Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NBA Draft Preview - Get To Know The Euros

With the NBA draft coming up later this week it's time to start looking at some of the draft prospects. Every blog in the world is talking about Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight. And even though most of those guys have played 1 year of college or less, we're fairly familiar with them. The European prospects are a different matter, though. Most of us couldn't tell Donatas Montiejunas from a place on a map or ingredients in a Slovakian dish.

Have no fear. Jesus is here to help you put a face to the names, so when your favorite team picks one of these guys you're not sitting on your couch thinking, "Who the fuck is that guy?!"

*Note - I left out guys like Enes Kanter and Nikola Vucevic who played (or were supposed to play) at American colleges. This list is European players who I expect will go in the first round (based on what I've read).

JAN VESELY (Czech Republic), SF - Not that Chad Ford is the be all - end all of NBA scouting, but he has Vesely at #9 on his list of Top 100 Prospects. If this were an American player with this skill set I'm confident we'd be talking about him as a #1 overall candidate. Some have comapred him to Andre Kirilenko, but last I checked Kirilenko wasn't driving the lane and tomahawking on people, nor catching alley-oop passes and flushing dunks with his head at the rim. Combined with his outside shooting ability and his all-around versatile game some team is going to be very happy to get their hands on Vesely.

Scouting Report:

PROS - NBA ready. Good size and length (sorry, Captain). Great leaping ability. 3-point range. Good ball handler for size.

CONS - (Same tired old Cons scouts give to every Euorpean player) Needs to add strength. Doesn't have a back to the basket game. (Who does these days?) Didn't they say all these things about Nowitzki when he entered the Association? Yes. Yes, they did.

Oh. And his nickname is "The Dunking Ninja"

Prediction: Washington, #6 overall.

(Lithuania), C - If you like your Centers to play around the rim, rebound and challenge shots then Valanciunas is your guy. The Lithuanian big man is listed at 7'0" and 245, so size isn't an issue. He has been both the Under-16 Euro MVP and the Under-18 MVP twice, so his talents are not unrecognized on the opposite continent. However, most scouts still view him as a project not ready to help a team next season.

PROS - Soft touch around the rim. Good rebounder. Challenges shots. Intelligent basketball player. Large wingspan.

CONS - Not NBA ready. Needs to improve perimeter game. (Why do we need every guy to shoot jumpers and play in the paint?) Needs to improve strength.

Something about this dude just doesn't look right. But Scouts have him rated very highly. Check it out for yourself.

And if you're wondering why he's touching the ball when it's inside the rim, that isn't considered goaltending in Euro leagues.

Prediction: Detroit, #8 overall

BISMACK BIYOMBO (Spain) Spain?!, PF - Not the type of name that comes to mind when I think Spain, but hey what are you gonna do? (He was born in The Congo) This guy is reportedly a raw, athletic defender. Think Serge Ibaka before he developed his game.

PROS - Long, rangy defender with a great wingspan. Tenacious rebounder and shot-blocker. High energy.

CONS - Very raw. Needs lots of work on offense. Lacks experience.

He sounds like Dikembe!

Prediction: Golden State, #11 overall

(Serbia), SF - Mirotic, named Euroleague's 2011 Rising Star, is a sharp shooting small-forward with the kind of size that NBA scouts love. Many think he can play both forward spots in the NBA and Chad Ford calls him a "craft forward." He's got some versatility in his game, thought judging from the limited video evidence I've seen he'll have trouble defending the more athletic SF in the NBA.

PROS - Size and length. Can handle the ball and drive to the basket. Great shooter with range. Good passer from the forward position. Intelligent and aggressive player.

CONS - Not very athletic. Not a great rebounder. Has some contract issues that might keep him from NBA in the very near future.

Prediction: Denver, #22 overall. (draft and stash)

DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS (Lithuania), PF - Montiejunas is an athletic big man who runs the floor, finishes around the rim and has a nice mid-range game. Sounds pretty good to me. He's also 7' tall, which is nice.

PROS - Quite athletic for his size. Can put the ball on the floor and drive. Excellent passer. Smart player. Great quickness.

CONS - Needs to add strength. Needs to become more consistent from the perimeter. Lacks experience.

Prediction: San Antonio, #29 overall (draft and stash)

DAVIS BERTANS (Latvia), SF - Bertans is another small forward with deep shooting range. He's also capable of getting to the rim off the dribble and is listed at 6'9".

PROS - Great shooter. Also a great passer. Good size. Fairly athletic. Lightning quick release on jumper.

CONS - At times can display poor shot selection. Still very young, and needs to fill out his frame more.

Prediction: Chicago, #30 overall (draft and stash)

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