The new season in Europe is about to start and there are several players that are already emerging in the different pre-season tournaments as potential NBA Draft picks 2013. We selected five players and a Wildcard that we suggest you should follow particularly well as they might end up as some of the most intriguing prospects in the spring 2013.
Rudy Gobert – 2m12 – Center – 1992 – Cholet Basket
The most expected European player this season is clearly the French big guy Rudy Gobert. After his impressive physical measurements at the Adidas Eurocamp 2012, he flashed up in the different draft boards as he underlined his potential through some good games with the French U20 National Team. After a first season of adaptation to the professional world, everybody is expecting a lot more from Gobert in 2012/13. Still extremely skinny, Gobert needs to show that he can hold position against physically stronger players and that he has the capacity to become a regular contributor on the Senior level. The addition of Marcus Goree to the Cholet roster is a big plus as the 1992 born French kid can learn from the multi-decorated veteran. Gobert should normally get the starting Center role for Cholet this season and have enough playing time to develop. He has still another year to go before being automatically eligible but only an injury will most likely prevent him from entering the pool in spring.
Stats: 4.7ppg (79.4% 2FGs), 3.7rpg, 1.3bpg
Dario Saric – 2m08 – Forward – 1994 – KK Split (?)
The story of the summer was and still is the transfer of Dario Saric. The most talented player of the 1994 generation in Europe has signed a 5 year deal with Bilbao but the Spanish teams wants to loan him to KK Split which his former team KK Zagreb tries to prevent. We have no information on the details of this move, nevertheless, Saric is one of the hottest prospects in Europe for the upcoming draft… if he declares. He showed this summer again that he is still progressing in his game and especially in his mental attitude. After a first full season in the Adriatic League, Saric should now be able to lead a Senior team despite being only 18 years old. He might miss the necessary athletic abilities to become a world-class NBA prospect but his overall game understanding, leadership skills and winning mentality make him a clear lottery pick whenever he enters the Draft pool. It might be one year too early for him to make the step as his contractual situation is not yet cleared and his long-term deal with Bilbao certainly makes some teams shy away. However, Saric will draw a multitude of NBA Scouts to his games, where ever he will finally play this season.
Stats: 14.1ppg (62.9% 2FGs – 30.0% 3FGs), 9.8rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0bpg
Nemanja Nedovic – 1m91 – Guard – 1991 – Lietuvos Rytas
Nedovic is a player that is drawing some interest from NBA teams despite his limited playing time with Red Star Belgrade over the last years. His athletic skillset makes him one of the most explosive guards in Europe and could help him to become a player that is more adapted to the NBA game than the Euroleague. By moving to Lietuvos Rytas, Nedovic will have a bit more freedom to develop as he was clearly not able to play his best basketball in Belgrade. The Serbian combo-guard needs to improve his shot and his defensive presence in order to make the next step which the Lithuanian team might be able to help him with. With his overall profile, he will certainly become one of the names that will come up at least in the 2nd round in June 2013. But he might also fly up the boards if he confirms his potential with Rytas in Euroleague play. If he will not improve his game though, the NBA Draft might be out of reach as he could remain an athletic phenomenon for the European level without the necessary skillset for the big league.
Stats: 5.9ppg (52.0% 2FGs – 29.3% 3FGs), 1.2rpg, 1.2apg
Achille Polonara – 2m02 – Forward – 1991 – Cimberio Varese
A player that is not really mentioned by a lot of scouting websites is the Italian forward Achille Polonara. The left handed swing man made constant progress over the last seasons and moved now to Varese in order to go for the next step. Good athlete for European standards, Polonara excels in the paint with good hustle and offensive rebounding but can also put the ball on the floor to drive to the basket. With the time, Polonara also added a nice three-point shot that makes him a quite unique combination on the European market with his combination of athleticism, size and shooting skills. His mechanics from long distance need some polish but he can still work on this part of the game in the next years. On the defensive end, Polonara shows great shot blocking skills where he underlines his athletic abilities but also a great timing and feel for the game. He is an above average ball stealer for his position as well and with the growing experience, Polonara is certainly a candidate for the Italian Senior National Team in 2013. His new three-year contract with Varese might slow down some NBA teams on picking him but he can develop into a perfect Draft and Stash candidate for the second round.
Stats: 8.2ppg (70.8% 2FG% – 34.1% 3FGs), 4.5rpg, 0.7bpg
Alex Abrines – 1m98 – Forward – 1993 – FC Barcelona
The hottest name on the Spanish transfer market this summer was Alejandro Abrines. The multi-usage forward from Unicaja Malaga signed a four-year deal with FC Barcelona and will try to make the next step in his career. Revelation of the U18 European Championship 2011, Abrines can do a bit of everything on the floor combined with good athletic abilities for European standards and an above average understanding of the game. He will certainly bring his energy from the bench and give Barcelona an immediate scoring boost this season. The NBA Draft 2013 might be too early for him as he has still two years to go but an outstanding first season with the Catalan powerhouse could make him available for the big league quicker than you expect. He needs to become more constant from behind the arc though and should be able to develop into a Rudy Fernandez type of player in the next years, maybe a little less scoring though.
Stats: 4.8ppg (55.2% 2FGs – 28.3% 3FGs), 1.6rpg
The wildcard of our players to watch feature is the German forward Maximilian Kleber. After multiple injuries, the athletic swingman could finally make his debuts on the highest German level last season but he needs to confirm this year under a new coach. The main task for him though will be to remain without other injuries and show that he can stay healthy for a full season. If that is the case, Kleber is among the most interesting players in Europe in his generation as his combination of size, athleticism and shooting ability is really rare. Being 2m06 tall and mainly used as a Power Forward, Kleber has all the tools to make it on the next level, if his body stays healthy.