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Ismael Kamagate's At-Rim Finishing | The Friday Screener
Ismael Kamagate has a unique blend of explosiveness and grace that makes him much more than just an above the rim finisher.
Ismael Kamagate has been one of the few international breakout players this season. At 6’11 220-pounds, Kamagate has an NBA-ready body and athleticism. His combination of gracefulness and power is a unique blend that has become a requirement in today’s NBA. Kamagate is averaging 10.4 points, six rebounds, and 1.53 blocks per game. While there is plenty to be encouraged by, Kamagate’s ability to pressure the rim has stood out the most.
Most athletic big men rely purely on lobs or dump-offs to get their points. While Kamagate is more than happy to feast on those easy offerings, he has shown a more refined understanding of floor spacing, positioning, and movement. Kamagate roams the baseline like a tiger waiting to pounce on its prey. He finds open pockets, actively cuts and screens, and doesn’t stay complacent when he doesn’t get the ball. Kamagate’s ability to pressure the rim in a myriad of ways is not only impressive for his age but also encouraging for his future development.
Here, we can see how Kamagate preemptively adjusts his position to improve the team’s spacing as well as set himself up for success. As the ball-handler sets up the pick-and-roll, Kamagate slides over to the right block to create a driving lane to the left. Kamagate immediately sees that his teammate is going to deny the screen, so he promptly prowls along the baseline to the left block. Kamagate’s defender gets caught in no man’s land as the ball-handler drives, which allows Kamagate to use his absurd catch radius to finish the dunk.
One of the most impressive aspects of Kamagate’s ability to attack the rim is his cutting. According to InStat, Kamagate scores 1.45 points per possession (PPP) on cuts, which would rank in about the 85th percentile of college players. Kamagate is extremely comfortable slipping into open pockets, as we saw above, but he is also very heady about capitalizing on how his off-ball screens create cutting lanes.
Here, we see Kamagate set a back screen which prompts the defense to switch. Now, Kamagate has an opposing guard on him as he goes to set a cross screen at the top of the arc. Kamagate’s new defender is incredibly eager to switch away from the athletic monster, and Kamagate knows this. Kamagate slips the screen, which doesn’t allow his new (now third) defender to get rim side. Kamagate takes advantage of the open lane and finishes with a dunk before the weak side defender can rotate.
Again, we see how Kamagate recognizes and capitalizes on defensive miscommunication. As Kamagate’s teammate circles out to the wing, Kamagate prepares to set a screen and the defender signals for a switch. No one switches to Kamagate’s teammate, so as the ball swings to the wing, both defenders try to scramble out to him. Instead of holding firm trying to screen two people or waiting to see what happens, Kamagate slips to the rim and turns his head in preparation for the pass that leads to an easy dunk.
Plays that involve Kamagate cutting to the rim can also be run to fully utilize the young center’s lob finishing skills, as we can see below. After executing the dribble handoff, Kamagate goes to set a down screen for his teammate lifting out of the corner. The defender decides to chase over Kamagate’s screen, and as he does so, Kamagate glances over his left shoulder to identify his defender’s positioning and make eye contact with the ball-handler. Kamagate quickly disengages from the screen, cuts hard to the rim, and finishes the lob.
Cuts represent 27.9 percent of Kamagate’s possessions, per InStat, which is his highest in volume and efficiency. The second most efficient play type for Kamagate is acting as the roller in the pick-and-roll where he scores 1.35 PPP, which would rank in about the 86th percentile of college players. Kamagate is a quality screener who knows how to dislodge defenders and when he needs to disengage. He also has excellent footwork, hands, and leaping ability which aid him in his rolling versatility.
Here, Paris gets into their early offense with a quick screen from Kamagate. Kamagate makes sure to stick out his butt which disrupts the defender’s recovery and makes Kamagate’s defender stay higher at the level. As Kamagate rolls, he gets deep in the lane and catches the ball inside the restricted area before quickly elevating for the dunk. This deep of a catch is aided by a late weak side rotation, but it is also important because it pins the defender under the rim, limiting his ability to block the dunk. Additionally, take note of Kamagate’s explosiveness and body control. Not only does he quickly elevate off two feet, but he also halts his momentum and jumps straight up to ensure that there isn’t an offensive foul.
While Kamagate can (and does) finish with force, he also has a tremendous amount of finesse to his game. After setting a solid screen, Kamagate is rewarded with a lovely pocket pass and a clear lane. Kamagate takes one dribble and elevates from the hashes in what I expected to be a monstrosity of a dunk. Instead of forcing something that would send ripples through the Earth’s crust, Kamagate double clutches under the defender’s block attempt to finish with the layup, making an incredibly difficult play look like a walk in the park.
Again, Kamagate shows off his agility with balletic footwork. He once again forces the defender to go wide of his screen, which allows for the pocket pass as he rolls. This time, though, Kamagate’s defender is able to recover since the screen was set closer to the rim than the one we previously saw. Kamagate is unfazed, however, and simply spins against his defender’s momentum and finishes through the contact.
Kamagate’s effectiveness and versatility attacking the rim is a brilliant tool to have as a young prospect. However, in the NBA, defenses will be better (or at least should be) with their rotations and ability to take stuff away from him. How Kamagate counters will be important for his long-term outlook. He can finish with power and grace, but he has also proven that he can weaponize his passing to punish defenses. Kamagate’s passing likely deserves its own breakdown, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. Kamagate has excellent vision and accuracy when he passes, which makes him even more dangerous attacking the rim. He can find shooters out of the short roll, cutters out of the post, and teammates from the top of the key. He obviously won’t be initiating offenses, but his passing can be weaponized to make him a more versatile player.
Ismael Kamagate may profile as an athletic rim runner, but he is so much more than that. He has an excellent understanding of floor spacing and where he can best position himself. His explosiveness and catch radius make him a deadly lob threat, as his footwork and body control make him a versatile roller. He can finish over defenders or use his nimble footwork and excellent body control to finish around them. Kamagate isn’t much of a shooter, but his ability to weaponize his rim pressure makes him a fit in any offense.