Scouting: Henry Sims

Name: Henry Sims
Date of Birth: 27th of March 1990
Nationality: USA
Height: 2.08m
Weight: 112 kg
Pro Since: 2012
Club: Fortitudo Bologna
Role: Face-up Big
Key Skills: Midrange shooting, Face-up, Screen setting


Background

Henry Sims is a 30-year-old US-center that played for Fortitudo Bologna in Italy last season. After some years in and out of the NBA it seems like he’s found a new home in Europe, having played for Vanoli Cremona and Virtus Roma already before racking up 15.1 points (54.4% FG), 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks for Bologna. Sims is one of the best midrange shooters in Europe and has established himself as one of the big stars in Basket City. While his athleticism isn’t off the charts, he’s got the right size and the right body to be dominant in Europe.


Strengths

Face-up game. Sims likes to face up a lot. His first option after receiving the ball with the back to the basket is always the turn around in order to locate the hoop. He either takes an efficient face-up jumper or puts the ball on the floor in order to drive to the rim. While he’s not overly fast, he’s still able to go around guys to some extent, especially when they have to respect his shooting. He won’t get all the way to the cup in most cases and struggles to finish against contact, but at least he puts himself in a position where he can use shot fakes, spin moves or his turnaround jump shot after that. His first option is always the drive to his left, in part because he jab steps with the right foot and wants to avoid the travel. He loves to go to that side, then spin around and finish with his right, one of the more advanced moves for a big. If he drives left and has no room to spin back, he’s trying his luck with a quick push shot or a fadeaway that only a select few can consistently hit at that level. Sims is a player that chooses the face-up over the classic low post back down any day of the week and while he should mix it up a little bit more, he’s certainly a weapon there. His drive is not as lethal as his shooting, but it’s still nice to see him having a bunch of moves in his bag.

Midrange shooting. A huge part of his face-up success is directly related to him being an elite midrange shooter. He hits around 50% of his midrange shots and has cemented his reputation as one of the best shooting 5’s in Europe. To compensate his lack of rim running in the pick and roll, he likes to move into the midrange area after setting the screen and definitely has the right skillset for that type of action. While he could be a little bit better shooting on the move in some of those (hectic) pick and pop situations, he makes up for it with his outstanding accuracy spotting or facing up. He’s absolutely automatic when his feet are set and he has enough time to wait for the pass. He can rely on his perfect shooting touch that’s build around a really good base/foundation, nice core stability and the ability to shoot over the defense. He doesn’t really get bothered by contests as his high release point does him a favor and he’s experienced enough to take his time before he’s letting it fly.

Size and body. Sims is 2.08m tall and weighs around 112 kg, really decent numbers for a center in Europe. It’s hard for opponents to push him around on both ends and once he establishes good inside position there’s not much they can do to change that. Although he gets knocked off his spot at times when opponents go right into him and attack his core, he’s quite an interior presence overall. His impact as a rim protector is evident when he’s got enough time to load up and contest the shot. While he might not be much of an active shotblocker in hectic situations due to the fact that he’s mostly staying on the ground, his presence alone makes an impact at times. He rarely leaves the ground, but if he’s jumping you better believe that he’s going straight up and really vertical. He can’t turn it on consistently over the course of a game, but when he’s engaged he’ll have you in awe every now and then.

On offense he establishes deep inside position and uses his body well to receive the pass. On the glass he might not be the best at pursuing the ball, but if the ball is coming down somewhere near him, there’s a pretty high chance that noone from the other team is touching that ball. He does a great job boxing out, using his big body to shield his opponent. And while he could be better in terms of dealing with physicality in the post or under the rim on both ends, he’s got the size and the body to cover at least some of those flaws.

Screen setting. His body is also the reason why he gets teammates open as a screener and it’s nice to see that he’s willing to do that on a consistent basis. While he might not be the one directly profiting from those screens, he’s more than happy to set good picks and create open looks. He takes hits and the fact that he’s a guy with a straight posture and a flat-footed playing style helps him quite a lot in those situations. Opponents are having a hard time going through him and frequently get stuck in his screens. He’s mostly rolling to the midrange – and not to the rim – enabling him to hold the screen for long enough that his ballhandler has enough time and space to operate.


