Bobi Klintman: The Swede Freak
PRELUDE: Prospect Sharing | FEATURING: An Interview with Wake Forest Freshman, Bobi Klintman | INCLUDING: A Breakdown of Bobi's Game | PLUS: Weekend Warrior Awards
Word spreads fast in the draft community—particularly on #DraftTwitter. There are a number of fans, scouts, analysts, coaches, etc. who are all looking to “be in” on a player before their stock rises to the maximum value. That’s not to say that they are looking to take credit for what the player is doing. After all, the work that is conducted at the grassroots level—the work that coaches, assistant coaches, directors, etc. are all putting in to recruit high-level athletes is criminally under-discussed and underappreciated at large. But what makes what we do fun—why I love covering the draft—is the respectful dialogue professionals can have when discussing a player. “Prospect sharing” is something that strengthens our community. It makes fans of the draft—something that I consider myself to be, first and foremost. The network of people I know I can come to and say “Hey, have you seen ___?” is something I hold near and dear to my heart. And, even better, when I get those DMs or texts that ask “What do you think of ___?”, it stirs up something in me that I feel compelled to stop what I am doing and dive deep (shoutout Nick) into their game.
Now, I’d be lying if I said that I always walk away from a player’s film after an excited recommendation from a trusted friend with the same fervor every time. And, inversely, there have been plenty-a-time that I have been seemingly too high on a player’s outlook—at least, relative to my trusted circle of trust. But, that is what makes what we do fun. Bringing awareness to “deep cuts” or “sleeper prospects” makes us cast our nets a little wider. It sharpens our philosophies. Prospect sharing creates connections.
And that brings me to our featured prospect. I would be a dishonest fool to “take credit” for coming across the name. Friends and colleagues Evan Wheeler and Corey Tulaba have either Tweeted out their takes, brought their name up in the group chat, or simply had their name submitted for Big Board consideration. Their “prospect sharing” drew me in. In order to feel confident in my own rankings and evaluation of this class, I feel I must cast that wide net—do everything I can to be considered credible. Their sharing could not be more appreciated by me, as I have come across a unique prospect: a player that has as much—if not more—character as he has potential to be something special.
I was fortunate enough to speak to Bobi Klintman, and I could not have come away from the interview more impressed with what I learned about him as a young man—as well as a basketball player and prospect. Wake Forest was incredibly welcoming to grant permission for us to speak to him, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity. We had the pleasure of speaking with former Wake hooper Jake Laravia last season, so we’re pleased to keep that rolling with Bobi. Some of the questions and my base of knowledge of Bobi’s background came from Pro Insight’s interview—which will be attached at the end of this segment—that he gave about a year ago. Without further ado, Bobi Klintman.
Bobi Klintman: The Swede Freak
To give a little background, Bobi (pronounced “Bobby”) Klintman hails from Malmo, Sweden. At approximately four years old, he fell in love with the game of basketball. Being a young man with separated parents, his bonus dad helped to cultivate his love for the game. Other members of his family, including his cousins and brother, all helped Bobi maintain and grow his passion. Like many other European athletes, Bobi grew up playing other sports: soccer, wrestling, swimming, handball, etc. NBA players that have played soccer for extended stretches of their lives—players like Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa—have spoken on how certain aspects of soccer carry over to the basketball court. Bobi feels the same way about his experience.
“I think soccer helped me a lot with my movements…there’s a lot of short sprints. I played soccer for like eight years. I was a little younger and a little shorter then, but I feel like my running skills translated well over to the basketball court.”
It’s hard to disagree as, for a player of his height (he’s listed at 6’10” on Wake Forest’s team site), he moves fluidly—which is a large part of his intrigue. That intersection of height, fluidity, and skill is what made him a standout in the FIBA U-20 European Championship. His Swedish National Team was impressive, as they finished with a 6-1 record. However, it was Bobi’s individual performance that garnered significant attention. He did his best LeBron James impression, as he led his team in seemingly every statistical category. He logged 16.0 points per game (PPG), 10.0 rebounds per game (RPG), 5.1 assists per game (APG), 2.6 steals per game (SPG), and 0.9 blocks per game (BPG). It was quite the impressive stretch for Bobi, as all could see him grow as a player. He grew even more as a leader.
