Day 2 marked the arrival of hyped potential first rounder Evan Fournier.
Kevin McHale gave a post clinic, which is a bit like having Mozart give a clinic in writing classical music. McHale mentioned Kevin Love and how he wasn’t the biggest and strongest but his attention to detail and work habits and skill level makes him succesful against much better athletes.
Tomas Sataransky dressed in the morning but did not participate in games. Apparently he and his agent felt that his first day performance was going to be impossible to top, so why bother playing any further. He played well considering the jetlag coming from the US and participating at the Chicago predraft combine. Scouts came away saying he looked solid and if anything helped his cause. In Chicago he didn’t shoot it particularly well but handled it well in the open floor drills and looked like a certain draft pick. He seems to have closed the distance with Evan Fournier as a number of people here actually prefer Sataransky to Fournier.
I got as many opinions from NBA scouts on Evan Fournier (for-ne-aye) after the day two as possible, and it was virtually unanimous that he’s not a first round talent. He showed himself alright in the games with solid numbers but there were still a lot of criticisms. First and foremost, his speed and athleticism are severely lacking for an NBA 2-guard. Among the camp of mostly mid European level talent and younger players, Fournier looked like just another camper in the morning drills and stations. He played two games, the second of which was more competitive as it was his French national team going against the Russian National team. He’s not short on confidence as he sort of struts around and has an arrogance about him, although it’s all very contained and in a way that doesn’t rub most people wrong. One scout used the term, "prima donna". Without question he’s an effective offensive talent, but whether or not he has the athleticism to make it in the league is still up for debate, as is who the top international prospect from this year’s draft class.
For a guy that was supposed to be the best talent in camp, he didn’t press enough to prove that. In the first game he seemed reluctant to attack the rim, even with defenders such as former Arizona oaf Kyryl Natyazkho under the basket. Instead he deferred, opting to kick the ball out to teammates. He started the game well with a breakaway dunk off a turnover and then hit a nice 18 foot jumper. But then seemed to get too comfortable just fading into being one of the players. At one point an NBA scout I was sitting with said, "he doesn’t appear too interested in playing any defense". He had a nice play driving to the basket where he adjusted under the rim using the basket to screen his defender. But his below the rim mid-range game is just not going to translate at the NBA level. Ukraine 1991 combo guard Olyksandr Lypovyy did an excellent job defending Fournier, staying in front of him and not allowing him to get to the rim for most of the game.
Fournier had a nice breakaway dunk in game 2 with a defender a step behind him. He showed more willingness to create off the dribble using crossovers and shake moves in attempts to get around his defender at the top of the key. He’s smooth but not extremely fast. Something like Marco Belinelli athletically only missing the incredible outside shooting. I credit Fournier for playing in the event and putting his talent in front of the scrutiny of NBA scouts. He’s a likable prospect and some obviously do like him, as he has a swagger and smoothness to his game. I just don’t think the talent level is there to warrant a pick in the first round, regardless of the "stash potential". Fournier will be a great player in France if nothing else, and could carve out a niche with the right NBA team someday if he continues to improve.
The real standout for the French national team was Rudy Gobert. Gobert (go-bear) reminds you of Alexis Ajinca. Wait, keep reading. He’s got a similar frame with incredibly long arms and an athletic body with long legs. The difference is Gobert should end up better. Ajinca had much better fluidity, speed and athleticism, and it was easy to see why he fooled a team into taking him so high (above Nicolas Batum). He was oozing potential but his body and toughness were the big problems as he just didn’t have the strength to make anything happen inside. The reason Gobert will end up better (in the NBA) is that he’s much more of a true center, that can handle some contact. Ajinca was more of a SF in a bigman’s body whereas Gobert will be able to put more weight on. Gobert was 7-8 from the floor and 1-2 from the line. He showed solid hands catching psses around the basket, and he doesn’t need much elevation as he is so tall he appears close to touching the rim without leaving his feet. He’s not as fluid an athlete running the floor as Ajinca was, but he’s showing some solid definition in his arms and should continue to get stronger. He shows some touch although he needs to continue to work on post moves. His speed is the one thing stopping him from being an absolute beast and an early first round type of prospect. Regardless, every scout I asked agreed that Gobert was the best prospect on the floor (and in camp) and a legit potential first round prospect.
The late games had mostly players that will play in Europe and a few with NBA aspirations in the future. Tuesday will be the 3rd and final day. Look for a final recap with writeups on the top 15-20 prospects, coming soon.