Scouting Outlook: James Gist
James Gist is one of the biggest names signed in ABA league during this off season. 8 years Euroleague veteran will continue his journey at the highest European level in Crvena Zvezda jersey and he will bring numerous talents to his new club. James Gist spent last season in Panathinaikos averaging 7.8 ppg and 3.5 rpg in Euroleague, while scoring 6.8 ppg and reaching 5.3 rpg in Greek A1 Esake league.
American big man is not unknown player to Serbian basketball public, while he starred for Crvena Zvezda arch rival Partizan BC at the beginning of 2010s. Still, Gist is very interesting player for short scouting outlook, due he changed a lot as a player over years and he is not that athletic high flying power forward as he was in Partizan Belgrade. Nowadays, James is elite pick and roll center in Euroleague with quite solid low post game and athletic tools remained even he will be 33 years old soon.
James Gist is 205 cm 108 kg center, born 1986. He had extreme bouncing ability and he was super athletic, but he is in physical decline over past few seasons. Still, he is very mobile, both laterally and vertically fast big man capable of high athletic play with big vertical leap and wingspan. Despite being 33 at this time, he is still close to elite physical profile at European level.
James Gist offensive game is consisted of excellent pick and roll execution and solid low post game. At the same time, he is quite versatile so we can add offensive rebounding, cutting and exceptional game in transition to his repertoire. Gist has seriously declined as a shooter since start of his PAO career, but that segment stayed in his game as well, just as back-up option.
Pick and Roll game in James Gist case is elite. He is great option as roller to the rim, but he can be used in pick and pop and short roll situations as well. He sets good screens, is very experienced in measuring contact while making them, and he has nicely timing and quite polished rolling towards the rim. He chooses perfect lanes for roll, so every mistake in opposition defense is easily punished. Gist is still very mobile, but it seems that he has declined a bit in finishing around the rim. He can be too hesitant or de-concentrated in both lay ups and dunks. Has few fake moves too, which disturbs defense.
In Pick and Pop situations Gist is not as dangerous as he was, due his lack of outside shot at this stage of career. His release does not look smooth (it will be explained below). He can be used in all positions for pick and roll (right, left, middle), but he is still the most effective from the middle of the court.
Low post game for Gist is often underestimated part of his ability. He is not elite finisher nor he has lot of back to basket low post moves, but he is still very versatile. He can attack face up, back to basket, has numerous spin moves and can finish both from left or right side equally efficient. He has problems in finishing (especially from left side), using too much board or just losing balance at times. Additional quality of James Gist in these situations is his passing: he is capable of finding good angles and sending good passes all round (to spot up shooter for catch and shoot or to cutter).
James Gist is very useful at offensive rebound as well. Dangerous leaper who is very experienced in good positioning and always in contact. He has very active hands, but struggles to finish lay ups at times. He uses both hands.
Additional areas in which is Gist’s impact visible is cutting and excellent transition game. Gist has high basketball IQ and he reads situations with ease. James is excellent cutter, very decisive and precise. He has great feel for clear room and how to use it on the court. Sometimes, he puts the ball on the floor in these situations as well, which causes some of his turnovers (traveling violation or offensive foul).
In transition James is great runner off ball and even solid with ball in his hands. He is capable of making coast to coast move, but he is far better in running without ball in his hands (limited ball handling skills). Gist cannot dunk all balls as before, but he can still make a splash with some dominant dunks or nice lay ups.
Finally, James shooting has seriously declined over years. His rotations are too strong, release bit awkward and slow and he almost lost his 3pt shot. Problems could be connected with lack of confidence in his shooting or some other reasons. Gist kept mid ranger, but streaky as well. Around the basket Gust is excellent and versatile finisher. He uses hook shots and board, while still being nimble and he knows how to protect his shot well.
James Gist game is consisted of influence at both ends of the floor. He was always next to elite defender and it seems that hasn’t changed so far. He is very adequate as pick and roll defender, low post force or even ISO cover.
James reads game well, which causes timely rotations always contesting shots. He is active at help side and has good reactions. Gist recovers fast in every possible situation. Gist is very experienced player and he likes using it in contact game. He remained solid blocker and rim protector too.
Pick and Roll defense for Gist is solid part of his defensive game. He propels nice, has tools and ability to cover opposition players in different pnr sets. While defending a roller in pick and roll he is always ready for screen and to go through it and he still has elite footwork needed for these situations. Likes contact, almost seeks for it all the time. When he covers ball handler in pick and roll he is still capable to stay in front and has good anticipation.
Low post defense is also at solid level. He has strong base and ability to defend much stronger big men. James knows how to direct players to sides, but he over contacts and over reacts on times. He can be in foul trouble due aforementioned things.
Special quality in defense for Gist is his ability to defend ISO situations, even vs quick guards. He has good lateral quickness still and can stay in front of much quicker players. That is mostly because of his tools as well as anticipation and basketball IQ, which makes him elite 1 on 1 defender. Additionally, he has fast hands and fast reactions.
James Gist should be exceptional addition both for ABA and Euroleague for this Crvena Zvezda team. He can be defensive corrector and, at the same time, quite reliable scoring option in offense. Gist has both tools and ability to be game changer at local level and his games will be very important for the team to repeat success from last season.