The NBA Draft 2010 is in the books and the number of European players picked by the Franchises has not been as low for years. With one player in the first round and only four in the second round, Europe was under-represented compared to the last years but it will probably be a different story in 2011.
Kevin Seraphin – #17 by the Bulls – most likely traded to the Wizards
Seeing the French Big Guy from Cholet in the first round is not really a surprise but he was not foreseen to be drafted that high as most observers saw him between 20 and 30. It will now be interesting to see if Seraphin will stay in France and play the Euroleague with Cholet or if he decides to come to the United States immediately. The PF/C is on the list of France for the upcoming World Championship in Turkey but on the other hand, the Wizards will most likely try to bring him over to play the Summer League as well which looks like a first conflict situation.
Bouna N’Diaye and his team have once again showed that they can place a player in the first round. The future will tell how Seraphin will adapt to the NBA where his skills and physical built are not as special as they are in Europe.
Tibor Pleiss – #31 by the Nets – traded to the Thunder
With the first Pick of the Euroleague players Draft, the Nets select Tibor Pleiss from Brose Baskets Bamberg. With Nikola Pekovic in 2008 and the German Center this year, the #31 spot is looking more and more to become the best place to get future high-level Euroleague talent as the top pick in the second round gives the team all possibilities in terms of salary to sign the player in the future. Pleiss has declared several times that he will not come over immediately and at least play one year in the Euroleague which he can do with his team next season.
Additionally, he will be a member of the German National Team this summer and play major minutes during the World Championships in Turkey. It would be a surprise for me if he comes over this Summer to do some workouts or Summer Leagues. The Oklahoma Thunder got what they wanted in Pleiss as the rumors were around that Sam Presti was really high on him and they even thought about bringing him in at #18. But at #31, they go their big guy that may end up as the better player than their #11 pick Cole Aldrich.
Nemanja Bjelica – #35 by the Wizards
With the rumors around his signing with Benetton Treviso being denied by the player himself, Bjelica looks to be very open in terms of possibilities for next season. The 2m09 tall forward found an NBA home with the Wizards now but it is not so sure about what he is going to do. Several European teams are chasing him as well and Bjelica will most likely be a member of the Serbian National Team for the World Championship which prevents him from participating to some Summer Leagues.
Bjelica has interesting tools for the NBA and seems to be a late developer as coach Luka Bassin explained in our Draft countdown. With Seraphin, he is the second European selected by the Wizards in this year’s Draft but he will most likely remain in Europe for some time. At least, everything else would be a surprise for me.
NB: Bjelica has been traded to the Wolves
Ryan Richards – #49 by the Spurs
The Brit got what he wanted, he is drafted by an NBA team. Even if he was announced “not falling lower than #33”, he ended up with the Spurs at #49. The team from San Antonio is known for drafting high-reward long-term prospects and Richards may be in the same mold. The fact that the British player wants to absolutely stay in the United States, most likely means that he will go to play for the Austin Toros, the Spurs NBDL team. With the rumors of the Spurs bringing Tiago Splitter over, the roster seems a bit stacked on the frontcourt and it would be a major surprise to me if Richards will crack the rotation immediately.
Pape Sy – #53 by the Hawks
The big surprise of the Draft from a European point of view is Pape Sy. He did exactly one workout, at least that is what we heard and he got selected by the Hawks that have seen him play in their facilities on the 16th June. Sy is a tall guard (1m97) that takes the PG spot during moments and is an interesting three point shooter. But still, this does not make him an NBA player nor do his stats: 5.2ppg and 1.3apg in the French League. But the Hawks must have seen something special in him as they were the only team inviting him for a workout and finally also drafted him. Maybe their scouts were present in France on the 27th February where Sy had his career game with 17pts, 7rebs and 4asts.