Euros in the 2017 NBA Draft: Auto-Eligibles

Part II of our Euro draft summary. Part I here.

Anzejs Pasecniks

STATS
Creator% 11.7
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 18.7
Jumpshot FGA 16/42
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% 84-16
Post up: Kick% 13.3

SUMMARY

Late-blooming seven footer who moves very well laterally for his size and gives you ball screen diversity with his ability to finish on the roll or pop. Played against top-level teams all year.

Game Notes

2016-17 Season Notes

Breakthrough season in Gran Canaria. Was part of a strong three man center rotation where minutes were earned not given, and consistently played around 20 MPG in the 2nd half of the season.

Moves his feet really well for his size on the perimeter. Disciplined, quickly executed hedge and recover. Has short arms relative to his size but still covers a large area defensively thanks to his mobility and size.

Pick and roll/pop big, scores when assisted. Not much of a post creator. 39 post finishes in the entire season, a quarter of them resulted in a turnover. Must be a deep catch on the high-low or something similar.

Has a much improved left hand. Has good hands, catches difficult passes on the roll. Clean no-nonsense finisher; 75.5% finisher on rolls to the basket.1

Popped on only 16% of his ball screen finishes. Went 7/13 on pick and pop jumpers. Not utilized much, but has that in him.

Still doesn’t deal with contact/physcality very well, although he’s improved significantly in this area. Still learning how to coordinate that long body. Not mentally soft. Not afraid to finish in the crowd.

Was very skinny/fragile still just two years ago. Had injury problems in the past. A real player now.

Amongst draft prospects, other than Diop and Vezenkov, Pasecniks faced the strongest schedule.

(Jatsch)


Mathias Lessort

STATS
Creator% 23.8
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 8.9
Jumpshot FGA 14/35
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% 84-16
Post up: Kick% 15.1

SUMMARY

Very powerful, athletic, slightly undersized Euro five who covers a large area with his mobility; the type of player that has enjoyed great success in Europe in the last ten years as they are best-equipped to defend stretch offense. Has problems defending traditional bigs in the post and keeping them off the glass.

Game Notes

Live: French Leaders Cup 2017

Lessort had dominant first quarters: blocking shots, setting hard screens, slamming home PnR feeds through the crowded lane, finishing via off-hand. Fouls took him out of games; got frustrated with himself, never found his way back. Missed a huge potential go-ahead dunk in the semis with 35 seconds left. This was likely an outlier though. Is an emotional player but not self-destructive. The general vibe is positive: cares, plays hard, teammates like him.

Live: Bonn vs Nanterre FIBA Europe Cup Semifinals Notes

Goes through extensive mid range drills in shootaround, rattled home a couple of threes but generally still looked inconsistent shooting the mid range jumper (same as in Paris). Needs reps. Went 14/35 on jumpshots for the season. There’s a good chance he’ll consistently punish open space in the mid future.

Had a super dominant first half where he shot 7/8. Productive in the post, diverse finishing (baby hook with either hand), had mixed success making decisions on the side pick and roll catch (one pass to cutter, one turnover on a skip pass).

Went up the stands to celebrate with the fans after the team rallied to qualify for the FIBA Europe Cup Final.

2016-17 Season Notes

Big year. Team won two titles (Coupe de France, FIBA Europe Cup), went to the Leaders Cup semifinals, finished 3rd in the Pro A regular season, eventually ran out of gas in the playoffs (1st round exit). Lessort played 64 games across competitions.

5th in Pro A in BLK%. Triggered a lot of transition offense. Nanterre finished 4th in transition PPG. Plays with a lot of power. Really accelerates on the first five steps in transition. Floor sprinter.

Serial screener. Really absorbs defenders. Powerful finisher on the rim dive. Goes through the defense. Highlight-reel material. Not bothered by help defense. Humourlessly cleans up misses. 2nd in the league in putback PPG.

Was a pure power player on French junior teams and has already improved significantly as a post player and passer, but still lagging in both areas. Mixed decision making when help defense is in his path on the roll catch. Tends to be impatient.

