CelticsBlog had a chance to catch up with a long-time European scout this week. After talking draft prospects and potential free agents to watch, the conversation turned to the Boston Celtics “draft and stash” players Yam Madar and Juhann Begarin.
In exchange for anonymity, the scout gave candid thoughts on both players. These included comments on their current play and opinions on their NBA futures.
6’3’’, 180 pounds, 21 years old
36 games played (13 starts), 17.2 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 49.7% FG%, 45.3% 3P% (2.1 3PA)
Yam Madar has come a long way over the last two years as a shooter and scorer. At the youth and lower levels, he was dominant athletically, but that wasn’t going to hold up as the competition got better. He’s still solid as an athlete, but he’s not going to overwhelm anyone.
The single biggest improvement has come with his shot. He’s reliable from three now, even if the volume isn’t overly high. This season, he’s in a bit of a tough spot. He regularly comes off the bench for a demanding coach. So, if he comes in and starts launching, he’s not going to play much. But off the dribble or on spot-ups, he’s pretty good now.
His finishing is good, when he gets the ball up. And his pullup jumper is really solid. He’ll be a good in-between player in the NBA, especially in transition.
His biggest flaw remains an aversion to contact. He’s a good free throw shooter, but he does everything he can to avoid contact still. Maybe that will change, but he needs to get stronger. Still loses the ball when he drives too much for my liking.
Don’t let the low assists numbers fool you. In most of Europe, but especially the Adriatic League, if your pass doesn’t directly lead to a shot, you aren’t getting an assist. Meaning, you kick to a shooter and he shoots without a fake or dribble. Or you pass and it’s maybe one dribble, but no move, into a layup.
Look more at his last year in Israel for assist-rate translation. They’re a little closer to the NBA.
Anyway, he’s a pretty good playmaker. Smart player, good passer. He’s playing with a couple of former NBA guys in Mathias Lessort and Rodions Kurucs, and Kevin Punter and Zach LeDay are pretty good athletes. Madar has shown he knows how to get those guys the ball at the right time and in the right places.
What I like is he’s solid as a ball-mover and as a drive-and-kick guy. They don’t run a ton of NBA-style pick-and-roll, but he’s showing signs there when he gets the chance.
He’s a pretty good offensive player! (laughs) In all seriousness, Madar is competitive. I just don’t know how he’ll hold up in the NBA. The physicality won’t bother him. He gets the crap beat out of him over here. It’s the athletes that are going to get him.
For example, ask him to guard someone like Chris Paul, he’ll probably look fine physically. Paul isn’t blowing by guys anymore. CP would get Madar with all the tricks, but he does that to everyone.
But ask him to guard someone like Tyrese Maxey or Kyrie Irving and he’s going to get beat off the bounce. Probably so badly that he’ll get pulled from the game.
In a team scheme, like Boston’s, he’ll probably hold up ok. But Payton Pritchard is their weakest defender, right? Madar is miles behind Pritchard as a defender. He’s not as quick and he doesn’t have the strong base Pritchard has.
Overall and NBA Future
I like him. He’s tough as can be. He wants to be very good, that’s why he made the jump from Israel to Partizan. He could have stayed in Israel and piled up stats and awards, but the kid wants the challenge. You have to love that.
As far as the NBA goes, the shot coming around has been huge. Before that happened, I wasn’t sure he’d make it. Now, I think he can be a solid third point guard. Maybe a change-of-pace guy. Brad Stevens loved those guys and got a lot out of Shane Larkin, Brad Wanamaker and Phil Pressey. Ime Udoka seems to need you to defend to stay on the floor, so I’m not sure he’d throw Madar out there to change things up.
It looks like Boston is going to have a lot of roster spots to fill on the cheap next season. If he wants to get out of his deal with Partizan, he might come over and play behind Marcus Smart and Payton Pritchard. But I bet he stays for one more year over here and waits until he might have a shot at more than being the third point guard.
