The last week or so, I've had the same conversation on other Spurs blogs about Nando De Colo and the level of effectiveness he might have on the Spurs. A lot of people argue that he's not a true point guard and will be useless (or at least ineffective) against the better, more athletic PG's of the league. I know I'm no scout, and I certainly don't have the eye for talent like these NBA front offices do, but based on what I've seen from De Colo, he can be (at the very least) a useful back up point guard in the league. Here's why.
One day last week I was bored with the lack of Sours news so I decided to check out some game footage of our Euro players. I started watching replays of the ACB Finals to get a look at Erazen Lorbek since he was the most anticipated of all our guys. After a while a realized that Lorbek and De Colo actually faced off in the playoffs so I thought "why not just watch those games and kill two birds with one stone?" By the end of it all I was so impressed with what I saw from Nando that Lorbek became a second thought. (more on that later) Here's what I saw from him:
Ball Control- One of the first things I noticed about Nando is the fact that he has tremendous ball control. While he doesn't dazzle you with killer handles and dribble moves, he simply controls the ball as if it's tied to a string. He has a Nash-like ability to maintain a live dribble even under pressure and this is a valuable skill to have as a guard. It's also amazing how he can effortlessly make passes off the dribble, with either hand which brings me to his next strength.
Passing- The most entertaining part of Nando's game is his passing. As I said, he can make passes with either hand even off the dribble. He sees gaps that defenses don't and has the ability and courage to make difficult passes. One of the most underrated passes in the game is the outlet pass in transition and this is an area where Nando excels, making several "touchdown" passes to teammates running the floor. His passing ability also shows in drive and kick situation where he makes passes on point to teammates either spotted up for 3 or at the rim. Perhaps his best passes come in pick and roll situations. A big who rolls strong to the basket (*cough Tiago Splitter cough*)is almost certain to be effective in a pick and roll with De Colo as he finds ways, somehow, to get his teammate the ball in good situations.
Shooting- As good as he is as a passer, I wouldn't necessarily call him a "pass first" guard because he can definitely shoot the ball as well. The pull-up shot from about the free throw line seems to be a favorite shot for him. He took it quite often in the games I watched and it looked good. His form is good on these shots, he isn't usually off balanced with them and he has pretty nice arc on his shot as well. I wouldn't feel terrible with him taking this shot is what I'm saying because he's fairly consistent with it. He's also a good 3 point shooter, either spotting up or pulling up. He's better spotting up of course but can pull up if his defender gives him the room to fire.
Defense- Now before you go all postal on me I'll stat by saying that Nando De Colo is not what I would call a "good" defender. That being said, he does things on defense that make him have an impact defensively. On the ball he picks up full court and tries to be a pest, reaching for the ball and doing his best to stay in front of his man. Off the ball he is always active in the passing lanes and is great at coming up with steals. My favorite part about Nando on the defensive end, and the fact that I c all it a strength, is he defends without fouling which is extremely valuable in any league.
Instincts- You know when people say that a guy has a great feel for the game? Well Nando De Colo is one of those guys. When you watch him play you can tell that he isn't thinking the game but rather just playing and reacting to what happens. He has great IQ on the court, especially on offense, understanding spacing and knowing where to be on the court in every situation. He's one of those guys who sees a play before it happens. He makes passes to players who are not only in position to score, but in position to assist. That takes high basketball IQ and Nando De Colo has just that.
Demeanor- My favorite thing about Nando is his demeanor on the court. It literally never changes. Whether he just made a huge shot or turned the ball over, he looks the exact same. His body language is the same and he doesn't seem to get too high or too low in different situations. This will match perfectly with the already stoic Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard.
Now while Nando does have a lot of strengths, he is not without faults. Here are a some of his weaknesses.
Defense- Like I said before, Nando is not a good defender. Even though he tries, he doesn't have the lateral quickness to defend quicker guards and also lacks the athleticism to make up for it He gets beat off the dribble fairly often by quick guards and it could be even worse in the NBA as the players he would have to guard will be even quicker.
Shot Selection- Remember when I said the pull-up mid-range jumper was a favorite shot for De Colo? Well sometimes he forces it when he shouldn't. Sometimes when there are other options on the floor and a defender plays him well, he forces up the shot for no good reason. Even though he has the ability to hit that shot with defenders in his face, it is (obviously) far less consistent than when he's open but he tends to force it sometimes.
Assertiveness- The one thing I really dislike about Nando is that, even with all his talents, he isn't always aggressive when he should be. He plays very laid back and casual and doesn't always have an aggressive, take it to the hole attitude that we see from Tony and Manu. The thing that gets me is he has the skills necessary to do it but he just isn't in attack mode as often as he should be. This might be the biggest thing holding him back. (more than hos lack of athleticism)
So for anyone who hasn't actually seen Nando play in a game I think you'll be happy when you finally do. His highlights do a good job of displaying his passing and shooting but don't show his great IQ and Instincts. I think this guy can be a reliable player for the Spurs and one they could count on for years. Have fun with these highlights.