Scouting Report: Asbjørn Midtgaard
By: Alex Brown
Age – DOB: 23 Years – September 20, 1997
Class – School: Senior – Grand Canyon University
Measurements: 7’0, 270lbs, +4 Wingspan (7’4).
Injury Report: Minor Ankle Injury (2017-18), Summer of 2019 foot injury that kept him off the court all summer.
Hailing from Helsingor, Denmark, Asbjørn Engelhardt Midtgaard previously played 3 years for the Hørsholm 79ers in the Danish League (until age 19), and had a strong season in the 2016-17 season where he averaged 8.8 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 54.7% overall. He was also a member of the U18 Eurocup and U18 Danish National Team. He played 3 years at Wichita State off the bench before transferring to GCU where he became the star of the team.
Misc. Notes Directly (and added upon) From GCU and Wichita State’s Website:
- Parents are Christian and Ann-Marie Midtgaard.
- 2 Sisters.
- Has a Fiancé with family in the US.
- Took up basketball at 14 years old.
- Asbjørn is Danish for “God’s Bear.”
- Off the court: likes to play board games, card games and video games with friends and family. He also likes to hunt for good “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants.
- Chose GCU because of “an awesome fanbase and the team and staff are great. I believe that together we can make the NCAA Tournament, that is my main goal.”
- Listens to Post Malone and Kanye West, but also likes classic rock, especially Queen.
- Favorite TV shows are Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Office and The Walking Dead.
- Favorite place to vacation is Hawaii.
- Three players he liked watching include Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Steven Adams (+Giannis, Marc Gasol).
- 3 Year Honor Student at Wichita State (Sport Management Major). NABC Honors Court.
- Named Wichita State’s Most Improved Player and won the Shocker Assist Award among all of the school’s male student-athletes for top athlete in a supporting role.
- Was also a finalist for the department’s Workhouse Award, recognizing commitment to the strength and conditioning aspect.
Midtgaard relies more on his physical dominance rather than his athleticism to create advantages. He is rather slow laterally with lacking agility in space. He makes the effort to run the floor, but likely won’t be creating advantages as an end-to-end rimrunner (matchup dependent of course). He is quite coordinated though, and it really shows with his excellent feet in the post (soccer background). He has a strong center of gravity that makes him very difficult to move even when upright, giving him an advantage in a myriad of physical contests. He can finish above the rim powerfully in space, but is not a high leaper by any means.
Projected Roles: Interior Play Finisher, Low Post Threat, On/Off-Ball Screener, Rebounder, Situational Hub, Roll Man, Off-Ball Sealer, Drop 5.
Projected Draft Landing: Undrafted
Swing Factors: Post Playmaking, Interior Ball Security, Team Context, Shooting (to a lesser degree).
Long Career – Mid-High Tier European League: Mid Rotation to Starting Center (Context and strategy will impact this obviously). Danish National Team Member
Overall Synopsis & Analysis: Archetype Specific Skills Evaluation
Analyzing the essential elements of a player’s skillset:
Asbjørn gives consistent, efficient interior production at the 5 spot. He is an old school big, but he gets it done efficiently. Not once did he score 20 points or higher this year on 14.2 ppg (expect 20 pts in 20 minutes vs the lowly Benedictine). Posted a 71.8% true shooting and a 70.7% eFG%. +38.8 Net Rating.
All Scoring Attempts & Free Throws (game by game):
With zero 3pt makes to his name over 4 years, it is safe to say that Asbjørn has yet to find his stroke from deep. However, his touch is not terrible, and with mechanical improvements and repetition he actually could end up being a guy that can occasionally hit one or so on low volume to keep the defense on their toes in screening actions. His lower body is where the majority of the development is needed, as that shot is pretty much all arms with incredibly little lower body involvement. When the largest issue is a pretty easy mechanical fix overall that needs repetition, I am more comfortable with there being potential for a shot at some point if a team wants to emphasize that. The improved free throw percentages and mid range flashes could help point to him eventually extending that range. Regardless, it is not imperative for his value to persist, but it would be a nice added bonus that I would not completely write off.
