Draft Buzz 11/16/03
By Aran Smith
[img_assist|nid=4486|title=Andris Biedrins|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=242]Latvian center/power forward Andris Biedrins has jumped into the mix as a projected top 5 pick this year with incredible performances in the first month of the season playing in Latvia. Granted, the Latvian league isn't the creme de la creme of Europe, but it is decent enough to make some scouts in Europe completely flabbergasted by Biedrins accomplishments.
Biedrins is a left-hander with shotblocking ability, two highly regarded assets in the minds of NBA teams. He's got an active body, and developing offensive post moves. Biedrins has also developed some range on his shot.
Biedrins scored 34 points in a game against Finnish team, the Honka Playboys (great name huh?) and has been impressive averaging 20.8 points per game over the first month of the season against solid European teams.
A few NBA contacts have commented that he is definitely a top 10 pick, and could very well crack the top 3-5.
Biedrins came over in the summer and played in the 400 team Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas. He made the All Tournament team playing for the (Washington DC based) DC Assault I team and showed great potential.
Biedrins was to transfer to National Christian Academy in DC and become a junior. However he was unable to resolve his eligibility issues and remained in Latvia where he is playing with Skonto Riga.
Biedrins play was so impressive in Vegas that he would have been projected as the the top junior in the Nation.
Biedrins worked out with the Philadelphia 76ers for a few weeks with players such as Brian Skinner and Marc Jackson who came away very impressed with his abilities.
Biedrins was compared to Darko Milicic in a recent Fiba article. Though the comparison might not be exact, the magnitude of Biedrins potential is.
Two Serbia-Montenegro bigmen, who are both signed for extensive contracts with (Vlade Divac owned) Partizan Belgrade team, could potentially be in the mix for the 2003 lottery. Because 2002 first rounder (24th pick) Nenad Krstic has not been able to break away from Partizan, there is some question as to whether the team will make it difficult for these players as well. In their favor, as lotto picks they will likely have a bigger initial contract and more ability to pay the buyout.
7-2 Center Kosta Perovic is a player with top five potential. He's currently listed as the #2 pick on the 2005 Mock Draft . He's received a good deal of playing time this year as the teams starter with Nenad Krstic out with an injury. Perovic has been considered a top 5 type of talent for some time, and it's mostly a question of how soon he can contribute that could keep him out of that area. Here is a look back at the 2004 mock draft from Mid-July, which has seen considerable change during the offseason.
7-0 Center Predrag Samardziski, originally from Macedonia, and now training with Partizan was recently seen by an NBA contact who came away with unfulfilled expectations. "He has heavy legs, which take away his mobility." He's definitely a nice prospect with great shooting touch, but probably not the top 3-5 pick that he was once hyped to be. Because he is not able to play due to being from Macedonia, Samardziski may also suffer from "Skita-itis".
[img_assist|nid=4487|title=Kosta Perovic|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=120|height=142]Nikoloz "Skita" Tskitishvili as you remember was drafted fifth overall in 2002 and while playing in his second year still appears lost. Many scouts are beginning to feel he will never fulfill the expectations as he isn't the athletic freak that many talents drafted based on potential are. "A poor mans Christian Laettner", is how one contact describes him. He can shoot the ball, but whether he can develop the skills to create his shot and become a great offensive talent are unlikely. The Nuggets were fortunate enough to grab Nene with their second pick, but missed out on Amare Stoudemire.
The significance of Skita in terms of International players is that he was the first player taken with the "futures" mentality that has become the norm among American players. The problem with drafting on potential with Europeans is that their skill level, which is usually where their advantage lays, hasn't had time to develop properly. Pau Gasol was 20 when he was drafted and had already proven himself as a star in post season play in Europe.
Players such as Samardziski and Damir Omerhodzic could be forced to wait on entering the draft due to the "Skita influence" or see their draft postion slip substantially. Omerhodzic will struggle for playing time all season and for now is projected as a lottery pick in 2005. Samardziski's agent Marc Cornstein has developed a reputation for putting players in the draft early, so teams may be forced to make their decision based on limited game play and potential alone.
When 7-foot-3 center Nedzad Sinanovic of Bosnia-Herzgovina was drafted 54th in the final moments of the 2003 draft, few took notice. "Another late round pick burned on a European stiff " many thought. However this could end up being the sleeper of the entire draft.
Sinanovic served in the Bosnian army for two-and-a-half years. Upon completion of his service in December of 2002, he began playing basketball again and was quickly discovered by assistant coach of the Spanish club Unicaja Malaga, Kosta Janka. Janka informed his friend Rade Filipovic an agent who works with Bill Duffy who quickly signed the prospect.
Sinanovic obviously had NBA potential, but needed time to develop his skills. Filipovic decided to have Janka take the young prospect over to Spain where he began working out with Malaga. Due to Sinanovic's inexperience, he received very little playing time.
Because of the unique situation, a player with great potential and low exposure due to the army stint, Filipiovic and Duffy concocted a scheme to sneak the undiscovered Sinanovic through the draft, making him a free agent, and thus circumventing the NBA rookie salary scale.
