Alex Ducas was expected to put points on the board this NBL1 season – he averaged 19 over the Centre of Excellence’s final six games of 2018 – but the way in which he has gone about it has been the impressive part.
Ducas’ skill-development has been noticeable as he has transitioned from a deadly spot-up three-point shooter to a more composed all-round scorer that can pick apart a defense in a number of ways.
His three-point shooting is still his strength with his capacity to knock down spot-up attempts from right around the arc, as well as his growing ability to hit via hand-offs, come off screens, or pull up off the dribble.
The other standout feature of his game this season though has been his poise with the ball in hand and ability to play in the half-court.
Using his reputation as a strong shooter to get the defense playing him a certain way, he cleverly reads the floor, works the angles, and displays great footwork inside the arc.
Data per HoopsDBFree-throw attempt rate Deep-paint attempt rate Three-point attempt rate 2019 NBL1 24.2% 36.7% 55.5% 2018 SEABL 13.3% 26.5% 69.9%
Watch Ducas and you’ll notice how he can play both fast and slow, either shooting it quick or attacking a gap if it is there immediately, or he can pause momentarily, survey the defense, and identify a shot or spot on the floor where he knows he will generate a good look from.
Even when he has chosen to play slow, he hasn’t been a ball-stopper, rather, he has picked apart the defense and found quality shots either at the rim, free-throw line, or from three.
Ducas’ shot profile is right in line with the ‘rim or three’ shot-type movement, something that the Centre of Excellence have bought into. The team’s percentage of field-goal attempts via mid-range has been dipping every year since data has become available (2015-2019) per HoopsDB.
“He has really improved his footwork and ability to shoot on the move and off the dribble," said Head Coach Adam Caporn after round two.
"His upside is exciting and we still haven’t seen the best of him."
The improvement has certainly been obvious as he’s regularly worked the angles when playing off the dribble to get his defender in an awkward position and playing catch-up from behind.
He can use a screen, a hesitation, or a fake to do this and his ability to change direction, euro-step or spin has really helped his drive game, whether that’s going middle or baseline.
At 6’6”, his good size for his wing position also helps him make a play in traffic. He’s developed a knack for getting his shot off around the rim with either hand, and a good ability to finish through contact and cash in with an and-one play.
Ducas doesn’t dazzle you with flashy passes or high assist numbers yet but if the defense shifts their focus in the wrong direction, or if they pay him extra attention, then he will make the extra pass to the shooter in the corner or to the big rolling to the rim.
Defensively, his 6’6” size comes in as a positive again as he uses his length to pick off sloppy passes on the perimeter and kick-start transition, as well as using it to play tough straight-up defense when caught at the rim.
His good footwork also translates to guarding his opponent on-ball and he even has some data that backs up his decent agility after recording the sixth best time in the ‘pro lane drill’ at the 2018 NBL Next Gen Camp.
Ducas’ time at the Centre of Excellence will soon come to an end with Saint Mary’s getting a fantastic recruit for their upcoming season.
"Alex is a great fit for everything that we do at Saint Mary's. He is skilled, a good athlete, and has a great feel for the game," said Head Coach Randy Bennett after Ducas' signing.
"His shooting ability and size for his position will make an immediate impact in our program."
The impact from Ducas has been impressive this NBL1 season – averaging over 20 points a game, a rare sight at the Centre of Excellence – and once his time in the NCAA finishes, he will have plenty of pro offers.