Asbjørn made 5 of his 10 long mid range shots this season, and they shared the general mechanics of his 3pt shot (though with better touch). They were all wide open, but it is an encouraging sign to see him have the capacity to hit these. It won’t be a massive part of his offensive attack, but there is no question that it would be beneficial to work on developing this aspect of his game to add versatility and to augment his gravity.
While previously a weakness to Midtgaard’s game (29/57 prior to this year), Asbjørn really improved this year on both volume and execution, hitting 74 of his 103 attempts for a much better 71.8%. That career .506 free throw rate is pretty solid as well, especially if the improvements at the line last.
Asbjørn is in the higher tier of the 5 spot interior finishers in the 2021 class. He has the touch, size, strength, elite efficiency, and feel to be a high value interior big on the offensive end as a pro. He clears out space incredibly well, stays on balanced, has great footwork, excellent touch, and can finish above the rim with power. He reminds me a bit of Steven Adams at times when it comes to his touch, great hands, strength, interior movement, and finishing style. When it comes to vertical spacing, it is a similar story to Adams. Midtgaard is no high flier, but can clear out space and absorb contact to finish dunks. He finished 34 dunks on the season per InStat.
In Barto’s 21 game sample (missing 3 games), Midtgaard is scoring 73% of his rim attempts (92/126) on just 66.3% assisted. 70% FG% overall.
With post creation being the largest playtype for Asbjørn, he is clearly asked to create quite a bit for his position. At an incredible 1.17 points per possession in the post (Luka Garza is at 1.11 PPP, comparatively), Asbjørn is an efficient, patient, smooth, and very analytically effective interior creator that employs his massive frame, smooth movement, notable strength, solid footwork, and soft touch to get to his spots. He executes with layups, dunks, hooks, and touch shots. He will be a mismatch nightmare for pretty much all non-5’s (and thin 5’s) in the post that should consequently pave his way to the free throw line rather often. Defensively, teams are pretty much forced to send an aggressive dig or double team (occasionally teams sent triple teams) to try to strip him or force a pass, as that is a weaker area for him. Considering he turns the ball over just under 1 time per game in the post, this seems to be effective at mitigating Midtgaard to a degree for his usage.
While large bruising 5’s seldom have a lot of off-ball creation that does not occur in P&R (more on that below), Midtgaard can create a bit for himself off the ball by executing off of some really excellent seals around the rim. He always has a physical advantage that he leverages really well to get to his spots and maintain the ground that he has won. His superior size, hands, and physicality make him impossible for many collegiate bigs to bully around (sealed Luka Garza easily), allowing guards to float up some easy touch passes. Opposing teams have to send that double immediately on the pass to try and strip him on or just after the catch, or else he gets a bucket using that interior creation package. Otherwise, he will rely on breakdowns and power plays to give him his rim finishes regarding his off ball game.
P&R Value + Role:
I want to see him be more physical and deliberate with his screening, but overall there is no reason why he should not be a very effective roll man at the pro level. He has the tools to do it (as I have stressed with his hands, strength, & size), but he needs to augment his technique and physicality to truly maximize it. Against drop schemes, Asbjørn often ends up getting to the middle of the paint and getting a quick post touch that will turn into a hook or easy self-creation opportunity. He can catch pretty much anything, even on the move. He is controlled and efficient enough with the ball that I would encourage using him as a roller to get quick paint 1v1 post touches. Furthermore, if he gets in space moving downhill he is certainly not someone who defenders want to get in front of.
Asbjørn is not much of a playmaker, although he can throw some really solid flashes out there at times that make me optimistic that he can continue to develop here. That 0.32:1 Ast:To Ratio and lowly 4.5 assist rate mean less in his archetype, but is still worth noting. If he were to get better as a playmaker, that improvement would manifest in the post creation reps he gets to so easily. With his ability to get to his spots around the block, the amount of doubles he should see should be quite high. Learning to leverage that post gravity will be key to adding to his offensive value moving forward. When out of the interior, Midtgaard is more of a hub screener, handoff man, and ball mover. Regarding his handle, Asbjørn shouldn’t be asked to create off the dribble, though he can act as a (1-dribble) hub in certain situations. The only time I can see him putting the ball on the floor is when the 1v1 post option is available and no he can operate before doubles are inbound.
