João Vitor França is a 7-foot-1 big man, who has played his entire career in Brazil. Until the 2019-20 season, the 21-year-old center was just a back-of-rotation piece for Flamengo, which has been the top team in the country over the last few years, with a roster consisting of a lot of former NBA players, such as the long-time Cleveland Cavalier Anderson Varejão. On this high-level roster, the youngster struggled to get consistent playing time, seeing less than six minutes per game with the senior team. But, at the same time, in LDB (which is essentially a Brazilian U-20 league), he was already dominating, averaging a double-double in 2018, with nearly 14 points and 11 rebounds per game, and leading the league in blocks with 2.3 per game.
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Having little opportunity on Flamengo’s senior squad, França decided to find a new team: São Paulo, from the Brazilian second division. He performed well in Liga Ouro (Brazilian 2nd division) in 2019, averaging 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds, both of which were top three of the league, and 1.8 blocks, leading the league in that category. His great season helped São Paulo to get to Liga Ouro’s final. They were defeated in the championship by UNIFACISA, which is now his current team.
In 2019-20, França had his breakout season. In the first division of the Brazilian NBB, he averaged 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, shooting 58 percent from the field on just 19 minutes a game. He led the league in blocks, was in the top 10 for rebounds, was in the top 3 for dunks, and was one of the finalists for the “Revelation Player” award, which is given to a younger player who has shown great improvement.
França is a traditional, old-school big man, with more than 86 percent of his half-court shots this past season coming via post plays or “around the basket.” His game is almost entirely based on scoring in the post and as the roller in pick-and-roll situations. His huge body can overpower anyone, and that is his calling card, putting his body on the opponent and bullying him in the paint. However, the young Brazilian can do more than that; if he is facing a slower opponent, he can get by him with a good enough first step, and combined with his strength, it makes França difficult to contain. Once he has even a small advantage over his defender, it is not easy for the opponent to recover.
França’s overall skill set is still raw. Around the rim, he flashes some nifty moves, but he mainly relies on his physical capabilities to generate scoring opportunities. He also has to develop as a passer; he takes too long to process the floor, and misses simple reads too often.
França’s jump shot is a big question mark. His shooting volume has never been high, but last season, he attempted 1.1 three-pointers per 40, which is not great, but shows some progress compared to previous years. His percentage from the perimeter was very good (46.2 percent), but given the low volume, it is not something to read too much into. He is a career 67 percent shooter from the free-throw line, which is not a positive indicator. His form is good, but it is a bit too slow; it’s enough to shoot in pick-and-pop situations or if he is unguarded on the perimeter, but that’s it.
On the defensive side of the ball, França is more exciting as a prospect. Although he is streaky a drop big, his ability to alter shots in the paint and cover ground at the defensive end is tremendous. When he was in the paint, opponents would rarely even try to score around the basket. His size and length give him elite tools, but he also has great timing, knows how to position himself, and does not take too long to get off the ground. On the perimeter, he still has a lot of work to do. The Brazilian cannot quickly move in space at all, changes direction poorly, and has a lot of problems with his footwork, being too aggressive and losing his man. In NBB, he was exposed against guards and wings, and with an increased level of competition, he will have a tough time staying on the court.
- Excellent rebounder on both ends; averaged 14.8 rebounds per 40 and was top 10 in the NBB for rebounds per game with 7.
- High-level rim protector; led the Brazilian league in blocks (1.48 per game) and block percentage (7.9%).
- Great scorer with second-chance opportunities and put-backs; ranked at the 93rd percentile for points per possession (PPP) via put-backs among international players this season.
- Good scorer in the post; ranked at the 77th percentile for PPP when posting up.
- Solid as the roller option in the pick and roll, ranking at the 61st percentile for PPP.
- Gets to the free-throw line often; this season, had a FT/FGA ratio of 0.46, and averaged 6.6 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes.
- Shows some promise as a shooter; on very limited attempts this season, made 46 percent of his threes, and ranked at the 94th percentile on catch-and shoot attempts.
- Poor passer, who makes a lot of incorrect reads; this past season, averaged just 0.6 assists per game with a 0.49 assist-turnover ratio.
- Shooting mechanics are not bad, but has never been consistent from the outside, and never shot at a high volume.
- Below-average free-throw shooter, with a career percentage of 67%.
- Defensively, can play just under the screen, but will be exposed in any scheme that requires him to play over the screen (switch, hedges, etc.)
- Has slow lateral speed, and struggles to defend on the perimeter.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.