Everything You Need To Know About Theo Maledon

Theo Maledon is an excellent defender with great playmaking upside. Despite a lack of natural scoring instincts, Maledon's playmaking will help him carve out a role in a rotation.

Food, wine, and promising point guards are among France's top exports. The 2020 NBA Draft is no exception as Theo Maledon can be added to the list of young, talented French point guards. At 6'5 175 pounds with a 6'9 wingspan, Maledon shows significant potential at just 19 years old.

Maledon's box score numbers aren't jaw-dropping, but he has proven that he is not only productive but also that he is consistently improving. Maledon is a prospect who is desperate to learn. He is very coachable and is considered a great student of the game. Even though his ceiling may not be as high as some other guards, he will almost certainly carve out a role in a rotation.

From day one, Maledon's size and instincts will make him an impactful point-of-attack defender. He has impressive footwork and regularly stays attached to his assignment's hip. He can take away passing lanes and cause issues for the ball-handler.

In the below clip, we see how Maledon completely shuts down his defender in a late-game situation that demands a defensive stop. Even before the ball is inbounded, Maledon is glued to his man's hip. Maledon proceeds to stay tight on his man while keeping his hands up to disrupt any passing or shooting lanes. The ball-handler proceeds to execute numerous moves to create space. However, Maledon stays low in his stance and doesn't give any ground.

Maledon's footwork in that clip is perfection. He keeps a wide base and never crosses his feet. This stance allows him to keep his balance and quickly react to the ball handler's every move. Maledon also exhibited his ability to quickly flip his hips, which ensures he won't get turned around and has his lateral quickness to cut off drives.

Here, we see Maledon's ability to blow up the pick-and-roll. As Maledon closes out to his man, he stays low in his stance and positions himself in a way that makes him immune to a screen. Once the screen comes, the ball-handler stubbornly tries to dribble off the screen. Maledon quickly fights over the screen while not fouling his man. Due to his excellent footwork and quick hips, Maledon stays with the ball handler's drive and uses his length to make the steal.

Maledon is relentless on the defensive end, continually smothering his opponents. Again, we see how he suffocates his assignment and forces the turnover. Maledon initially denies the entry pass and then evades the down screen as if the screener was a ghost. Maledon remains on his man's hip once he receives the ball and looks for the screen. Maledon again fights over the screen, completely unaffected. As the ball-handler drives, Maledon guards him so tightly you wonder if he's come back in time to defend this play again. Maledon's defense denies any shot attempt and forces the ball-handler to make an off-balance pass that results in a turnover.

As a defender, Maledon has immense potential. He will earn playing time with his defensive impact alone. Unfortunately, the views on the importance of defensive guards vastly vary across the league. The real desire is for guards who can be highly influential on the offensive end. In this area, Maledon's impact is more of a question.

The most promising aspect of Maledon's offensive game is his playmaking. Maledon is generally an accurate passer and has an impressive vision. He can navigate the pick-and-roll and has excellent potential to run an NBA offense consistently. Whether he is surrounded by shooters or paired with a productive roll-man, Maledon will create for his teammates.

Here, we see Maledon correctly set up the roll-man. As Maledon dribbles off the screen, he immediately recognizes the defense is playing drop coverage. This coverage gives Maledon space and time to attack the paint while reading the help defenders. As Maledon attacks, he sees that the drop defender is caught in no man's land, and the help defender missed tagging the roll-man. Maledon tosses a perfectly weighted lob to the roll-man who has an unobstructed path to the rim.

Maledon can adapt, though, when the roll man is taken away, as we can see below. Instead of playing drop coverage, the defense hard hedges. Maledon does a quality job of avoiding the hedge and quickly recognizes that the weakside defender has rotated to cut off the roll-man. Maledon fakes a pass which freezes the weakside defender and gives his teammate another second to rotate to the corner. Maledon then delivers a perfect pass right to his teammate's shooting pocket.

The next step that Maledon needs to make with his playmaking is speeding up his decision making and improving his live dribble passing. Maledon is inconsistent with his ability to deliver a live dribble pass. This inconsistency limits some of the passes Maledon can make and allows defenders to recover or close passing lanes quicker.

Here, Maledon initially uses the screen well and puts himself in a two-on-one situation. As he attacks the lane, Maledon should deliver a pocket pass with his left off the dribble. Instead, he fails to make the read and continues his dribble. This hesitation allows his defender to recover and force the turnover.

If Maledon can speed up his decision making and improve his accuracy with his live dribble passing, his playmaking impact will skyrocket. He sees the floor well and gets into the lane quickly. With his passing vision, he can pick defenses apart once the live dribble passing improves.

Maledon's lack of confidence and prompt decision making also extends to his scoring repertoire. Maledon rarely looks to score, which is a legitimate issue. It allows defenses to sag off him and not respect his shot.

Even though Maledon starts well behind the arc in the below clip, the defense sags way off him. Maledon dribbles off of two consecutive screens that the defender goes under. Most NBA guards will pull up in these situations, but Maledon doesn't trust his shot enough. Maledon resets the screen and then proceeds to settle for an inefficient midrange jumper.

Here, Maledon shows his lack of confidence when attacking the rim. He initially uses the screen to perfection and attacks downhill with the drop defender on an island. This is an ideal situation for most guards as they are in complete control. Maledon should use a hesitation or crossover to beat the drop defender to the rim. Instead, Maledon is indecisive, dribbles back out, and settles for a heavily contested three as the shot clock runs down.

Early in his career, Maledon could be an offensive liability if defenses don't respect his scoring. The lane will be clogged, and he will struggle to find space.

Despite his lack of confidence and scoring inconsistencies, Maledon does have some promise to be competent as a scorer. Maledon's length and body control suggest he can improve as an at rim finisher.

Here, we see how Maledon quickly gets to the rim out of the pick-and-roll. After dribbling off the screen, Maledon keeps his defender on his hip as the screener's defender commits as well. Maledon uses a momentary hesitation that freezes the opposing big man. This move gives Maledon enough space to get to the rim, extending with his right to finish.

Besides his natural scoring instincts, Maledon's shot is another concern. Mechanically, there aren't any glaring issues with Maledon's shot besides his inconsistent footwork. When Maledon enters his shot, he too frequently takes choppy steps, which throws off his balance.

Here, we see Maledon confidently step into a three. As Maledon dribbles off the screen, the defender, in typical fashion, goes well under the screen. Instead of taking his usual choppy steps into his shot, Maledon takes a subtle hop, which gives him a strong base and allows him to enter his shot in rhythm.

If Maledon can continue to shoot like this, his offensive impact will drastically rise. He doesn't need to be an elite shooter, and likely never will, but if he can be competent, it will create many options for him.

Going forward, Theo Maledon has a lot of promise. His defensive impact will be immediate, and his offensive skill set has promise. Maledon will be a robust point-of-attack defender and has the size to switch multiple positions. Offensively, Maledon has the most work to do. His passing vision and accuracy are promising, but he needs to improve his decision-making speed and live dribble passing ability. As a scorer, Maledon's impact will likely be nonexistent, at least at the start. He needs to be more confident in his shot and more deliberate on his drives.

Theo Maledon will likely be outshined by the other point guards in the 2020 NBA Draft, but that doesn't mean he isn't a promising prospect. As he develops, Maledon will carve out his role in a rotation. Maledon likely won't be a high-end starter, but he can develop into an excellent rotation guard. With his defensive impact and playmaking upside, Maledon will be a quality addition to an NBA rotation.

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