Assists + Turnovers: Game By Game:
Feel & Engagement:
He has pretty strong spatial awareness on the interior and has a patient, efficient approach that is sure to add value. He knows him strengths as well, and plays to them. He does have some instinctual flaws that need improvement (mostly in the playmaking department) if he really wants to maximize his potential.
Midtgaard is generally engaged on the offensive end, though I would like to see him be a bit more deliberate in his screening and more mentally engaged as a playmaker. If he gets tired his engagement can obviously wane for a guy his size, but he can certainly play engaged basketball in spurts. There is nothing amazing regarding engagement or feel here, nor really anything to worry majorly about either.
Asbjørn is quite a solid offensive rebounder pulling down 2.7 per game on an 11.4% ORB%. He is very efficient on put backs as well, scoring an admirable 1.5 points per possession on this playtype. Again, he relies on his size and superior hands to clear out space and secure the ball. He typically goes back up immediately as well, and follows his rare missed shots rather well. Plus, that off-ball sealing he excels at often puts him in great positions to box out and be ready for that board.
Overall Synopsis and Analysis: Archetype Specific Skills Evaluation
Analyzing the essential elements of a player’s skillset
General Defensive Film Cuts:
While not an upper tier rim protector at the college level, he was serviceable enough to make an impact with his imposing size and length. He can protect the rim pretty well in space off of 1 defensive slide or so, but should not be tasked with executing incredibly quick rotations. You want him in the paint as much as possible; whether that be in P&R or set defense. He owns his space on the ball when he can be physical, but he struggles containing more mobile players that can get him off-balanced or operate in space. He still bites on fakes more often than you would like for a guy his size, and he can get too physical at times. Consequently he will be reffed quite closely due to the sheer impact of his contact.
While he can defend his own position in space for the most part, when switching onto other spots he is at a disadvantage. He has to play very far off of wings and guards to the point where they are exceedingly comfortable taking that 3pt shot. Furthermore, his closing speed is quite slow and unlikely to make an impact on shooters that have done their homework. While his perimeter style can be serviceable against some slashers, it can obviously create disadvantages if switches occur with wings or guards that can score or create at more than 1 level.
I noticed that Asbjørn really struggled with rotations and positioning against smaller matchups (Keegan Murray) that can also beat him down the floor and hunt open space. He is a bit slow processing rotations in general, so this is certainly augmented against smaller, mobile 5’s. He has some lapses in awareness especially later in the game after he is worn down. He can get gassed against high paced teams that make a concentrated effort on beating him down the floor.
Defensive Event Generation Compilation:
Feel & Engagement:
I would not say Asbjørn is a high feel defensive player, and it shows up on film when he can’t go up against post bruisers. He can get caught ball watching and losing sight of his man going backdoor, and also gets off the ground a bit more than he has to and definitely more than he should (esp interior, fakes). The instincts and decision-making will need to be refined in order to derive the most value out of him defensively, especially due to the lacking defensive value in space. A system with a high degree of design thinking regarding decision-making will be best for him. Regarding engagement, he has some mental presence lapses, especially in the awareness department. Building this will be key.
P&R Defensive Value + Role:
Midtgaard will be at a notable disadvantage against pick and pop specialists, as he has quite slow closing speed and drops far back to make up for the lacking agility. He is a drop coverage big only in my eyes. His size and strength provide an advantage on hard tags and roll men reliant on bully ball, but overall any action that can get him in space can create a disadvantage for your defense. This is the biggest hindrance to getting him an NBA contract.
Naturally Midtgaard is able to clear out space and box out really well when motivated. He is a positive defensive rebounder due to that physical presence and those excellent hands, but does not move to the ball very quickly. He won’t be an out-of-his-area rebounding presence, but he will execute on the glass in his area. He posted a very solid 26.1% DRB% this year, and secured 7.0 per game.
Overall, Asbjørn is a really good interior scorer with size, physicality, and touch that can add lower volume, efficient offense every game. Defensively, he will struggle against more modern offenses, stretch 5’s, and any scheme that will try to get him out of the paint. However, he does have the size, hands, and presence to be a serviceable rim protector and solid post deterrent for a European team. There is still a place for physically dominant, efficient bigs like Midtgaard, and I would highly recommend that European teams give him a chance.