European Championship Qualifying Update – Part II

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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.

 

CONTINUE READING: Eurobasket ’13 qualifying Top 25 players, Nos. 21-25

 

Gibson: Eurostash Trade Assets: Eastern Conference

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BARCELONA  When it comes to finding NBA talent in Europe, the Eastern Conference is admittedly a step or two behind the West.  General managers such as San Antonio’s R.C. Buford and Houston’s Daryl Morey have a knack for squeezing value out of overseas talent they’ve either drafted or acquired for picks and cash.

Now the East is making a comeback, hitching their wagon to quality instead of quantity. So while the Spurs and Rockets’ combined 12 rights-held players are more than half of the East’s total yield, today’s list has a better chance of producing an All-Star than the one published on this site yesterday.

Here are the top 10 Eurostash players whose rights are held by Eastern Conference teams.

1. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto

European Club: Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania).

Odds He’ll Defect: 99.9 percent.

Last June, the Raptors drafted Valanciunas fifth overall, making him the second European to land in that slot in three years.  The other was Ricky Rubio, he of the dazzling first half and recently torn ACL. With Valanciunas, folks in Toronto  should expect all of the hubbub with half of the build-up, as Jonas is free to leave Lietuvos Rytas once the season is finished.

Also unlike Rubio, Valanciunas has ripped up the competition in his post-draft season, leading the VTB United League in rebounding and the Lithuanian League in scoring.

The only player better than Valanciunas in last year’s draft class was Kyrie Irving, and the Cavaliers could have had them both. Raptor fans will surely count their blessings as Valanciunas exorcises the Ghost of Rafael Araujo, one vicious slam at a time.

2. Nikola Mirotic, F, Chicago

European Club: Real Madrid (Spain).

Odds He’ll Defect: 75 percent.

Nikola Mirotic has eaten up quite a lot of Sheridan’s real estate this season, but not without damn good reason.  Real Madrid’s Montenegran marksman has started to fill out his frame just as quickly as he’s plugged the holes in his game, and now only his contract (which runs through 2015-16) stands between him and a Bulls uniform.

3. Fran Vazquez, C, Orlando

European Club: Regal Barcelona (Spain).

Odds He’ll Defect: 10 percent.

The Magic have enjoyed just two lottery picks since drafting Dwight Howard first overall in 2004.  Otis Smith spent the 11th pick in 2006 on JJ Redick.  He used that same pick one year earlier to select Vazquez, a 22-year-old spindly center who could soar.

Now Vazquez is 28, still gangly and just as much of a threat to sky for an alley-oop or throw a lazy floater into the seats.  He’s even cooked up a reliable little 15-footer, making his pump fakes that much more believable.  The Euroleague’s all-time blocks leader’s got the body and he’s got the game; the only thing missing is a desire to re-locate.

4. Kyle Singler, F, Detroit

European Club: Real Madrid (Spain).

Odds He’ll Defect: 90 percent.

As most locked out NBAers devised their travel plans back to the States in late November, Singler was more interested in swapping Spanish addresses.  So instead of flying to Detroit to sign with the Pistons, he parlayed his excellent numbers with Lucentum Alicante into a deal with Real Madrid for the remainder of the season, a choice he says he does not regret.

In Singler’s case, however, the whole Kyle is learning to excel in a more methodical, technical setting discussion flies out of the window, as Madrid is putting up 104 points per 48 minutes (European games are only 40 minutes).  Nobody’s transition between college and high-level European ball was as painless as Singler’s, and the jump from Madrid to the Motor City should go just as swimmingly.

5. Bojan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, New Jersey

European Club: Fenerbahce Ulker (Turkey)

Odds He’ll Defect: 80 percent.

Bojan Bogdanovic overcame a new role, a rough start and his head coach’s questionable decision making in the first year of a three-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker.  The Nets want Fenerbahce to release Bogdanovic from his contract early, but I still can’t see any reason why the Turkish side would leave their most valuable asset on the curb.

