2018 PBA Draft Baller Breakdown: Paul Desiderio
Marco Benitez on Dec 15, 2018 05:55 PM
The biggest asset Paul Desiderio brings to the table is that he is a winner. Throughout his UAAP career, he has not shied away from big moments and big shots
King Maroon Paul Desiderio saw his draft stock soar this season as he and fellow teammates Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez De Llano led the Fighting Maroons to their first UAAP Finals appearance in 32 years despite a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the Adamson Falcons in the Final Four.
Desiderio, who rose to folk hero status after last season’s iconic “Atin to!” moment, only got better this season – sinking clutch basket after clutch basket in UP’s amazing run. Probably most memorable was his performance in the Final Four where he once again rose to the occasion, draining a crucial step back jumper in overtime.
The biggest asset Paul brings to the table is that he is a winner. Throughout his UAAP career, he has not shied away from big moments and big shots. He has tremendous work ethic, evidenced by the development of a reliable outside game. When he entered the league, he was known primarily as a scorer who relied on penetrations, and as an exceptional perimeter rebounder. Now, he is still those, but he has also developed a reliable outside touch and a good post game with his back to the basket. This UAAP season he shot a decent 28 percent from three-point land, but if we tracked clutch threes (or those taken in the last few minutes of games decided by five points or less), I’m pretty sure Desiderio would be closer to 50 percent. His overall field goal percentage, even when defended, hovers at around 38 percent, showing just how good a scorer he is even when well defended.
As a passer, Desiderio is highly underrated. Because he is such a scoring threat who has expanded his range, we saw how easily he can get into the paint and many times attract the double team to find Akhuetie open for the undergoal stab or a shooter open at the corners.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
But like many of the college game’s combo guards, Desiderio will have to fine tune his ballhandling, as well as get stronger and quicker. No longer will he be able to easily post up other guards, and he will rarely be able to play the three-spot, which he almost exclusively did in UP. That means he’ll have more ballhandling duties as either a 1 or a 2, and will consequently have to shadow opposing guards if he wants to earn major minutes for his squad. Finally, he will need to work on his free throw shooting, as he shot a poor 47% from the stripe this season. He’ll need to make the most of every scoring opportunity, free throws included, once he gets to the PBA, as he surely won’t get as many minutes, nor touches, as he is used to.
Paul Desiderio, folk hero and King Maroon, is a sure first rounder, possibly even top 5.