TrueLAfan wrote:I have to disagree about Kabengele. I wish he was improving--but what he really looks like is a big guy with some interesting skills that has no "feel" for the game. Last night (the Minny game) made me cringe: he did everything wrong. He put up ill advised shots. He overreacted and hacked on D. I get that he just heard his contract wasn't picked up[ and probably felt like he had and has to "prove" himself--but that's his problem in a nutshell. He doesn't let the game come to him; he tries to force his imperfect skills and mediocre instincts onto the game, and the results are (a lot) more often poor than good. This is one of those things when you say "maybe that will get better!" But, as others have noted, he's 23, and the percentage of players that have gone from his level to have decent NBA careers is, to be nice about it, not high.
Oturu, at least now, looks a lot more promising. In the Minny game, he got himself into the game flow. He had positive results. But that makes sense; Oturu has had a team built around him in the past. He looks like a guy that has played a lot of team basketball. It just looks like he understands the game better. I mean, the sample size is (very, very) small right now—this is just a “sense” of what I get from watching him now and his college games. But it seems like, although they have somewhat similar physical size and individual and skills, Oturu has (much) better basketball skills. He looks like a guy that his been playing basketball all of his life and understands the game better—and, more importantly, how to improve to make his game better.
And, for our other young-ish player … Mann MIGHT me be an NBA player. I really like him, but I also he think he may be at the top what he can be—he’s 24. And he does a number of things pretty well. But he doesn’t do anything of them enough or well enough to account for a lack of scoring. If he can shoot 41%/32% from the field and three—both of which are pretty lousy in the current NBA—and average a point every three and a half minutes—again, not very good--he has a chance of being a low level rotation player because he plays D, can pass enough, and is tough. But even though that’s a low bar, he’s still pretty far from it.
That seems harsh, especially for Mann and (really) Fi. But, look, I’m being realistic. There’s a guy named Noah Vonleh that I’ve said (repeatedly) would have been a good pickup for us. He’s 6’9.5” 250 and has a great wingspan (7’4.25”). He can and does play both PF and C. He shoots over 50% from two and, while he’s no Sabonis, hits 31% plus from behind the line. He’s an okay shot blocker/rim defender—not great, but not bad—and a well above average rebounder. He doesn’t foul too often, which is the real problem for a lot of young frontcourt players, so he can stay on the court.
I’m using Vonleh to put this in perspective. You think Fi is worth anything over the minimum? Vonleh is a free agent right now. He’s almost exactly 2 years older than Fi. In 2018-19, Vonleh—at Fi’s age right now—played over 1700 minutes, started 55 games and averaged 8.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and had 1.9 assists and a block and a steal a game. Granted, it was on a terrible team—but in the two years before that, he’d averaged almost 5 and 6 in 17 minutes a game for very good Portland teams. In other words, when he was 21 and 22—like Fondue in his last college season and rookie season with us—Noah Vonleh averaged 4.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 16.7 minutes in 128 games. For God’s sake, he started 57 games in those two seasons, and the teams went 32-25.
I thought Noah Vonleh would have been (and would be now) a good pickup for $1.5-2 million a year—less than what Fi will make this year and next. Look at what he’s done in the NBA already. He is a proven rotation level player. He is the same size on Fi. He’s only two years older—but look at how much more he’s done given that age difference. The reason the Clippers didn’t pick up Fi’s third year is that, sadly, he may not be worth the $2 million. The truth is he’s a long way away.
These are such extreme takes based off one game in Minnesota to validate the decision. Where was all of this unplayable talk when he was battling with a proven scorer in Trez or using his quickness and length to go at Gobert. The sample work from his rookie season isn’t enough to draw any conclusion because we haven’t seen him play.
Like mentioned Mann is further from being a consistent rotation player than Fi. He’s still struggling to keep up on off the ball defense. Any meaningful minutes he becomes extremely passive with his shooting and if he can’t body to the rim it’s I’ll advised passes with the shot clock going down.
Vonleh has bounced around a bunch of bad teams by this point to maybe be a rotation player. If Fi needs a better situation to learn the game I can accept that but use him as a trade piece and not just dump him. Players like TJ McConnell or other low salary guards could be had for low