Once in Brooklyn, Nets fans can expect a Mike Miller type, only before Mike Miller was not good.

6. Milan Macvan, PF, Cleveland

European Club: Partizan (Serbia)

Odds He’ll Defect: 20 percent.

When Maccabi loaned Milan Macvan to Partizan at the start of the season, the Euroblogosphere (it’s a thing) raised a collective eyebrow.  Turns out it was worthy of both our eyebrows.  Macvan joined forces with Nikola Pekovic to complete a scary Euroleague front court, leading the Euroleague in rebounding in Partizan’s ten games.  He has never and will never blow you away athletically, and his body’s still got more chub than chisel, but put him in a pick and roll and he’ll pass the eye test every time.

Macvan could sign up with an NBA team and be good for some scoring and boards off the bench, but he would be more comfortable and successful in a Euroleague setting which fits him quite snugly.

7. Sasha Kaun, C, Cleveland

European Club: CSKA Moscow (Russia).

Odds He’ll Defect: 25 percent.

His 7-foot-6 wingspan puts him in the top 25 of Draft Express’ measurements database, level with NBA starters like JaVale McGee and DeAndre Jordan and fractions of an inch ahead of cult hero and Russian countryman Pavel Podkolzin.  Unfortunately, his history of injuries is just as long.  Kaun’s left knee kept him out of the Euroleague entirely in 2010-11 (he did play in 25 Russian League games that year), and groin surgery interfered with last summer’s EuroBasket in Lithuania.  Now, CSKA has installed so much talent around him that Kaun doesn’t even make the team’s Top Three Players Whose Names Begin With ‘K’ list; Andrei Kirilenko, Nenad Krstic and Viktor Khryapa have him bested.  Less dynamic than he was before his legs starting losing their screws, the former Kansas Jayhawk rarely misses from in close (73 percent in Euroleague play this season) and still has plenty to offer an NBA team defensively. Especially a Varejao-less Cleveland.

8. Emir Preldzic, G, Washington

European Club: Fenerbahce Ulker (Turkey).

Odds He’ll Defect: 40 percent.

This Preldzic is making me thirsty.  Istanbul is just as parched, as the Euroleague’s most harmfully addictive enigma puts up one checkered performance after another.  The 6-foot-9 guard makes it impossible for the opposition to get clean looks, and his combination of height and creativity make him a dangerous passer.  Consistency, or lack thereof, has been a bugaboo for the Bosnian and Herzegovinian who competes internationally for Turkey.  He’ll follow up a double-digit assist night with donuts or something close, and though he attacks the lane aggressively, he’s usually stonewalled by the weak side bigs who are licensed to camp out in the European paint.  If the Euroleague instituted a penalty for defensive three seconds, it would be too soon for young Emir.

It should go without saying that D.C. isn’t the best place to shed bad habits these days, so Preldzic’s undulating progression will likely make Fenerbahce fans scratch their heads a little longer.

9. Stanko Barac, C, Indiana

European Club: Anadolu Efes (Turkey).

Odds He’ll Defect: 15 percent.

A very standard, old school center who can bring his man out about as far as the foul line.  He’s still in the first year of a three-year deal with Anadolu Efes, however, so Indianans may never have the pleasure of saying “Stanko” in everyday conversation.

10. Vladimir Veremeenko, PF, Chicago

European Club: UNICS Kazan (Russia)

Odds He’ll Defect: 10 percent

Veremeenko’s talent runs deep enough that even steady production has earned him the bust label, but one can only hope it was written in pencil.  The Belarusian 27-year-old has been pivotal for UNICS Kazan this season, finally turning all of that talent into double-doubles and weekly MVP awards.  Though while Vlad’s trending upward, his game isn’t attractive enough to garner much NBA attention.

Nick Gibson, editor of EuroleagueAdventures.com, covers Euroleague and other European basketball developments for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear each Friday. Click here to follow him on Twitter.