Has his fair share of defensive breakdowns, especially on box outs. Occasional early fouls are problematic. Generally needs to cut down on errors to get minutes on a NBA or Euroleague level. Comes up with momentum-shifting defensive stops once in a while though.

Emotional player who occasionally allows whistles and own mistakes to take him out of the game. As mentioned before though, teammate/character intel is positive. He cares about basketball, really gets after it on the court.

(Jatsch)


Ilimane Diop

STATS
Creator% 8.2
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 24.9
Jumpshot FGA 20/53
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% 76-24
Post up: Kick% 32.4

SUMMARY

Slender, super mobile pick and roll defender who is very light for a five but doesn’t have the perimeter skills of a modern four. High level motor and activity.

Game Notes

2016-17 Season Notes

Went to the Euroleague quarter finals and ACB semi finals. Averaged 14.6 MPG across competitions.

Emerged as Baskonia’s number one big man in their season-ending series versus eventual champions Valencia, as he was their best shot at defending what is practically indefensible: Valencia’s pick and roll/pop with tall passers and five shooters.

Diop was occasionally caught on the wrong foot against Valencia’s next-level pick and roll spacing and execution. Was more effective against a rather ordinary Gran Canaria pick and roll offense.

Is at a physical disadvantage in post defense but holds his ground there. Is long, active, tough. Contests.

Offensively, Diop has a fairly decent touch out to the long two point range. Drilled 20/53 jumpshots this past season. Is a good free throw shooter for a five.

Serves as a functional screen and roll big man, but is a below-par screener and finisher. Averaged just 4.3 PPG in 14.6 MPG across competitions. Does not play the post at all.

(Jatsch)


Aleksander Vezenkov

STATS
Creator% 8.5
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 56.2
Jumpshot FGA 81/185
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% 29-71
Post up: Kick% 18.2

SUMMARY

Shooter, scorer, who has great feel and a super youth career. Biggest question is his defense and ground he can cover at a high level, NBA or Euroleague.  Took a step this year with the toughness he played with and ability to make plays off the dribble when Barcelona really needed players to step up.

If he gets draft, likely the idea will be to be put him in a pure stretch shooting forward role.  Vezenkov was once heralded as a potential 1st round pick after his youth days and leading the Greek League in scoring for Aris at just 20 years old.  But Vezenkov developed faster than most other prospects and his natural scoring ability shined at a young age.  His slide down draft boards coincided with moving to Barcelona and a lack of minutes, but also a realization that his speed and defensive ability even at a Euroleague level was going to be a problem, let alone NBA level.

But with his recent step up season in Barcelona, Vezenkov showed his grittiness and that his natural feel for the game at his size, even with that funky jump shot, is going to be a factor on a high level in Europe.  Will he be drafted now, possibly in the 50’s, but it’s always interesting to follow the over-hype of a prospect, see their stock die but then see a player comeback.  Props to Vezenkov.

Game Notes

Live: Euroleague vs. Fenerbahce, ACB vs. Sevilla (Oct, 2016)

Looks a lot tougher. Aggressive finding his shot but fit into the offensive system. Attacked closeouts and made good passes.  Was graceful going in and firing a baseline kickout pass.  Showed a more all around game.  Shot will always be a windup but he’s a bucket-getter for a 4. Mobility has improved, still looks stiff guarding 1v1 but his mobility is more fluid off the ball on offense.  Playing pretty big minutes and fitting in seamlessly, big step.

(Meyerkopf)


Ognjen Jaramaz

STATS
Creator% 44.8
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 58.1
Jumpshot FGA 80/289
PnR: Attack% 49.0
PnR: Pass% 54.0

SUMMARY

Super tough, hard-nosed, athletic slashing combo guard who just won the Eurocamp MVP title. Rugged, physical, can hang with serious athletes, applies on-ball pressure. Sub-30% jump shooter.

He’s a bulldog guard.  Powers into the lane and it’s tough to hang with him.  Doesn’t have great vision or feel but is a load when he gets a head of steam going towards the rim.  He’s a bucket-getter, comes in the game and changes the energy.  Interesting 6th man type microwave scorer for the next level.  Would asked to likely be a full-time PG in the NBA, which he’s not.

