The Tower of Cape Verde
Player of the Month
Walter Tavares (7’3”, C, 1992, Cape Verde, Gran Canaria)
Tavares is having a breakout season at the best possible time, as he’ll be automatically eligible for 2014 NBA draft, as an international prospect. He has averaged 6 points and 7 rebounds thus far in ACB, but during the last 5 games his digits have improved, with an average of 9 points and 8 rebounds including the great performance against Real Madrid in Copa del Rey, when he had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Standing 7-3 with a remarkable wingspan of 7-9 combined with great mobility, Tavares is an effective rim protector, showing a solid upside also from the offensive standpoint. He was discovered by a German citizen who was on vacation in Cape Verde in 2009, and this person reported to his connections in Gran Canaria about him and the following season he started playing with the youth teams. Coach Pedro Martinez, who in the past helped other big man like Vasquez and Marc Gasol to blossom, played an active part on his improvements. With the help of his mentor he has become a reliable prospect, with a high likelihood to be selected next June.
Kristaps Porzingis (7’0”, PF, 1995, Latvia, Cajasol Seville)
Game after game Porzingis is elevating his status as a legitimate NBA prospect for 2015 NBA draft, with his solid performances in his first season as a professional player. As a legit 7 footer he has a combination of size, explosiveness and mobility that has lead some scouts to see a taller Andrei Kirilenko as a possible comparison. Ball handling skills and shooting range are also part of his repertoire, with his game style more similar to a guard than an inside player. He’s averaging 6 points and 3 rebounds thus far this season, with an average of 10 points in the last 5 games, including an astonishing performance of 20 points against Real Madrid.
Mario Hezonja (6’7”, SG, 1995, Croatia, Barcelona)
Hezonja is finally finding space and consistent minutes on the court with Barcelona, at least in ACB. During the last 5 games he has averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds, playing almost 20 minutes. His game against Manresa has been widely publicized, as he scored 26 points combined with 5 rebounds, showing off his terrific potential. If he continues to move along this path, there’s no doubt he’ll be the international frontrunner for the 2015 draft, with genuine chance to become a lottery pick.
Alessandro Gentile (6’6”, SF, 1992, Italy, AJ Milano)
Lately, Gentile has been at his best since the beginning of the season, averaging 14 points and 3 rebounds on average in Italian league and Euroleague combined over the last month. Playing on a team which will likely win the Italian league and which also has strong possibilities to get to Euroleague Final 4, Gentile has shown some improvements on his attitude, being a positive contribution in the winning streak of his team during the second part of the season. Unfortunately for him he suffered last Sunday a muscle injury to his arm, which will sideline him for 4 up to 6 weeks.
Dario Saric (6’10”, PF, 1994, Croatia, Cibona)
Saric is keeping his remarkable all around stats, and with his solid performances he has led Cibona to the ABA league final four (16.3 points 9.6 rebounds 3.0 assists). While his efficiency on the court is still rather high, there are several issues arising concerning his contract and his entourage. In fact, it seems that Saric and Anadolu Efes Istanbul have agreed upon a three-year, $8.27 million contract, even though neither the team nor Saric's representatives have confirmed the contract. Currently his buyout is 1.2 million euro, but the possible signature of the contract could change the scenario. “For my development the best is to stay in Europe but we’ll see what happens. I don’t even have an agent right now. I will talk with my family but I will make the final decision." – he recently declared to a Croatian newspaper. Furthermore the influence of his father on his decisions seem strong, creating a situation of instability that led to the layoff of his agent Robert Jablan .
Rasmus Larsen (7’0”, C, 1994, Denmark, Manresa)
His performance in the first round of ACB could definitely be considered as a meteor. Since then, he hasn’t shown any sign of development, to the contrary he has regressed. Despite his great technical talent, which is one of highest in Europe, the consistency of his effort is below the acceptable level. He’s averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds in ACB thus far, and the numbers are still dropping, with just 3 points on average and less than 15 minutes on the court. At this point in time, it is difficult to consider him an NBA prospect.
Under the Radar
Viktor Gaddefors (6’7”, SF, 1992, Sweden, Granarolo Bologna)
Gaddefors is most definitely one of the dark horses for upcoming '14 NBA draft. Not highly publicized but with all the technical and physical skills to be drafted. Standing 6-7, he’s a high level European athlete, with remarkable foot speed and mobility. In order to compete at the NBA level he should put at least 10 pounds of muscle, but he has already a well-defined body structure. He’s really effective in the transition game, finishing both attacking the rim or with a solid catch and shoot. He has some polish with a good variety of offensive moves, showing great basketball IQ and decision making skills. As a SF, he needs to improve his ball handling skills and the ability to create off the dribble, plus he has to work on his confidence and consistency. He’s averaging 7 points and 3.4 rebound in the Italian first division.
Guillem Vives (6’3”, PG, 1993, Spain , Badalona)
Vives is another interesting prospect of the highly touted ’93 Spanish generation, after Abrines, Diez and Fernandez. Standing at 6-foot-3 he has great size for the position, showing quickness and an ability to create from the dribble, especially in pick and roll situations, where he shows glimpses of creativity. He’s mature and poised for his age, playing consistent minutes in ACB with Joventut Badalona senior team, averaging 8 points 4 rebounds and 4 assists thus far in ACB. His biggest flaw is his shot, he’s shooting with less than 25% from three points. A possible comparison for him could be Pablo Prigioni, from the physical and technical standpoint.