“Individually, I felt like it [the tournament] went really good for me but, as a team…we went 6-1 but I felt like we could have won that game against Iceland. We made some small mistakes, which made us lose…I got a little sad over that. I feel like when I was playing for the National Team, I learned. I got some time to lead a team. I felt like I was doing a good job as a leader. It helped my leaderships skills to get better…It boosted my confidence. It’s always fun to play for the National Team, to represent your country. I always feel like those games are going to be like ‘You got to give your one hundred’ or you’re going to lose. Everybody plays with passion when they play for their country. You’re never going to see a bad player on a National Team.”
His outlook on the tournament is what you would want to hear from a leader. Of course, Bobi could have only recognized how skilled he was—just like the rest of us spectators—but the desire to want more, the desire to lead a team, the understanding of what the game means to more than just himself speaks to his maturity and character. As impressive as it was that Bobi was proving himself in high-level European games, he felt the need to come to the States—to attempt to garner a little more exposure. That certainly happened.
Bobi chose to attend Sunrise Christian Academy. Growing accustomed to the American style of play was something he felt would increase the interest that universities would ultimately have in him. Sunrise Christian would bring in some prominent prospects, including Gradey Dick of the Kansas Jayhawks and Mark Mitchell of Duke, among others. Playing next to a sharpshooting wing and a mobile, athletic big would give Bobi an opportunity to improve his own development in practices, while also giving him a preview of the level of player he could expect to have on his teams moving forward.
“Me and my mom were talking to a lot of different high schools—really good high schools and really good programs. When my mom spoke to Coach Luke [Barnwell] and when I spoke to Coach Luke at Sunrise Christian Academy, I felt like it was something special there. He [Coach Luke] got the Coach of the Year—obviously he’s got to be a really good coach. We just felt like the facilities, the way he ran the program, and how the team was looking, we felt like it was a good opportunity for me to just get better and get more exposure.”
“Our whole team, Gradey, Mark, we had a lot of good players—Scotty Middleton, Layden Blocker, you name them. It was a lot of really good players. Everybody on the team just pushed each other to elevate and get better. It wasn’t like Gradey was killing everybody every practice, you know? One day Gradey could go off. One day Mark could go off. One day I went off. I think it was good for everybody just to have a stacked team like we had. To grow with each other, to help each other. Just to try to get better.”
Bobi had already drawn the attention of some prominent universities while playing in Sweden, but things really picked up for him during his time at Sunrise Christian. Teams like Maryland and Colorado tried very hard to land Bobi, but he would ultimately commit to playing for Coach Steve Forbes at Wake Forest. The Deacons have had recent success in playing high-level basketball, while also preparing young men for the NBA. Jake Laravia (friend of the brand) of the Memphis Grizzlies and Alondes Williams of the Brooklyn Nets were names among the masses of prospects looking to make the NBA last season. While emphasizing versatility and an empowering, motion offense, Bobi felt that committing to play for the Deacons made a lot of sense.
“Coach [Jason] Shay, the Assistant Coach here at Wake Forest, he reached out to me—they told me they was interested because…they Jake Laravia that was going to the draft, they had Alondes Williams that was going to the draft. I saw a lot of opportunity for me to come in as a freshman and impact the game for the team. When I kept talking to them…I just felt like they showed a lot of interest in me. I really felt like we could work together and get me to the next level. The facilities were great. Everything was good. I felt like it was a really good fit. After my visit, I was really convinced. This was the place to call my home.”
“Before I came to my visit, I was studying how they were playing. I was watching a lot of games that they were playing during the season. When I came on my visit, they really broke the game play down—how I would fit in. They showed me a lot of clips of Jake [Laravia] because they kind of compared us a little bit. I wouldn’t say we’re the same player, but we have a little bit of similarities, so they showed me how he was working in there and how I could fit in—things like that. I feel like we play a certain way that I can fit in.”
“You have a lot of freedom [playing for Coach Forbes]. We have a lot of plays but we run a lot of motion, so we have a lot of freedom. If I’m open, I can take the shot. The way I can play make, it translates into the way we play. So it’s really easy. He’s hard on us [when we make mistakes] but it’s all love. He’s trying to get us better.”
