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2022 NBA Draft scouting report: Hugo Besson

Besson is one of two prospects from the New Zealand Breakers hoping to be drafted.

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NBL Rd 18 - New Zealand v Cairns Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images

Our 2022 NBA Draft scouting report series continues with a deep look at Huge Besson, a 21-year-old guard out of the NBL via France.


A couple of years ago a young guard named LaMelo Ball traveled overseas to Australia, set historical numbers with the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL before being selected with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft. Since then, Ball has shown the potential, the flash and the pizzaz that he showed in Australia, which proved to be a great springboard for his NBA career.

Similarly, RJ Hampton entered the draft in 2020 from the NBL and the New Zealand Breakers before he was selected 24th overall, currently playing with the Orlando Magic.

In 2022 there are two players looking to follow in their footsteps and make the transition from the NBL to the NBA.

One, Ousmane Dieng, is projected for a lottery selection but Dieng has a teammate who is also looking to the NBA Draft this summer: 21-year-old Hugo Besson.

A 6’3 French guard, Besson made the move from France to New Zealand on the back of some strong numbers in the LNB Pro B, the second division in France. However, Besson would find it difficult to replicate those numbers, averaging 13.9 points per game on 38.6% shooting from the field on 12 field goal attempts, 30.8% from three on over six attempts, 79.5% from the line on 3.3 attempts, 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.8 turnovers and 2.7 fouls in 27 minutes per game in 25 games played, starting 19 of them, per RealGM.

Those stats make for a bit of a rough reading, particularly the efficiency and volume, but is there more than meets the eye? Let’s dive into the film and see what’s what (Besson wears the number 25).

Offense/scoring

Quite a bit to discuss here but let’s start with Besson inside the arc (there’ll be plenty to say about his three-point shooting later).

I found Besson a bit of a tough watch offensively at times but where he is at his best offensively is on drives; he is a good slasher and can get into the paint with ease — often unassisted — and score with either hand, can score with the floater, or get a foul call and get to the free throw line. So, let’s start there.

To start, Besson uses the screen, feels the defender at his hip, continues his drive and somehow gets this contested layup to fall with his weaker left-hand:

Here, Besson receives the ball on the perimeter and uses his excellent hesitation dribble to escape the defense and score with his left-hand as he eludes the rim protector:

Honestly, Besson’s hesitation dribble-drives lull defenders, they can be so deadly in combination with decent (though not explosive) foot-speed and this is a prime example.

Besson flashes his comfort level switching hands on the move as he goes right-to-left on the drive before spinning and contorting his way to this tough finish:

Besson also possesses a solid touch on his runners/floaters which he can also go to once he gets into the lane.

The ball swings on this possession and when it ends up in the hands of Besson he again unleashes that killer first step on the drive as the defense flies by him and hits the right-handed floater in the lane:

Besson gets the defender off his feet with the fake and swiftly drives into the paint and hits the floater before the defense can close him down effectively:

With the aid of the screen, Besson gets downhill, smoothly switches hands, hangs, and hits the runner:

This time Besson uses the screen, shifts gears, stops on a dime, swivels and hits the turnaround teardrop:

This time Besson rejects the screen, drives into the paint and hits the floater:

With Besson’s ability to get to/finish at the rim, you can the defense is unsure how to go about this drive, deciding to drop back and a quick read from Besson as he goes into his floater.

Besson was able to get to the free throw line with ease at times as his knack for drawing fouls and pressure he puts on the rim with his drives was too much for defenses at times to handle.

This aggressive drive is rewarded with a foul call and free throws but was also the third foul Besson drew on the same offensive trip, and a powerful attack of the rim when he gets downhill:

Besson uses the screen here to get inside the paint, whips out the mini Eurostep and draws the foul and free throws:

Besson uses the edge of the screen to help him turn the corner and get into the defense, create contact and draw a foul and free throws:

From the perimeter, Besson drives, draws the help, adjusts and draws the foul and free throws:

A little dubious this one. It was called for a review from the opposing coach, and you can see why because Besson brings his left hand up and that creates the contact — showing a little bit of foul savvy — but the challenge was unsuccessful and Besson would go to the line.

