Player of the Month
Luka Doncic (99′, 6-7, PG/SG, Slovenia, Real Madrid)
He had his ups and downs. At one moment all this pressure looked like it had caught up with him since he was ejected early in a EuroLeague game. And then he had a near triple-double against the (EuroLeague Champions) Fenerbahce in a road game. There is no denying that fatigue is an issue for Luka Doncic. Still, he remains by far the best prospect in Europe and the player everybody has an eye on. And for a good reason, since he proved this past month that even in his bad days can find a way to be productive and useful.
Dzanan Musa (99′, 6-9, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cedevita)
Musa cooled off a little last month. He didn’t shoot particularly well from the perimeter and he wasn’t as efficient as the first two months of the season. But that makes sense considering he won’t turn 19 until early May, and this is just his first year with a really big role at the senior level. As long as Musa can convince scouts that he is a 3-point threat, and this season he certainly looks like he is, everything is all right since he has all the necessary tools to become a solid player.
Elie Okobo (97′, 6-2, PG, France, Pau Ortez)
After a bad second month, Elie Okobo really stepped up last month. The French prospect took advantage of his increased playing time, posting some interesting stat lines in December. His 3-point shooting remains a question mark (33.3% thus far this season) and the same applies for his shot selection. What’s more important though is that last month Okobo showed flashes of potential, filling his stat sheet and looking like an NBA prospect again.
Laurynas Birutis (97′, 7-1, C, Lithuania, Siauliai)
The Lithuianian prospect looks better by the day. Birutis had a great month, showing his ability to affect a game with his talent on the offensive end. He is still just an average rebounder for his size and position, and he can’t exactly be considered a rim protector. But talent and upside are there.
Isaac Bonga (99′, 6-9, PG/SG, Germany, Fraport Frankfurt)
As the season progresses, the same applies for Bonga. The German prospect had his best month of the season. His playing time has increased and he is involved more in the game for his team. He is still raw and has a lot to work on, starting with his shooting. But he can fill the stat sheet like few players his age in Europe and can become a player with the rare ability to control a game without scoring much. At the end of the day though, he still needs to improve on the offensive end if he wants to become a contributor at the NBA level.
Goga Bitadze (99′, 6-11, C, Georgia, Mega Bemax)
He started the month poorly, but as time progressed he got better and better, but not without having ups and downs. Goga Bitatze is a double-double machine and has an interesting skillset. But for him to take the next step, it is essential to raise his game next month and – more importantly – to prove to everyone that he has the ability to knock down 3-pointers, because the NBA is heading to a direction where a center with his body must be able to stretch the floor.
Arnoldas Kulboka (98′, 6-9, SF, Lithuania, Capo D’Orlando)
Consistency remains an issue for Kulboka. The Lithuanian forward rarely has more than 2-3 good games in a row before he has 2-3 bad games in a row. Kulboka is at a critical point right now. Everyone knows that he can shoot the ball and have fallen in love with his length and touch around the basket. As time passes though, he must show some signs of consistency or else he will be considered "plateaued". The clock is ticking for him.
Kostja Mushidi (98′, 6-5, SG, Germany, Mega Bemax)
He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad either. Kostja Mushidi was solid this past month, having his best game of the season (26 pts with 5/7 from deep) and his worst game (1 point in 25 minutes) in a span of two weeks. Generally, Mushidi is improving by the day. His shot looks better, his decision making is improving, his defense is solid. The season starts now though for him, and he has about 4 months to prove that he can improve as a player.
Rodions Kurucs (98′, 6-8, SF, Latvia, Barcelona)
The fact that he hasn’t been able to become a starter on the second team of Bacelona probably says a lot about the kind of year that he has had. Kurucs is as intriguing as any player of his generation. His scoring ability combined with his above average athleticism has had scouts on their heels for years. But if he continues playing like this, his stock will only fall further.
Tadas Sedekerskis (98′, 6-9, SF, Lithuania, Nevezis)
After two disastrous months in ACB with San Paulo Burgos, Tadas Sedekerskis decided to leave the team (he was on loan there by Baskonia) and returned to Lithuania, again on loan. the Spanish and Lithuanian Leagues are not comparable by any means. With that said, it is important for Sedekerskis to have playing time and opportunities at this stage of his development. And he will have plenty of opportunities in Nevezis, as shown over the last month, when he played steadily at least 20 minutes in every game and was able to demonstrate his ability to score with efficiency.
Vasileios Charalampopoulos (97′, 6-9, SF/PF, Greece, PAOK)
The Greek prospect is finally healthy after losing most of the first two months of the season. He definitely needs time to find his rhythm. But the truth is that at the later part of this month he was pretty solid and had some really good games, although it has to be noted that he played mostly as a power forward at that time. Charalampopoulos remains intriguing thanks to his scoring ability and great court vision, despite his lack of elite athleticism. He just has to prove to the scouts from now on that he can be used as a small forward at the next level and be consistent.
Vanja Marinkovic (97′, 6-7, SG, Serbia, Partizan)
An injury slowed down the Serbian guard, who missed some games because of it and lost his rhythm. Generally it was a bad month for Vanja Marinkovic, who knows that has a lot of ground to make up. Considering the fact that he is an elite shooter though, he just needs to worry about everything else, starting with putting the ball on the floor and be able to create for his teammates.
Martynas Echodas (97′, 6-9, PF/C, Lithuania, Lietuvos Ritas)
The Lithuanian forward/center failed to impress over the past month. With the exception of a great game against Lithuanian powerhouse Zalgiris, Echodas was incosistent this past month, having good and bad moments. Echodas remains intriguing and has some good intangibles. But he lacks athleticicm and perimeter shooting and this can hurt his stock in the future.
Tryggvi Hlinason (97′, 7-1, C, Iceland, Valencia)
It’s fair to say that Hlinasson is having a disappointing season. And things didn’t change much over the past month. Hlinasson plays sparingly and hasn’t been able to show what he can do on the floor. If things don’t change in the near future, it will be really difficult for him to declare for this year’s draft.
Abdoulaye N'Doye (98′, 6-7, PG, France, Cholet)
The French prospect had a second bad month in a row. His playing time remains steadily beyond 20 minutes and he hasn’t been really able to show the scouts what he can do on the floor and – more importantly – if he has improved in areas of his game that need work, such as his jump shooting and ability to read the game. Everybody knows what N’Doye can bring to the table: elite defense, hustle and athleticism. But if he doesn’t find room to grow soon enough and declare for the upcoming draft, he will have to really impress everyone in private workouts to have a chance to get drafted.