With the change in the level of competition, Bobi also underwent a significant body transformation. In preparation for a more physical, more athletic level of competition, Bobi had to improve physically. In about a year, he went from approximately 6’8” and 200 pounds to the now-listed 6’10” and 225 pounds. When speaking to Bobi, he made it clear that, almost as quickly as he moved to the States, he began to prepare himself for an increased level of physicality.
“When I was in Sweden, I wasn’t really lifting. If I can recall, it [weight lifting] was like three days in a week. Once I came to Sunrise, my weight program—we was lifting pretty tough. We was lifting almost every day. Coach E [Elhad Emerllahu] was with us at Sunrise and was helping us a lot. He’s a really good Strength Coach—obviously a good Assistant Coach. And then when I came to Wake Forest—during this time, me moving from Sweden, going to Sunrise and coming to Wake Forest, my body was still growing. When I came to Wake, that’s when I grew to 6’10”. We have a really good Strength Coach here, Mike Starke. And we was working hard. We’ve been working every day. We’ll go lower body one day, then upper body the next, and so on. I think I’ve gained, like, 20 pounds since I’ve been here. We’ve been working really hard.”
“It has helped me a lot. I’ve always been a very skilled guy and I’ve always been pretty tall, but I’ve been pretty skinny too. That’s the thing. Sometimes…when people were posting me up, it was because I was skinny. It was easy. But, now that I’ve put some weight on me, I feel like I can jump higher. I feel a little bit faster. The game just comes easier to me because now I can work more in the post, or play more physically. Plus, I’m still skilled. So I have both now [skill and physicality]. It’s harder for people to guard me because I can shoot the ball. Now I can drive and take contact. It’s easier for me to dunk on people. On defense, my slide step is much faster now. I grab rebounds easier.”
If you weren’t already, you may now find yourself compelled to go stat-gazing on Bobi Klintman. You may have already fired up InStat, Synergy, Sports-Reference, BartTorvik, Cerebro, or maybe some cool thing that I don’t even know about yet. You may have formulated your opinion on this young man just by simply looking at numbers. If you have, please stay tuned. If you haven’t, I’ll lay out some of the numbers. To be frank upfront, they aren’t dominant numbers. However, please consider this. Bobi moved from Sweden to the United States about a year ago. In that time, he’s competed against high-level prospects at the high school level, and he is now competing in D-1 basketball in one of the most prestigious conferences the NCAA can boast. He’s adjusting from European basketball to the American style, all while undergoing a significant body transformation.
Why I am high on Bobi Klintman as a prospect isn’t because he’s currently averaging around 5 PPG, 4 RPG, 1 APG, 1 SPG, and 1 BPG in about 21 minutes per game. As someone who has covered draft prospects for a few years, I understand that shooting splits of about 43% from the floor, 24% from deep, and 73% from the free-throw line do not necessarily scream “lottery” for a prospect. However, as an analyst, I know how important work ethic and character (combined with a unique physical profile, obvious feel for the game, and how a player moves on the court) can speak beyond what the numbers are telling us. Again, while considering the path that Bobi has taken and some previously-mentioned factors, I am actually encouraged by what we have seen from him so far in this young season.
What impresses me about Bobi, in terms of his personality, is his transparency. He understands what he does well, while also being realistic in the areas he must improve. While discussing what he’s done in this young season, he spoke to both his strengths and areas of improvement, while also suggesting there are more things to come.
“I would say in the beginning it was hard for me to adapt, because everybody is more stronger, more athletic, and more bigger here in America. And the game is much more faster—people push the ball a little bit faster. I had to adapt to the speed, and the quickness, and the physicality. Once I settled with that, I could start focusing on the development of my game. Now, I think my game is starting to translate pretty good. I just keep playing the game and, every day, keep getting better. I’m still adapting to college; it’s a big step from high school. But it’s getting easier every day.”
“I just try to keep the noise out [in regards to not putting up “20 and 10”] and focus on the process because I know that if I just put time into what I want to do, I can achieve my goals.”
While Bobi has been open and honest with his output on the season, both the great and the areas he needs to improve, he knows what he is supposed to do for Wake Forest. Coach Forbes wants Bobi to do what any good coach wants their players to do: what he’s best at. It’s a good thing Bobi can do a lot.
