The Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso is done for 2010 and I must admit that the overall level was lower than during the previous editions. There was only a limited number of direct 2010 NBA Draft prospects and no overwhelming new additions. Today, we go over a first part of those players that stood out in our eyes. In a second part of we will talk about even more players and will conclude our review by the players of the two U20 National Teams that competed in the camp as well.
Robin Benzing – SF/PF – 2m09 – 1989 – Early Entry
The German forward came to Treviso as one of the few NBA Draft prospects with legit 1st round possibilities either this or next year and after the three days in Italy, Benzing did really show what an interesting potential he is and that he is now quite a sure lock for the NBA Draft. Despite still being really thin compared to NBA standards, Benzing showed however great speed for somebody who has been measured at 2m12 with shoes, which is nearly 7-feet in the United States. Together with his excellent shot release and great movements without the ball, the German forward has certainly improved his stock and has drawn some major interest by at least one 1st round team according to his agent.
Benzing struggled a bit in the beginning of the camp as he approached the games like normal Basketball games and adjusting to the NBA three-point line. He found his rhythm however by taking some long twos (Euro 3s in fact) or by putting the ball on the floor. By doing so, Benzing created a lot of contacts with his defenders that ended often with a foul call but also some situations that put him totally out of balance. This is one of the points on which he needs to work as it looks like the slightest contact can put him in trouble. Once he can hold his own against this physical play, he will be probably step to the FT line a lot; an area where he excels as he did not miss one free-throw over the whole camp going for 11 hits out of 11 attempts.
Offensively, the Ulm forward has a large area of moves that he can use to score. Next to the classical catch and shoot on the kick out, where he will develop NBA three-point range in the coming years for sure, he can also put the ball on the floor when he has his defender on him. His above average speed and ball handling skills help him to beat the defense with either hand and to conclude with the mid-range floater, the pull-up jumper or by creating for himself the open layup after a spin move for example. It is however very rare to see Benzing finish his drives with a dunk and his floater looks a bit flat which risks to be rejected against NBA defense.
Another typical move of the German player is attacking the basket immediately after the curl on the wing. He puts the ball on the floor directly and is rarely called for the Travelling violation in those cases. He can finish these plays by a jump shot or by some kind of running hook. Benzing looks to be as well a nice transition offense player as he runs the court well and is absolutely able to put the ball on the floor on the break and go from coast to coast. He showed in the end of the camp that he is a good passer as well as he connected with a number of good passes from the high post but also out of the drives.
On the downside, we must admit that Robin Benzing is currently a terrible rebounder. He got pushed out of his positioning by even smaller players and he was never really able to go strong for the rebound on both ends of the court. This is not a major trouble as he mainly played on the SF position but when being used more on PF, he must absolutely improve in this area. Additionally, he may need to become more aggressive on offense in NBA game situations but as he remains another year in Europe (and most likely with ratiopharm Ulm where he is still under contract without an NBA-out), he should be able to become the uncontested team leader and scorer on Beko Bundesliga level and improve in this area as well.
Linos Chrysikopoulos – SF/PF – 2m03 – 1992
One of the new additions to the camp was the 1992 born Greek forward Linos Chrysikopoulos. After a somehow disappointing showing at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament a few months ago, the long wing player had an outstanding camp in my eyes and can certainly be considered as one of the next big prospects in Europe. On the first look, Chrysikopoulos may have done nothing exceptional; he averaged only 5.7ppg, 3.3rpg and 1.3apg over the three games of the camp; but what he showed during the days in Treviso was however impressive for such a young player.
Nicely athletic and with a good feeling for the rebound and the block shot, Chrysikopoulos had some interesting impact on the defensive end and stood out in this area in an environment not really favorable to it. You could see him often as the first guy back on defense despite battling for the offensive rebound and already being there to put the fast break in a difficult situation with his height.
On the offensive end, Chrysikopoulos needs to become more stable from three-point area as he can shot the brick followed by a nice swish from behind the (Euro)-arc. Being nicely explosive, he can use his good defensive reads to steal himself free in the back of the defense and finish on the powerful dunk. Putting the ball on the floor is another option for him and he can beat his defender of the dribble to either finish or go for the nice dish out of the full-speed drive. It will be interesting to see how Chrysikopoulos develops as he is the leader of a rather poor generation in Greece and will therefore need to develop also more scoring skills if he wants his Youth National Team to bring home some victories.
