2009 Nike International Junior Tournament: Top 5

Wed, 05/06/2009 - 11:45am

1 Jonas Valanciunas 6’10 (1992)

Jonas Valanciunas
Photo: T.Tumalovicius,

Even though he struggled with foul trouble and inconsistent minutes, he still played well the entire week. For a young player his size, he shows great mobility and a nice motor. He is not the most explosive athlete, but his extremely long arms and huge hands make him a very deceptive finisher around the rim. He showed some polish with his back to the basket, but he strongly prefers turning to his right shoulder even at times when he should go to his left. Against smaller players he was able to dominate inside, but when he went up against the more imposing FMP team in the finals, his lack of strength was exposed. His frame is still narrow, so he cannot play through much contact, combining that with his fairly predictable low post moves, it makes it difficult for him to create any sort of space inside. He is still very young and has a long window to work on his body and expand his game. A nice 15-17 foot jumpshot would be very beneficial as he would be able to faceup more and use his quickness against opposing bigmen.

2 Dejan Musli 6’11 (1991)

The MVP of the tournament proved to be too big and too strong for the competition. While not very gifted athletically, he is fairly long, and understands how to play the game. He works hard to get good position on the blocks, and once he receives the ball, his soft touch allows him to finish at a very good clip. He has fairly good hands, and his body and mobility have continued to improve, which is always a positive sign for young bigs. Even though he was able to score a lot of points in this setting, he may never become a dominant scorer inside because he doesn’t have the great footwork or explosiveness. He showed that he is a very good passer and that he understands how to play within the system, which gives him the chance of getting touches without ever really demanding the ball.

3 Augusto Lima 6’8 (1991)

The young Brazilian is strictly and inside player at this point, but what he lacks in size, he makes up with athleticism and length. His game is still very raw on both ends of the floor, he lacks any sort of go-to moves on offense, and is very undisciplined on the defensive end. With that said, he has a nice body and enjoys playing physically, which creates scoring opportunities just based off of hustle plays. He is very active and plays with a nice amount of energy, getting out on the break or attacking the O glass for putbacks. His shooting touch is fairly soft and he shows a smooth stroke which will help out if he can become a knock down spot shooter, because at this point, because of his size and lack of true skills he doesn’t have a true position for the next level.

4 Branislav Dekic 6’8 (1991)

His stats were not very impressive, but he is definitely the glue of the FMP team. He is the guy that sets the screens, gets on the O glass, runs the break or makes the extra pass that leads to an easy basket. Even though he isn’t superb at any one particular aspect, he mixes a lot of skills with his knowledge of the game to form a nice package. His agility and footspeed give him the potential to become a 3/4 type forward, but even though he has the jumpshot down at this point, he needs to expand his game of the dribble. Instead of slashing more and attacking closeouts, he tends to settle for jumpshots too much. Also at times he gets matched up with smaller wingplayers, and rather from taking them inside, he floats around the perimeter not looking to take advantage of the mismatch. He may never be a true NBA prospect because of his physical shortcomings, but he definitely has a chance to become a nice European player.

5 Oscar Alvarado 6’1 (1991)

The extremely confident and cocky Spaniard played well for the most part in the tournament. He is a bit undersized and lacks explosiveness, but he is shifty and has nice moves of the dribble that allow him to get by his defender. He is very crafty when attacking, using the euro two step that looks like a travel but is in fact just a slowed and extended stride. He is very good at drawing contact both on the perimeter and when he gets into the lane. As a shooter he is limited because he shoots a slow set shot off his shoulder, which takes away his ability to shoot off the dribble. Even though he gets careless and tries to make the home run play too often, his vision and passing are his two best traits and he proved that he is the best pure PG in this tournament.

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I love you Jonas Valanciunas

For a young player his size, he shows great mobility and a nice motor.
I love you Jonas Valanciunas ...

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