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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Yam Madar

Does the Israeli guard fit with the Grizzlies?

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2017 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler /NBAE via Getty Images

Yam Madar, Guard, Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

  • 6’3”, 180 lbs, 19.5 years old at time of draft (per Tankathon)
  • 2019-2020 season - 10.1 points, 3.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds in 24 minutes per game (per nba.com/draft)
  • ACCOLADES: 2019 U20 European Championship All-Tournament Team
  • STRENGTHS: Passing, defense
  • WEAKNESSES: Size, shooting
  • CURRENT BIG BOARD RANKINGS: The Ringer (34), Tankathon (57), ESPN (47), CBS (70)

No, your eyes do not deceive you, Mark Tatum - the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner - is not Yam Madar. Madar, a 6’3” point guard prospect from Israel, did not have any images in our picture database...so I chose to go with the guy most likely to read his name during the 2020 NBA Draft. For while some draft websites like Madar more than others (pretty big gap between 34th and 70th...) all of them seem to agree that at best the young lead guard will be a second round selection. Tatum of course is the person tasked with announcing those selections, so it will be him officially welcoming him to the Association.

We don’t know much about Madar, beyond what YouTube clips and draft websites tell us. We do know that he was teammates with likely Lottery selection Deni Avdija, and we also know that he is widely regarded as one of the flashiest passers coming in to this draft. He (in limited film watching) attacks on the defensive end and is actively attempting to improve as a shooter. He is young (won’t turn 20 until December) and seems to have room to grow his game. Perhaps with Ja Morant and Tyus Jones in the fold taking a shot on a developmental point makes sense.

What he does well

Forgive me for not being an expert on fringe NBA prospects from Israel, so I promise to not insult your intelligence by pretending to be one. But I will be honest and say that after watching film and reading up on his game, I really enjoyed watching him play. It’s almost as if Jevon Carter and Nick Calathes had a baby, it would be Yam Madar. Madar does indeed bring an energy and intensity to the defensive side of the floor that Memphis in particular would have a blast getting behind. He can both defend on the ball and as part of an overall team scheme, showcasing an understanding of angles and what opposing offenses are trying to do well beyond his years. He has good feet and quick hands, but what really stands out is his willingness to fight through contact and stick on shooters on the perimeter. For a team that struggles at times to defend the three, that would be nice to see.

Offensively? Again, for a young player he processes what he sees in front of him quite quickly. He makes snap judgments as a passer and has the ability to complete the pass with force. While he is still finding himself as a scorer (more on that below) he is more than capable of creating for others and getting them easy looks because of the tight windows he fits a majority of his passes in.

Sure, it’s against competition in and around Europe and the Middle East. But it doesn’t change the fact that his reads and propensity to embrace physical play rather than shy away from it would make for fun moments with the Grizzlies (or the Memphis Hustle).

How he can improve

While he appears to have addressed the problem to an extent (in a game in July he shot 11-18 from the field and 3-4 from three) he is at best an inconsistent shooter. The most recent season’s stats that we have on Madar put him at a 26.7% three point shooter. That’d be worse than De’Anthony Melton, worse than Kyle Anderson, worse than Memphis Grizzlies Jae Crowder...it’d be less than ideal. Again, Madar is young, and his free throw shooting (81.2%) leads me to believe his shooting stroke can improve from beyond the arc. But he is very much a work in progress when it comes to his perimeter game.

He also believes in himself as a passer too much at times. For every highlight pass or two you will get from Yam, you will get a “what the hell was he thinking” play as well. His size (6’3” 180) also likely typecasts him as a true point guard. This isn’t entirely clear, of course - we don’t have a listed wingspan to see if he can be like Melton and be a smaller wing, and his defensive acumen is a combination of lateral quickness and high level basketball IQ. He could perhaps make up for his lack of size. But based off of what I’ve seen (again, a limited amount) he seems better suited to be a true point guard in the NBA. How many non-versatile defensive guards can one team keep?

The fit and verdict

Yam Madar is going to get an NBA opportunity. With all the NBA world watching Deni Avdija possibly being a top-5 selection, it will only take Madar catching the eyes of one team to get picked. He has a lot of things to like about his game - the passing, the defensive passion, the fact that there’s a decent probability that his offensive game evolves. It all has the makings of a risk worth taking given the uncertainty surrounding just how much his game will translate to the NBA...

If you have multiple picks in this draft. Which Memphis does not.

Assuming the Grizzlies stick with #40 alone in the upcoming NBA Draft, they’ll need a player that has a bit more solid standing in terms of his prospects in the Association. They don’t necessarily need a ready-made rotation player - for next season, that is pretty much already set. But for 2021 and beyond, Memphis would be wise to use their 2nd round pick on a player that they can have better access to in terms of information, film, and overall understanding of professional fit. Madar may well wind up being very good. But a Grant Riller, a Devon Dotson, a Cassius Winston...if you want a 3rd point guard at #40 overall, chances are more concrete options will be available. And they should be the move for Memphis.

The Verdict: Perhaps as a two-way contract target Yam makes sense for the Grizzlies...but that likely doesn’t move the needle for Madar. Look for him to be taken by a team with multiple 2nd round picks, making his sink or swim potential more palatable to deal with.

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