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 be profiled in this space and, in this edition, we break down the play of Georgetown center Omer Yurtseven.
Ömer Yurtseven has been a fixture on the NBA radar since way back in 2016 after a couple of newsworthy feats. He scored a mind-boggling 91 points on 49 shots and pulling down 28 rebounds in a Turkish U-18 international game. Later, he became the youngest player to ever appear in a preseason NBA game at 17 years and 108 days of age after appearing in a Fenerbahçe preseason exhibition with the Brooklyn Nets, a mark that has since been surpassed.
The 7-footer has a much sought after target for college and pro teams all over the world after his career with Fenerbahçe, which he signed on to as a 15-year-old. After committing to NC State in 2016, an NCAA ruling deemed him as receiving extra benefits that would jeopardize his amateurism, and he was forced to sit out the first 9 games of his freshman season and pay back $1000 to a worthy cause of his choosing.
Yurtseven played his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Wolfpack, but then he opted to transfer up the road to Georgetown, where he was required to sit out a season due to NCAA transfer regulations. After a productive junior season in the nation’s capital, Yurtseven has kept his name in the draft after previous flirtations.
Ömer Yurtseven showed a large amount of growth from playing season one to two to three. In his freshman year with NC State, he saw just 416 game minutes but in his second season he earned almost twice that much playing time. This would be his most efficient shooting season of the three, at an TS% of 61.0% on 18.4 points per 36 minutes. By his junior season – two calendar years later at Georgetown – he managed to average 20.5 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes on a 57.1 TS%.
Yurtseven showed some glimpses of being able to stretch the floor, shooting 42.6% from three on an extremely low volume - just 61 attempts over three seasons. Still, his awkward shot form and lowish free throw percentage – 69.3% for his career – means he’ll most likely struggle to put up anywhere near that 42.6% mark even if he continues his selective manner from that distance.
A lot of great big men have come out of Georgetown, including current coach and NBA legend Patrick Ewing, as well as Alonzo Mourning, Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe and immortalized Hawk figure Dikembe Mutombo. The Hoyas, over the years, lean on the tallest guy on the floor to build a program around and develop into professional players.
You just can’t teach being 7-foot tall, and at 264 pounds, Yurtseven is a load to push off his spot on the floor upon anchoring himself there. Currently, there are only nine other 7-footers who weigh as much or more.
He has a functional jumper in the mid-range, provided he has space to unload his long windup, and a solid enough stroke to hit wide open three point shots. Yurtseven loves finding himself free along the baseline for a 12 or 15-footer and hits it with regularity. He can play with his back to the basket on post ups and has skilled enough footwork to spin and hit fadeaway shots upon gaining leverage over his opponent.
Yurtseven became a better and more instinctive rebounder as his career progressed, upping his rebounds per game and rebounding percentage on both the defensive and offensive sides of the ball in every collegiate season.
He has good recognition when to dive in and poach shots coming off the rim for easy putbacks. Yurtseven uses his wide build to seal defenders off well and catch balls in traffic for easy lay-ins, with proficiency in his flip shot with both the right and left hand. Here, he does a good job of carrying the smaller guy to the post after a switched screen for an easy hook finish.
Slowly over his collegiate career, he developed some handles and can use a dribble or two to free himself for a mid range attempt or lunge toward the rim for a high percentage shot. Though largely a below-the-rim type of center, he can dunk the ball with ease and is rarely contested in the restricted area. Yurtseven netted 1.17 PPP (point per possession) around the rim excluding post up attempts per Synergy. The below clip is one of his many opportunities mopping up the offensive boards after a miss.
He is used often in the DHO game (dribble hand-off) to use his large frame to set an immediate screen for a shooter. On occasion, he’ll range out to the three point line, especially in pick-and-pop opportunities, and showed he can hit flat-footed threes off the catch albeit in very rare spurts.
Yurtseven is a pretty good shot blocker and paint protector when not asked to roam too far, logging 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes. He stays vertical and uses his massive frame and wingspan to deter opportunities in the restricted area. It’s pretty comical to see him absolutely smother attempts near the rim from the weak side.
His stout center of gravity allows him to not cede ground down low. While somewhat susceptible to elite face up post players, he uses his 7’1” wingspan to bother those not quick enough to get by him. On post up possessions, Yurtseven gave up just 0.82 PPP at Georgetown per Synergy.
This is somehow an understatement but Yurtseven is excruciatingly slow even taking account of his size. Molasses is looking back in its rear view window at him running the length of the court. Too many times in transition, he’s caught in a bad position up-court and can’t recover in time to prevent an easy opportunity going the other way.
When a ball handler is switched onto Yurtseven, it’s virtually an automatic isolation that more often than not yields a possession ending in a layup or dunk. He has unimaginably slow quickness and agility, and takes an entire moon cycle to change direction and accelerate the other way.
There is very little switchability defensively in his game. If he ends up on a smaller forward or guard off a screen, it’s a huge mismatch and a probable blow by to the rim. NBA teams will constantly try to pull him out of the paint whenever possible.
When used as a hedger or ice defender in the side pick-and-roll to force the ball handler toward the sideline, his lack of foot speed makes it hard for him to recover to his original assignment. This means he’ll have to be primarily a drop player in the screen game.
It will be a tough transition for Yurtseven to deal with the NBA defensive three second violations that don’t exist at the college level. As his primary role is to camp out in the lane and a rim protect, he’ll need to use his wits to stay near the basket while keeping a metaphorical clock running in his head to avoid hearing the ref’s whistle.
It is a risk to ask him to face guard an opponent as he can lose track of where the ball is. Yurtseven is at his best with a wide field of vision. Too often, he’ll avoid contact and lazily slide toward penetration without cutting it off completely.
Offensively, Yurtseven is somewhat limited. His game is largely relegated to put back attempts and post ups. He shies away from contact and doesn’t always assert his will near the rack despite his height suggesting otherwise. In addition, he’s not a strong passer out of the post and has limited recognition to find from where the defense is helping.
Although a willing screener even outside of play sets, he occasionally sets poor quality ones, and he’ll often look to feign like he’s sealing off the defender but then dive toward the basket prematurely.
He’s simply not a particularly physical player on either end of the court. This in conjunction with his limited burst and lack of an ability to stop on a dime and change directions is a big worry going forward. To this end, lot of his 4.4 fouls per 36 minutes for his career are reaches as a result of being out of position. As a result, he ends up in constant foul trouble and on a minutes restriction toward the ends of games.
Ultimately, his size cuts both ways. The Turkish national is an intimidating presence at first glance, but play sets can be designed to pull him away from the paint and used to exploit the underneath area.
Possible fit with the Hawks
Yurtseven had an uneventful freshman season, but a solid sophomore and junior seasons across two different schools. Still, the higher level of athleticism in the NBA may further expose his weaknesses.
I think he could be a dominant figure in the Turkish Euroleague or elsewhere overseas, where he started his career. It seems like his biggest issue is that he’s seen as a falling star career-wise and someone who didn’t take complete advantage of a chance to dominate at the college level.
Despite his limitations, Yurtseven may be able to fill the role of a 4th or 5th NBA big man off the bench after some seasoning and adjustment to the conditioning required at the professional level. Yurtseven will have to be an anchor big man who protects the rim at a high enough level to neutralize his low level of sheer foot speed and lateral agility.
But the Hawks have a healthy selection of centers available on the roster – even before accounting for pending free agents Skal Labissiere and Damion Jones – so it’s just not a position of great need at the moment. There is certainly a possibility for a team to become enamored with him enough as a sneaky post-hype contributor to slip into the back end of the draft.