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An introduction to Finnish Prospects (Part 2)

December 13th, 2008 · No Comments

After a part 1 discussing the future of the Finnish PG positions, today I will check who is available for the future on the wings. A third part about the Centers is unfortunately not coming as there are currently no real inside players with interesting potential available in Finland.

Antti Kanervo (SG – 1m92 – 1989 – Kouvot)

Let’s start with a young man that has been known for some great scoring efforts in both the different European Youth Championships and the second Finnish division. He has moved now to a professional team in the Koris League and he is doing very well so far. Kanervo excels in his role as shooter for the team coming of the bench.

He is particularly effective in catch-and-shoot situations where he is not hesitating to take the shot. Unfortunately, his shooting position is a bit off as he takes his jumper just in front of his face which gives him less possibilities when he is defended very hard. However, his release is extremely quick and can surprise the defender often.

Kanervo can also read the defense and create opportunities for himself, on back door situations for example if he is defended on the passing lane. He fights very hard on the rebound and can also help to bring up the ball if necessary. All in all, he shows great passion on the court and seems to have no problem in his role as zone breaker or scorer coming of the bench.

Defensively, he is still in a learning process and his positioning is sometimes a bit off. However, his will helps him to overcome some problems which are created by his still present naivety on some defensive situations. This has not really to be worried about as this is his first season on the highest national level.

Hippo thinks the following of Antti Kanervo.

He has been pretty much the guy Kouvot coach Jukka Toijala has wanted him to be. He can bring the ball up-court, he can defend basically three position and he hits open shots. He’s still not comfortable enough to create his own shot in Finnish League like he did in Division 1, but he has shown promise. His lack of athleticism will prevent him from being a star, but he can be a good role player in ULEB Cup type team 6-8 years from now.

And his coach Jukka Toijala told me the following about his Shooting Guard.

Huge prospect in SG-position. Very special young man with a scorer mentality. Has put some impressive stats in youth EC-tournaments and was one of the dominating players in Finnish second league last year.

Offensively has a deadly 3p-shot. Has a quick release in his shot, which allows him to create a shot against tough defense. Can penetrate with both hands and has a nice jump-fake and up and under move. Uses his pivot foot well to find room for his shot.
Defensively is at his best when guarding against other SG`s. Is pretty mobile and reads the game well.

Statistics after 17 games: 5.4ppg (21/49 3FG) 1.1rpg

Matti Nuutinen (SF – 2m00 – 1990 – Kouvot)

Nuutinen is probably one of the most interesting players of this whole group. He turned only 18 this spring and has already a very important role in the Finnish highest division. The Small Forward is probably not the most eye-popping player at first sight as his role is going more far than simple scoring. Nuutinen is essentially used for his great defensive presence.

The 2m00 tall player is normally guarding the opponents top wing scorers and does this job really well. Offensively, Nuutinen is not afraid of taking shots and has range until the three point line. He may look a bit afraid on some situations when he tries to go hard to the rim but this will normally change when he gains more experience.

Hippo was particularly impressed by Matti too.

Of all young Finnish guys, this guy has impressed me the most this season. Despite his age (18), Nuutinen isn’t afraid to bang. He defends big American players and Finnish bigs effectively, backs down from no one and even brings it strong to the hole and hits effective threes from the corner. His footwork is good and he sees the court well, he’ll definitely be a national team player a few years from now.

His coach Toijala is also very happy with Nuutinen’s progress this season.

Athletic and mobile SF. Is very determined and has a great working ethic.

Has a good range in his game: can shoot behind 3p-line or penetrate and create his own shot. Is comfortable in both forward positions.
Defensively has been one of the best players in his team. Is able to guard both inside and outside players. Reads game well and is a good defensive rebounder.

Statistics after 16 games: 4.8ppg (47.2% 2FG 23.8% 3FG) 3.1rpg 1.3spg

Samuli Vanttaja (SF – 2m06 – 1991 – Honka Playboys)

Here is a player that I was not able to scout but Hippo wanted me to mention him too.

It’s great to see a 206cm guy bringing the ball up-court. Because of his lack of strength, weight and experience, coach Pavicevic doesn’t let him see much minutes, but he’s willing to learn and he always tries hard. I don’t know what to expect from him; he could become one of the most versatile bigs in Scandinavia or he could just disappear like his older brother (Jari Vanttaja, Baylor Univ 2005-2007) did.

Petri Heinonen (SF/PF – 2m07 – 1988 – Honka Playboys)

Finally we have here a player that has been on the radar for quite some time as he was named Eurobasket Newcomer of the Year in Finland in 2007. However his progression has stagnated a bit over the last months. You have still a 2m07 tall forward with very nice left handed shooting mechanics going until the three point line. But what is his quality (the long distance shot) makes him a bit dependant on it as his inside presence lacks a bit on fundamentals. So if his shot is not falling, Heinonen is becoming easy to defend.

Defensively he is present but currently he lacks a bit of confidence offensively to help him out of his current situation. If he overcomes this first down of his young career, he might show again why he was considered a very promising player last season.

Statistics after 13 games: 3.2ppg (54.5% 2FG) 2.6rpg

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