“I wouldn’t say I have a specific role, like ‘You got to score the ball, you got to do this’. Coach has been telling me that I’m a versatile player. He wants me to do a little bit of everything. He wants me to score. He wants me to get rebounds. Play make. He wants me to play defense—all of that stuff. I just really go out there to play, that’s what I’m trying to do. He calls me a ‘Stat Sheet Stuffer’. He wants me to do a little bit of everything.”
In the previously-mentioned interview that I’ve referenced, Bobi was asked what his short terms goals were. What I love about this question is that it was being asked of a young man that was just about to make a huge journey. This question was asked about two inches and 20 pounds ago for Bobi. It was asked before he went to the FIBA U-20 European Tournament. He listed two goals: to perform well in the European Tournament and to get ready for college. Check and check. Since Bobi has far-and-away exceeded those two goals, he has some new ones.
“I’m trying to make the ACC Freshman of the Year. I want to be on the ACC All-Freshman team. And then, another short term goal—I don’t know if it’s going to be this year or next year—but I’m trying to get to the league. That’s the biggest goal I’ve got. That’s what I’m working for right now. I feel like that’s the next step for me.”
Last year, Bobi’s long-term goal was to make the NBA, as well as to take care of his mother. He wants to be an All-Star. Obviously, that hasn’t wavered a bit. Actually, with his success at Sunrise Christian and being able to make it to Wake Forest, he’s even hungrier—especially with ACC play looking to get into high gear.
“I just feel like I’m getting closer and closer. I just keep checking off my goals. Got to get there soon, you know?”
“It’s good [the upcoming ACC play], because now…you’re always going to play against somebody good. It’s going to be very competitive. I feel like there are a lot of future NBA players that are in the ACC who I can compete against. That’s always nice.”
While Bobi is checking off every single goal he has made, while he is beating every obstacle he’s faced, he’s continued to be a fun-loving young man that is always quick to mention his family. Basketball has always been a way to be with them. As he’s grown as a player and a man, Bobi has continued to always stay upbeat and family-oriented while remaining laser-focused.
“I’m always goofing around. You’re always going to see a smile on my face. I’m a goofy guy. I like to joke around. I keep doing that here at Wake. The guys on the team are really fun, and I get along with them really well.”
“I basically came over here by myself. My brother [Ibbe Klintman] was already in Arkansas…to play for UCA, the University of Central Arkansas. My brother was close to me, so I flew over to see him. I was spending Christmas at UCA with my brother. At first I was pretty nervous and scared but once I settled into it, it was pretty cool. When I lived in Sweden, I was living two or three hours from home…so I was already used to living away from my mom. When you’re trying to get somewhere—when you’re trying to reach a goal, you got to make sacrifices. I felt like that [moving to the States] was a new step in my journey.”
The mission is clear and simple: make it to the NBA. Bobi has prepared for this since being just a toddler with a basketball. As is the case with most of us that have loved the NBA—or just basketball in general—someone that is really good at the game captured our attention and our imagination. While we recognize that we can’t be them, our hoop heroes have a way of making us feel like we can. We practice their moves. We dribble on the court with an imaginary buzzer counting down as we practice our favorite player’s signature move. And when the shot goes in, we always beat the buzzer. Don’t we?
Bobi has certainly drawn influences from a few NBA players. During the Pro Insight interview he was in over a year ago, he was asked what the title of a movie based on his life would be called. He didn’t think about it for too long. Of the two he threw out there, one suggestion was “The Kid from Sweden”—obviously drawing influence from LeBron James, as he has repeatedly referred to himself as “The Kid from Akron.” The other? Well, that’s the one that I drew the influence for the title of this article.
“The Swede Freak” isn’t an attempt to serve as a one-for-one comparison to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is, somehow, playing in his tenth NBA season. Over that time, he has become an NBA Champion, a Finals MVP, league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, an All-NBA teamer, an All-Star, winner of a Most Improved Award, an All-Rookie teamer, and a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team. To say that “The Greek Freak” has made an impact in the NBA would be an understatement in of itself, but what often does go understated is how much Giannis has influenced a new generation of basketball players. That includes our guy, Bobi Klintman. Bobi doesn’t shy away from wanting to emulate his favorite player, nor does he mind being compared to him. He does, after all, wear the number “34” at Wake Forest for a reason.
