In 2019, Rui Hachimura made history by becoming the first Japanese-born player to be drafted in the lottery, being selected ninth overall by the Washington Wizards. That number is expected to increase very soon, with a new batch of highly talented Japanese prospects likely entering the draft in a couple of years. Nicknamed “The Generation of Miracles”, these five prodigies burst onto the Japanese basketball scene with their dominant play at the prestigious Teiko Junior High, winning three consecutive national championships.
Midorima Shintaro, the ace shooter coming out of Teiko, has already shown growth in his game during his short career thus far at Shutoku High. With a bigger role on a team devoid of other stars, Midorima has been given a bigger stage to showcase his abilities and his limitations. Still, his case for a lottery pick in his draft class has some merit.
Midorima Shintaro Player Profile
One of the best pure shooters in his draft class, perhaps his generation, Midorima is a player who can add instant offense to a team. His accuracy from near limitless range makes him an elite threat that must be contained the moment he steps foot on the court. He has shown some ability to create shots for himself off the dribble, confidently handling the ball and using pump feints to evade defenders and launch his long-range, high-arching shots. However, he is perhaps best used as a catch-and-shoot guy, either shooting 3-pointers or popping off screens.
Defensively, Midorima has shown the potential to score multiple positions, comfortable scoring the best opposing score both on the perimeter and in the paint. His high basketball IQ and his footwork allow him to stay ahead of fast shooting guards, while his frame and long limbs allow him to block or alter shots at the hoop. Concerns regarding his reputation as a ball stopper early in his freshman year in high school have already begun to dissipate. Throughout his team’s run in the Winter Cup, Midorima could be seen as a willing passer, drawing multiple defenders and kicking his teammates wide open for easy baskets. While he’s not a natural playmaker right now, this is definitely a skill he could continue to improve throughout his career.
His potential and role in the NBA
Among his peers, Midorima defines the concept of being a star in his role. Quality 3-and-D guys are always valued in the league, and that’s where Midorima can hope to shine. His shooting and range should add much-needed space to his team’s offense, allowing other creative ball handlers or post players to exploit the opposition one-on-one. His defensive versatility should also bring more flexibility to the team’s lineups.
Its limitations add a question mark to its positive side. While he is a capable shotmaker and has shown glimpses of an ability to create for his teammates as well, neither of those skills are NBA-ready right now, and his ceiling remains to be seen. His athletic abilities, while impressive, don’t scream superstar potential. However, one of his biggest concerns in his game is his complete unwillingness to shoot from anywhere inside the arc. Even Mark D’Antoni, a big part of the NBA’s 3-point revolution, would consider that extreme.
Most importantly, Midorima has fallen short as the best player on his team, repeatedly outclassed by other members of the Generation of Miracles. His high school captain, Akashi Seijuro, was able to shut him down during Shutoku’s loss in the Winter Cup semi-finals against Rakuzan High. Also, his long-range shooting took a hit when he faced a more athletic defender in Kagami Taiga, another Japanese prospect from the same draft class.
Player Comparison: Klay Thompson
The obvious comparison for Midorima is another prototypical 3-and-D player in Klay Thompson. A four-time champion with multiple NBA All-Star and All-Defensive appearances, Klay has played an integral role in the Warrior dynasty, with his offensive gravity creating space for his teammates and his tight defense allowing them to play a rhythm. exceptionally fast. small ball style that has changed the game in the last decade.
Midorima’s similar size and skill set should offer NBA GMs a fair understanding of what to expect from him when he enters the league. The growth Klay has shown in developing his ability to do more than shoot, doing a little of everything in the Warriors’ system that emphasizes ball movement and player movement, could serve as a good model for Midorima to continue. developing his skills over his NBA Career without trying to break the mold and being a player he is not.
Best fit in the NBA: Boston Celtics
Midorima’s polished two-way skills should be encouraging for any NBA team looking to add an extra offensive boost to their lineups. However, he would be misconstrued as the savior of a struggling franchise and is better suited to a team that already has a couple of established stars and a team culture that can seamlessly incorporate him. The most obvious choice by far would be the Boston Celtics.
Having lost a close Finals series to the Golden State Warriors last season, the Celtics remain strong contenders in the East this year as well. Their two rising stars, Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown, could benefit from having a third scorer who can be effective without needing the ball as much. The attention Midorima draws from the opposition and the way his shooting range can distort the defense should allow Tatum and Brown to operate freely on the floor without seeing as many double teams, and if they both get a rare night off, Midorima should being able to run the offense as a high-volume scorer. He should also be a good fit for the Celtics’ switch-heavy defense.
In a win-now situation, the Celtics are just one more piece away from returning to the top of NBA basketball and capturing another title. Midorima could be exactly what they need, nothing more, nothing less. Adding him to a core of young stars could set Boston up for nearly a full decade of dominance.