By Davide Bortoluzzi
Lithuania is the 2012 U20 European champion, completing a perfect run for the ’92 generation, having won all the competitions faced during these years (U16, U18 euro, U19 world). A solid group, despite missing Jonas Valanciunas, but found a new hero each night until the victorious end.
Here it is a list of the top performers of the competition, that showed some NBA potential:
Rudy Gobert (1992, C, 7’0”, France)
Gobert has a comic book wingspan combined with a skinny but solid frame. His coordination and ability to run the floor is really above the average for a man his size. He definitely needs to bulk up his upper body, in order to be able to withstand banging inside at the NBA level against stronger big men. He lacks explosive leaping abilities but his length, agility and reflexes makes him a good athlete, even for NBA standards.
He has a reliable hook shot with his right hand within the painted area. He lacks a jump shot from the midrange and his mechanics are not fluid and polished, even if he’s pretty reliable from the free throw line.
His offensive moves are raw, sometimes he seems too mechanical and not fluid, and he needs to become more confident. He’s really fast running the floor, making him difficult to stop in transition, thanks to his speed and coordination. He’s able to take position effectively but he still hasn’t a safe and reliable post move after he receives the ball. His mobility is really a point of concern for larger big men that often are called to guard him, especially in pick and roll situations. His wingspan allows his team to put incredible defensive pressure on the competition, in fact he can even play the passing lanes and he makes the basket difficult to reach for guards penetrating the paint. He has good timing for blocks, thanks to his mobility and coordination. He averaged 3.9 blocks per over the competition. He’s a reliable rebounder but with his physical tools he could be even better. At the youth level he’s a total intimidator, but from this standpoint he could make a contribution with pros starting tomorrow. He has a mild temper, sometimes he seems to play with a reduced gear, without the fire of competition, this is probably the main reason for the lack of consistency in his game. On the other hand he’s a good teammate, not selfish at all.
Livio Jean-Charles (1993, SF/PF, 6’7”, France)
Athletic big wing with great size for the role. He has a good wingspan and a great mobility. On the defensive side he’s able to put pressure, often playing passing lanes, and with the possibility to guard 3 different roles at this level. He’s a great rebounder with good instincts. On offensive he’s pretty raw, even if his catch and shoot is reliable, he needs to work on his ball handling, and to read game situations better. He plays with intensity, with the risk to overdo it and make turnovers. Definitely a prospect worth tracking.
Leo Westermann (1992, PG, 6’5”, France)
The U20 European champhonship MVP could be considered the reincarnation of Antoine Rigadeau of his generation. A legit PG with great size. He’s tall, skilled and he has a huge basketball IQ, the main shortcoming is the lack of athleticism, length and lateral quickness, but he’s definitely a rising star. He plays the pick and roll effectively, with the ability to read situations, choosing to attack the basket or to pass the ball to the cutter. He’s able to withstand contact often getting to the rim. His 3 point shot is not consistent, he needs to work on his mechanics adding some fluidity. Vocal leader with huge personality, he’s not scared to take over responsibilities. He could struggle defensively against smaller and quicker point guards, but on the other side he could exploit his bigger size.
Alex Abrines (1993, SG, 6’6”, Spain)
He’s the purest shooter of his generation, with a quick release, fluid mechanics and huge range. His wingspan and height are pretty considerable for the role, and his athleticism is underrated, basically because he doesn’t attack the basket very often. He plays effectively without the ball, exploiting screens and cuts in order to reach the proper spot to shoot. He’s a killer in catch and shoot situations, but he’s able to create from the dribble with confidence and effectiveness. He should bulk up in order to withstand contact better, but his quick first step and good ball handling skills allows him to reach the basket, sometimes above the level of the rim. He needs to add a reliable midrange game and to work on the defensive side, where he could give more. He could be considered something similar to Rudy Fernandez, in terms of style and attributes.
Daniel Diez (1993, SF, 6’7”, Spain)
He has definitely evolved as SF, even if he’s able to play the PF position, often exploiting mismatches related to his mobility and shooting range. His ball handling is reliable and either his shooting range, he shoots with confidence and effectively behind the three point line. He’s good rebounder, thanks to his good sense of position and intensity. He plays with a blue collar style, even if he’s a really talented player, often giving a concrete contribution with intangibles and hustle plays. His main shortcoming is his strength attacking the basket, in fact he tends to lose balance, which diminishes his effectiveness. Furthermore he should improve his game back to the basket, by adding some post moves, head fakes and the use of pivot foot.
Nenad Miljenovic (1993, PG, 6’3”, Serbia)
Crafty point guard with great court vision and instincts as a passer, plus good speed. He’s a master of pick and roll with the ability to decide between multiple offensive solutions. He has a reliable jump shot from midrange starting from the dribble. He’s definitely a pass first point guard with great basketball IQ and playmaking skills. Sometimes he struggles behind the three point line, plus he has some physical shortcomings (skinny and not very athletic), but he’s one of the better players of his 1993 class, thanks to a great maturity and a consistent game.
Aleksandar Cvetkovic (1993, PG, 6’1”, Serbia)
He’s really a creative combo guard, a bit undersized for the role. He loves to create starting from the dribble, his favorite move is the floater from midrange after having beaten the defender with his quick first step. He’s not a pass first guard, but he has some glimpses of pure talent, during which he shows all his creativity, finding teammates for the assist. His 3 point shot lacks consistency and sometimes he tends to over do things, falling into foul trouble or turnovers.
