Player of the Month
Luka Doncic (99′, 6-7, PG/SG, Slovenia, Real Madrid)
After a great showing in FIBA’s Eurobasket, where he lead Slovenia to the gold medal along with Goran Dragic, Luka Doncic knew that this season everybody will watch him closer than ever. So what has he done for an encore? He’s stepped up his game even further! Doncic isn’t just the best player of his generation. At the moment he might even be the best overall player in Europe, which is pretty amazing considering the fact that he is just 18 years old. The Slovenian prospect has managed to become the leader of his team. He is the leading scorer in EuroLeague and he can do just about anything on the floor. He can score, play the Pick n’ Roll, rebound and pass. His court vision is uncanny and his shooting is improving constantly. He is not a great athlete, even by Europe standards, and it’s difficult to imagine him guarding point guards at the NBA level. But he is proving to be incredibly precocious, as a player with amazing skill and IQ for the game, and that all the hype around him over the last couple of years is justified.
Dzanan Musa (99′, 6-9, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cedevita)
For years Dzanan Musa was considered the best scorer of his generation in Europe, but everyone wondered two things: 1. Will he be able to score as efficiently at the next level? 2. Can he do anything else besides scoring? Judging from what he has done the first month of the season the answer is “yes” to both of those questions. The Bosnian prospect is having a terrific year thus far in Aba Liga. He can score with the best of them and his 3-point shooting is improving. More importantly, he fills the stat sheet with rebounds, assists and even steals. Musa looks more mature than ever, proving that his showing at the Adidas EuroCamp last June was no fluke. If he continues like that, his stock will just keep rising.
Goga Bitadze (99′, 6-11, C, Georgia, Mega Bemax)
Every season there is a player from Mega Bemax who finds a way to stand out before the draft. It has happened with Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Timothe Luwaru-Cabarrot and Alpha Kaba. Goga Bitadze looks like he will be the next in line. The Georgian prospect started the season amazingly well at Aba-Liga, posting a double-double or near double-double lines with 2+ blocks for a whole month! Not bad for a kid who turned 18 years old just two months ago. Bitadze is a beast. He is strong and can run the floor well, he can post up and even shoot from mid-range and can be a good rim protector thanks to his feel for the game. He is far from a finished prospect and needs a lot of work. But the talent is there.
Vanja Marinkovic (97′, 6-7, SG, Serbia, Partizan)
After a just OK showing at FIBA’s U20 Eurobasket, Vanja Marinkovic looks like a man on a mission this year. The Serbian prospect is having by far his best year, scoring in bunches in every game. His confidence is back and this is obvious by the fact that he is shooting above 40% from 3-point range with more than 6 attempts per game from beyond the arc. If he manages to mix it up and become something more than just a shooter, then the scouts will be even more intrigued by him.
Elie Okobo (97′, 6-2, PG, France, Pau Ortez)
The French prospect has really stepped up his game this year. After a solid showing at FIBA’s U20 Eurobasket, Okobo has doubled his playing time and thus all his numbers from last year. His decision making looks better, his shooting is steady and his defensive upside is there. He is not a consistent shooter just yet and still has room to grow, but it’s obvious that he has really improved since last year.
Arnoldas Kulboka (98′, 6-9, SF, Lithuania, Capo D’Orlando)
He is having his usual ups and downs. He struggles when his shot isn’t falling. But when Kulboka is locked in, he looks like a player with NBA potential. The Lithuanian prospect is one of the best shooters in Europe. Playing for the first time at a high level in Italy, he has shown flashes of being a good player. His concentration still needs some work and he must be able to put the ball on the floor more. His upside though is undeniable and it’s on him to prove the rest of the way that he has the ability to play in the NBA.
Isaac Bonga (99′, 6-9, PG/SG, Germany, Fraport Frankfurt)
When someone watches Bonga for the first time, all they think is “potential, potential, potential”. His body structure is intriguing, looking like a… baby Antetokounmpo. His court vision is great. His defensive instincts are off the charts. But… he is still raw and has a lot to work on. The German prospect has the chance to learn through trial and error this year, having plenty of playing time in the German League. He is a stat sheet filler, but his offense, shooting and decision making need work. He will continue to improve as time passes by though as everyone is intrigued to see how good he can become this year.
Rodions Kurucs (98′, 6-8, SF, Latvia, Barcelona)
Kurucs surprised a lot of people when he decided to withdraw from last year’s draft despite the fact that he was considered a first rounder. He was promised a bigger role in Barcelona and he probably thought that will help his stock for the 2018 draft. As things stand right now, this hasn’t looked like a good decision for him. With Barcelona bringing veteran players in at his position, the Latvian prospect is forced to play for the Barcelona B, which plays at second Spanish division. The thing is though that everybody has seen him play against players at that level and wanted to watch him against better competition. Kurucs is still an interesting prospect, but he really has to show something more this season if he still wants to be considered a first rounder.