The question for Jaramaz, like a lot of the Mega prospects is what’s the next step?  They’re playing unrealistic, high-flying, up and down basketball in Mega so the prospects look good and have shiny stats.  But for development purposes it’s tough to jump from there to a real system.  But since many of these Mega prospects of the past (Micic, Ivanovic, Marelja, Musli…) had nice profiles, they were sold to Europe’s high level before they were really ready.  So whether it’s the Euroleague or NBA in his future, the biggest step for Jaramaz will be integrating into a new team system the next season or two at Europe’s mid-level.

Game Notes

Live: Adidas Eurocamp 2017

Aggressive. Finished with 24 points , 4 assists, zero turnovers versus the U.S. “The Path” team. Got to the hoop at will via ball screen offense. Explodes to the rim, absorbs contact, finishes against length. Drilled the jumper when they stepped under the ball screen. Measured 194cm in shoes this weekend. Good combo guard size.

 

(Mezerkopf/Jatsch)


Rolands Smits

STATS
Creator% 25.1
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 47.8
Jumpshot FGA 46-142
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% NA2
Post up: Kick% 15.5

SUMMARY

Third season in Fuenlabrada’s ACB rotation and fifth season overall in the organization, he’s been battling the best in Europe for years. Has great experience.  Athletic worker, Smits is everywhere on the court.  Off-ball player offensively, needs to have a steady catch and shoot 3-point shot to have an NBA chance.  Exciting player but doesn’t have a defined role.

Smits is Spain schooled which is always a positive for any prospect.  Fighting thru the best youth competition system in Europe right into the best pro league in Europe.  But Smits is raw and may always be somewhat like this.  He’s got a great frame, strong and long (6’9″, 235lbs, 7’1″ wingspan), can matchup with most forwards and also can also be used as a Swiss army knife defensively.

Offensively it’s about finding a fit, Smits mainly makes plays with little time with the ball in his hands.  Spot-up 3’s, quick cuts, hammering the offensive glass, post-ups vs. smaller forwards…  In Europe he can be this versatile weapon because bodies like his that fly around, work hard, and have some skill are needed at the forward spots.  In the NBA his athleticism doesn’t stand out and he needs to be put into a role player box, but what’s the box?  In the end, he has and will continue to play at high levels in Europe, Smits was named the EuroCup Rising Star this past season.

Game Notes

Live: ACB Games (April & May, 2015)

Went to numerous Fuenlabrada games at the end of the ACB season. Smits still super raw offensively but flashing that toughness and motor. Plays with that nasty edge. Jump shot is getting there but still takes him a while to get off.  Looks like a future off-ball star, guard either forward position, hammer o-glass, and shoot.  Not backing down defensively in the paint.  No dribble game.  Needs to avoid fouls.  Couple big dunks.

(Meyerkopf)


Ismael Bako

STATS
Creator% 8.0
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 12.5
Jumpshot FGA 7/21
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% 80-20
Post up: Kick% 14.3

SUMMARY

Mobile, slender, long-legged five who had a so-so season in Leuven but was arguably the best center at Eurocamp one and a half weeks ago. Has potential as a defender who steps out and contains the guard coming off the ball screen. Poor post defender.

Game Notes

Adidas Eurocamp 2017

Mobility and fearlessness stood out. Isn’t afraid to get dunked on; gets in there and contests. Quick jumper. In ball screen defense, picks the ball handler up, moves feet, contests.

2016-17 Season Notes

Bako had a phenomenal Eurocamp, but it was a setting that helped him a great deal; there was precisely zero post game at the camp, and Bako had great fun denying two super talented but young and therefore clueless U.S. teams layups. Played with good motor, went after every loose ball. Measured with a good 220cm/7-2.5ft wingspan in Treviso.

The Belgian league, where big dudes like Rasko Katic, Gavin Ware or Khalid Boukichou (or even Omar Samhan in practice) boss the paint, is a different story: Bako ranked dead last out of 637 players with 50 defensive post possessions or more in the Synergy Sports international leaderboards, conceding 1.472 PPP (31/41 FG) in the post this past season, 0.3 PPP worse than the 2nd from bottom player. Had not as extreme but still below-average numbers last season. Below-par core strengh; he’s all legs.