“Giannis Antetokounmpo, that’s my favorite player. Every time I go somewhere, people will be like ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like Giannis?’
“I don’t really mind those comparisons. To me it’s just funny. Sometimes you have to block out noise but sometimes it’s just fun to listen to. When I was playing at Sunrise, there was always a lot of fans—every time we went to take a picture, they were always like ‘Giannis! Giannis!’ I just think it’s fun because the way he was working his way up in the league, it takes a lot of hard work. And I just see it as motivation. Like, if he can do it then I can do it. My goal is to lock him up [when he makes the NBA]. Give him some buckets too.
It was difficult for me not to draw some slight similarities between the two. They do share some physical traits of when Giannis was around the same age. It’s quite uncanny what the areas of concern were for Giannis at age 19, and how the two share a commonality there. Even looking at Giannis’s stats when he first played in the NBA, there are some parallels. When you consider the height, the frame, the mobility, the ball handling, the passing, and the raw potential to be something terrifying in the league—the two are closer than you may initially want to acknowledge based on how great Giannis has become, and how much further Bobi still has to climb.
The truth of the matter is that Giannis isn’t the direct comparison for Bobi. That would be wildly unfair to him—no matter how much he finds being mistaken for him funny, or how much he welcomes all of the challenges that still await him. But just because he isn’t Giannis, doesn’t mean he can’t realize his goal of becoming an NBA player. Bobi wants it. It’s his dream. And The Kid from Sweden has always found a way of actualizing his dreams.
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Bobi Klintman Film Study
Before we dive into the tape, I will drop the Pro Insight video here for those of you that want to listen to what gave me some insight on Bobi. A big thank you for the work Pro Insight put in to share today’s featured prospect.
You should now know that I will typically do a little background leading into these film dives. For obvious reasons, we’re not doing that today. However, I may refer back to prior comments. Maybe I’ve saved some more commentary? You’ll just have to read and find out!
Let’s start with the fun stuff. Bobi has said it himself, but he can do a bit of everything on the floor. His size and feel lend themselves useful to versatility on this end of the floor. Before he came to the States, Bobi said he likes to shoot threes and play fast. What young man doesn’t? Since growing accustomed to the way basketball is played in the U.S., Bobi has learned that he has to do more than play fast and hoist up the deep ball.
I know. Bobi is shooting around 27% from distance. I also understand that isn’t a great percentage. As I have said several times, the fact that Bobi is taking these shots in the game means a few things. One, he’s working on making this a real part of his game. Two, his teammates and coaches trust him to take and make the jumper. The fact that Bobi isn’t hesitant on the shot speaks to the freedom that he said exists when playing for Coach Forbes. Three, the only way you can get better at doing anything while playing basketball is to do it while playing basketball.
What impresses me about the jumpers that Bobi is attempting is that they aren’t stationary. He wants to take shots on the move, too. I love this play for Bobi, as this isn’t a play drawn up for him to take the shot. The action is happening away from him and there is a bit of a breakdown. Bobi has to process what his teammate is doing in a split second. Fairfield is trapping Bobi’s teammate, Daivien Williamson (#4), who is handling the ball on the left side of the floor. As he is operating the pick-and-roll, Fairfield blitzes him over the top of the screen—making him pick up his dribble. As Bobi is recognizing the double team, he is on the other side of the court. The defense converges on the roll man, Zack Keller (#25), in an attempt to prevent an easy bucket in the paint With the defense doubling Williamson and trying to wall off the lane, Bobi runs along the top of the key to help Williamson. Williamson sees his 6’10” teammate sprinting along the arc wide open. Bobi catches the ball and confidently steps into his shooting motion. Bang!
In his first two games of the season, Bobi shot two-of-five—40% from deep. That’s the mark everyone aims for. In his next three games, he went zero-of-five from long-range. Not good, I know. During his highest-scoring game of the season against South Carolina State, he didn’t attempt a three, which left him at that two-of-ten mark. In his last three games, Bobi has gotten back to a two-of-five stretch. My point is that it’s very early in the season to make an assumption that the shot is going to be a problem. He’s also shown the capability to be a threat from deep. Also, he shows an indication of touch from the free-throw line, as he is north of 73% from the charity stripe.
