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Edwin Jackson and the ASVEL prospects

June 6th, 2011 · No Comments

This weekend, ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne got eliminated from the French playoffs in a semi-final Game 3 against SLUC Nancy. Despite a deplorable team effort and several imports clearly having other problems than a functioning team, the young players who have been recruited specifically by the former coach Vincent Collet to build a team on the long term, had to take over the game a lot more in the decisive moments than expected. In these conditions, it is difficult for them to win a game like this one against a team stacked with athletic veterans. Let’s take a look at the youngsters of the French team that will also participate at the Adidas Eurocamp next weekend (Fofana, Jackson, Lacombe, Westermann).

Edwin Jackson – 1m91 – SG – 1989

After starting the season without any serious playing time, Jackson averaged barely 9 minutes per game over the first 21 contests in the French League. A lot of talks came up that he is not capable of moving from a smaller team with a big role (he played for SPO Rouen last season averaging more than twenty minutes per game but being relegated) to a bigger team with a more limited role. However, over the three last games of the regular season  and the playoffs combined, Jackson has dramatically improved his role as he spent 22 minutes on the court and he scored 12.0ppg in this period (compared to 3.5ppg during the whole regular season).

Offensively, Jackson tries to score on nearly every possession. Next to his very high release point jump shot, he can also beat his defender of the dribble with a good first step. He can put it on the floor with either hand and he makes often an extra long step to start the drive which looks a bit like travelling but is rarely called. In the French League, he looks capable to beat anyone in One-on-One situations as he has excellent athletic abilities and good speed. When he drives to the basket, he looks mainly for his own score and even tries some very difficult moves to score as close as possible to the hoop.

In the game we followed on Saturday, he missed for example a tough lay-back in an important moment where might have better chosen to pass the ball out to the opposing corner. On the other hand, he scored a superbly difficult mid-range shot while falling down. Additionally, he can stop his drives out of full speed with a good position and come up with a good fake in order to get open or at least the foul call. In general, you can say that Jackson is able to score the ball from anywhere but has not yet found a way to have a great shot selection. His role in the team is most likely to score coming from the bench which implicates some bad decisions and forced shots by the young guard. In order to fulfill this role in a better way, he is trying a lot of shots but has to learn to select better when to shot and when to continue the offense and pass the ball to one of his team mates.

A question that we have raised in the past about Jackson’s development was his ability to move to the PG position in the future. With ASVEL, he plays only SG or even SF at some moments and barely ever has to bring up the ball. On Saturday, we remember this situation once and he struggled heavily against the opposing press but did not turn it over. Additionally, he does not really look concerned by this part of the game as we remember another situation where he was already across the middle line when his team tried to inbound the ball against the press and Jackson did not open up by running back to break the press. It seems that Jackson will not make a step in the direction of becoming a PG in the future.

Another part of Jackson’s game where we expected a better development was his defense. Despite having excellent physical abilities to become a real stopper on the defensive end, he was not really a factor like he could probably be. He shows excellent effort on the full court press but you have the feeling that one screen on Pick and Roll situations is enough to break his defense. This might also be the result of the extremely poor team defense presence of ASVEL on Saturday but you could expect more presence by Jackson in this part of the game. Even when playing for Rouen last season, where he earned a lot of minutes, Jackson was not a great ball stealer which is something that seems to confirm with ASVEL this season.

As a conclusion, you can say that Jackson can develop into a very dangerous scorer for the French ProA level. His limited size and passing skills will probably prevent him from finding a real position on NBA level. However, with his athletic profile and scoring potential, he should not have too much of a problem to impose himself as one of the top scorers in the French League in the next years, at least.

Leo Westermann – 1m98 – PG – 1992

The 18 year old French PG had a very interesting first season on the professional level. Being the first rotation on the PG spot for a French semi-finalist is quite an achievement for a 1992 born player. I would not be surprised if Westermann will take over the Starting job right from next season. After recovering from a severe knee injury last summer, Westermann looks to be in good shape and displayed nice speed. Being 1m98 tall, he has great size for playing PG on the highest European level but lacks NBA-like athletic abilities. He is doing a good job already on this level to control the game speed and set-up the plays in a situation with a dominant ball handler like Matt Walsh on the court.

Westermann is not really the super creative passer on the playmaker position but he has the talent to score the basketball and see his team mates in the right moment when they are open. He can put the ball on the floor with either hand and has a preference to stop in the mid-range area to take the jump shot. He has the size to attack the basket and finish close but he does not do it really often. However, he is present in rebounding situations and has a good feeling to steal a ball here and there on the offensive glass.

The jump shot of Westermann looks pretty well but he was not very lucky in his attempts on Saturday. With increasing playing time, I am pretty sure that he will have better percentages down the road. Defensively is probably the place where Westermann has still the longest way to go. He is not athletic enough to guard short and fast guards. Additionally, he seems to lack a bit of lateral speed in one-on-one situations in order to stay in front of his guy. His positioning on the defensive end is good in general but he needs to work on his explosiveness, quickness and athletic abilities overall in order to be able to defend point guards in the French League.

Bangaly Fofana – 2m12 – C – 1989

The French big guy is already present with ASVEL for several seasons but did not really have a break-out season so far. Limited to about 10 minutes per game, he would probably do best if he goes playing for a smaller team in order to earn more minutes. Despite being really long, the impact of Fofana is somehow limited on both sides of the court. Offensively, he scores only in the key and does not have a great shooting touch. He lacks great explosiveness and all of his moves (including the dunks) look rather slow. His free-throws look really terrible and underline his overall limited potential offensively. On the defensive end, he has some kind of impact with shot blocking where he can use his long arms. However, he does not have great timing for rejections and being not that physical either, he is not a real threat in this part of the game.

Paul Lacombe – 1m94 – PG/SG – 1990

A player that we really liked when he played this summer with the French U20 National team was Paul Lacombe. However, he did not have a great impact this season despite a better period at the beginning of the year 2011. Since then, he even fall out of the rotation and saw only limited minutes for ASVEL. The same happened on Saturday where Lacombe entered the court only during the last five minutes of the game. In this short period, he just had the opportunity to try a very difficult dunk which he missed but got two free-throws out of it. For the rest, we can not add much to what has already been said about him on this website.

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