European Prospects

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NBBL Top4 2014: Player review

May 21st, 2014 · 4 Comments

In the first part of our JBBL/NBBL Top4 review from 2014, I will analyze the main prospects from the U19 level. Overall, the U19 level was quite deep but lacked to top-level talent compared to the the U16. Nevertheless, the event was good to get an update on some promising players for the like Ismet Akpinar, Niklas Kiel or Thomas Grün.

Ismet Akpinar – 1m90 – PG – 1995 – ALBA Berlin

The MVP of the NBBL and of the Top4 was the key player in the title run of ALBA Berlin. The PG was the clear leader on the floor and was extremely hard to guard by anyone who was playing against him in the event. Akpinar has an excellent first step on this level and he can use his speed to get fully to the rim and finish in the paint. He recognizes well when he can go for the layup or when he needs to dribble through the paint and find a kick out pass. More of a scorer than a creator, Akpinar drew a multitude of fouls and was automatic from the free-throw line. He can finish with either hand on the drive, also on the tougher high layups.

With his quick dribbles and good handles, Akpinar can find a way through the defenders and he has the ability to change directions even if he prefers the direct way to the hoop. In Quakenbrück, he rarely stopped in the mid-range territory for the jump shot and he was not very dangerous as an outside shooter too as he could beat anyone on the dribble. His passing is more based on the drive and kick game and he rarely is finding his team mates on the Pick and Roll situations. Akpinar can also create his three-point shot out of the Pick and Roll and has a good straight up body control when taking the pull up jumper.

On the defensive end, Akpinar has good lateral speed but is not really a stopper at the moment. He could also be the target of post-up situations on the professional level as he has still some physical shortcomings but the size is there. The question is what is the next step for him. He played in the fourth German league this season but he showed during the NBBL Top4 that he can contribute on a higher level from next season. He might not be ready yet for being a back-up PG at ALBA but Akpinar should certainly be able to play serious minutes on a lower BBL or higher ProA level in the next season.

Niklas Ney – 2m08 – C – 1995 – ALBA Berlin

The Berlin Center was the second key player for ALBA especially in the Final where Ney had several important plays in the paint to keep Urspring away from returning. The left handed Center did a good job in finding positions for himself but could also create the necessary space in the paint as a high-low passer. Still not the best athlete, Ney lives a lot from his understanding of the game and a strong body for this level. He can finish in the paint with either hand but has a preference for using his stronger left hand through laybacks. He can be used as well in the low post where he has some moves coming up going for the jump hook or the up and under. He can also pass out of the low post to the weak side which is always a key asset for inside players. When moving to Mercer for next season, Ney has to work on his athleticism and speed, probably that’s why he started practicing golf on his spare time.He’s also known for advertising professional divers, and awesome reviews like the Taylormade M2 Driver review for golf fans. However, his shooting form is another part of the game where there is some work ahead even if his touch seems good.

Moritz Wagner – 2m04 – PF/SF – 1997 – ALBA Berlin

The young Moritz Wagner is a really interesting prospect for the future. Used as a PF on multiple occasions, Wagner showed that he has an outside game and that his future should be on the SF position. He can shoot from outside, either on catch-and-shoot situations or in the Pick and Pop when being the screener. Wagner can also put the ball on the floor which works particularly well when used against taller power forwards. He is also able to drive with direction changes and finish against stronger or taller players in the paint. Athletically, he is looking good and with his overall length, he is a good vertical presence on both sides of the court. Wagner really needs to be used on the wing positions in the future as he has the tools to become an interesting long small forward in the future. It will be interesting to see if ALBA can do this as they will lack some inside presence in the next generations of their NBBL roster so that Wagner risks to be used as a pure PF or even center next season.

Thomas Grün – 1m96 – SF/PG – 1995 – CYBEX Urspring

The versatile player from Luxembourg showed his overall talent during the two days in Quakenbrück and was particularly impressive during the semi-final. Grün is a fluid athlete with excellent speed for his size and good body control. He can handle the ball up to even playing point guard during stretches or if the team wants to play taller. He has a good court-vision and can find his team mates out of the drive but also when they cut. He is a very precise passer, rarely getting a turnover, and he has the touch also for the spectacular play occasionally. Grün likes to slash and attack the basket where he can finish with either hand also under pressure. He has developed some mid range game and he can create his own shot around the key with his good first step. His long distance shot is still not really regular which can be explained by not totally fluid shooting mechanics. However, this has developed over the last years in a way that Grün is now capable of knocking down shots, also out of more difficult positions, and is not been let alone anymore on the three-point line.

Grün is on the other hand also quite an interesting defensive prospect. With his length, he is very present in the passing lanes and he has the necessary lateral speed to defend all three positions from PG to SF. He was for example the only player capable of stopping Ismet Akpinar during some moments in the Top4. More surprisingly, Grün is also present as a shot blocker with his good leaping abilities, timing and basketball understanding. Grün will most likely leave Urspring this summer but he has so far no Division 1 offers to play College basketball. If nothing comes up from that direction, he will try to find an interesting situation to develop his skill set in Europe but without having a German passport, it will be difficult to get a roster spot in a German team.