A few of these drives from Besson I don’t think are good drives. I think sometimes he just drives and it’s a bit of mess with the contact and he gets the benefit of the call at times when he’s driving into traffic. I do think he’s good at slashing and drawing fouls — he has the knack for both — but sometimes I think he’s a little fortunate.

This is all looks wonderful on the surface. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Besson is a fantastic offensive player looking at these drives (and he’s good in this department, don’t get me wrong). Don’t be fooled though. There’s a reason why Besson is inefficient on offense and it’s not solely due to his three-point shot.

Besson can be very absent at times during games — drifting through games (there are times in my notes where Besson would do something at the, say 7:10 mark in the third, and I might not write anything else down until like the 4:30 mark, he may be on the court but does very little at times) — and when the ball does get to him, Besson can be a ball-stopper on offense at times and takes a lot of bad shots, and we’ll transition from Besson’s work inside the arc to outside the arc here as well.

Starting inside the arc misses like this can be frequent from Besson as he drives on the isolation, not looking at his teammates, and misses the attempt inside:

This next play is one of those drives where Besson just drives into the paint almost aimlessly, looking for contact and missing a very poor shot:

On this play the ball sticks in the hands of Besson and his iso drive inside is swatted away for the turnover:

At the end of the first quarter here, albeit with time ticking, Besson attempts another poor, crowded shot inside:

I can give Besson somewhat of a pass on this play given the time on the clock but poor attempts can be frequent with him so I try not to get too high on Besson’s slashing because as good as it looks sometimes it is diabolical on other occasions.

Diabolical also describes Besson’s three-point shooting: 30% on over six attempts, and they’re honestly just awful in quality at times.

The ball sticks with Besson at times and his teammates will be lucky to see the ball once Besson is in this mode, as he is on this possession as he uses the entire shotclock to get a switch and misses the contested three:

When Besson receives the ball with 10 seconds left on the clock, it’s clear it’s not going anywhere else and he fruitlessly toils on the perimeter before missing a contested three:

Again, the ball sticks with Besson despite not a lot being on and he settles for a contested three after a screen/switch:

The quality of shots that Besson takes from outside leaves a lot to be desired.

This is a bad shot. It’s contested, there’s 16 seconds left on the clock...it’s just not a good shot:

In the corner, another contested three which is missed:

On a switch, Besson manages to airball a three that he actually worked decent space into with the step-back on the switch:

Trailing the game, Besson tries to get three points back immediately by taking a deep, pull-up three which is missed:

That’s one thing I will say about Besson as a whole offensively: quite a number of points have come in the final few minutes of games where his team (the bottom of the league, 5-23 New Zealand Breaker) were chasing the game and the defense relaxed a bit than they normally would).

If there was any three-point scenario that I think Besson is suited to it’s catch-and-shoot scenarios: he’s a better catch-and-shoot three-point shooter than off the dribble, even if he can be streaky from behind the arc but 30% on over six attempts is not good and when you look at how they come about it’s even worse. I’d honestly forbid Besson shooting more than three threes in a game until he can improve his quality of looks and his percentage.

I think Besson is solid inside the arc but outside the arc just a no from me right now until he can learn to reign it in a tad.

Passing/playmaking

2.2 assists per game for Besson, an assist rate of 15.2% and an assist to turnover ratio of 1.27.

I don’t think there’s a lot to say here; Besson can spot and make some basic passes out of pick-and-roll, reads like this, a pass to the weakside corner for a Dieng three-point attempt:

A brief waltz into the paint off of the hand-off to his open teammate for an assist on a three:

Here, Besson connects on the pick-and-roll and the extra pass after the roll leads to the basket:

Besson is able to use his ability to slash to find teammates and while these aren’t as frequent as maybe they should be (given how often Besson can get inside) let’s look at a couple.