BLK% of 3.8 was good enough for 4th league-wide in Belgium. Not a rim protection league.

Offensively, Bako is a decent finisher on rolls and cuts and occasionally catches defenders cold by attacking aggressively off the catch in perimeter situations.

(Jatsch)


Michael Fusek

STATS
Creator% 10.5
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 7.6
Jumpshot FGA 0/7
Ballscreen: Roll/Pop% 93-7
Post up: Kick% 25.0

SUMMARY

Insanely long (225cm/7-5ft in shoes, 226cm wing span), slender interior defender. Auto-eligible. Is a difference maker when he can sit back and patrol the paint against poorly spaced offense, has problems when defending in space and fighting through sealing/contact.

Game Notes

Live: Adidas Eurocamp 2017

Did well in this setting. Formed a strong shot blocking tandem together with Ismael Bako. Really protected the rim against both U.S. teams, who are too young/raw to stretch him out and make him defend in space. Aggressive for his size, especially on the defensive glass. Triggered plenty of transition offense.

2016-17 Season Notes

Unusually authorative finisher for his size. Very aggressive rebounder. Decent foul shooter. Has zero post game. Scores on rim rolls (is coordinated enough to finish lob passes) and assisted short corner finishes.

Good hard roll finishing but no mid-roll game (again, normal for his size).

Strong Eurocamp in the interior, where all he had to do was wait for slashers to drive at him.

Had problems dealing with strong below the rim bodies in the Belgian league this past season. Had oustanding per-minute shot blocking numbers (8.2 BLK%) but averaged just 11.4 MPG for Spirou. Contact throws him off. Gets sealed by experienced centers. Game is sometimes moving too fast for him.

(Jatsch)


Alberto Abalde

STATS
Creator% 37.0
% of HC FGA are jumpshots 51.0
Jumpshot FGA 40/132
PnR: Attack% 50.0
PnR: Pass% 47.8

SUMMARY

Jumped up draft boards recently cause of fellow Euros pulling out, combined with his ACB production.  Physically developed scorer, hits shots off the dribble, has a good feel for the game. Already has 3 years of ACB experience, well developed beyond many of these other prospects.

Grew up in the Badalona system, can’t find a better youth development program.  Signed a longer term contract with Valencia but was loaned back out to Joventut last season.  Abalde has very good size for a wing and like many players who are good from early age but don’t have much NBA potential, his body and game developed early.  He’s strong, has an in-between game, fights.  Isn’t a super outside shooter and doesn’t have the necessary burst to always keep a defense off-balance.  But he’s solid, the body, the shot, the instincts, the feel, everything is solid.

Game Notes

Live: Euroleague NIJT London (May, 2013)

Scoring magician was MVP of the tournament.  Go-to move was one dribble pull-up jumper or just a catch and shoot jumper which he would knock down with ease.  Always could get space for his jumper.  Slender guy but tough player who could finish in a variety of ways at the hoop including reverse layups and floaters.  He mixed it up on the offensive glass too averaging two a game and was good at jumping passing lanes, averaging 1.3 steals a game.  Had forward size now and needs to grow into a forwards body.  Could have used his left hand more but now I’m nit-picking.  Was smooth in everything he did and just had a feel for the rim.  Was always hungry to score.

(Meyerkopf)


Other auto-eligible Europeans

  • Marko Guduric
  • Emircan Kosut
  • Hans Vanwijn
  • Marko Tejic
  • Karlo Zganec
  • Simone Fontecchio
  • Dejan Davidovac
  • James Birsen
  • Zoltan Perl
  • Mo Soluade
  • Vincent Kesteloot
  • Alexander Madsen
  • Adam Pechacek
  • Matic Rebec

Full Euro 1995 List

  1. 3rd of 297 players with 50 or more pick and roll (not pop or slip) finishes in the Synergy Sports international leaderboards
  2. Just 3 roll/pop finishes entire season