This is the part of the game that really gets me excited. I have never heard him describe his game without quickly getting into his playmaking. The thing with passing is that there is a certain level that only players that have natural feel can get to. Players can practice, they can study film, but taught passers can only do so much. Having innate feel—particularly at Bobi’s size—almost always translates. It keeps teammates happy and it gets me out of my chair just as much (if not more) than when their teammate finishes the play. He did not record an assist in his opening game but, since then, there hasn’t been a game in which Bobi hasn’t logged an assist.
Bobi possesses all of the traits that very good passers have. He can make the obvious, simple plays, but he can also do things like this. Cameron Hildreth (#2) hits the trailing Bobi Klintman at the top of the key early in the shot clock. Georgia’s KyeRon Lindsay (#2) does his best to stay in front of Bobi, but that’s a tough task. Recognizing that Klintman has quickly gotten past Lindsay, his teammate, Braelen Bridges (#23) has to step up to prevent Bobi’s drive. He gets into position to take a charge, but Bridges makes a vital mistake. He leaves Bobi’s teammate, Davion Bradford (#20), open. Notice what Bobi does here. He knows where Bradford is—he saw him as he started driving at the rim. While attacking the rim, Bobi maintains his eyes toward the bucket. He knows that the defense is looking to draw the charge here. He sells the drive, then makes a quick hit off of the bounce for Bradford to convert an easy bucket.
This is yet another example of how Bobi can apply pressure on the rim, and create space for his teammates. In the game against Clemson, Bobi is operating on the perimeter to start. Bobi gets a well-timed bounce pass here and his defender, senior Hunter Tyson, gambles for a steal. Warning: do not gamble or overcommit on Bobi Klintman. It doesn’t take long for our guy to see a wide-open lane to attack. Clemson scrambles to stop Bobi from driving. His pressure pulls the defense away from their assignments, creating passing lanes. Bobi gets past two defenders on the free-throw line, leaving one lonely defender in the paint, junior PJ Hall (#24). Hall has to consider a few things. He could immediately run at Bobi, but that would leave his man, Bradford, open. He could stay on Bradford, but that gives Bobi the runway to be on a poster. He chose some sort of middle ground. Hall attempts to get into position to take a charge on Bobi, and leaves Bradford open. Bobi knows his teammate is in prime position for an alley-oop and floats up a beautiful lob.
Something that can drive scouts crazy (shoutout to Metcalf) is how a player can be excellent at one thing, but can’t execute or understand either a complementary skill or how to take advantage of that skill on the other side of the ball. For example, when a great cutter on offense can get backdoored on defense—it can be mind-bending to try and understand how you can do something so well but have no idea how to stop someone else from doing it. For a player that is an exceptional passer, you might think that they also know how to get themselves open for their teammates. If you’re applying that logic to Bobi Klintman, you would be correct.
This is an example of pressure creating openings within a defense. To diverge a moment, this is why offenses that do not spread the floor and drive make me crazy. Look at how Lucas Taylor (#0) operates out of the right corner. Keeping his dribble alive, Taylor drives toward the rim. Driving from the corner and getting deep penetration into the defense creates unique passing lanes. It also creates unique cutting lanes. Bobi sees the defense converge on Taylor. He sees how the double has stopped the ball on the block, and the help has shaded down to cut off the first read along the baseline to Bradford. With most of the defense hugging the baseline, our guy jets down the lane and gets the ball on the run. Bobi throws it down.
One of the things I’ve strangely spoken about on the past couple of shows I’ve been on (shoutout to the DraftDaq and Deep Dives shows) is the timing of cuts. While the timing of cuts isn’t the sexiest conversation, it is crucial to the flow of an offense. If a cut is performed too late or too early, you have multiple teammates occupying the same space. It allows the defense to cover less ground, and potentially to apply more pressure on the ball. Bobi demonstrates tremendous understanding of when to cut in this clip.
