Lior Eliyahu NBA Draft Scouting Report

Lior Eliyahu NBA Draft Scouting Report
Jul 03, 2005, 01:10 am
Eliyahu has a prototypical body for an NBA small forward, minus a couple of pounds. He has great size at 6-8 or maybe even the 6-9 as he’s listed by his team, with an excellent wingspan and big hands. He is very athletic for a European prospect, with good quickness and foot speed and the ability to get off the floor and finish.

Offensively, he shoots a very high percentage (63%) because most of his offense comes from 15 feet and in. His shot selection is usually very good, especially when you consider his age and the level he plays at. He is smart and slithery around the basket, and really has a knack for scoring around the basket. Thanks to his long arms, athletic ability, footwork and a super soft touch, he is almost automatic in the paint. Eliyahu really has a nose for the ball. He scores a lot of points just by being in the right place at the right time.

Having a quick first step and long enough strides to make it to the basket from the perimeter with only two dribbles, Eliyahu has a lot of potential in the slashing department. He has shown that he can finish creatively around the basket, with a nice little floater or even a half hook shot in the lane. He can hit the three pointer if he’s open, but he’s much better from mid-range.

Eliyahu is an intelligent player who excels moving off the ball. He doesn’t have much of a position in the half court offense, but that also makes him extremely tough to guard as he just loves to roam around the floor and create havoc wherever he goes with his quickness and long arms. In transition is where he really excels, really knowing where to run and place himself on the fast break to help his team come up with the points, and often being the one who finishes the play himself with an athletic dunk. The fact that he runs the floor like a deer really helps him in this aspect.

Unlike most European draft prospects his age, Eluyahu is already an extremely productive player. He plays a ton of minutes amongst grown men and puts up numbers consistently every single night, in every competition he plays in, despite the fact that he is only 19. In the FIBA Europe league this year (12 games), he averaged 19 points a game and 6 rebounds on 70% from the field and 44% shooting from behind the arc in only 29 minutes per game. In the Israeli league playoffs (10 games), he averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds (62% FG, 42% 3P) in 24 minutes per game.

Eliyahu has made some incredible strides in his game over the past two years. If he continues to work and improve in a similar fashion over the next few years, the sky is limit for this kid and he will certainly make the NBA. He appears to have the right attitude towards the game, being willing to pass the ball when needed, but also not shying away from taking things on himself and putting the ball in the basket. He has a large upside to improve, but must continue to work on his many weaknesses.

Because of the lack of size, athletic ability and emphasis on skill development in the youth categories in Israel, Eliyahu was played in the post for most of his career as a junior. Therefore it’s going to be an uphill battle for him to make the full conversion to becoming a wing player, despite the fact that he has the physical attributes and then some to do so. Right now he is a positionless player for the NBA.

First and foremost, Eliyahu must improve his ball-handling skills, especially with his left hand. He almost always goes right at this point, something that will certainly be exploited more now that he is becoming more of a focal point in the opposing team’s scouting report. Regardless of the direction he is going in, he dribbles the ball loose and very high, although his long strides and quick first step help him in this area. He can create his own shot most of the time in the Israeli league (the fact that he is a huge mismatch here helps as well), but he’ll have to improve greatly in this area to have any thoughts of doing so in the NBA. Things like slashing and pulling up off the dribble or creating space for himself to get his shot off on the perimeter are way out of his league at this point.

Second is his defense. In the junior categories players like him are placed in the paint in the middle of a zone defense. He has very little experience guarding the perimeter, and is therefore a defensive liability anyway you slice it at this point. His lateral footwork is poor, using his hands way too much and therefore often finding himself in foul trouble in the process. His team defense isn’t much better either, although this steams more from a lack of effort along with a poor understanding of the team defense. Eliayhu gets lost often here, failing to rotate and get out and guard the perimeter, and just not using his length and athleticism enough to bother the players he is guarding. He does have a lot of potential in this area, though, due to his length. This already helps him out a lot in the passing lanes and blocking shots, but not enough in his on the ball defense beyond the stats. Part of the reason that he’s not a great defender is the fact that he’s lacking strength at this point. Eliyahu has a great frame, but he still needs to add some bulk in the weight room or else he’ll be pushed around.

Possibly his biggest weakness and the thing he needs to work the hardest on is his outside shot. His mechanics are horrendous, to go along with a slow release and very little elevation on his jump shot. He can not create a three pointer for himself off the dribble, being strictly a threat from outside only if he is left wide open and has time to set himself up. Eliyahu needs to get with a shooting coach ASAP to correct his mechanics and teach him how to get his shot off under pressure and on the move. Otherwise his chances at making and sticking in the NBA as a SF are low.

Eliyahu plays for Galil Elyon, a tradition rich team who can claim to be the only team in Israel to win a championship in Israel in the last 35 years besides Maccabi Tel Aviv. He is coached by Oded Katash, one of the best guards in Israeli basketball history. Galil participated in the FIBA Europe league, a Pan-European league for mostly third tier teams from all over the continent. As noted above, Eliyahu did incredibly well there by any standards regardless of his age. In the domestic Israeli league Eliyahu started off slowly until he eventually became the 1st or 2nd option offensively on his team, being a huge part in their success in finishing 2nd in the league and doing an outstanding job down the stretch in the playoffs.

The competition in Israel is good, but not great. Although for a prospect his age who is looking for steady minutes in a friendly environment where he can work on his all-around game, it's basically perfect.

Eliyahu is currently in the midst of serving a mandatory three year stint in the Israeli army. This might make it impossible for him to come to the States to train, do workouts, measurements, physicals and all the other things that draft prospects are expected to do in order to be taken seriously for the draft. Looking at where he is at skill wise, he would have to make some pretty huge strides anyway to be considered a lock for the 1st round in the 2006 draft regardless. The burden is on him at the moment to continue to work on his perimeter skills, particularly his ball-handling, defense and outside shooting if he wants to have a shot at the 1st round next year or in his automatically eligible year in 2007. How much he works to improve in those areas will ultimately decide if he gets drafted, and if so, how high. Right now he is a 2nd round prospect for either next year or the year after.

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