ANGT: 12.5 ppg, 55.6% FG, 11 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.5 bpg
L’Hospitalet: 14.2 ppg, 43.6%, 12.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.4 bpg
7 foot big man Vinicius Da Silva was one of the players to watch during this winter stretch, with high-level games at both the Valencia ANGT and the Hospitalet Junior Tournament. His combination of size, wingspan, budding skillset and athleticism is intriguing, and the Brazilian big man has clear cut top-level potential. His presence changes the geometry of the court, as he’s a game-changing defensive player at this level with the ability to space the floor vertically on offense too.
The intrigue with Vinicius starts with his physical tools. A real 7 footer with excellent length, Vinicius puts his physical gifts to good use on basically every possession. At this stage of his development and at this level, Vinicius’ main value comes on defense. He’s a legitimate seven-footer and has very good length, allowing him to contest basically every shot at the basket as long as he’s on the court. He also shows good timing going for blocks, and his presence alone acts as a big deterrent for opponents at the rim.
That length also allows him to be an excellent rebounder at the junior level, which he combines with occasional box outs to keep his man away from the paint. However, one area of improvement for him is his level of focus, as he can sometimes forget to box out and give up offensive rebounds. Finally, his mobility is quite adequate for his size, and he can easily show on the pick and roll and keep the guards in front of him without issue. He even executed a few hard hedges and was able to return to his man without the defense collapsing.
On offense, Vinicius is a mixed bag at this stage, although he is making steady improvements. On the upside, he is an elite finisher around the rim when given space: if he has time to load up, he can finish over the rim with ease, especially in dump-off or alley-oop situations. Furthermore, he understands his role and rarely tries to do too much, instead limiting himself to straight post-ups and screen and rolls or hand-offs. When posting up, he simply attempts to get close to the basket and turn and finish, although he understands that he is likely going to get double teamed and is willing and ready to be used as a hub to playmake from the low block. Beyond this, Vinicius is offensively quite limited, as he doesn’t have very good ball control yet and his touch is not the best.
However, Vinicius does show offensive flashes at times. Against ASVEL Villeurbance, in the Valencia ANGT, he had one glorious post up move where he split a double team with a nifty jump stop and finish. At the Hospitalet tournament, he had a couple of intriguing moments, including a dribble and spin move in transition capped off by a soft layup.
However, these moments come hand-in-hand with many instances where he struggles to finish easy plays under the rim. A lot of this has to with Vinicius’ balance: he isn’t the strongest or most coordinated big man around, and he gets easily dislodged when facing contact. Once this happens, he struggles to maintain his balance and is often unable to rise up and finish over his opposition. He also doesn’t have the best of hands, fumbling passes every now and then and generally not making the smooth catches than could set him up for easy finishes. He also needs to continue working on his ball skills. As of right now, he seems uncomfortable handling the ball or making any sort of move with the basketball. This limits his potential in generating offense, and until he improves on this front, his role will be limited to that of a defensive-minded, rim-rolling big man.
As a shooter, Vinicius tried his luck at Hospitalet with a few 3 pointers, but only made 1 out of 8 attempts and doesn’t have the quickest or smoothest release. This stands as a clear area of improvement for him: as it does not look like he will be an offensive generator any time soon, having the ability to space the floor would be key for him to earn playing time at the highest levels.
More importantly, his lack of strength and skill really limit his ability to impact the game, especially in crunch time situations or in physical and intense games. For instance, in a do-or-die game against the local club in L’Hospitalet, Vinicius finished with only 5 points against a team that had very little size on the interior. In the Valencia ANGT semifinals, Vinicius was outplayed by Bolonia’s big man and eventual MVP Gora Camara, and in Hospitalet he was thoroughly outmatched in the final against Gran Canaria’s Khalifa Ababacar. Both Camara and Ababacar are much stronger but equally athletic prospects who simply impacted the game more than Vinicius was able to. In fact, during Gran Canaria’s tournament clinching run in the 2nd quarter of the Hospitalet final, Vinicius was mostly inconsequential, and his limited skillset reduced him to a marginal rim protecting role in the kind of game where teams simply need their best players to show up.
Overall, Vinicius has predictably been one of the most dominant players in the junior scene during this winter stretch. His physical tools alone make him a very interesting prospect, and his ability to protect the rim and finish powerfully on rolls and dump-off situations will make for a good professional career. However, upon closer inspection, his offensive and physical limitations are evident and restrict him in pressure situations. This doesn’t mean that Vinicius does not have the upside; it simply means that he will need to continue working on both his body and his skillset in order to become the top-level player he can be. His physical tools are outstanding and he has shown considerable improvement in the past year, especially in terms of his tactical awareness and decision-making. He simply needs to keep improving in order to take the next step in his development, and Joventut is one of the best possible places for him to do so.