Christian Sengfelder – 2m01 – PF – 1995 – CYBEX Urspring

The future player of Fordham University played a good Top4 in his role as rebounder and stretch four. Sengfelder has an imposing physical presence with large shoulders and a strong body but he is fairly undersized to play the power forward position on the highest level. The former player of Leverkusen compensates with a high energy level and an imposing lower back that he can use to create good positions in the paint. Sengfelder moves really well off the ball and is a good target for his guards when cutting to the basket where he can finish hard. Next to his inside presence, Sengfelder can be used as a catch-and-shoot threat from behind the three point line. His jump shot looks really fluid with a high release point and good mechanics. However, the jump shot is quite slow so that he can not use it against pressure and his limited ball handling skills do not allow him to create his own shot. The biggest asset of Sengfelder though is his tremendous rebounding presence especially on the defensive end where he crashes the board really hard and grabs the rebounds strongly with two hands. He should have no problems to get some immediate impact at Fordham with his energy level  next season.

Zaire Thompson – 1m81 – PG – 1995 – CYBEX Urspring

The small and physical point guard from Urspring did a good job on the offensive end constantly attacking the basket and trying to split defenses with quick direction changes and accelerations. With his good and deep ball handling, Thompson could use Pick and Roll situations especially when he went against hedging defense as he could go between the defenders to create interesting situations for his team. He finished his drives on a floater jumping of two feet when scoring as he is too short to go fully to the hoop. Thompson can also shoot from behind the arc but it is not his major offensive skill. On the defensive end, he can put a lot of pressure when playing full court defense but he is not as explosive in direction changes as you could expect. He struggled to guard Akpinar on the drive as his reaction time on the accelerations of his opponent is not that great. It looks likes Thomspon will stay in Germany as no College has shown major interest in him as far as we know at the moment. He played a good role in the ProA already and he should potentially develop into an interesting back-up PG for the BBL level in the future.

Mahir Agva – 2m06 – C – 1996 – CYBEX Urspring

The German big guy was a key player for Urspring in their run to the final as he was able to slow down Niklas Kiel on the defensive end because of his quick feet. As mentioned already during the Albert Schweitzer Tournament, Agva has a strong upper body with really elegant footwork which makes him an interesting player in the low post. He can score there on the jump hook executed over either shoulder but he can also finish on some up and under fake plays or on the running hook shot. On Pick and Roll situations, Agva rolls really hard to the basket where he is a good target but his limited athleticism do not help him to finish against taller players. He is a good high-low passer as he has a good touch. If Agva can work on his finishing qualities against defense and eventually develop a face-up game with a jump shot around the key, he should be able to have an interesting career on the Bundesliga level in the future.

Jan Moritz Overdick did not have a great game in the semi-final but the lanky forward from TV Langen looks like an interesting prospect with his size, mobility and ability to play from outside. The 1997 born and 2m07 tall player has an interesting basketball body with long arms. He can handle the ball and shoot from behind the arc but he is sometimes too passive going too much for the passing instead of looking for his own scoring possibilities. Still two years younger than the competition, Overdick should grow physically over the next years and he could be one of the more promising players in the 97 generation if he develops well in the future.

Jona Hoffmann had an interesting stretch during the semi-final where the 1998 born player from TV Langen showed great scoring talent as a Shooting Guard. He can attack the basket with either hand and also change direction during the penetration. His ball handling and body control allow him to find a solution even in difficult situations and his overall speed makes him dangerous when putting the ball on the floor. His footwork is good and with the fact that he is three years younger, Hoffmann can be considered as a future potential high volume scorer on the NBBL level for his team.

Tom Alte played an interesting role for Langen as he was the only player capable of scoring multiple baskets in the semi-final. Quite long and athletic, the 2m07 tall power forward showed different ways to score the basketball in the paint going either for the hook shot or the mid-range jump shot from the baseline. With his quick feet and good jumping ability, Alte was an interesting player in transition as well where he could also put the ball on the floor in order to avoid the defense and finish afterwards. He needs to work on his shooting mechanics in order to get them more fluid in the future. Alte has finished his NBBL career now and he needs to get minutes in the ProB rotation of Langen as a next step in order to see how far he can go in his development.

Luis Figge was the only of the three Paderborn national team players that was ready to compete in the semi-final against Urspring. The tall and athletic guard showed a nice first step in order to attack the basket where he can finish with both hands also in creative fashion. Figge can be used as a combo guard who has some qualities on the PG position as well. He needs though to work on his outside shoot in order to not become a drive-only player that will be easy to defend on the next level. Bon in 1997, Figge has two more years to develop in the NBBL and he will need to step up and become a real leader as Niklas Kiel will leave the team and Lars Kamp will probably play only limited games with the team next season.

Lars Kamp was not able to put on a show like he did two years ago during the JBBL Top4 where he lead Paderborn to the title. After a good first season in the ProA, Kamp looked a bit tired in Quakenbrück but he still was able to show his good scoring talent especially on the drive. He can use his body well to protect himself when attacking the rim and he can finish nicely on this level in the paint. His fundamentals allow him to create the necessary space for the shot or to get his defender off his feet in order to attack the basket. Kamp needs to become more regular from outside in the next years in order to become a good scoring combo guard for the Bundesliga level.

Niklas Kiel had a great start into the semi with a catch-and-shoot three ball and a nice dunk in traffic. But from there, nothing came anymore from the 2m07 tall forward who just signed a four year deal with Frankfurt. Therefore, there is not much to add on him right now compared to what we have seen during the Albert-Schweitzer Tournament. The move to Frankfurt is an interesting one as he will have the opportunity to play long minutes on the ProB level and be in one of the best organizations at the moment to develop young talent in Germany.

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