DEVAUGHN AKOON-PURCELL: the brightest side of Galata bridge

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AKOON-PURCELL

Welcome back to a new chapter of our format on Euroleague-caliber players!

After having focused on Ismael Bako, center of Manresa, this week Eurodevotion will move from Catalunya to the Bosforus, and more specifically to the neighboorhood of Galatasaray. A player is infact shining there this season, both at a domestic and at a european level, putting up numbers very easily and trying to lead his team to the final stage of the Basketball Champions League, and that player is DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell.

Akoon-Purcell is one of the most interesting profiles across all the continent, with very unique characteristics that are attracting multiple Euroleague GMs for the next season, as it is very likely that the Turkish Airlines Euroleague will be the next step for him.

BACKGROUND

DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell is a 28 year-old (born June 5, 1993) Trinidadian-American player.

He was born in Orlando, Florida and started playing basketball at a collegial level at Eastern Oklahoma State College. There he was nominated National Junior College Athletic Association Division I All-America Honorable Mention selection and this made it possible for him to move to Illinois State University ahead of the 2014–15 season. In his junior season, Akoon-Purcell registered 12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists, obtaining a nomination for the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) All-Newcomer Team and, the following year, in his senior season, he led the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game, eighth in the MVC, earning him the All-MVC Second Team. 

Still, Akoon-Purcell went undrafted in 2016 and thus decided to move to Europe, where he signed with the Danish team of Bakken Bears. In Aarhus, the native of Orlando played for two years and was able to score massively, as the points per game reached a peak of 18.6 in the FIBA Europe Cup during the 2017-2018, enough to be worth a call by the Denver Nuggets during the Las Vegas Summer League.

Between 2018 and 2020, Akoon-Purcell changed many teams, playing in Israel, France and in the NBA G-League, till he finally signed a one-year contract in Turkey with Tofas Bursa on September 29, 2020.

With Tofas, he played 11 games in the Basketball Champions League, scoring 15.2 points, grabbing 5.3 rebounds and delivering 1.3 assists, numbers that put him again on the NBA radars as he later took part in the 2021 Summer League with the Atlanta Hawks.

On August 23, 2021 Akoon-Purcell finally signed a 1+1 contract with Galatasaray, where he is playing an incredible season, especially in his european campaign, being named in the Regular Season First Team of the BCL by averaging 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

AKOON-PURCELL: PROS

FAST BREAK

The first thing that we notice when looking at Akoon-Purcell’s game is his ability to score. He scores massively.

And if we look in detail at his game we see that one of the reasons is the fact that he is one of the most efficient players in transition and on a fast break, where he immediately reads that the rebound is gonna be grabbed by his teammates and quickly runs to the other end not allowing the defense to take position.

More specifically, what emerges is his ability to find a position, while running the floor, where he will be able to catch the passage. Many times we see players that run the floor but not in an efficient way, as they don’t manage to move away from their defender and put themselves into vision creating a passage line for their teammates.

This is instead one of Akoon-Purcell’s greatest characteristic, as it allows him to score a significant percentage of his points without having to beat the defense by the dribble.

ATTACKING THE RIM

And even if we talk about beating the defense by the dribble, Akoon-Purcell is a master, as he is able to create an advantage in many situations:

From the clip we can notice that he is able able to quickly beat the close-outs of the defense, but also to attack his defender 1-on-1 both in isolation and after a pick and roll when the defense has been moved.

The common element to all this scenarios is the fact that Akoon-Purcell is not afraid to conclude at the rim, even when he has to face the big man to finish. This is mainly due to his athleticism, with one of the quickest first step in the whole competition, and his lenght, as he is 6’6″ (198 cm) with a wingspan of 7’1″ (216 cm), which makes him a very complete swingman that can play either the shooting guard position or the small forward one. He has definitely the perfect size for a 2-3 position in Europe.

3-POINT SHOOTING

But Akoon-Purcell is not a great scorer only when finishing at the rim, as he can fill his boxscore from the perimeter, too.

This season, Akoon-Purcell is shooting with an astonishing 45.7% from the 3-point line in the BCL, and he combines efficiency and quantity, becoming a primary threat behind the arch.

In this video we see that his shooting-form is extremely smooth and, more important, quick. This quickness allows him to punish the D as soon as he recognizes that a mistake has been made, without giving the opponents the possibility to rotate and limit the damage.

In addition, even when the shot is at the end of the 24 seconds or when the distance is much greater than 6.75m, Akoon-Purcell has no fear and loves taking this responsibility and, as it is possible to see from the clip, it’s not rare that he scores those baskets.

DEFENSE

Despite being a first-tier player on the offensive end, Akoon-Purcell is also a threatening defender.

He is infact capable of using his quickness and lenght to intercept passages and attack in transition, but also to contest shots thanks to his wingspan.

This season he is averaging 1.8 steals and 0.3 blocks per game, making clear what is the potential of this player even on this side of the floor, and I honestly see him as one of the most complete players outside Euroleague, maybe the most ready to make the next step.

AKOON-PURCELL: WHERE TO IMPROVE

3-POINT PERCENTAGES

Having said that Akoon-Purcell is shooting with an incredible 45.7% from the 3-point line this year, we also have to point out that, over his career, his percentages have fluctuated a lot, as last season 26.4% with Tofas Bursa suggests.

In the last 4 european campaigns, his percentages were 34.0-25.5-26.4-47.5%, which makes even more evident what we are saying. If Akoon-Purcell wants to make the final step in his game he just has to convert more efficiently his 3-point shots, turning into not only a shooter of quantity but also quality.

COMPARISON: JORDAN LOYD + SHAQUILLE MCKISSIC

It was very hard to find a comparison for DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, mainly because I strongly believe there is no similar player in the Euroleague. Still, I think that Akoon-Purcell can evolve into a mix between Jordan Loyd and Shaquille McKissic.

Clearly, the reason why I associate Akoon-Purcell with Jordan Loyd is their ability to score. Score fast, very fast. They are infact both able to turn a game in their favor in less than two minutes, scoring tough baskets and entering in the zone.

In addition, I believe that Akoon-Purcell could be a great second handler on the floor at a Euroleague level as Loyd is. This year Jordan Loyd has been playing much more with the ball in his hands due to the absence of Shabazz Napier, but his role should be punishing the D by scoring from the arch and create advantages from the dribble, exactly as Akoon-Purcell.

Loyd is surely more a pure shooter than Akoon-Purcell, who is instead more athletic and has more size, and this is why I think there are some similarities with Shaquille Mckissic, too.

Here the main comparison concerns their physicality and quick first step, which make both able to easily get past their defender and attack the rim, where they can even finish strong by throwing it down.

Furthermore, Shaquille McKissic is a tough defender and can put pressure on the ball thanks to his quick feet, as I believe Akoon-Purcell would be able to do even at the next level.

To conclude, I see Akoon-Purcell has maybe the most Euroleague-ready player right now and I believe he could efficiently cover the shooting guard position (from the bench) in a playoff team that needs quick points and solid defense.

(all the clips were taken by jimmy xalk, on YouTube)

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