6’5’’, 192 pounds, 19 years old
22 games played (18 starts), 26.8 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 45.6% FG%, 26.6% 3P% (2.9 3PA)
Oh boy…where do I start? Juhann Begarin is kind of a mess. He showed a ton of improvement with his shot last season. He got up to 34-35% on 4-5 threes per game. This year? He’s under 30% and he looks like he’s lost confidence in taking threes now. He’s still getting them up, but he passes up a lot of them too. And he’ll force drives that aren’t there vs taking open jumpers.
As an athlete, this kid is way up there. He’s 100% an NBA-level athlete. No worries there. The problem is that teams are going to play a mile off him if he can’t hit shots. I don’t know if Boston dictated that he change his shot, or if that came from Paris, or maybe he did it himself. I’m not sure, but it’s not great.
As a driver, he’s pretty good. He’s quick and he’s strong. He’ll put a shoulder into guys, absorb the contact and still get his shot off. He’s not looking to pass though, so that makes him a little predictable. He’s going into the paint to score.
His craft needs work too. If he can’t power through a guy, forget it. No real floater to speak of. No real patience to get to a flip shot or an up-and-under. It’s all speed and power right now.
Begarin doesn’t do a lot of playmaking, but he’s a solid ball mover. He’s maybe a little too deferential when he plays with NBA guys like Axel Toupane or Kyle O’Quinn or Ryan Boatright. But those guys are all vets and he’s a kid. Plus, he doesn’t want to shoot all that often.
The good news is that he’s a willing passer, he just doesn’t see reads yet. But he’s also never been asked to do that either. That’s still a mystery box.
Begarin is kind of the opposite of Yam Madar. I have few worries he’ll hold up as an NBA defender. He’s a little lost at times, but he’ll figure that out with more experience.
The physical tools are all there. He’s quick, he’s got good length, he’s pretty strong and he’s tough. Begarin is really good at sliding his feet to stay in front of drivers. Then he uses his long arms and strong hands to create deflections and steals.
If he was to come to Boston under Ime Udoka, he could eventually fit into that switching scheme. It’s just going to take time, because there’s a lot of stuff he hasn’t been asked to do.
Defend straight up, on the ball? No problem. Execute a switch on a screen? He’ll be fine.
Switch off-ball? Switch off-ball to scram someone out of a mismatch? Jump switch? He can’t do any of that stuff. That’s not really how defense is played over here. That’s going to take a lot of time for him to figure out. And Boston demands that, or you can’t play for them.
Overall and NBA Future
Defensively, Juhann Begarin will be fine after a summer, training camp and half-season of learning. Offensively, there are miles to go.
He’s on a terrible team and he’s not doing a lot to make them better. But he’s 19 years old! He should be finishing up his freshman or sophomore year of college right now. How many college kids are you throwing in the NBA and expecting them to immediately contribute to winning? Very, very few.
It will do Begarin a ton of good to get with the NBA coaches this summer. Let them work on his shot and understanding of the NBA game. But he needs at least one more year, if not two or three more years, overseas before he’ll be ready. I’d like to see him get to a better program in a better league, but he may not want to leave home. Time will tell on that one.
Boston doesn’t have high-end stashes in Yam Madar and Juhann Begarin, but they’re good players. And they’re very young. That’s where Danny (Ainge) and Brad (Stevens) did well, along with Austin (Ainge). They picked kids vs guys who were auto-eligible for the draft. They picked these guys with hopes of them eventually making it to the league, but knowing it might take a while.
Madar might make it next year, but probably in 2023-24. But forget this stuff about a Two-Way deal. I don’t think he’ll do it. He’s gonna want a real spot. Otherwise, he’ll stay over here and get paid better to play a big role on a very good team.
Begarin needs more time and Boston should direct him to a better club. Even if he won’t leave France, just get him to a better team. He needs that competition and development.
I expect both will be at Summer League. And they should have a lot more opportunity this year, because Boston won’t be bringing a bunch of recent draftees like last year. That’ll be good to get a sense of where they stand against actual NBA players.