Player of the Week
Bogdan Bogdanovic (6’6”, SG, 1992, Serbia, Partizan Belgrade)
After a solid European Championship with the Serbian National team, Bogdanovic has been showing significant improvement from the beginning of this season. He has been in the starting five of a Partizan team which is leading the ABA League and doing well in Euroleague, playing almost 30 minutes per game. What impresses the most about him is his ability to play the role of offensive facilitator, with an assist and just showing remarkable all around decision making. With his solid structure and athletic abilities, he could definitely adapt his game to the NBA level, being an ideal glue guy for a contending team. His main shortcoming is still his shooting, especially when he has to create from off the dribble (35% from the field in ABA League for the time being). He’s currently averaging 11.8 points 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in ABA League, 13 points 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in Euroleague.
Dario Saric (6’10”, PF, 1994, Croatia, Cibona)
Saric is showing remarkable consistency in his performances through the first part of the 2013/2014 season, which will probably lead to his declaration into 2014 NBA draft (according to the player his buyout is 1.2 million). The Croatian forward is collecting strong stats, and playing on a consistent basis as the starting PF for Cibona Zagreb, both in ABA League and Eurocup competitions. But the issues regarding the transition of his game to the NBA level remain the same: he’s still a tweener, without a precise role among the two forward spots. He’s really effective in transition game, exploiting his superior ball handling skills and mobility, but he struggles in half-court game when he has to beat the defender from the dribble, since he lacks the necessary first step and explosiveness. His ability to play as a point forward could led to a tactical role in NBA, but this transition will be bonded to a better consistency of his outside shot (less than 30% from 3 points this season). He’s averaging 13.3 points and 7 rebounds in ABA league.
Jusuf Nurkic (6’10”, C, 1994, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cedevita Zagreb)
The Bosnian big man is one of the surprises of the 2013/2014 season, putting a significant effort for an overachieving Cedevita team. Playing almost 15 minutes per game, he’s collecting 11 points and 5 rebounds, showing great energy and a blue collar work ethic. Standing at 6’10”, he’s not extremely tall but he has an amazing balance and mobility for the center position, and possesses a really solid and robust body structure. He’s still a raw prospect from a technical standpoint, he lacks reliable post moves and his shot mechanics are not fluid, but his ceiling is quite intriguing.
Rasmus Larsen (7’0”, C, 1994, Denmark, Manresa)
The Danish talent seems to have fully recovered from the injury that sidelined him for most of the last season. He was the best performer of the first round of ACB, as he collected 21 points and 13 rebounds showing his impressive all around skill set: soft hands, deep range, mobility, sense of position and a good athleticism. Since then his performances have slightly trailed off, but he’s definitely one of the most intriguing prospect currently playing in Europe. He’s averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds in ACB.
Vasilje Micic (6’5”, PG, 1994, Serbia, Mega Vizura)
Micic is the starting point guard of a young and talented team, that has collected some of the best Serbian prospects (Miljenovic, Jokic, Dangubic among the others) around veteran bigman Ratko Varda. Micic is showing great maturity and poise in leading his team, with the usual offensive skill set based on fake moves, speed and direction changes and use of pivot feet. His shot is showing improvement (50% from the field in ABA league) especially from 3 point, an aspect which could enhance his draft stock. His stats are 11 points 5.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds thus far in ABA League.
Philipp Neumann (6’11”, C, 1992, Germany, Brose Basket Bamberg)
He has been one of the hot names on the European landscape for a long time, with his combination of height and coordination. But his progress has virtually stopped over the past two seasons, showing no significant improvement. For a big man the average of 3.3 rebounds in BBL is really below average, showing a lack of aggressiveness to fight below the boards. In Euroleague, his stats are even worse, facing bigger and more athletic opponents, at 2.7 points and 1 rebound in less than 10 minutes on the court.
Alessandro Gentile (6’7”, SG, 1992, Italy, AJ Milano)
After a Eurobasket (European senior championships) in which he was the MVP of the Italian National team, Gentile hasn’t started in the same encouraging way this season. In the first game of the Italian League he was ejected for arguing with a referee, and his stats are quite disappointing, especially his 3 point shot, where he is just hitting 10% in the Italian league. The biggest problem is without a doubt his shot selection, in a team that terribly lacks play making his choices are often forced, with shots in the traffic and in conditions of limited balance. In Euroleague action, his shot selection has been better, with more consistent shot percentages, but his overall effectiveness is not as expected.
Ondrej Balvin (7’1”, C, 1992, Czech Republic, Cajasol Sevilla)
Balvin was one of the best prospects in this year’s adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, but so far his impact has been minimal with Cajasol, especially on the offensive side. He’s playing slightly less than 20 minutes per game, but scoring just 5 points. With his body, coordination and hands, the expectations are significantly higher than the results he has collected since the beginning of this season. Granted there’s still plenty of time to improve.
Under the Radar
Mohammadou Jaiteh (6’11”, C, 1994, France, Nanterre)
Mam Jaiteh moved from a small team in second French division to the Euroleague team of Nanterre, and thus elevating the level of the opponents he faces. The result has been quite encouraging: he looks in a better condition, more mobile and active on the floor, able to put a solid contribution on the offensive side, as well. There’s still work for him to do from a technical standpoint, but after a solid year in Euroleague his stock could rise. He’s averaging 5 points and 3 rebounds in Euroleague.
Mario Hezonja (6’6”, SG, 1995, Croatia, Barcelona)
The Croatian phenom is now playing for a high level Barcelona senior team, but unfortunately his utilization by coach Pasqual is inconsistent. With the exception of the game against Manresa, when he played 22 minutes collecting 11 rebounds, he’s playing an average of less than 5 minutes per game. For a player that desperately needs to face a higher level of competition, and consistent minutes, it’s not an ideal situation.