On the faked pass, Besson drives and finds his teammate in the corner for a three-point attempt:

Here, Besson whips out a nice hesitation before delivering a pleasing bounce-pass in the paint, leading to an attempt inside:

Besson is able to find the weakside shooter on the out-of-bounds play as he drives, gets to the rim and finds his teammate in the corner for three:

This play is basically identical in terms of attacking, drawing the defense and finding the weakside shooter:

Besson is capable of making some nice passes that lead to transition opportunities such as this outlet pass:

And this fancy find on the fastbreak:

Besson does possess a bit of flair at times on his passes and can find his teammates with behind-the-back passes on occasion.

On the screen, Besson gets a switch, drives inside, draws the second defender and passes behind his back for the impressive assist at the rim:

Besson is a little quicker to release the behind-the-back pass after the screen and it leads to another basket:

Again, Besson is able to find his teammate for a three-point attempt going behind his back:

It’s a neat trick to have in your locker but this, nor the other clips on his passing, should distract you from the fact that Besson is an inconsistent and average passer/playmaker, though you could argue his playmaking abilities are as of yet untapped.

Defense

The Breakers played in a zone quite often and Besson wasn’t always involved defensively at the forefront on the ball but he moved fine in the zone. Nothing was spectacular. Like he is offensively at times, Besson was just there defensively. He’s just there. I will say that he is a willing switcher which helps him move around defensively.

As a one-on-one defender I do not think Besson is good.

Here, Besson is completely lost to begin the game and on the switch is easily gotten by right at the rim for the basket:

Besson was yanked out of the game at the first opportunity possible after this possession and Ousmane Dieng was inserted into the game: 32 seconds that starting stint lasted for Besson.

Here, Besson commits a lazy foul on a drive as the offensive player just wanders into the drive:

Besson picks up at full-court at times but this is misleading because little pressure is actually applied and with how carefree he is on defense the offensive player can just easily escape as he does here, and Besson fortunate that the shot inside is blocked:

We know Besson has solid foot-speed but on this possession he’s beaten and commits the foul on the attempt, resulting in free throws:

On a drive from the corner after an offensive rebound, again, Besson is squeezed by and it results in a great shot in front of the rim:

Besson is prone to defensive lapses that lead to good opportunities for the opposition.

After initially defending the drive from former Hawk Antonius Cleveland, Besson completely blows his defensive cover by believing he needs to shade over to the corner and gives Cleveland an open path to the rim for the dunk:

On an out-of-bounds play, Besson allows his man to escape, leading to a basket:

Besson doesn’t fare well against players who are physically strong, easily brushed aside in transition for a basket at the rim on this play:

And he is completely overmatched by another former Hawk, Lamar Patterson, on this drive here, leading to a foul and free throws:

In closing...

You’ve probably been able to tell but I am not the biggest fan of Hugo Besson as an NBA prospect.

His slashing is good, potentially really good. He can get inside, break down the defense, draw a second defender, make some tough layups, finish with either hand, hit some floaters, get to the free throw line. He has a good hesitation dribble, can shift gears, his handle is solid and he has decent foot-speed.

The rest of his game, however, is underwhelming.

His overall percentages are really poor (aside from his free throw shooting), he takes some really tough shots, his three-point shooting is deplorable in both quality and volume, the ball can stick with him on offense and his teammates can get shut-out, he doesn’t create enough for his teammates despite his ability to get inside and draw defenders (and he can make some solid passes), and his one-on-one defense is really poor and at times lazy.

I didn’t enjoy how Besson drifted through games at times and how absent he was during stretches of games as well his occasional late-game scoring output when the game was basically already over — these quick bursts bolstering his stat line to make it seem he did more than what he actually did when it mattered.

Perhaps being with another team with a tighter leash (though, he was yanked on multiple occasions in games this season in the NBL) that doesn’t allow him to chuck shots at times will help bring back his percentages closer to what they were in the French second division (48% from the field and 35.7% from three) and all of a sudden it’s a different conversation.

