In somewhat of a surprise to me, Sandro Mamukelashvili (Mamu) got the boot next on our Ranking the Roster series, narrowly nabbing more votes over Mamadi Diakite. I’ll wax poetic about Mamu plenty below, but outside of some athleticism advantages, I haven’t seen all that much from Diakite that makes me feel more encouraged than the glimpses of Mamu. Both are unlikely to matter come next postseason, but I’m more intrigued by the former Seton Hall product for certain.
I didn’t know all that much about Sandro Mamukelashvili coming out of college, but he stole my heart in Summer League. The power forward/small forward/point guard was the Big East Player of the Year, but I’d never seen his tape coming out of Seton Hall. Standing at 6’11”, I’m curious if Mamu can ever strengthen up enough to be a serviceable center. I doubt his blocking at the rim would ever be formidable, but he’d need more bulk to be able to box out capably.
Defense is what will be the biggest barrier to Mamu likely finding any semblance of minutes. But, speaking of his blocks, he had several decent ones in Vegas on guys trying to dribble and glide past him. He moved his feet ably enough and stood in front with his hands up and was able to get a key block in their first Summer League victory. Still, against quicker forwards in the NBA, I’m interested to see how he fares without the athleticism to recover for blocks. I also want to see how he would hold up in a high-switching scheme against guards, and when he spends time with the Wisconsin Herd, I hope they give him more switching opportunities. Maybe he could become Bobby Portis-lite on defense?
Then again, one 18-inch difference between Mamu and Portis is that the former hasn’t demonstrated too much capable shooting yet. He was 66% from the line for his career in college, although 71% his senior year on his highest volume yet. From deep, he was 33% overall across his four years, and there was little in Summer League to dispel that notion. Oftentimes, his jumper clanked off the front of the rim, but at least he was on target. He got a few of his attempts in the last game to splash home and his stroke seems solid enough, so expect it to be a work in progress.
What got everyone (myself included) all hot and bothered over Mamu was his passing, especially on the move. The wraparound passes beneath the rim. The mid-post one-handed hyperball to Nwora in the corner. That stuff flashes in Summer League, and I was actually impressed how he didn’t try to force too many of those passes. Whatever you want to say about Mamu, he’s got one piece of Bud & Horst’s “Pass, dribble, shoot” triforce in place. I also just gravitate towards someone who knows how to keep the ball moving. I find that a far more palatable approach to basketball and something that lends itself to a role player construct.
I’d say the most surprising thing about Mamu was that he was able to make himself felt on the offensive glass. Who knows whether that would hold up against better athleticism in the NBA (my guess is not nearly as well) but it’s another skill we can hold onto and see how it develops. On just a two-way contract, Milwaukee will need to manage how frequently he’s up with the big league club versus the Herd. For now, he’s dirt cheap, and we’ll have to see whether he gets converted to a minimum non-guaranteed deal by year’s end.
Let’s move onto the next part of our voting.
The 14th Most Important Player to Milwaukee’s Postseason Success is...
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