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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SDH Presents from DraftExpress.com: Walter Tavares 2014 Scouting Video

7-foot-2 center Walter Tavares hasn't been playing basketball for long, but he's found his way on the NBA radar because of his size and mobility. He was discovered by a German tourist in 2009 in his home country of Cape Verde , a small island located about 600 miles off the coast of Senegal. The then 7-feet tall 17 year old was working at his mother's convenience store, and the German tourist, amazed at his height, decided to recommend him to his friends in Gran Canaria, an ACB team with a strong tradition based in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco. After travelling to Cape Verde for inspection, Gran Canaria decided to bring Tavares over in November of 2009 and try to teach him the game of basketball from scratch. He had never touched a basketball prior to that.

Tavares (known as "Edy" to most) steadily progressed through the Spanish minor leagues since then, first in Gran Canaria's "B" junior team, then on the minor leagues, EBA (Spanish fifth division), with stops in the second (LEB Gold) and third (LEB Silver) divisions as well--growing three inches along the way. After a strong showing in the FIBA African Championships with Cape Verde this past summer, Tavares was finally ready to see significant playing time in the ACB, but not before an injury to starting center Xavi Rey gave him an opportunity to showcase his worth. His coming out party from a NBA standpoint came in early February in the Spanish Cup (the Copa del Rey), where he posted 16 points and 8 rebounds in a loss to Real Madrid and their star-studded frontcourt. Tavares exceeded all expectations this season relative to his experience-level and the quality of the competition he faced in arguably the toughest domestic league in Europe, as the starting center of a team currently in fifth place in the ACB.

Listed at 220cm (a hair under 7-3), Tavares has fantastic size to go along with a huge wingspan and extremely large hands. He moves well for a player his size, running the floor awkwardly but effectively, showing nice agility in his ability to set screens and dive to the rim, and also being extremely mobile defensively. Tavares' biggest appeal as a NBA prospect lies in his ability to protect the paint. He blocks shots at a very nice rate, ranking #1 overall in the ACB on a per-game basis and third-best per-minute. He does a great job of hedging pick and rolls and recovering, something you rarely see from a player this size, and is still able to be very effective as a weakside rim-protector due to his mobility, length, terrific timing and instincts.

Tavares is also an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor, which is unique considering the work he does as a weak-side shot-blocker. The 12.8 rebounds he averages per-40 minutes ranks fourth in the ACB, with a good share of them coming on the offensive end (4.5 per-40). He boxes out well, shows a high activity level, and uses his incredibly long arms, huge hands and excellent timing to clean the glass effectively, despite not being very vertical. Offensively is where Tavares' lack of experience and polish shows the most at the moment. He's not much of a scorer at all, averaging just 11.5 points per-40 minutes, as he doesn't have much of a post game (just 17 attempts all season), and doesn't show much range outside of five feet, attempting only six jumpers all season. 77% of Tavares' offense this season came off cuts, pick and roll finishes, and offensive rebound put-back attempts.

With that said, Tavares does show some flashes of effectiveness here in the small role he's asked to play. He is a very solid finisher, converting 63% of his attempts around the basket, as he barely needs to jump to dunk the ball with how big and long he is. He also knocks down 71% of his free throw attempts, which is pretty good from a player his size, especially considering when he started playing. He has a good basketball IQ and looks very mature for a player playing his first real season of high-level professional basketball, as he does not look lost in the slightest and executes his team's offense very effectively. As mobile as Tavares is for his size, he still lacks considerable explosiveness for a NBA big man, as he struggles to get off the ground effectively, which hurts him as a finisher at times. He still has a lot of work to do on improving his lower body strength as well, as he gets backed down by stronger players and is fairly foul prone, averaging 5.4 fouls per-40 minutes.

Even though the ACB is a very competitive league, the style of play there couldn't be much more different than what we see in an NBA game. The NBA defensive three second violation changes things considerably, and the pace of the game is much faster as well. Will Tavares be able to keep up with the tempo of the NBA game? And how will his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess translate against better athletes? Additionally, can he can stay healthy. Players his size are rarely very durable, especially with feet as large as his (he reportedly has high arches), despite the fact that he hasn't missed a single game in the past year and a half.

How about you?  What do you think? Does this guy have the goods to be a first or even a second round pick in the NBA Draft?  Catch more great highlight videos from +DraftExpress along with interviews as well scouting reports of future +NBA stars right here on +Slap Dog Hoops.   Also, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!