11. Patrick Beverley, G, Spartak St. Peteresburg (Russia), College: Arkansas
This former second-round pick was one of the most effective guards at the Eurocup level this past season. With a very versatile game, Beverley rebounds very well for a ballhandling guard, can defend both backcourt positions and is able to get a high rate of steals without cheating defensively.
A Chicago native, Beverley played for the Bulls in the Las Vegas Summer League and drew some interest as a possible training camp invite. He has the ability of many NBA backup guards but realistically wouldn’t garner more than a non-guaranteed deal. With the type of money available to stars in Russia, it would take an NBA team falling in love with him for there to be any chance of his return stateside.
12. Paul Davis, F, Khimky Moscow (Russia), College: Michigan State
After failing to break through in his first few years in the NBA, Davis made a name for himself as a very efficient big man in the highly competitive Spanish ACB league. Now moving to Khimky Moscow – which will be making a big return to the Euroleague – Davis should be in prime position to move up the ladder in the European rankings. His mid-range game is top notch, and he competes very hard on the boards.
Talent-wise, Davis is at an NBA level, but his inability to put the ball to the floor and lack of toughness to bang with centers hurts his chances to make an NBA comeback. However, he is a guy who could emerge as a top-three big man in Europe within the next three years.
13. Chuck Eidson, F, Unics Kazan (Russia), College: South Carolina
The consummate glue guy of European basketball, a team featuring Eidson is very likely to get the most out of its roster. His shooting ability and defensive prowess are overshadowed by his reputation as an excellent teammate. He is a prime example of how the most talented or athletic players aren’t necessarily the most successful overseas, and how character, effort and basketball IQ are very crucial to success.
14. Malik Hairston, G, EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy), College: Oregon
A super athlete who had a brief stint with the San Antonio Spurs last season, Hairston has proven to be a great scorer and all-around player the last couple years in Italy. Although a go-to guy in Europe, Hairston has shown that he can be an excellent NBA role player if given another chance next season. What sets him apart is his ability to “make two plays” at a relatively high rate, since he is very multi-faceted on both ends of the floor. Hairston’s ability as a momentum-changer should get him some looks next summer, but it will take a handsome guaranteed offer to get him to leave his European offers on the table.
15. Nik Caner-Medley, F, Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Israel), College: Maryland
Coming off an excellent season in the Eurocup and ACB league with Valencia, Caner-Medley has joined Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel-Aviv. An excellent halfcourt offensive player, he is a knock-down shooter who does a great job taking big guys off the dribble.
Caner-Medley doesn’t really have an NBA position, since he isn’t athletic enough to be a small forward but isn’t strong or tough enough to be a power forward. However, he is a perfect fit as a 4 in the European game. Playing in the Euroleague this season will give him a chance to show he can hang at the continent’s top level after being one of the top performers in the Eurocup the last several years.
16. Hilton Armstrong, C, Panathinaikos (Greece), College: Connecticut
After failing to distinguish himself in the NBA, Armstrong made the smart decision of heading to a good-but-not-great team in Europe during his rookie campaign overseas. This season with Panathinaikos, Armstrong should be a big defensive presence in the middle and will be a very important player in both the Greek and Euroleague competitions.
Armstrong may not be able to create much offensively for himself but is an elite rebounder and should be treated to a lot of easy buckets while playing with some of the best guards in Europe. He has a chance to not only skyrocket up the rankings in Europe but earn a nice NBA role if he has an outstanding season.
17. Nick Calathes, G, Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia), College: Florida
While the Dallas Mavericks own the rights to Calathes, he just signed a two-year deal with Lokomotiv Kuban that includes a prohibitive NBA buyout. With Israeli point guard Yogev Ohayon’s deal with Kuban being blocked by FIBA, Calathes will be given the opportunity to be extremely successful these next two years.
Stepping away from Panathinaikos, where he played for coach Zeljko Obradovic and next to Diamantidis, it will be interesting to see if he has a breakout season after learning from the best. With Dallas set to make a major splash next summer, Calathes appear poised to be an integral piece of the Mavs going forward.
18. Derwin Kitchen, G, Panathinaikos (Greece), College: Florida State
After being ruled academically ineligible to play for the University of Florida team that went on to win back-to-back NCAA championships, Kitchen went through a long and winding road before getting an opportunity at Florida State. While Kitchen was an outstanding player at FSU, he hardly got a look from anyone when he graduated as he was a 25-year-old rookie. Last season with Maccabi Rishon Lezion, Kitchen made the All-Israeli First Team as a rookie, averaging over seven rebounds a game as a point guard, playing extremely efficient offensively, proving himself as one of the league’s best defenders and repeatedly coming through in the clutch.
While primarily a point guard, Kitchen is unselfish enough to play off the ball and versatile enough to defend shooting guards and even some small forwards in Europe. Getting an opportunity to play for a giant such as Panathinaikos will be a great stage for Kitchen to show his talents. A successful season may make NBA executives second-guess taking a pass on him.
19. Bobby Brown, G, Montepaschi Siena (Italy), College: Cal State Fullerton
Making up for his lack of height with elite athleticism, Brown is able to score in bunches. While always an explosive scorer, over the past several years he has emerged as a better leader capable of rallying his teammates down the stretch. This increased leadership may not show up on the stat sheet but makes Brown much more favorable in the eyes of European talent evaluators . After not really getting enough of an opportunity to show his talents in the NBA, it is unlikely he will get another shot to prove himself. However, Brown has proven that he has a knack for getting buckets.
20. Jared Jordan, G, Telekom Baskets Bonn (Germany), College: Marist
Among the league leaders in assists virtually everywhere he has played, Jordan is one of this era’s few pure pass-first point guards. He may have a slight frame, but his ability to see the floor, run an offense and knock down shots will help him have a long career in Europe.
Jordan didn’t get to distinguish himself in the Euroleague as a rookie with Lietuvos Rytas but seems ready to make the jump to being an elite quarterback in Europe. Another strong season with Telekom Baskets should propel him to the highest levels next summer.
A.J. Mitnick is an American currently living in Israel and working as an assistant coach for Maccabi Rishon Lezion of the Israeli Basketball Super League. A recent graduate of IDC Herzliya, Mitnick also maintains a basketball blog, http://mindlessdribble.net, and is pursuing a pro basketball coaching license from the Wingate Institute in Israel. Follow him on Twitter.