In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will profiled in this space and, in this edition, we evaluate Stanford’s Oscar da Silva.
Oscar da Silva arrived at Stanford in the Fall of 2017 as an imminently ready-to-play big man. The 6’9 German had played extensively for his native country’s national team in under-18 and under-19 FIBA tournaments, and his experience in those settings prepared him to add value early in his collegiate career.
As he looks to launch a professional career, da Silva can lean on a resume that includes 73 starts in the NCAA and vote of confidence in the form of being named to the 2019-20 first team All-PAC-12 squad.
At this point, da Silva is not showing up with any amount of frequency on mock draft and top-100 boards. With that said, he possesses a foundational skill set that should open doors to a host of opportunities.
His experience in international play shows up most noticeably in his ability to consistently be in the right place at the right time on both ends of the court. Defensively, da Silva understands how to anchor a defensive unit and sees the floor excellently. He is a persistent and efficient communicator and seldom puts himself in a bad situation.
da Silva is most effective, defensively, pressuring the ball when opposing bigs look to facilitate or create outside of the low post area. NBA teams are increasingly valuing big men that know how to hold up defending the ball, while elsewhere, they switch on screens away from the ball at the guard and forward positions.
Likewise, NBA teams that tend to overplay shooters, off the ball, preparing to “lift” in to screens desperately need big men that that understand how to pressure the basketball to dissuade passes to back-door cutters and the like.
It is likely this area of da Silva’s game that is most NBA-ready.
Otherwise, there are plenty of questions as to whether da Silva will ever be able to handle broader defensive responsibilities at the next level. While he is very proactive defending on the block, consistently beating his opponent to the desired spot on the floor, NBA bigs will too often have the raw size and strength to move him from that spot after the fact.
da Silva will likely encounter similar challenges on the defensive glass. He’s a below-average leaper and lacks the size to consume valuable space as to help his team secure rebounds.
Away from the paint, on defense, da Silva is sure-footed, demonstrates all the proactivity one could ask of a young big man and consistently diagnoses the offensive action. However, NBA teams that (for example) ask their big man to help defend on the perimeter at the point of ball screens need those defenders to be able to recover back to the interior to help protect the rim. da Silva will be greatly challenged in this area and it could be what most determines the upside teams see in him on that end of the court.
Offensively, European national programs have been producing skilled big men since long before that came into fashion in the United States, where young big players have been historically allowed to, essentially, function as guards at amateur levels. da Silva looks like he could have been produced in a European basketball laboratory in this sense.
He possesses a more than passable baseline set of ball skills. He has good hands, receiving and passing the ball on time and on target. While it’s hard to project him being trusted with a lot of ball handling responsibilities professionally (lacking burst in his first step), he was enormously comfortable taking defenders off of the dribble at the collegiate level.
His impressive ability to finish in NCAA play is unlikely to translate at the next level. da Silva doesn’t play above the rim and, rather, uses hustle, instinct and touch to convert opportunities in the paint. Bigger NBA defenders could all but eliminate what he has been able to produce there at lower levels.
As is the case on defense, he is always in the right place on the offensive end of the court. He displays flawless technique setting screens in pick and roll sets and working away from the ball. He moves with persistent precision and purpose.
When not in the primary action da Silva consistently finds ways to help his team, whether that be by working hard to the rim and, thus, taking a defender with him or by threatening to cut to the the paint from the weak side of the play.
NBA teams tend to value big men that are willing to work hard, physically, toward the front of the rim in rim running opportunities and in the half court, which is a subtle but important way centers and power forwards can contribute to effective spacing.
All too often, professional teams have to teach young players how to simply stay out of the way in the offensive half court. da Silva won’t need that. Instead, he will constantly ensure he is in the right spot.
He looked the part of a functional shooter that lacked confidence during his freshman season with the Cardinal. The confidence grew in his three seasons. He shot 31.7% from the three-point line and 77.1% from the free throw line last season.
By all appearances, he should be able to grow into a useful shooter, at least when compared to his position, in the NBA. He should be passable, in time, in both pick and pop and spot up opportunities.
He moves the basketball and plays hard and with team-mindedness regardless of how many touches or shots he is getting.
The productivity he generated last year greatly helped his team. Stanford posted one of the better eFG% marks in the country although they struggled to turn that into consistent offensive efficiency.
Additionally, da Silva helped anchor one of the ten or so better defensive teams in the country. And while the raw tools are limited, he maximizes what tools he possesses.
da Silva could be the type of prospect that lacks the ceiling to get serious consideration as a potential draft pick. But the moment the draft concludes, teams are scrambling to talk him into playing with their Summer League team or potentially on a Two-Way contract.
One of the hardest parts of constructing a Summer League roster is finding big men who are smart, knowledgeable players on both ends of the court. In the setting, it is next to impossible to evaluate guards if they are not able to play with functional bigs. This scenario could very well lead to him getting to land himself in an optimal situation for visibility purposes. And, it should be a surprise to no one if he ends up making the absolute most of such opportunities.