Weaknesses

Athleticism, mobility and overall activity. Sims turned 30 in March and wasn’t much of a mobile center or consistent leaper over the course of his career anyway. He’s a little bit slow(-footed) and weary in all aspects of his game and really picks his spots. It’s pretty obvious that he’s not overly active and his flat-footed playing style only adds to that. He could be an elite rim protector with his size and his body, but lacks bounce in his step and doesn’t get off the ground much, especially in traffic. He isn’t trying to block post-up attempts at all and his overall willingness to take risks as a shotblocker isn’t quite there. He’s not someone you would consider a light-footed or springy athlete and it’s not like his reaction time would jump out at you either. He’s gonna get beat in jumping duels competing for 50/50 balls and needs the ball to land in his area to come up with the rebound. Defensively he is rather slow laterally and therefore has trouble staying in front of guards. He’s not good at shuffling his feet, which is a quite a problem once he’s out of his comfort zone somewhere far from the hoop. Sims is mostly limited to drop back coverage in pick and roll situations and definitely not made for a switch-heavy system. You can attack him in the pick and pop with a mobile big and his experience, his size and his wingspan are the only reasons why he’s at least solid and not a huge liability in the traditional pick and roll.

Offensively he’s almost a complete non-factor in transition and looks really sluggish going from one end to another. He’s also not a great rim runner and rolls to the elbows instead. He’s not fast enough to consistently go by people and drive all the way to rim, something that really limits his offensive ceiling. When he catches the ball directly under the hoop he’s really inviting blocks as he’s not explosive enough to just elevate for a quick but powerful dunk. There are multiple possessions a game where he could really use some extra quickness and athleticism to keep up with the speed of the game.

Back to the basket game. As already mentioned, Sims always looks for a way to face up, even against mismatches. Most of the time he gets the ball with ten seconds or less, but instead of just backing down his man, he looks for ways to finesse his way into points, either with his patented face-up jumper or a quick dribble and nifty footwork. He lacks a good and simple back to the basket game and only backs down his man if there’s no other option. Instead of finding a way to get closer to the basket he rather looks for options to move away from the hoop and away from the opponent’s pressure. He tries to go around/by people with his drive, but should look to post up his man with some basic moves. He’s not good at scoring with his right-handed hook shot let alone his left handed hook and it doesn’t look natural when he’s trying to push his man closer to the hoop. He’s always in a pretty upward stance and not used to get low – a big reason why he’s not able to translate his physical advantage into points.

Decision making/turnover ratio. In addition to that, Sims has always been a player that’ll eventually turn the ball over here and there and while it doesn’t paint the whole picture in this case, 2.4 turnovers per game are too much. You can pass him ball without having to worry that he’s gonna turn it over right after, but he needs to do a better job avoiding risky passes to teammates and should improve his overall passing accuracy. He regularly throws passes out of bounds or right into the arms of the defense, leading to fastbreak points on the other end. He likes to drive and stop, but hasn’t quite figured out what to do when the help is coming and he’s getting pressured. He finds weakside cutters from the post, but once there’s traffic his passing game gets shaky.

Not only his offensive decision making is flawed though, his foul management and his (help-)defense need some finetuning as well. In situations where he had no clear disadvantage, he unnecessarily reached in, other times when he could have fouled he just did the mandatory work, defended with his arms up, but in fact didn’t really contest the shot. Sims averaged only 2.06 fouls per game this season, but that came at the expense of his playing time in the first half and his overall aggressiveness at times. When he was confronted with one on two situations with him being the one outnumbered, he tried to force charges instead of just staying home and contesting the shot as a help defender – resulting in open dunks for his initial matchup. Instead of letting the game come to him he overhelped in those sequences and did more damage than good. In general he’s either a bit slow with everything or in a rush, something that’s obvious when you look at his defensive actions or some of his drives to the rim. Sims is not a crazy liability in all those areas and makes up for it in other ways, but it’s visible every now and then that this is something where he needs to improve, even in this stage of his career.


Outlook

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Henry Sims on a EuroCup roster next season. While his mobility and overall activity aren’t good and he’s clearly lacking a post game at times, his elite midrange shooting and his body are factoring heavily into believing that he could be a valuable piece for a team that’s playing internationally. Sims had a great season in Bologna and after three years in Italy it might be the right time for him to make the next step. He certainly showed that he’s ready.

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