It is common for European players to put their name on the early entry list and later withdraw to familiarize themselves with teams. So when the unknown Sinanovic's name appeared on the early entry list, most figured he would pull his name out when the deadline came, as he had not worked out for teams and his agent didn't even speak English.
Duffy gave minimal information, listing Sinanovic's high school as his team and a Bosnian businessman who didn't speak English as his agent. The salary cap circumvention heist was in place. Sports Illustrated was called to run the story, and everything was going according to plan until deputy commissioner Russ Granik announced Portland's 54th selection.
[img_assist|nid=4488|title=Nedzad Sinanovic|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=267]Duffy and Filipovic sat in the Greenroom shocked at what they had just heard. The scheme had been foiled.
Perhaps one of the few scouts to even see Sinanovic was Portland Trailblazer International scout Chico Averbuck, "Nash told me to make the call. I'd seen this kid and I knew he had a lot of potential. Only time will tell if he has the stuff for the NBA"
In a story which ran later, Duffy was quoted by Sports Illustrated a day before the draft saying "We're talking about somebody who could be one of the 10 best players in this group". Meaning the 2003 draft. However due to the circumstances, NBA scouts obviously were not privy to Duff's opinion.
Sinanovic has very good agility for a bigman, he can get up and down the floor and the touch on his shot is developing well. The areas he must develop are his strength and basketball understanding.
Sinanovic is now playing for Belgium team RBC Pepinster, a second tier first-division European team where he can earn playing time and begin to develop.
Nedzad was brought over and played with Portland in the summer league in Utah. According to Filipovic, "The assistant coaches were really impressed. He is raw, but he's a fighter, when he gets knocked down, he gets back up."
He went on to say, "The ceiling is huge, but for now he's just a big project. He can become an NBA All Star, or he could fail to make the league. It's up to him. His great demeanor and work ethic really help his chances."
Sinanovic will come over each year during the summer to play with Portland in the summer league. "It should be a good barometer of his development." According to Filipovic.
Averbuck calls Sinanovic "A player that 2-3 years from now could be a diamond in the rough type". "He's a 7-3 player that just hasn't received the coaching, he's very raw, but the potential is there."
Movers And Shakers
Jameer Nelson got the college season started off with a bang in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in NYC. He started off the season with a 20 point, 10 assist and 8 rebound effort. Nelson showed the type of athleticism and point guard skills that should make him a solid first rounder this year.
He was very impressive in the Chicago Pre-draft camp during the summer, and some felt he would get into the first round had he elected to stay in the draft. However, Nelson made the smart move, and without the guaruntee, committed himself to doing all the things coaches and scouts told him to improve his game in the off-season.
And it is really showing. Look for Nelson to be a first team All-American, and to not bother with Chicago after the season because he'll be a first round pick.
Emeka Okafor was the consensus #1 player on NBA scouts lists going into the summer. However, due to the fact that he wasn't dominant in International competitions and our opinion that offensively he played over his head last year, he ranks in the 5-6 range on the current draft board.
Okafor isn't a go-to type of offensive player, but he will hope that NBA team's consider the dominance Ben Wallace has made as a defensive and rebounding enforcer.
Charlie Villanueva is currently being investigated by the NCAA on how he paid his expenses related to trying out for NBA teams in during the summer. For now he is ineligible indefinitely.
Bashy: Stay in School
[img_assist|nid=4489|title=Sebastian Telfair|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=168|height=194]Sources indicate that high school star PG Sebastian Telfair is seriously considering the jump from high school to the NBA. It would be a huge mistake as it is much more difficult for a point guard to attempt the leap than a forward or center. Telfair has received considerable hype and to his credit has lived up to it in the bright lights of New York City.
He appeared on the cover of Slam Magazine with LeBron James as a sophomore, and has outplayed pros such as Jamaal Tinsley in games at Rucker Park. Does that mean he is a guaranteed first round pick? Hardly.
NBA scouts are familiar with him, and all seem to be in agreement, he needs to attend college. No PG has ever successfully made the leap from high school and been a first rounder. Fellow NYC Point guard legends Kenny Anderson and (cousin) Stephon Marbury both played one year in college and parlayed it into being lottery picks.
Telfair has the potential to be another TJ Ford, but it will take him a couple years in college if he ever wants to get there. Otherwise, like Omar Cook, he will likely go down as another NYC PG Legend who never lived up to his potential. Hopefully for the sake of college basketball fans, and his own future, he will choose at least a year at Louisville.
Western Kentucky has another behemoth center making noise. Nigel Dixon has come in this year at a svelte 320 pounds and could climb the draft board if he can continue the desire and effort he's shown recently.
He's been impressive in practice facing Chris Marcus over the past year and a half while sitting out his transfer year from Florida St.. Dixon is a Popeye Jones type with good touch and very good agility for a player of his massive size.
2003 Draft Recap -- 16/29!
NBADraft.net topped the competition hitting over 50% calling 16 of the 29 first round picks correctly. Here is a look at how other major media sources did on draft night:
|ESPN - Chad Ford||13/29|
|CBS Sportsline - Tony Meija||10/29|
|CNNSI - Ian Thompsen||10/29|
|CNNSI- Jon Hollinger||9/29|
Here is a look back at the 2003 first round. Matching up the actual first round with NBADraft.net's first round projections.
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