Myck Kabongo may spell his first name M-Y-C-K but it is pronounced just like Mike, M-I-K-E. The Toronto native's unique name is fitting considering his intriguing style of play. Kabongo is a creative player that is always looking to make plays for his teammates and it showed with the Texas Longhorns, where he averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, and 5 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Though Myck Kabongo is expected to be only a late first or early second round pick, he flashed the skills with the Texas Longhorns to show he has the potential to be a great NBA point guard. With his unselfish play and terrific playmaking ability, Myck could become a steal for the team that drafts him in the 2013 NBA Draft.
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Myck Kabongo is a pass first point guard that plays an exciting playmaking style of game. Kabongo has amazing dribbling ability, is a pinpoint passer, and has shown the ability to take over games with his intangibles. In only 11 games as a sophomore he averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game. However, Kabongo is extremely inconsistent scorer, shooting only 41.8 percent from the field last season. In 2013 he had two games when he hit zero shots form the floor. Turnovers can be a problem since he sometimes attempts a more difficult pass than he should.
Kabongo's athleticism shows off on the defensive end since he is able to bother opposing guards with his speed and length. He is very good at picking off passes and turning them into transition baskets. However, sometimes Kabongo is too aggressive and gets himself into foul trouble or puts his teammates in compromising positions. Though, that is to be expected from a young player that hustles like he does. Overall, he has all the tools to be a very good player on the defensive end.
Keep an eye on the hyperlinks throughout this article, click on them to see videos of Myck Kabongo.
Myck Kabongo flies up and down the floor with blazing speed and agility. He's an extremely fast player that gets to his full speed after his first step. This speed helps him on both the offensive and defensive end, with his ability to get to the basket and to defend laterally.
On the other hand, Kabongo is still underdeveloped physically and needs to put on more muscle to withstand the rigors of an NBA season. At only 180 pounds, he hasn't gained much weight since arriving on campus for the Texas Longhorns. Even in the Big 12, Kabongo had a hard time fighting through screens and finishing at the rim because of his thin frame. Things will only become more difficult at the next level and he will need work to fill his frame and put on another 5-to-15 pounds of muscle in order to maximize his chances to succeed.
Despite receiving a 23 game suspension for accepting impermissible benefits, Myck Kabongo should have absolutely no character concerns. As the starting point guard, Myck was a leader for the Texas Longhorns despite being an underclassman. From interviews like this one, it's obvious that Kabongo has always been very mature, kind, and easy to talk to. While being a nice guy doesn't mean anything once you step on the floor, it should help dispel any misconceptions about what type of player he is for his suspension.
Kabongo's intangibles and leadership showed in a game where he furiously led Texas back from a 22 point deficit against Oklahoma to win in overtime. Myck played incredible man-to-man defense, orchestrated the offense, getting open shots for players, and scored clutch baskets from all over the floor. While Kabongo won't do this every game, it's impressive that he is able to step up in dire circumstances.
At only 21 years old, Myck Kabongo has shown an advanced, natural ability to be an unselfish floor general in both a half court and transition offense. Kabongo's speed allows him to push the ball up the floor, creating space for his teammates, but it's his pinpoint passing that really comes into play in the half court.
Kabongo consistently gets the ball right in the shooter's sweet spot. During this clip, Kabongo does a terrific job of getting dribble penetration and then dishing the ball out to a player for a wide-open three. Here, here, and here are three more clips of Kabongo penetrating and then dishing out to a player. Kabongo's ability to play in the pick and roll is exceptional due to his passing skills. He has talent in finding teammates and making the proper, accurate pass.
In transition, Kabongo's exceptional speed gives him the freedom to make a lot of plays. This clip shows Kabongo playing at the right speed (not too fast or too slow), drawing attention from a defender, and thus opening up the shooter in the corner. Kabongo also does a good job of making advance passes to push the pace up the court, like this one here.
However, Kabongo didn't average 3.4 turnovers per game by accident. Kabongo often turned the ball over by making an errant pass, whether it was a pass trying to thread the needle inside or a full court "touchdown" pass. In this video here, he makes a pass that would impress New York Jet's quarterback Mark Sanchez. Not only was the pass underthrown, but had it been on target, there was "double coverage" and another player was in position to intercept the pass.
Though the majority of Kabongo's turnovers come from errant passes, he occasionally does get a little too irresponsible with his dribble in traffic. This clip against Kansas shows Kabongo getting far too loose with his dribble and almost losing the ball multiple times.
At times Kabongo just seems to be a little bit too "free" with the ball, as if he's playing on the court with less talented players than he actually is. He isn't tight enough with his dribble, which puts him at risk to have the ball stolen. Kabongo will need to improve his ball handling to cut down on his turnovers but it's not a drastic problem. With some proper coaching, he'll learn to be tighter with his dribble at all times.
Myck really shows off his ball handling skills when driving to the basket. He has a very good crossover and is able to spin to the hoop once he's in the lane. Look at this clip of Kabongo spinning in traffic to open himself up for a layup. If Kabongo can learn to be more like that, he will be a threat to reckon with in the NBA.
Myck Kabongo is not a very good jump shooter. Technique-wise, his release is slow and he barely elevates off the ground. Look at this video here: Kabongo takes a wide-open three pointer from the corner but his release is so slow that he ends up getting blocked. If he can increase the speed and consistency of his release, Kabongo will likely have more success from outside.