Add to this that he’s already 21 years old — he’s not exactly one of the younger prospects in this class and there are a multitude of problems to work on.

Perhaps he would be best suited to playing on one a notable European team to not just further develop his game but to really make the most of his time on the court — with minutes for young players on top European teams quite restricted — make his shots count, and not play with the same liberty he enjoyed in New Zealand where he could chuck and drive whenever (the percentages and shots speak there for themselves).

In the right situation and, if whatever team he ends up playing with/being drafted by can reign in his threes and work on his playmaking, get him to buy in defensively...perhaps there is a good NBA player here but there’s a lot to work on here.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic mocks Besson 56th overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while ESPN rank Besson 38th on their Best Available list. Sadly their last excerpt on Besson — from Mike Schmitz — is written in 2021 before Besson moved to New Zealand, but we’ll see what Schmitz had to say nevertheless.

April 29, 2021: (Intriguing long-term prospects) — While we saw Besson’s worst game of the season from a productivity standpoint (5 point on 9 shots in 30 minutes), he still caught my eye with his improved floor game, confidence and competitiveness as a 6-4 combo guard who can score it at all 3 levels. Besson has been a revelation this season in his first full year at the pro level. He ranks second in all of France’s second division in scoring at 16.9 points in just 28.4 minutes while shooting 60% from 2 and 35% from 3 and moonlighting as a point guard for stretches, averaging 3.9 assists per 40 minutes.

He topped 25 points in four games this season, most recently dropping 27 on Blois while knocking down 6-of-9 3s. Although on the streaky side when sprinting off screens, he’s shown the ability to shoot the ball on the move, is capable of pulling up off the bounce, and is converting a remarkable 67% of his shots at the rim, impressive when you consider his average physical profile at 6-4, 196 pounds. Often earning comparisons to Nando De Colo in France, Besson’s ability to play on or off the ball and go for 20 on any given night should make him attractive to NBA teams as he climbs up the ranks in Europe.

He still needs to improve as a defender, turn himself into a knockdown shooter, and take his ball screen reads to the next level. But with the success of microwave scorers ranging from Tyler Herro to Jordan Clarkson in today’s NBA, scouts would be wise to get familiar with Besson because of his confident shot-making ability and rapidly improving game at just 20 years old. Still unknown to most scouts as he was never invited to the French junior national team, Besson’s peak draft stock should come in 2022, especially since he’s garnering interest from clubs all over Europe and beyond for next season. — Mike Schmitz

Pretty outdated sadly but I do like Schmitz’s allusion that Besson is a ‘microwave scorer,’ and I certainly think that this is describes Besson to this day.

But he how much did he really improve as a defender? He didn’t turn into a knockdown shooter and he didn’t take his ball screen reads to the next level. It honestly is very surprising to me that he ranks as highly as 38th in ESPN’s ‘Best Available’ list — I think this is far too high and I agree far more with Vecenie’s mock.

When ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that Besson had declared for the draft, he added that Besson had ‘an outstanding season,’ which I just don’t agree with at all.

I think it’s fine to take Besson in the second round but I think spending a top-40 draft selection on him would be a mistake.

I think Besson could come over and look great in Summer League — because he’s a very skilled offensive player off of the dribble and would likely school the defenders there — but I have a lot of questions about him as an actual NBA prospect.

If he can reign his three-point attempts in, develop his playmaking to better utilize his ability to slash, and then care about defense perhaps there’s a good prospect here in Besson. If he can transform his three-point shot and increase his overall efficiency, there’s suddenly a lot to like about him offensively as a scorer. Is it possible? I am not sure.

If he’s still available in the 50’s and a team that can afford the stash, sure, go for it and see what happens, but I would be extremely apprehensive of spending a pick in the high 40’s, let alone the 30’s.

We’ll see what happens come draft day if Hugo Besson can join his teammate Ousmane Dieng as the second New Zealand Breaker to be selected in the 2022 NBA Draft...