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Three situations that could see Jock Landale in the NBA
After a tremendously successful tenure at St Mary’s College in California, as well as two more impressive years in Europe, one could argue that Jock Landale is ready to make the permanent move to the NBA.
In the most recent NBA off season, Landale played for the Milwaukee Bucks Summer League team, but a deal could not be done in time to adhere to his NBA-out clause in his existing contract with Zalgiris Kaunas. The Victorian would go on to be a dominant force in the EuroLeague, putting up 11 points (34th in the league) and 4.4 rebounds per game.
In his last outing before COVID-19 forced brought competitions to a halt, Landale delivered an efficient offensive masterclass en route to a new career-high. He amassed 27 points on an almost perfect shooting performance, making 10 of 10 shots from the field which included 2 of 2 three-pointers, while also converting 5 of 6 from the free throw line against Zenit St Petersburg. It was a timely reminder that Landale has the ability to make it in the NBA.
With the remaining part of the 2019/2020 up in the air, are likely to start turning their attention to next season, included an extended look at Landale.
We take a look at three situations in which we could see Landale in the NBA next season.
Just before the trade deadline, the Rockets parted ways with starting centre Clint Capella, and effectively began an extreme version of small ball basketball with the arrival of “3 and D” star, Rob Covington. Whether Landale would get regular minutes if they continue that style into next year, is up for debate. But, he could be insurance for certain match-ups that come the team’s way.
His larger frame would allow Landale to provide a small-ball lineup with an increased presence in the paint at both ends. When the Rockets face other West contenders, like the Lakers, who practically have two centres in their starting lineup, or the Nuggets with their immense front court depth, Landale is someone who could be called upon.
Offensively, the Rockets are the pioneers of three-point shooting in the current NBA sphere. Given Landale’s 31% shooting overseas which is decent for an emerging big, as well as 36% in the Summer League for the Bucks last year, he could be considered a good fit for Mike D’Antoni’s trigger happy system. It would essentially allow him to have five shooters on the court at any one time.
Additionally, if the Rockets want to run some of the sets they used to run with Capela, in a way so that they are not predictable night in and night out, having Landale could enable this. He is an excellent screener, rolls to the rim hard and has good hands, thus being a perfect man for the job, especially at a low wage - something that is also important considering their proximity to the luxury tax threshold.
Landale isn’t the most laterally quick guy in the world and teams may target him in pick and roll settings. Maximum effort would be needed if he were to suit up for the Rockets, who need everything that they can get at that end of the court.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are going through quite a weird period of the Gregg Popovich era. After contending for many years with All-NBA players, such as Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, the team is now hovering in a stage of mediocrity. Although their playoff hopes are still alive technically, next year anything could happen.
Yet given the success the Spurs have had with international players, one may consider Landale a perfect fit for their system, regardless of the direction the organisation takes in the approaching off season. Aron Baynes, former Spur for example, is someone who Landale could easily emulate if the opportunity arose. When you compare the two, their games aren’t significantly different, and if anything, Landale has bought into modern basketball’s three-point extravaganza much earlier than Baynes did in his career.
It seems Popovich has a way of stimulating international players and really turning them into something of value, whether that’s a rotation player (Baynes, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter) or a perennial All-Star (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli). With Landale who is a skilled, strong and active big, who has shown signs of a scoring touch inside and an ability to shoot from the outside, there is a chance he could be the next great international prodigy out of San Antonio.
Landale’s energy is something that any contender would find useful, a role that is imperative for when the going gets tough in high intensity games. His skill set is useful as a role player coming off the bench as a spark – he can hit the three, he can burn his motor with no conservation on the defensive end as he is expendable, which are relevant skills in close and intense games
The Bucks would be a great fit for Landale considering he would have no trouble adjusting to their scheme of three point shooting around Giannis Antetokounmpo. If continuity means anything, the Bucks may be in the box position to land him, considering his stint with them in the Summer League last year.
The Lakers could use another big off the bench. Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris are both unrestricted free agents next year and aren’t getting any younger, and Javale Magee is also quite unpredictable. He could almost certainty fit into a rotation role off the bench, and the likeliness of such is only enhanced when taking into account Anthony Davis’ injury history – insurance for him would be welcomed.
Ditto to the Clippers, who could be in a bit of strife in their frontcourt pool this offseason, as Montrezl Harrel and Marcus Morris are impending free agents. Zubac has never been fully trusted by coach Doc Rivers, so additional depth at the centre position would be great for the team. With Landale’s low usage, he is a perfect fit alongside ball dominant players already on the squad; Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams.
It remains to be seen what the future beholds for Landale, but at this point, one could almost guarantee he will get another shot in the Summer League, if it does indeed proceed in the offseason.