Mitnick: Top 16 Summer League Breakout Players


summerleagueAfter going through an 82-game NBA season, many young NBA players are like caged lions ready to bust out when given the chance. I have just spent the better part of two weeks witnessing it first-hand, watching 15 games in Orlando and more than two dozen so far in Vegas, baby, where the games continue through July 22.

The NBA summer leagues are a great opportunity for unproven players to show NBA coaches and decision makers that they deserve a chance in the big show. Last season, Klay Thompson turned a fantastic summer league showing into a 35 minutes per game role for the Golden State Warriors.

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Mitnick: Greek Freak will be This Year’s EuroBust


nbadraft13_300x250_3 (1)Meet Giannis Adetokunbo, the next big European bust in this year’s NBA draft.

With the NBA draft quickly approaching, Giannis Adetokunbo has been building up some hype as he finds himself predicted as a late lottery to late first-round pick in most mock drafts. 

Mitnick: Early Entry International 2013 Draft Prospects

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draftlogoIn case you missed it, the NBA released the list of early-entry candidates for the 2013 Draft last week.

We have a post up from our U.S.-based draft guru, Joe Kotoch, highlighting the names that were conspicuously absent (Marcus Smart chief among them), and we also have a brand new Mock Draft update that takes into account the recent rise of San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin.

As you can see from the big list, there are 31 international prospects — quite a few of whom will withdraw from the draft after surmising that they will go unchosen.

But there are some real gems among those 31, and I am here (well, here in Tel Aviv, anyway) to fill you in on the best of the bunch — along with some Eurostash players whose rights are already held by NBA teams. Some of those players could have their rights dealt on draft night.

Here are the top seven …

Euro1. Sergey Karasev – Russia

6-8 SG, 1993, Triumph Moscow (Russia)

Draft Range: 5-15

In a class that severely lacks star power, Karasev stands as one of the few players in the draft who can step right in and make an immediate contribution to a team. A fearless scorer who can drive with both hands, and knock down pull up jump shots, Karasev stacks up very well when measured against other scorers in this class.

The most important thing about Karasev is his overall confidence in his game. He seemingly has no conscience, and does not let short periods where his shot isn’t falling affect his game, which is very important for a rookie over the course of an 82-game season.

Outside Newrlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Trey Burke and Otto Porter, it is likely Karasev is the only younster capable of being a focal player for a contending team. His frame may prevent him from ever becoming a transcendent star, but his confidence and knack for getting buckets should give him every opportunity to succeed.

Euro2. Dario Saric – Croatia

6-10 PF, 1994, Cibona Zagreb (Croatia)

Draft Range: 5-15

At 6’10” Saric shows a tremendous amount of skill for someone with his size and athleticism. Growing up as an oversized point guard for the junior national teams, Saric has the ability to handle the ball in transition like a guard, and has half court floor vision reminiscent of Boris Diaw. If Saric had a better outside shot, he would be in the mix to be a top 3 pick.

Saric is a very high energy player, the type of guy that everyone knows is giving 100% effort every second he is on the floor. In the crucial moments of games, you can tell from his eyes that he wants it more than anyone else on the floor. He will need to develop his skills to be a big time NBA player, and obviously there is a risk that any young player won’t get there, but you can be sure that Saric will give every ounce of blood and sweat that he can to get there.

abrines3. Alejandro Abrines – Spain

6-6 SG-SF, 1993, Regal Barcelona (Spain)

Draft Range: 10-40

Once thought to be better off waiting until next year to enter the draft, Abrines has boosted his draft stock with his play down the stretch of the Euroleague season. Since Pete Mickeal’s season ended with a pulmonary embolism, Abrines has taken advantage of the extra opportunities, posting a 20-point game in Barcelona’s final Euroleague Top 16 game against Maccabi Tel-Aviv. His length and athleticism are excellent for a wing man, and his experience with one of the top clubs in the world should be a major benefit to him moving forward.

Abrines’ draft position will depend heavily on his production in the Euroleague Final Four, which surely will draw the attention of many decision makers throughout the league. With an impressive showing, Abrines can earn a spot in the lottery. However, it appears his stock is a bit underrated right now, and if he is a non-factor in the Final Four he could find himself stuck in the second round. Should Abrines fail to raise his draft stock, he would be better off to pull out of the draft and wait for next year when his stock should be much stronger.

RudyGobert4. Rudy Gobert – France

7-0 C, 1992, Cholet (France)

Draft Range: 10-20

Gobert has the length and the legs to be an excellent center in the NBA. His fundamentals have come a long way over the last two years, and he by all means has the potential to be a 25-30 minute per game center in the NBA. The troubling thing about Gobert is that he doesn’t seem to have a mean streak.

It is very difficult to picture him willing his way to rebounds like a Tyson Chandler or a Joakim Noah. He could be a nice player, but to win a championship sometimes you need a motherf$%@er in the middle.

Giannis Adetokunbo5. Giannis Adetokunbo – Greece

6-9 F, 1994, Filathlitikos (Second Division in Greece)

Draft Range: 5-20

Frankly, IMHO, Adetokunbo has no business being considered for the NBA draft — much less as a lottery prospect.

NBA teams understandably try to scour the earth to find a hidden gem with potential, but this is a player who puts up nice numbers in a league that is very similar to the DIII in the NCAA.

He has a nice body and has the tools, but what has he done against relevant players to suggest he should be an NBA prospect?

Is it possible he can develop to be a great player? Obviously.

Has he shown anything to suggest he should be anywhere near an NBA draft board? No.

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Mitnick: Maccabi Demolishes Besiktas in Euroleague Top 16

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Caner-MedleyMaccabi Tel-Aviv demolished Besiktas Istanbul 101-58 en route to its sixth consecutive win in the Euroleague Top 16 round. In a contest that was over almost as soon as it began, Maccabi was able to all but solidify a position in the Euroleague quarterfinals despite dropping five out of its first seven top 16 matches.

Mitnick Column: Malcolm Thomas Journey From Tel-Aviv to the Bay Area

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After spending half of a season in Israel with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Malcolm Thomas managed to turn a one game stint in the D-League into a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors.

After scoring 13 points and 17 rebounds in his only appearance for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Thomas was able to convince the Warriors brass he was worth a closer look.

I have been watching his career take a dip this season in Israel, and I can tell you Thomas is a very athletic big man with a high motor.

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