. He is already the fifth best shooter of this team, behind a point guard and three swingmen, and hit 1.52 3-point shots every 36 minutes, the fifth best mark on his team. Being the only big man of the list, he provides an important strategic asset to coach Lula Ferreira.

On the other hand, there is something that urgently needs to be addressed on Mariano’s development if he wants to play in the NBA: rebounding. He grabbed just 4.77 every 36 minutes, and is only the sixth best statistical rebounder on his team.

Considering NBA players who are 2,05m or taller and hit 50 or more 3 point shots last season, hitting at least 35% of his shots, we have:

Jogador 3-pt % ORB% DRB%
Kevin Love 37.6% 8.5% 29.5%
Spencer Hawes 41.6% 5.6% 24.2%
Kevin Durant 39.1% 2.2% 18.6%
Dirk Nowitzki 39.8% 1.8% 20.0%
Channing Frye 37.0% 3.6% 16.6%
Chandler Parsons 37.0% 2.9% 12.8%
Josh McRoberts 36.1% 4.0% 13.8%
Mike Dunleavy 38.0% 2.1% 13.0%
Patrick Patterson 36.4% 8.8% 17.1%
Marvin Williams 35.9% 5.5% 17.9%
Marcus Morris 38.1% 5.2% 14.6%
Ryan Anderson 40.9% 9.5% 11.3%
Steve Novak 42.6% 1.7% 10.8%
Average 38.5% 4.7% 16.9%
Lucas Mariano 35.1% 5.4% 10.3%

3PT% represents performance from the 3 point line, ORB% the amount of available offensive rebounds grabbed by the player and DRB% the amount of defensive rebounds available grabbed by the player.

A stretch-four has to rebound to stay on the court. When this isn’t possible, he has to defend perimeter players, so he won’t hurt the team on the defensive glass. Steve Novak is a cautionary tale: he is the best shooter of the chart, but averaged only 10 minutes per game for being a one-dimensional player who hurts the team on defense.

Mariano, so far, is similar to Novak on this aspect. The Brazilian prospect can’t defend perimeter players and, so far, has not been able o rebound at a decent level when facing heavier opponents.

That can cause even more damage in today’s NBA. Coaches are giving more time to defensive-oriented players, such as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, two guys who got minutes even in good teams. You can only develop if you play, and you can only play if you’re good enough on the defensive end. Some scouts say that the number of steals is the best statistical way to show one’s athletic ability. Mariano has the physical tools to excel on offense, able to score not only on the pick-and-pop and also on the pick-and-roll, but doesn’t test well for an athletic power-forward on defense, averaging only half a steal every 36 minutes last season.

That’s why he shouldn’t go straight to the NBA even if the managed to get drafted. He still needs to develop his game a little more. He will have an important chance to do so this offseason as he will play for the Brazilian National Team at the South American championship, in Venezuela, between July 24th and 28th.


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