In 45 collegiate games with Texas, Kabongo shot 31.1 percent from three-point range. With 345 career field goal attempts, Kabongo shot only 40.3 percent. Though he did improve as a sophomore, shooting 41.8 percent, that statistic still leaves a lot to be desired. The largest problem with Kabongo seems to be his consistency. This past season he had some terrific performances including: 31 points on 9-of-13 shooting against Oklahoma, 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting against Baylor, and 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting against Kansas State. However, he had equally horrible performances like: 7 points on 0-of-12 shooting against Texas Tech, 2 points on 0-of-5 shooting against Kansas State, and 13 points on 2-of-10 shooting against Kansas.
From the free throw line, Kabongo improved from 68 percent during his freshman year to 79.2 percent the following season. Despite the improvement in percentage, it could be due to the smaller sample size (only 77 free throws attempted). Kabongo seems to rush his shot at the line. Check out this clip and notice how as the referee bounces him the ball, he steps up, takes one dribble, and then shoots. It almost looks like he's taking a one-dribble pull up free throw off the pass. This could lead to consistency problems like it does with his jump shot. If he takes his time at the line, he might find more success, because other than the rushing it, his technique is quite good. He follows through with his shot and doesn't "lean back" like many players do. His good technique is evident considering the arc the ball takes.
Myck Kabongo is best when he's driving to the basket because his passing ability is a threat, but he would be even better if he had a 15-foot jumper. If Kabongo can develop that jump shot, it will open up his sky-high potential in the pick and roll. Right now, he really has to fight through defenders because they are sagging off of him. If they had to contest a jumper, he likely would have more opportunities getting to the rim. When Kabongo does get to the basket, he throws up a lot of "miracle" layups (like this one) but everything is harder than it really should be. His great ball handling skills and spin moves get him to the rim but he lacks a left hand when finishing. He always finishes with his right, which forces him to make difficult layups.
Kabongo averaged 3.9 rebounds per 40-minutes during his freshman year and 5.4 during his sophomore season with Texas. These numbers are quite impressive for a player as small as he is. On the defensive boards, Kabongo is very aggressive and seems to have a good sense of where the ball is going to go. This clip shows Kabongo's ability to grab a rebound on the defensive end and then quickly push it up the floor. Though he missed the shot at the rim, the potential is there for him to be a serious playmaker when grabbing boards.
On and Off-Ball Defense
Myck Kabongo's athleticism shows off on the defensive end, for better or for worse. His speed and length are a plus considering he is very good at pressing and bothering ball handlers. While he isn't a shutdown defender, he hustles and shows heart. On the other hand, Kabongo's lack of size and strength gets him in trouble when he is screened. Kabongo has a hard time fighting through screens, leaving his assignment with far too much space. Kabongo must get stronger in the gym in order to be more successful on the court.
During his freshman season, Kabongo struggled a lot with foul trouble against ranked opponents, averaging 3.5 per game. He improved as a sophomore, averaging only 1.75 per game against ranked teams, but the sample size is far smaller. Sometimes Kabongo would be over aggressive on the defensive end, fouling players when pressing too hard. Myck needs to develop more discipline on the defensive end so he doesn't find himself in foul trouble at the next level.
Kabongo is best playing off ball. He has good awareness of where the ball is and is very good at picking off or tipping passes. Overall, Myck Kabongo's problems on the defensive end seem easily correctable. With time and patience, Kabongo has all the physical tools to develop into a very good defender in the NBA.
Myck Kabongo is definitely a player to keep an eye on in this year's draft. He was highly recruited out of high school, ranking in at number 11 on ESPN.com's Top 100 but was unable to live up to his high potential with the Texas Longhorns. The unfortunate 23 game suspension that Kabongo received set back his development (as well as his draft stock), so it will be interesting to see if he his game better suits the NBA.
Kabongo has a very high ceiling if he can continue to develop his body, cut down on his turnovers, and develop a more consistent jump shot. Kabongo has all the tools to be a great NBA point guard but needs the coaching to put those tools to use. It's almost surprising that Myck didn't stay another year or two in college considering his current draft stock, which slates him near the end of the first round or the beginning of the second. Had he stayed in school, he likely could have become a lottery pick. At the least, Kabongo will be a very good backup point guard. Kabongo's ability to run an offense and make proper passes will always give a player like him value in the NBA.
How He Fits on the Celtics
Considering Doc Rivers' track record with rookie guards, Myck Kabongo would likely start the season in the NBA Developmental League. While Kabongo is close to having the intellect required to run an NBA offense as a backup point guard, he still needs to develop his body more. Kabongo simply doesn't have a body that could endure an 82 game season and a potential playoff run.
For the fans that would like to see Rajon Rondo traded, Myck Kabongo would provide the team a player cut from the same cloth. While Kabongo doesn't have the supreme instincts that Rondo has, he still has the potential to run the show in the future. He has a lot of the same weaknesses that Rajon had when he came into the league but hasn't proven that he has the same ceiling as him.
Regardless, Boston could certainly use a true backup point guard, so despite Kabongo's lack of a developed body, he could still have value for the team this season. Myck Kabongo is a very good, unselfish player, which is exactly what the team needs at the point. If Myck were to be drafted by the Celtics he would have two perfect mentors in both Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo.
The main question is this: Is pick number 16 too early to draft Myck Kabongo? Maybe. Right now he is projected to be selected towards the end of the first round or somewhere during the second, but in a draft with so many question marks, the team may want to take him at 16 if they feel he belongs there.