They Smell Like the Future: Sylven Landesberg

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 21, 2010 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by Getty Images.

Virginia sophomore
6’6.25”, 210 lbs (Combine measurements)
20 years old
Shooting guard
Projection: Second rounder/undrafted

To be frank, I have no idea what to make of Sylven Landesberg. From a position standpoint, the Mavs could use some long-term depth at the 2. Landesberg isn’t an ideal prospect to fill that role, but he clearly has aptitude and does fit the bill, in a sense. Yet Sylven is further away from NBA production than many other possible draft selections, and he shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate prospect for two more years at least.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if the Mavs are looking at a player that won’t be ready to roll for a few seasons, position becomes much less of an issue. Who knows what the Mavs roster could look like in 2011 much less in the seasons beyond? With that uncertainty in mind, it’s far more important that Dallas hit on any draft choice in the second round rather than one that fills a specific need. Drafting based on need is a debatable strategy at any point in the draft, but when selecting with the 50th pick? It’s like trying to win the 100-meter hurdles with your legs tied together.

Development aside, Landesberg is about what you’d expect from a swingman: a good collegiate scorer (though not skilled enough to push him into the first round or even the early second round), a decent playmaker, and a somewhat lacking defender. He’s not limited athletically like some of the other perimeter prospects I’ve reviewed so far, he just has yet to develop the defensive sensibilities that make competent perimeter stalwarts out of collegiate stars.

Landesberg wouldn’t be an important addition for today’s Mavs, but if Dallas ends up selecting him, it won’t be for immediate mop-up duty. Sylven is an interesting asset to have for the long-term though, and could be a great trial run for the Texas Legends. If Donnie Nelson can turn the Legends into an Austin Toros-style farm team, Landesberg would be a great prospect to get the ball rolling. He has the natural talent necessary to eventually make the jump into the NBA, and enough holes in his game and specific flaws that an extended tour with Nelson-appointed developmental coaches would do him a world of good.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

Per Game17.
Per 4021.

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):


2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):


Other People:

Jonathan Givony, Draft Express: “While he gets to the line at a solid rate (about average in fact amongst the NCAA’s top shooting guard prospects), he could do a much better job of driving into his defenders (rather than around them) and not settling for as many floaters in the lane as he currently does. Part of this will come naturally with added strength and experience, but getting coached up in this area and making more of a commitment to not settling for the first shot that becomes available will go a long ways in honing his terrific slashing potential. As a shooter, Landesberg has clear-cut strengths and weaknesses. On one hand he doesn’t get much elevation on his flat-footed and somewhat deliberate stroke, either in catch and shoot situations or when pulling up off the dribble. This will make it more difficult for him to get his shot off at the NBA level where defenders are bigger, longer and more athletic than in the NCAA. On the other hand, Landesberg clearly has an innate feel and touch for making shots, something that again speaks to the talent he possesses. While he probably will need to tweak his mechanics and learn how to get his shot off quicker, he should be able to figure things out at some point in his career.”

Jonathan Givony, Draft Express: “Landesberg’s main appeal as a prospect remains his ability to create his own shot as a 6-6 swingman—something you just don’t find that often. He’s an incredibly smooth, fluid athlete, not terribly explosive, but nevertheless possessing a wide array of shifty ball-handling skills and hesitation moves to get his man off balance and attack him with terrific timing. This is a skill that is extremely difficult to teach, and gives him a great base to build off as a scorer down the road. Watching him play, it’s not difficult to see a little bit of Evan Turner in his game in this regard, minus the same incredible versatility and feel for the game. Unfortunately for Landesberg, he does not currently possess the same ability to finish his drives as he does creating then. He is not incredibly explosive around the basket, often lacking the verticality needed to get his shot off in traffic already at the college level, and not yet showing the best instincts for initiating contact in the paint and drawing fouls.”

The Associated Press: “Virginia’s suspended leading scorer Sylven Landesberg is leaving school to pursue a professional career. Coach Tony Bennett said Tuesday that Landesberg won’t complete the current semester. Earlier this month the sophomore guard was suspended for the rest of the season for failing to meet his academic obligations. ‘I have discussed Sylven’s future with the Landesberg family and been informed that he will be leaving the University of Virginia to pursue his professional aspirations,’ Bennett said. ‘I am thankful for the significant contributions Sylven made to the Virginia basketball program and wish him success in his future endeavors.’”

Supplementary Materials:

Video by Draft Express.

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.