Looking back at Wake’s matchup against Georgia, we see Bobi and Hildreth conducting a shallow cut on the left wing while Taylor has the ball on the right wing. While the action is happening away from the ball, Taylor takes a straight-line drive along the Free Throw line. The defenders switch during the shallow cut, and Taylor attracts two defenders while he bursts to the right elbow. Bobi cuts directly behind his defender, Justin Hill (#11), and finds an opening in the middle of the lane. Taylor sees Bobi and gets him the ball. Only one man, Kario Oguendo (#3), stands in our guy’s way. However, Bobi has the size advantage and converts for the finish in the paint.
Right now, the majority of Klintman’s game exists on the offensive side of the ball but that is to be expected. His natural strengths have existed on offense significantly longer than on the defensive side. You read earlier that he has gone through a major body transformation, and how it is now allowing him to compete more on the defensive side of the floor.
“That [improving his strength and defense] was a big thing when I came to Sunrise. When I was playing in Sweden, I never took a charge before. When I came to Sunrise, Coach Luke was really on me. Like, every day ‘You got to play defense!’, ‘Come on, Bobi. You got to take a charge!’ He was on me on my defense. Everything was starting in the weight room. My slide step was pretty slow. I wasn’t strong in the paint. Mark could post me up easy. But, once we started working in the weight room, my defense came naturally to me. My measurements are pretty good; I’ve got long arms. I take up a lot of space on defense.”
“I’m still working on it because I’m trying to go to the next level. I know that’s [defense] a really big thing. You’ve got to be able to guard your man. My goal is to be able to guard 1 through 5 so I can play every spot. Every position. That’s really what I’m striving for.”
Being able to go through what he’s done in about of year indicates a high, upward trajectory, but expectations should be tempered this early. I’m looking to celebrate the positives, while not being too hung up on some of the areas of improvement because he’s playing his way up on that side of the ball. Going from never taking a charge to defending ACC-level athletes—there needs to be a respectful amount of grace for any player in that case. He has a tendency to guard his man directly middle, typically not forcing his man to one side. He can have his feet in line, which can get him in trouble when a quick player gets a step on him. It puts him in a position where he has to gun hard to recover. He could stand to benefit by forcing his man to one side. His length and athleticism would allow him to block a driving lane while forcing his man into another defender or a restrictive line on the floor.
That being said, Bobi does show a ton of promise on defense. He boasts a Block Percentage of 3.3% and a Steal Percentage of 2.0%. The natural ability on defense Bobi spoke to is very apparent when making a play on the ball. Where some lack of polish on some fundamentals can get him in a bit of trouble, Bobi’s measurements and instinct can bail him out at times. Once he gets used to his body and hammers down defensive concepts, he’ll prove to be a real problem for opposing teams. Let’s take a look at some examples of him executing almost everything he’ll have to do consistently as he develops.
This matchup against Wisconsin could prove to be a pivotal experience in Bobi’s growth on defense. Our guy is matched up against the Badgers’ best player, Tyler Wahl (#5), operating in his preferred area on the court. Wahl starts to back Bobi down and is looking to gain position. Bobi does get backed down a bit, but he does a great job of not allowing much separation while also maintaining an upright stance. While Wahl is working into his spot, notice how Bobi is readying his hands. His chest is right into Wahl. Wahl does a quick step with his left, likely an attempt to get Bobi to aggressively play that direction. No dice. As Wahl is turning to his left to set up for a hook shot, Bobi established position right into Wahl without fouling him. He’s not moving toward Wahl; Bobi won the position battle before the shot is up. Our guy gets his arms way up and challenges the hook. Bobi forces a missed shot on Wisconsin’s leading scorer.
Same game, same matchup. Chucky Hepburn (#23) begins the possession with control of the ball. From just inside the top of the key, Hepburn moves the ball to Carter Gilmore (#14) on the right wing. As Gilmore catches the pass, Wahl wants to post Bobi again. He’s isolated on the right block, looking to take advantage of our guy. As soon as the ball enters Wahl’s hands, he spins to his left toward the baseline. He then performs a post-hop into the body of Klintman. Bobi’s legs are actually in a less-than-favorable position, but he keeps his chest into Wahl and stretches his long arms to prevent a clear path for the ball to get to the hoop. After a quick pump, Wahl tries to power through Bobi for a bucket. It fails; Bobi blocks the shot and Wisconsin isn’t able to score on this possession.