Vytenis Cizauskas (1992, PG, 6’2”, Lithuania)
Point guard with a solid frame and a great ability to run the P&R, with great instincts as a passer. He often drives to the basket exploiting his strong upper body, despite lacking a quick first step and footwork. He’s really effective in transition, opening the court and finding teammates with a perfect timing, great basketball IQ and playmaking. He lacks athleticism, and a reliable jump shot, a flaw that limits his overall potential.
Edgaras Ulanovas (1992, SG, 6’ 5”, Lithuania)
Solid shooting guard with limited upside but a complete skillset and reliable fundamentals. He needs to bulk up but he’s solid, he runs the floor well with fluidity and speed. His offensive game is complete, in fact he’s able to attack the basket and to shoot from 3 point range with the same effectiveness. He’s an average athlete but his maturity and IQ make him a reliable player for a top European team.
Luka Rupnik (1993, PG, 6’1"’ Slovenia)
Crafty PG with great basketball IQ and instincts for the assist. He plays P&R with confidence, usually finding the open cutter. He has a reliable jump shot from the dribble but needs to improve his mechanics and release. He’s not a great defender, due to a lack of lateral quickness, he struggles against guards with a good first step. He attacks the basket effectively, often beating defenders with fakes, he has great fundamentals and use off the pivot foot.
Klemen Prepelic (1992, SG, 6’3”, Slovenia)
Combo guard with a great offensive talent and a complete skillset. In catch and shoot situations he is really effective thanks to a quick mechanics and release, but he’s also able to create his own shot from the dribble basically in any kind of situation. He has a great first step, that allows him to beat his defender basically on any possession. He’s really confident in attacking the basket, when he drives to the rim he’s able to avoid defenders and to shoot in situations with difficult balance. He has great passing instincts even if he’s basically a scorer, but this could become his future role. He’s a bit undersized and needs to bulk up, furthermore he’s an average athlete. Anyhow he’s the most complete offensive player seen in the competition, he could really become a high level Euroleague player.
Alen Omic (1992, C, 7’0", Slovenia)
Declared for the draft and went undrafted. Skilled big man with great size and big hands. He’s able to take post position effectively using his size, as a starting point to take the baseline exploiting a perfect use of pivot foot. He has also a great ability in P&R situations, when he could cut to the basket or receive the ball for a mid range jumper. His shooting skills are rather reliable, with a good range, generally his fundamentals are well developed in every aspect of the game. His main shortcoming is the lack of athleticism and reactivity, even if his coordination and mobility are rather good. He could do more as a rebounder and intimidator, especially looking to his size and height.
Philipp Neumann (1992, PF/C, 6’10”, Germany)
He has a solid frame, but he needs to work on adding some strength to his structure. He has good mobility and footwork, but he lacks leaping abilities and his athleticism is not remarkable. Average size and wingspan. His range is rather limited, most of his offensive game is concentrated in the painted area. He needs to work on his shot, in order to enlarge his range and to improve his mechanics. He struggles from the free throw line, a flaw that limits his overall offensive efficiency since he’s really effective in drawing contact. He’s able to effectively take post position using his body and maintaining it. He’s not scared to draw contact when attacking the rim. His favorite movement is to take the center of the paint exploiting a good use of pivot foot, he rarely takes the baseline. Despite his good fundamentals and technical skills, his offensive repertoire is not exploited enough, in fact most of his points are based on the intensity and the energy that he puts on the floor. A good timing and sense of position makes him a reliable rebounder despite a lack of athleticism. He has a good mobility that allows him to get good position. His intimidation is not astonishing due to his physical shortcomings, but his IQ and effort make him an effective defender. He plays with energy and with a fearless spirit, like a classic blue collar player. Sometimes he tends to overdo it, losing control of his body on the offensive side. This causes loose balls, offensive fouls or travelling violations. Neumann is a solid and clever player but has a limited ceiling. He is skilled in every aspect of the game but not in the way to master it, even if he has a good ball handling for his size. His energy and his style make him an effective contributor even in the games when he struggles offensively. Mature player that could compete in Euroleague teams, lack of size and athleticism will likely limit his NBA appeal.
Janis Timma (1992, SF, 6’7"’, Latvia)
Very athletic small forward with good mobility and energy, great size and frame for the role. He plays with a blue collar style, mastering intangibles. He has good instincts for rebounding and a sense of position. He has great court vision and passing skills, combined with a good basketball IQ and leadership. He needs to work on his ball handling, his shot mechanics, and generally on his offensive background.
Ojars Silins (1993, SF, 6’7", Latvia)
Fluid SF with an excellent first step that often allows him to attack oponents and get to the basket with confidence and effectively. He’s a bit skinny and needs to bulk up but his structure will allow him to do it quite easily. Good ball handling, runs the floor well. Could guard both forward positions but struggles with quicker players, needs to improve footwork. Reliable shot behind 3 point line. Good wingspan, player with upside.
Samet Geyik (1993, SF/PF, 6’7"’,Turkey)
Undersized PF with good fundamentals and sense of position, he has good hands but extremely limited range. He lacks foot speed, athleticism and explosiveness. He has a good use of pivot foot, especially finding the baseline. He needs to enlarge his offensive repertoire and add speed in order to compete to a higher level, it’s highly unlikely he’ll evolve as a SF.
Giannoulis Larentzakis (1993, PG, 6’4’’, Greece)
Combo guard with great size and a solid frame. He’s a complete offensive player, with a reliable mid-range game, a solid 3 point shot and a great ability to attack the basket standing contacts. He’s not a pass first point guard, rather a scorer with good passing skills. He has a good basketball IQ. He moves perfectly without the ball, often exploiting back door cuts. He’s not an astonishing athlete, he lacks a quick first step, but he’s a serious offensive threat on the court. A perfect comparison from the physical and technical standpoint is Vassilis Spanoulis.