11. Petteri Kaponen, Guard, Finland, (Dallas owns draft rights)
Kaponen has been moving up the food chain in European basketball since he was drafted in the first round back in 2007. Kaponen is the clear leader of the undefeated Finnish squad, pouring in 22.8 points a game to go along with 5 assists, as he prepares to take the step up to the Euroleague with the Russian giant, Khimki Moscow. He has excellent size for a point guard at 6’5”, and he has great decision making in the pick-and-roll to go along with his shooting touch. On sheer talent, he probably could have made the jump to the NBA a couple of years ago, but the decision to let him stay in Europe to let his game grow has worked wonders, as his development over recent years has been rapid. After another year or two, he should be ready to be a contributor in the NBA.
12. Milan Macvan, Forward/Center, Serbia, (Cleveland owns draft rights)
One of Europe’s most improved big men this past season, Macvan has become an important piece for Serbia as they struggle to compensate for a hobbled Nenad Krstic. He has an excellent shooting touch for a big man, and is a very good rebounder. His problem right now is that he doesn’t have the mobility to play the 4 in the NBA, or the length to play the 5, so unless he can find a way to grow his arms, he will need to gain some foot speed to make the jump. He definitely could make the Cavs roster right now, but it is clearly a better career move for him to head to Galatasaray, a Turkish Euroleague team with a very strong tradition.
13. Semih Erden, Center, Turkey, (Anadolu Efes)
Erden surprised people a little bit by showing he is more than just another big body in his short stint in the NBA. He may not have the upside to be more than a backup, but he showed with the Celtics that he can fit in as a backup on a quality team. However, he cannot lead a team, and this has been a main reason why Turkey is struggling and right now is in danger of not qualifying for next summer’s competition. His 15 points, nearly 7 rebounds and 2 blocks have been solid, but he will need to step up and carry a larger load for his team to qualify. He will spend next season with Anadolu Efes, where he will be teamed up with one of the best backcourts in Europe, featuring Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and Jamon Gordon.
14. Tornike Shengelia, Forward, Georgia (Brooklyn Nets)
“Toko” Shengelia is continuing to show the same upside that convinced the Nets to bring him over this season, instead of giving him some time to develop in Europe. Averaging over 13 points and 7 rebounds, he has excellent speed and feel for the game for a player his size. The NBA style of play is more spread out than in Europe, and Shengelia should be able to make great use of his natural athleticism in the American game. It’s looks like the Nets may have found themselves a nice second-round steal.
15. Yogev Ohayon, Guard, Israel (Lokomotiv Kuban — Russia)
After battling in the Euroleague quarterfinals last season against Dimitris Diamantitis, Ohayon has proven he belongs among Europe’s elite guards. Bursting from small time Israeli player to Euroleague impact player in only a short time, it is no stretch to say he may have a chance to make the NBA next summer. Despite being a 6-3 point guard, he is one rebound shy of leading the team at 6.3 RPG, to go along with 4.6 assists vs. a mere 1.8 turnovers. His outside shot still needs some work, but his defense and penetration are at an NBA level right now. Getting a chance to spread his wings outside of Israel for the first time, with Lokomotiv Kuban, could possibly get him a look in the league.
16. Tomas Satoransky, Guard, Czech Republic, (Wizards own draft rights)
Satoransky has the type of tools that make scouts slobber, but he needs more seasoning to put it together. His shooting has been woeful throughout the last 2 weeks, but he has made up for it by contributing 6 assists and 6 rebounds. As a 6-7 point guard with excellent vision, he has loads of potential to have a big time career. Hopefully, some more experience in the Spanish ACB league will help him fare better than Marko Jaric — a similar sized European PG with a similar skill set.
17. Jacob Pullen, Guard, Georgia, (Hapoel Jerusalem — Israel)
This former Kansas State guard has gotten a Georgian passport that can go a long way towards helping him showcase himself for the NBA in the future. After a fantastic year in Italy last season, Pullen has signed with a Jerusalem team that just brought in NBA veteran Craig Smith. With NBA scouts surely keeping their eye on the holy city this season, Pullen will have a chance to remind folks that he is a super confident guard with an outstanding jump shot.
18. Adam Hanga, Swingman, Hungary, (Spurs own draft rights)
Hanga is a super athlete, with the potential to be an NBA player down the road. He just got his feet wet at the highest levels this past season, playing in the ACB, and he has shown steady development. His shot has been falling in this tournament (18.8 ppg on 50 pct. shooting), but some of that can be credited to the added confidence of being the sole NBA draftee on a relatively unheralded Hungarian team. In terms of size and raw athletic ability, Hanga has the tools to be another sneaky Spurs late draft pick if he continues the pace of his development for another couple years.
19. Tibor Pleiss, Center, Germany, (Thunder own draft rights)
While Pleiss may not be the next Dirk Nowitzki as many had hoped when he played in the juniors, he has proven to be a solid role player at the Euroleague level. An excellent rebounder and shot blocker, Pleiss will be making his debut in the Spanish ACB league this season with Caja Laboral. He may be a raw prospect, but at 7-1, he could possibly find a way onto a Nets squad that won’t have many draft picks or much cap space in the near future.
20. Viacheslav Kravtsov, Center, Ukraine, (Detroit Pistons)
Listed at No. 11 in our recent Top 10 EuroRookies column, Krestov will get a chance to rumble with the Pistons this year simply because you cannot teach someone to be 7 feet tall. What Krestov lacks in his feel for the game, or touch outside of 3 feet from the rim, he makes up for with incredible length and timing as a shot blocker. Throughout the tournament’s first 4 games, he is averaging a whopping 3.3 blocks in a mere 21.5 minutes, with only 1.5 fouls. On a team that turned Ben Wallace into one of the stars of the league, it is possible the Pistons could develop this raw gem into a defensive ace off the bench.