Tryggvi Hlinason (97′, 7-1, C, Iceland, Valencia)
After a great showing at FIBA’s U20 Eurobasket, Hlinason found out the hard way that it’s not so easy to move up and play at the highest European level. Having playing basketball for just two years, it’s difficult to find playing time in a EuroLeague team, especially if this team is the Spanish champion. Hlinason’s playing time is not just limited. It’s almost non-existent. Valencia is trying to be competitive in EuroLeague and ACB, so it’s difficult to wait for Hlinason to learn from his mistakes, viewing him more as a long term prospect. And this situation has negatively affected his stock.
Felipe dos Anjos (98′, 7-2, C, Brazil, San Paulo Burgos)
Dos Anjos’ size and skillset make him intriguing. He had a solid season last year at second Spanish division, so Real Madrid decided to loan him on a team of ACB, hoping to see him gain playing time against elite competition. But this hasn’t happened yet. The Brazilian prospect has played in just 3 games thus far and he is averaging just 3 minutes per game. This was supposed to be the year that he showed everyone what he could do on the floor. But so far he’s struggling to produce.
Edin Atic (97′, 6-8, SF, Bosnia, AEK BC)
Two years ago Atic was considered one of the best prospects in Europe. A “jack of all trades” wing who could do it all. He might still be the same player, but he hasn’t been given the chance to show that. Atic was expected to have a bigger role at AEK BC this year. But it took just two weeks for him to not just be out of the rotation, but off of the squad. The Greek powerhouse has 7 foreigners and is allowed to use 6 of them in Greek League, with Atic looking like the odd man out. And it doesn’t look like this will change any time soon.
Abdoulaye N'Doye (98′, 6-7, PG, France, Cholet)
He is one of the best defenders of his generation. His length and playmaking ability intrigues. But it looks like N’Doye isn’t ready yet to play at the next level. At least that’s what they think in Cholet, with his playing time being all over the place at the beggining of the season. The French prospect has great upside and everybody is keeping an eye on him. But he has to be able to show something sooner rather than later before it’s too late.
Borisa Simanic (98′, 6-11, PF, Serbia, FMP)
Simanic is considered a forward with a great upside. He has the size, athleticism and shooting stroke to become a prototypical stretch-4 with NBA potential. That’s great on paper, but his ups and downs had the scouts being a little skeptical with him. With Crvena Zvezda deciding to send him on loan at FMP, everybody wanted to see how he reacts with more playing time. Thus far, though, things don’t look so good for him. He has played in just 3 games, having one great one and two duds. It’s too soon to say that Simanic has disappointed, but he certainly hasn’t impressed either.
Tadas Sedekerskis (98′, 6-9, SF, Lithuania, San Paulo Burgos)
Sedekerskis had the chance to see some playing time in Baskonia last year in ACB and EuroLeague. So when he was loaned to San Paul Burgos he probably expected to have a chance to prove himself. But, just like Dos Anjos, he realized that this won’t be that easy for this team. The Lithuanian prospect plays just under 10 minutes and can’t even average 2 points per game. Things don’t look too good, but it’s on him to prove that he deserves more playing time.
Too Soon to Tell
Kostja Mushidi (98′, 6-5, SG, Germany, Mega Bemax)
The German prospect was injured at the beginning of the season. He only played one game this month, but he was really impressive in that one, scoring 18 points in just 23 minutes. Still, it would be unfair to judge him. Mushidi is a player with NBA upside, mainly thanks to his atlhleticism and defensive potential, but for him to take the next step he has to improve on the other side of the floor. It remains to be seen what will happen.
Nik Slavica (97′, 6-8, SG, Croatia, Cedevita)
After a disastrous season last year, Slavica found himself with no team in the summer. After months of searching he was able to sign with Croatian powerhouse Cedevita. It’s too soon to judge him too, but the fact that he scored 47 points in a game for the Croatian League (!) it’s a good sign for him, mainly from a confidence stand point. He still has a lot to work on, especially on offense and he has to prove to everybody that he hasn’t stalled. It won’t be easy since most scouts lost faith in him, but it’s on him to prove them wrong.
Vasileios Charalampopoulos (97′, 6-9, SF/PF, Greece, PAOK)
The MVP of FIBA’s U20 Championship saw his team, Panathinaikos, give him on loan to PAOK, so that he could have room to grow. And then Charalampopoulos got injured and had to have surgery. The Greek prospect hasn’t played yet, but is expected to make his debut soon. And the truth is a fair number of scouts would like to see how he will react now that he’ll have a bigger role.