If there was one complaint that I would have for fans, no matter the sport that they’re watching on that particular day, is that there’s a tendency to overreact to the results on a day-by-day basis. I mean, just look at the current climate with local sports talk radio or the world of morning TV debate shows where a bunch of loud-mouthed chuckleheads spend hours barking at you about why everything that you saw last night was the most important thing ever while everything that happened prior meant nothing.
In that world of being a prisoner of the moment, the process of understanding the actual execution of what’s happening within that particular sport goes to the backburner. While that thought has been within my cerebrum for a while, it became front-and-center during the FIBA U19 tournament when it came to discovering 18-year-old Spanish prospect Rubén Dominguez. For someone that young, his overall execution over the course of the tournament was a thing to behold as he looked more like an established NBA veteran than a teen that isn’t in conversations for being one of top international prospects among players born in 2003. During the run in the tournament, the product of Puerto Real averaged 18.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals on 43% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 9.6 attempts per game
Despite his mediocre 3-point percentage, the 6’6 wing’s excellence in execution was most evident with his work as a catch-and-shoot threat. At a young age, Dominguez is already excellent at being able to quickly get himself in position to be able to catch and shoot the ball, no matter if he’s maneuvering around screens or stationed on the wing or elbow. As a stationary threat, he does a great job of bending his knees from the moment he gets the ball, which makes his approach quicker and more fluid.
While smooth as a stationary shooter, our subject is excellent at being able to work off-ball to create open jumpers. Over the course of the game, Dominguez is consistently working off-ball to hunt for gas to get open or being able to utilize screens to get his man caught up for a second to create an open jumper. An example of that is seen below where he moves to the right of the screener to get his defender caught before hooking back to the left to be able to get in position, gather the ball, and throw up a silky smooth jumper. For someone as young as he is, it’s absolutely impressive to see him already utilize a tactic that you see from an NBA veteran like JJ Redick.
When the jumper is really working, Dominguez is able to activate his work as a secondary facilitator. After capturing feeds, he’s able to quickly recognize his surroundings which allows him to either quickly move it to another player, or attack closeouts and push it to his teammates. While his assist rate was high for a secondary facilitator, especially when you factor in the presence of Juan Nunez and Guillem Ferrando, it still could’ve been higher. That’s due to how Spain’s overall efficiency as a team wasn’t that great as they shot 30% from beyond the arc and had bigs that struggled to finish around the rim.
An example of that second factor is evident in the play below. Immediately after receiving the dish from his teammate, Dominguez does a great job of quickly taking Khalifa Diop off the dribble where he uses a push against the 231 pound big to get some level of separation. Using that separation, he throws the ball behind the back of another Senegal defender to a teammate stationed in the dunker spot. Unfortunately, despite him being in a good position, the Spanish big doesn’t score around the rim, which unfortunately nullifies the efforts from our subject for that possession.
Dominguez’s stance as a 6’6 wing that already executes as well as he does as a catch-and-shoot threat, secondary facilitator, and on-ball defender despite only being 18 years old is downright impressive. While Nikola Jovic and Dyson Daniels stand as more highly ranked international prospects born in 2003, Dominguez has the type of skill set that would allow him to fit in well in the NBA.
The one concern for Dominguez going forward is the level of competition that he’ll be going against. Currently, he stands as the youngest player on Movistar Estudiantes, who was recently relegated from the Spanish ACB league to the LEB Oro, which is the 2nd-best pro basketball level in Spain. The decline in level of competition could raise some concerns among folks around the NBA as there will be questions about whether he’d be able to make the leap from a 2nd tier Spanish league to the best league in the world.
However, this is a double-edged sword type of situation as this predicament should give Dominguez a greater opportunity to get consistent playing time. This will obviously be beneficial for the young prospect as he’ll get a legitimate opportunity to gain more reps as an overall shooter and secondary creator than if he was with a team in the Spanish ACB league or another top-tier European league that’s always hesitant to give playing time to young players due to the system of European basketball pushing all teams to be in win-now mode unlike their counterparts in the United States.
No matter the state of Movistar Estudiantes as a fledgling basketball team in a 2nd tier league, it shouldn’t take away from the talent that they possess in the young talent born in Puerto Real. At 18, he already possesses the poise and execution ability as an off-ball scoring threat and knack of getting open that you usually see from players that are significantly older than what is. In addition to that, he has a real knack as a facilitator that can work the ball to his man in a variety of ways plus an ability to use his 6’6 frame to stick onto drivers on the defensive end. All of this traits allows Rubén Dominguez to be an international prospect to keep an eye on as he continues his young career.