This clip comes against Hampton while Wake is playing in zone defense. It’s awesome to see that, in a zone, Coach Forbes wants Bobi to operate at the top of the zone, vice the middle, or one of the corners. That speaks to Bobi’s mobility and length. So the ball ends up in the hands of Russell Dean (#1) for Hampton. Our guy does his job in the zone: step out to the ball handler. Now, Hampton does a great job of running some action in the middle of the zone that gets Dean in isolation, and an open man on the right wing. That leaves Bobi out on the perimeter on Hampton’s second-leading scoring and leading assist man. Dean tries to take Bobi off of the bounce, stepping into a pull-up middy, but Bobi uses his length to bother the shot. Bobi did a great job of shading his man to their right, as opposed to defending Dean middle. Having a good base to his stance on this play afforded him the opportunity to stay with Dean and force the miss.
Bobi spoke about how the added strength to his frame has allowed him to jump a little higher—to move a little quicker. In particular, he’s been quite fond of how improved his sidestep has been on defense. This clip shows just that while highlighting the reason why a quick side step is important. South Carolina State’s Rahsaan Edwards (#10) is quickly running the ball up the floor, and he gets the ball to his teammate and second-leading scorer, Cameron Jones (#1). Jones, defended by Bobi, takes a quick moment to survey the court and then drives to his right. If you would, take a look at Bobi’s stance before the drive. He puts his right hand up, but he doesn’t shade his man in any direction. His feet are wide and in line. That stance gave Jones an invitation to any direction he wanted to go. Back to the play. Jones, driving to his right, is forced baseline without an open teammate. Jones keeps his dribble alive and gets past Bobi. I understand what Jones is likely thinking at this moment: “I have the ball in my strong hand, I’ve got my defender beat. He’s a big guy, so I’ll use the hoop as a way to keep separation from the defender, and finish with the reverse.” Not a bad line of thinking. However, Bobi times Jones’s shot perfectly. He stops when Jones stops, leaps when he leaps, and keeps the ball out of the hoop.
With the interview and film breakdown of Bobi Klintman making this week’s piece a little longer, we’re going to skip a week for the usual Stephen’s Storyline segment. FEAR NOT! We will not fail to award those that have stood out since last Sunday with the Weekend Warrior Awards for some of the major conferences in college hoops. Here are the prospects that have shined:
Javon Small | Guard | East Carolina
20.0 PPG | 5.0 APG | 3.0 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 52.6 FG% | 33.3 3P% | 94.4 FT% | 4.5 TOPG | 2.5 FPG
Isaiah Wong | Guard | Miami
29.0 PPG | 7.0 APG | 6.0 RPG | 0.5 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 63.3 FG% | 58.3 3P% | 92.9 FT% | 0.5 TOPG | 2.5 FPG
Keyonte George | George | Baylor
22.0 PPG | 6.0 APG | 7.0 RPG | 2.0 SPG | 1.0 BPG | 40.0 FG% | 33.0 3P% | 100.0 FT% | 6.0 TOPG | 2.0 FPG
Jordan Hawkins | Guard | UConn
18.5 PPG | 2.5 APG | 3.5 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 52.2 FG% | 53.3 3P% | 100.0 FT% | 1.0 TOPG | 2.5 FPG
AJ Hoggard | Guard | Michigan State
20.0 PPG | 3.0 APG | 5.0 RPG | 0.5 SPG | 1.0 BPG | 50.0 FG% | 33.3 3P% | 100.0 FT% | 1.5 TOPG | 2.0 FPG
KJ Simpson | Guard | Colorado
27.0 PPG | 3.0 APG | 3.0 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 55.6 FG% | 62.5 3P% | 66.7 FT% | 1.0 TOPG | 0.0 FPG
Noah Clowney | Big | Alabama
16.0 PPG | 1.0 APG | 11.0 RPG | 0.0 SPG | 2.0 BPG | 58.3 FG% | 33.3 3P% | N/A FT% | 3.0 TOPG | 4.0 FPG
Maxwell Lewis | Forward | Pepperdine
21.0 PPG | 2.5 APG | 6.0 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 2.5 BPG | 55.2 FG% | 50.0 3P% | 75.0 FT% | 3.5 TOPG | 2.5 FPG