European Prospects

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NBA Draft 2008: 1986 born automatically eligibles

June 25th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Tomorrow is the big day, the NBA Draft 2008 is going on in the Madison Square Garden, New York. Besides the 5 early entrants, there is a long list of 1986 born automatically eligible players that can be drafted. I took a short look at the most promising of these guys.

Uros Tripkovic is a nice shooter that also can play Point Guard. He saw limited minutes with Partizan Belgrade this season in the Euroleague. His chances to get drafted are probably close to zero. He was considered as a bigger prospect a few years ago.

Nikola Pekovic is probably the best player on the European level for the moment of the whole list. Pekovic is a large 2m10 center who was a dominant force in the Euroleague for Partizan this season. He is not very highly regarded by most of the Mock Drafts. He just signed a big 3 year deal with Panathinaikos so a first round selection would not be a good choice for an NBA team if they want to bring him over one day.

Tadija Dragicevic is the main option in the offense for the ULEB Cup team of Crvena Zvedza Belgrade. Dragicevic has great size for the SF spot and can net the open three point shot without any problem. He has progressed heavily this season and was one of the best scorers in the ULEB Cup with 18.4ppg. More of a Euroleague type player in terms of athleticism and speed, some teams may give him a try late in the 2nd round.

Novica Velickovic is the third guy from Partizan in this review and may be the most complete one. 10.6ppg and 6.9rpg are in the books for the Serbian forward who is also developing a pretty nice three point shot. He plays mainly on the PF position for the Serbian powerhouse, a spot that he would have some trouble in the NBA. A late second round spot would not be lost on him.

Goran Dragic is probably the closest to an NBA point guard in this year’s draft. Highly athletic, creative and quick, the Slovenian player has also great size. A problem that remains is his long distance shot where he does not feel very comfortable. But his left handed drives are hard to defend, also on the NBA level. He could end up as high as the 2nd round even for a team that wants his s back up PG in a few years time.

Anton Ponkrashov was highly regarded as NBA prospect a few years ago because of his nice combination of height and playmaking skills. His development has however stagnated a bit over the last two years and his showing at the Reebok Eurocamp was not giving him a boost in the pre-Draft process. He could end up undrafted after he was considered as first round material 2 years ago.

Kaloyan Ivanov has entered the NBA Draft process last year by entering his name in the Early entrants list. This year, it has been a little bit quieter about him but he remains a strong rebounder and banger in the low post. His chances to get drafted are very low.

Martin Miklosik is 2m26 tall and… Well that’s about it.

Albert Moncasi had an awful season with Barcelona where he barely saw the court in the Euroleague. Moncasi has however nice size with 2m09 and can hit shots from three point area. But is this enough for getting drafted?

Dusan Sakota had finally a season where he played basketball with Panionios Athens and reached the semifinals in the Greek league. Big time prospect back in 2005, Sakota never lived up to his potential of the new 2m10 scoring forward which he was in U18 and U20 categories. Now he is likely to go undrafted.

Mantas Kalnietis is the second athletic PG in this years draft when it comes to Europeans. The Lithuanian youngster showed a correct camp in Treviso which may have helped him to get some attention in the late second round.

Damjan Rudez worked out for the Milwaukee Bucks this week and impressed some people there. He is yet another 2m07 forward who can also hit the three ball. He just signed a new deal with Euroleague team Olimpija Ljubljana so seeing him in the NBA next season would be a surprise.

Luca Vitali is the tallest Point Guard in the NBA Draft with his 2m01. He played an extraordinary season in Italy this year where he averaged 10.3ppg, 2.5rpg and 3.1apg. He will be a Euroleague player for the next season but if his development continues at the current pace, he can end up of being a good producer on the highest European level. For the NBA, it wont be enough.

Semih Erden developed steadily into a correct Euroleague center who has great size and correct athleticism. He did a private workout for attending NBA teams in Treviso where he showed his accuracy around the key. He is also a good shot blocker and could end up somewhere in the middle of the second round.

Mickael Mokongo had a little strange parcours for a French prospect as he moved to Italy and Turkey in his young years. Mokongo was considered as a bottom line NBA prospect but his recent performances did not improve his chances to enter the 60 places available.

Manuchar Markoishvili is on the European scene for many many years now and he is still only automatically eligible this season. He showed his typical game in Treviso with aggressive scoring on the drive and correct three point shooting. His upside seems limited however. That’s why we won’t see his name on Thursday pronounced.

Peja Samardziski is also present for a long time already. The Macedonian Center has great size at 2m15 and his good fundamentals help to build a nice presence in the post. His development however was not as good as expected but he did a nice job in this year’s edition of the Adriatic League where he was the 2nd best shot blocker.

Omer Asik appeared a bit out of nowhere in 2007 when he averaged a double double for the Turkish Alpella Istanbul team. He moved over to Fenerbahce to feel the Euroleague and became a top shotblocker of the highest level outside the NBA. His private workout in Treviso gave a good look at his all around skills for a big man and maybe a possible selection in the 2nd round.

Giorgi Tsintsadze is a correct Point Guard from Georgia who did a nice job this year with Tartu Rock in Estonia. He reached the Final Four of the FIBA Eurocup and was named to the FIBA Eurocup First team because of his 14.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 5.2apg and 1.8spg in this competition. His Draft chances are however extremely slim.

Vladimir Golubovic is a 2m12 tall center who was present at the Orlando Pre-Draft camp this summer and even had a workout for the Sacramento Kings. But seeing him getting drafted would be a nice surprise after his correct season in Serbia where he averaged 13.3ppg and 8.7rpg in the Adriatic League.

Nikita Kurbanov is probably undersized to play the PF spot and not quick enough for the SF spot in the NBA. He is however one of the most hard working guys in the list and shows great understanding of basketball. For me, he was one of the best players in the Reebok camp in Treviso. But his NBA chances are close to zero.

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