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Tornike Shengelia: a future high-level Forward

December 19th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Tornike “Toko” Shengelia is one of the few but talented Georgian players currently active in the Euroleague. After having spent several years in Spain, Shengelia is now in his second season playing in Belgium. With Spirou Charleroi, he is a rookie in the Euroleague competition and one of the candidates for the Rising Star Trophy winner this season.

So let’s start first of all with some numbers. Toko is born in 1991 and currently listed at 2m06 and 100kg. He averages 8.6ppg (41.9% 2FGs – 2/15 3FGs – 59.4% FTs), 5.2rpg, 1.1apg and 2.0topg in the Belgian League. In the highest European level, the Euroleague, Shengelia has an average of 8.3ppg after the first 9 games. He scores 50% from two point range and 28.6% from behind the arc. He grabs 4.3rpg and has 1.0apg and 0.3spg in addition. According to the advanced stats of in-the-game.org, you can see that Shengelia is majorly scoring from close range than being a three-point shooter. His +/- of –6.2 is a little below the average of the team and one of the worst figures for the Charleroi inside players. He draws a good amount of shooting fouls with 0.35FTA/FGA which is though not a great value for an inside player. He has a great 20.1% of defensive rebounding percentage and a limited TO% of 17.2%.

With all these numbers, you can already get some kind of an idea what type of player Shengelia is. The Georgian plays mainly as a Power Forward for Spirou but has to help out on the Center position during some stretches. He clearly has more skills to play the PF position offensively but he looks bad defensively on the Center position if he has to face a physically stronger player. During the games we scouted, he got scored on or had to commit a shooting foul on 5 out of 6 defensive positions in the low post. With his rather long and underdeveloped body, he struggled to hold his position but also showed some weakness in lateral speed when he got attacked on drop-step or turn around plays. This lateral slowness is also a factor when guarding face-up forwards. Shengelia needs to assess this point of his game if he wants to make the next step on Euroleague level.

Next to this clear weakness, he is doing though an excellent job boxing out and going for the defensive rebound. He rarely gets overpowered in this domain and has a good timing to go up for the board with two hands. Out of these situations, he can immediately start the fast break because of his excellent ball handling skills for a player of his size. He also showed good speed when dribbling the ball up court and we could see him several times go for coast-to-coast plays finished either on the layup or the good pass for a cutting wing.

Despite his size, Shengelia is not a great shot blocker. This is mainly due to his limited vertical presence and only solid athletic abilities. Overall, he does not look very explosive in all of his movements. His shooting mechanics are not overly fast and he rarely finishes his drives on a dunk. Shengelia’s game is more about technical fundamentals. He can attack the basket with either hand and has a variety of spin moves, stotter steps, crossovers, direction changers or lay-back plays in his arsenal. Shengelia recognizes already pretty well what the defense gives him. This is underlined for example by the fact that he mostly tries to outplay slower defenders with directions changes on his drives.

Even if his first step is not great, he can beat his defender off the dribble but might have some problems against great defenders to create the necessary distance to go for the score, especially as he does not really have a mid-range jump shot out of the drive. However, he has some interesting court-vision and can find his team mates on the back-door situations nicely without being extremely creative though. In catch-and-shoot situations, he does a good job from around the key with a nice stroke and good but not great percentages. He rarely forces decisions which shows quite good maturity for such a young player. The Spirou player is sometimes looking a bit passive on offense as he is “waiting” for his chance to make a play. He knows that he is currently not the first option on offense and developed some kind of opportunism to score on garbage points.

Tornike Shengelia is still one year ahead from being automatically eligible for the NBA Draft. He has already a lot of experience and is certainly among the candidates for the Rising Star Trophy in the Euroleague. His potential overall looks limited though as he has not too much space for development offensively to reach another level. He lacks the top-level athletic abilities to become a high-level player in the NBA and his three-point shot is currently not regular enough. The typical Georgian age/birthdate discussions have not been a major thing for him so far but are certainly something that is considered when evaluating his long-term potential. Shengelia will certainly have a very interesting career as a stretch four on the European level or as a rotation guy in the NBA. With an improving defensive presence, a faster release on his shot and a stronger body, Shengelia has certainly a chance to become one of the best European Power Forwards in the future.

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