Edwin Jackson – SG/PG – 1m88 – Early Entry – 1989
The French Guard started the camp extremely impressive with great scoring efforts, and improved decision making and still above average athletic abilities. After a season with the low-level team of Rouen, where he averaged more than 26 minutes per game in the highest French League, Jackson has shown major progress in his game and seems now ready for the next step. He will be the SG back-up for a Euroleague-level team next season and is also in the first selection for the World Championships in Turkey this summer.
The main offensive weapon of Jackson remains his jump shot which he is taking at a great height and with extreme confidence coming of the screen or on catch and shoot situations. He has deep range and has no problems to net the ball from behind the NBA three-point arc. When he puts the ball on the floor, he has learned how to go around the big guys waiting to take the charge and to finish with the typical long European steps.
Jackson has really improved in the general approach to the game as he has become a real leader on the floor taking over the responsibility in the hot moments of the game. Being very vocal, encouraging his team mates through out the game, he was one of the few players that showed real will to win the games on every moment on the court. Unfortunately, Jackson stepped back a bit as long as the camp went on in his performance. But he was definitely one of the players that gave us the most satisfaction in his development over the last 12 months.
Thomas Heurtel – PG – 1m88 – Early Entry – 1989
The official Eurocamp MVP Thomas Heurtel did not totally convinced me throughout the three days in Treviso. Despite showing of course a great feel for the pass to the open man, Heurtel looked to me more like trying too much to go for the spectacular play or score instead of really playing the game. Of course, the setting of such a camp is not all about decision making, but this is what I am looking for with a PG. Additionally, Heurtel sometimes really over-dribbled the basketball instead of going immediately for the pass, especially on the fast break where he preferred to dribble up the ball instead of directly starting the break with a long pass.
But there were of course reasons why Heurtel got the MVP trophy. There is first of all his ability to beat nearly everyone of the dribble with either the big cross-over move or the quick first step. Out of the drives, he goes mostly for the dish that comes to him out of the help situations but he is not afraid to go as well for the difficult shot out of the movement. He passes really quickly when he is dribbling the ball but he needs sometimes a bit too much time to go for example for swing passes as he mostly uses a two-hand over-head pass for this kind of play.
Heurtel can hit the shot from nearly everywhere on the court but remains however streaky from behind the arc. He takes a lot of difficult attempts which does of course hurt his shooting percentages. This is however not the first question mark with him as he mainly needs to improve in his decision making. He is up to another season on loan to get a lot of minutes and work on this. We had an article on his specific case a few weeks ago which I highly recommend to read as it includes the thoughts of two of his coaches.
Tomas Satoransky – PG/SG – 1m99 – 1991
After taking over the 2009 camp by storm, there were a lot of high hopes on Tomas Satoransky this year. After a first season in the ACB earning about 7 minutes per game, Satoransky was expected to have improved. Playing the whole camp as PG, it seems like he is currently making the transition from being a swing man to a full-time PG. At the first look, this transition is far from being done as Satoransky did not really show anything really impressive over the three days in Treviso.
First of all, the Czech player has gained about 4 kilos of muscle over the year and even improved his numbers in vertical free jump compared to the last camp. He is slowly growing into his body as he remains still a very young player being born in 1991. With his re-positioning to the PG spot, he creates less on the offensive end for himself and is more occupied by organizing the offense than by slashing to the basket as he did last summer. Here comes the question mark if this is a good idea as he looked more intriguing when playing an off-guard role. Of course, with his excellent feel for the game and good court-vision, Satoransky may play the PG role but he looked however a bit out of position to us.
As you see, we do not really write a lot about what he actually did on the court in Treviso but this is the result of Satoransky showing barely any positive offensive plays that we are thinking are worth to mention compared to what we already knew of him. With his great athletic abilities and first step, he excels when attacking the basket and is able to convert all kind of attempts when attacking the rim with both hands. His shot remains not very consistent, especially from behind the three-point line. It will be interesting to see how his development will move on next season and what will be his future position.