Offense: One of the more intriguing prospects nationwide, Kabongo was suspended for all but 10 games of Texas’ 2012-13 season. Despite the small sample size, his NBA level talents are easy to spot, especially on the offensive end.
Kabongo is another pure point guard, a deft passer whose incredible length (6’7 wingspan) allows him to see and take advantage of passing lanes that other points would miss.
He is a fantastic ball handler especially given his length, and manages to stay low to the ground when dribbling. He is comfortable putting the ball on the floor and attacking with both hands, and has a quick first step.
His length allows him to finish with a high release point at the rim, and while there should be more overall physicality in his game, he gets to the foul line consistently, an indicator that he does not shy away from contact.
Kabongo does finish well through contact, although he needs to further develop his left hand in this regard; he finishes with his right hand on the right side of the hoop too often. This makes sense given how much more consistent he
Attacking the rim is the other strength of Kabongo’s offensive repertoire; he utilizes his quick first step to open up straight-line driving lanes to the front of the hoop, where he is equally deft at finding teammates or elevating to finish.
When his drive is cut off, however, Kabongo struggles to score. He has little faith in his jumper and that numbers explain why—just 29% from 3 and 42% from the field overall, actually an improvement from last year. The improvement, however, is largely due to his increased ability to finish at the hoop, as well as a smaller sample size.
His jumper is improving but is still incredibly inconsistent. When he elevates and keeps his lower body steady, his release is crisp and he gets good arc on his shots. When he loses this lower body integrity, however, his form falls apart, and his jumper almost always comes out flat. He struggles to maintain balance when elevating for his shot unless he is set prior to receiving the ball.
Kabongo’s major issue is turnovers; he rarely gets stripped off the dribble, but his pass-selection needs a lot of improvement before he can be a playmaker at the next level. His vision, length and ball handling lead to his 5.5 assists per game, a number which I expect to go up should he stay in school next year, but he also averages a whopping 3.7 turnovers per game.
He has good playmaking ability, and turnovers are a part of his style of play, but there is no question he is too cavalier with the ball. He is very effective in the fast break when he keeps his turnovers down, but struggles in half court situations especially when the shot clock gets below 10.
He is predictably good in pick-n-roll situations, but the turnover issue rears its ugly head here too as he tries to force too many passes through defenders.
Off-ball, Kabongo cuts sharply but tends to get lost due to his lack of faith in his jumper; he clearly does not want to simply spot up but also has no real post game, so when he is not open on cuts to the hoop he generally ends up standing in the corner or coming off a screen to receive the ball.
Despite his issues, Kabongo’s passing ability and length are NBA-level, and he gets to the hoop like a shooting guard. He clearly makes everyone around him better, going 6-4 in his ten games this year with a team that was 10-13 previously.
- Ball handling and incredible length
- Facilitator; makes everyone around him better
- Athleticism; quick first step
- Attacks the hoop consistently and with strength
- Careless with the ball
- No consistent jumper
- Overall inconsistency
Defense: Kabongo has the physical skills to be an elite defender, but is till very raw on this side of the ball. His fantastic length and good athleticism allow him to effectively disrupt passing lanes, and he has the potential to become a lethal perimeter defender.
He does not seem to be as intense on the defensive end as he is offensively, and needs to focus on getting lower in his defensive stances, especially when guarding the ball. Despite his length, Kabongo has only average lateral quickness, and that combined with his lack of consistent intensity cause Rick Barnes to take him off the opponents point guard at times throughout games.
While he has the potential to guard either guard position moving forward, this is still concerning. Similarly, Kabongo seems to take too many shortcuts defensively. He watches the ball, turning his back to his opponent too often and leaving him vulnerable to back door cuts and back-screens.
Kabongo’s biggest problem defensively right now is a lack of patience on the defensive end, reflected in the amount of times he gambles for steals and tries to jump passing lanes. His length allows him to be somewhat effective at this, but he tries it all too often, again a case of him trying to take shortcuts. He needs to focus more on simply getting down in a stance and defending.
Off-ball, Kabongo is quite effective when he is not overaggressive; his length allows him to be very effective at ball-denial, and he is quick in his defensive rotations. He will need to put on more weight, as opponents push him around too easily and he seems to shy away from contact on the defensive end.
While he does rotate well, Kabongo needs to improve his help on drives; I see too much matador defense, where he simply tries to slap the ball away, as opposed to sliding over and taking charges. This is another area where putting on some weight would help.
This is also an indicator that Kabongo’s anticipatory skills are only average defensively, sort of surprising given his vision and anticipation offensively.
Largely due to his length and ability to elevate, Kabongo is a good rebounder for a guard, average over 5 per game in his ten appearances during the regular season. He is not particularly physical in his box outs, usually preferring to attempt to out jump people, but has a pretty high success rate and moves his body quickly to secure inside position.
- Length makes him a potential nightmare on the perimeter
- Rebounds well for his position
- Impatient on the defensive end; gambles too much for steal
- Needs more intensity
- Must get lower in his on-ball defensive stance; lateral quickness is effected
Overall: Kabongo is an NBA-level talent, but he struggles with two main issues: consistency and turnovers. In his last 4 games, for example, he shot 10-17 in two of them and a stunning 0-17 in the other two. When he is not able to easily get to the hoop, his offensive game sort of falls apart
Fortunately for Kabongo, he will be able to attack many guards even at the next level, but he still needs to cut down on turnovers. He essentially tries to throw too many passes through defenders, and gets frustrated when he struggles, leading to a sort of snowball effect.
He is a capable defender but is still learning when to be aggressive, and right now gambles for too many steals. This will really burn him at the next level, so it is imperative that he improves this moving forward.