In the few years that I've been covering the NBA Draft, there's always been a prospect that I've fallen for. Most of those prospects have been athletic, defensive-minded wings in Justin Anderson (2015) or KJ McDaniels (2014). While the jury's still out on McDaniels and Anderson, it hasn't hindered my fascination with those players. That pattern continues with French prospect Timothe Luwawu
Despite only coming onto the scene as a top-flight international prospect this year, Luwawu's rise as a prospect has been slowly molded since he was 17. At that age, he started to play professionally with Antibes of the LNB Pro B league, the NBADL equivalent to LNB Pro A. After a steady rise with the team where he slowly grew from a benchwarmer to solid role player in 2014-15, he decided to take his talents to Croatia to play with Mega Leks.
Over the past few years, Mega Leks has become a hotbed for European prospects that get overlooked by the Euroleague. The biggest alum is current Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, but the team has also featured NBA Draft picks Vasilije Micic and Nemanja Dangubic. While Jokic has established himself as a promising young center in the NBA, he might not be the best prospect to have played for Mega Leks. That honor may go to Timothe Luwawu
During his lone season with the squad, Luwawu made that transition from an unknown prospect to being one of the best wings in this year's draft. A lot of that was due to how Luwawu staked his claim as a solid two-way player. Averaging 14.4 points, 4.6 boards, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals on 40% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc, he showed an ability to contribute on both sides of the ball.
While he was successful on both sides of the ball with Mega Leks, his biggest skill-set is as a facilitator. Standing at 6'7 with an impressive 6'11 wingspan, Luwawu has one of the most NBA-ready bodies in this year's draft class. That really helps him out on the defensive end as he utilizes that impressive frame to defend multiple positions from point guard to small forward. Luwawu does a nice job of combining that imposing frame with great lateral quickness and athleticism to wreak havoc on the defensive end. That's especially apparent through his hard work in passing lanes, as he averaged 2.2 steals per 40 minutes.
Those skills as an aggressive defender led directly into his success on the offensive end, especially in transition. Luwawu was an absolute menace whenever he was working in transition as his speed and explosiveness made it nearly impossible for anybody to stop him once he got a full head of steam. Another way that he can be an effective transition player is as a facilitator due to how unselfish he is. That unselfish nature is seen below, as Luwawu does a little give-and-go with his fellow cutter.
In the half-court, Luwawu is able to maintain that versatility. While he wasn't too efficient with Mega Leks (52% True Shooting Percentage), Luwawu impressed with how he can be dangerous as a perimeter shooter or on-ball cutter. Luwawu possess a beautiful shooting stroke that he can utilize through catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble. He was especially efficient in catch-and-shoots, as he shot 43% in those situations according to Synergy Sports. That knack is shown in the play below, as Luwawu works around the off-ball screen, catches the ball and quickly launches up the smooth perimeter stroke. Those traits allowed Luwawu to shoot 39% from beyond the arc with Mega Leks.
Over the course of the season, Luwawu slowly made some strides as an on-ball cutter. Again, while he wasn't too efficient (42% from inside the arc), he does show a lot of potential in that area due primarily to his quickness. He's also shown some progression as a hall-handler as he has a pretty crossover and can finish with both his left and right hand.
As we currently stand, Luwawu stands as one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft. Luwawu's 6'7 frame and 6'11 wingspan gives him the perfect frame for a modern-day NBA wing. His offensive versatility and potential as a defensive stopper could allow Luwawu to help an NBA team from day one.