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Gabriele Procida's Scoring Versatility | The Friday Screener
Gabriele Procida is one of the most versatile scorers not only among international prospects, but among the entire 2022 NBA Draft class.
The 2022 NBA Draft is lacking some of the profound international talent that recent years have spoiled us with, but Gabriele Procida could emerge as the top prospect from this group. Procida wasn’t at the top of everyone’s international “must scout” list entering the season, but he has quickly earned that accolade, mainly due to his scoring versatility.
Besides looking like the kid Pixar’s Luca, Procida is an athletic scoring guard who consistently shows impressive creativity, footwork, and scoring chops. Procida is 6’6”, is shooting 42.5 percent from three, and has impressive vertical pop. Procida’s blend of on and off-ball scoring make him a perfect fit in any rotation.
When it comes to shooting guards, the first thing that obviously gets dissected is the shooting. This season, Procida is proving to be a competent off-ball shooter by scoring 1.21 points per possession (PPP) shooting off the catch, but the true intrigue comes with his on-ball shooting. Procida isn’t a primary initiator or scorer, but he uses his off-ball movement and threat of scoring to generate on-ball shooting opportunities.
Here, Procida flashes for the back cut since his defender is top locking him, but quickly realizes it isn’t there, so he cuts back to the perimeter to use the screen. As Procida comes off the screen, his defender shoots the gap, so Procida settles on the wing instead of going to the ball, which forces his defender to scramble to recover. Now that his defender is out of position, Procida attacks the hole in the middle of the floor. The help defender makes a timely switch, but Procida’s step back propels him from near the hash marks to a few feet behind the free-throw line.
At full speed, this is a stunning display of movement, relocation, and execution. We could leave it at that, but there are a few subtleties I want to point out that will be relevant later. Due to the proliferation of stepbacks, we’ve become numb to how difficult great ones are to execute. When you rewatch the above clip, take note of how aggressively Procida plants his right foot and how low he gets. This combination allows him to generate enough force to propel himself backward. As he is mid-stepback, Procida is already loading up to leap off his left leg and is beginning his shot in his upper body. The moment his right foot rejoins his body, Procida instantaneously springs up for the shot at an astonishing speed that doesn’t allow the defender to recover.
This time, Procida shows some fascinating space creation from spotting up. The threat of his shooting forces the aggressive closeout, which Procida is more than happy to attack. Unfortunately, Procida has a predetermined attack angle which is why he runs into the defender. Many players would kill their dribble or back it out to save the possession, but Procida, likely making Bruce Lee proud, flows like water. Procida spins off the contact and again creates substantial space pushing off his right foot. Procida again quickly gathers his feet but fails to generate as much lift as we saw before, resulting in him leaving the shot short.
Please don’t just focus on Procida missing the shot. I know it sounds weird to say that the result of the shot is irrelevant, but sometimes it is. What matters more is the process of how he got to the shot. Instead, focus on Procida’s footwork and balance. Focus on how his upper body mechanics were smooth and consistent. As Procida’s body matures, he’ll get stronger to ensure that shot doesn’t fall short like that.
I get it, though, watching misses isn’t nearly as fun as watching makes, so here you go. This time, Procida is in a similar situation where he attacks the aggressive close out in the corner. Procida again attacks baseline, which the defender relinquishes. Procida feels the defender tight on his hip, so instead of forcing a drive, Procida manipulates the defender’s momentum by executing a nasty snatch back into a step back to land behind the three-point line. The defender has no chance to contest and Procida drains the shot.
Procida’s affinity for the stepback is obvious. He isn’t the biggest enthusiast of scoring through contact, but his footwork gives him an avenue of impressive space creation. Here, Procida gets a switch after running off the floppy action. Procida immediately looks to attack the middle of the floor with a hesitation dribble to sell the drive. To keep up, the bigger defender crosses his feet, signing his death warrant. Once Procida sees this, he quickly snatches back his dribble into a step back. The defender loses his balance as he can’t stop his momentum, and is not helped by an untimely slip, and Procida knocks down the jumper.
Even though Procida doesn’t have the most physical scoring game, it doesn’t mean he is averse to attacking the rim. When Procida moves off-ball, he has a brilliant understanding of where his defender is and how to counter his positioning. Earlier we saw him beat coverages that had the defender top locking (every time I read that it sounds like a bad dance move), shooting the gap and switching. This time, Procida’s defender tries to lock and trail (chase him through the screen). As Procida runs off the screen, he knows his defender is chasing him and the screener’s defender is staying tight to his man, leaving a gap in the lane. Knowing there is space to attack, Procida immediately attacks the rim after receiving the ball. He has the athleticism to not allow his defender to regain position, and Procida finishes with the runner.
Procida’s shooting threat is evident, and his off-ball movement creates a myriad of opportunities. Procida doesn’t just use his shooting gravity and off-ball movement to create perimeter scoring opportunities as he is also a quality cutter. Here, Procida examines the floor and sees the rim is unoccupied. The play is for Procida to receive the dribble hand-off, which he simulates perfectly. After setting up his defender, Procida cuts backdoor for the easy dunk.
Finally, don’t let Procida’s appearance or scoring tendencies fool you; he has some impressive vertical pop. Yes, he’s a white European who is more known for shooting, but that doesn’t mean he can’t finish above the rim. He won’t be in any dunk contests, but Procida is more than capable of finishing above the rim when given a lane.
Entering the season, Gabriele Procida wasn’t at the top of anyone’s international board. He brings a lot to the table as a prospect, but his scoring versatility alone makes him one of the most intriguing international prospects. A few years from now, it shouldn’t be surprising if we look back and think, “how the hell did Gabriele Procida not go in the first round?”