Draft Buzz - Nicolas Batum Likely Out of 2007 NBA Draft
By Aran Smith
[img_assist|nid=3911|title=Nicolas Batum|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=263|height=350]Sources close to the situation have indicated that French wing-player Nicolas Batum, who's widely considered the top overall prospect in Europe, likely will not enter his name into the 2007 NBA draft.
Batum feels he is not ready for the NBA and must spend more time working on his body and skills before being fully prepared to jump accross the Atlantic.
He had an excellent performance playing for the World Team in the Hoop Summit matching up against the top American players in his age group, finishing with a game high 23 points. He displayed his tremendous upside with a number of breathtaking dunks as well as his ability to shoot from outside. His 7-1 wingspan gives him a huge advantage over similar sized players.
Batum struggled for playing time in his first professional season at Le Mans averaging 4.3 ppg over the 30 game season. But it was mostly due to lack of experience that he didn't see more time. Towards the end of the season, his playing time and production began to show improvement.
Most scouts considered him as a lock to be a lottery pick with a real chance to go top 10.
Batum would return to Le Mans for a second season and will be the most sought after international player next season. He has a chance to be a top 3-5 pick next year if he continues to improve his body and skill level.
Batum has until April 29th and still has not made a final decision, but appears intent upon remaining out of the 2007 draft.
Marco Belinelli Enters Draft
[img_assist|nid=3912|title=Marco Belinelli|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=332]Italian shooting guard Marco Belinelli has officially announced he will enter his name into the 2007 NBA draft. It was assumed for the past year that he would enter, and now he has made it official.
Belinelli did not have a great season and it's unsure whether he will remain in the draft. He has targeted this draft for a few years, however his dissapointing season leaves his draft position in limbo. He is 1986 born so he has the option to pull out and wait for the 2008 draft. He struggled for much of the year on the defensive end and saw his shooting numbers drop considerably.
He's a bigtime shooter and played a big role in the 2006 Italian National Team's World Championships. However, his team had a dismal season finishing in 11th place. His efficiency has seen a significant drop off from a season ago. While his scoring has gone up from 13.2 in 27.7 minutes to 16.5 in 31.2, his efficiency has dropped with 78 assists, 64 turnovers, and 41% from 3p a year ago to 42 assists, 71 turnovers and 34% from 3p this year.
Hasheem Thabeet Returning to UConn
A few weeks ago we reported that UConn center Hasheem Thabeet would enter his name into the NBA draft. This information turned out to be false as the UConn Husky center has announced he will pass on the draft and return for his sophomore season.
Thabeet was considered a lock first round pick. Apparently Thabeet came to the realization that he is too raw and his skills would greatly benefit in the long run by returning for a second year of college ball.
Thabeet is from Tanzania, and he would like to move his mother to the United States as soon as possible, but feared he could slip into the second round and thus be unable to get the proper visas and afford the cost of bringing his family to the United States.
The decision should turn out the best for him in the long run as his development at UConn will surely be better next season than sitting on an NBA bench.