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NIJT 2009: the Centers

May 14th, 2009 · 1 Comment

After the guard and forward review, here we go for the last part of my recap on the Nike International Junior Tournament 2009 in Berlin.

Dejan Musli (2m12 – 1991 – FMP Belgrade)

What to say here except dominance? The question remains though how much of this dominance comes from his massive physical presence and how much from talent. Because Musli is talented, that’s no discussion, but what is his potential, Europe wise and NBA wise?

Musli was a huge force in the paint through out the tournament. Most of his scores came of jump hooks when playing back to the basket or layups and dunks after drive and dishes of his team mates. And the whole team play of FMP was built around that, as Musli was highly effective in finding the right positions to be a target of his team mates passes. Additionally, Musli has developed a pretty sweet shot from the FT line so that a hack-a-Musli tactic does not make any sense.

The problem in my eyes with Musli is his limited quickness. He has very slow arm movements for example to take up the ball. Compared to another Serbian giant, Boban Marjanovic, Musli looks pretty slow in arm movements. He can run the floor but he looks not particularly elegant when doing so. I don’t think that he will have potential to play on a fastbreak team while he would be a great addition for some half-court offense. The progress is however not really seeable for somebody not following him every day. But being born in 1991, Musli has some time to improve and we will follow of course how he develops.

Stats: 22.6ppg (64% 2FG) 12.5rpg 2.8bpg

Jonas Valanciunas (2m11 – 1992 – Lietuvos Rytas)

Dominant in a pretty different style was the Lithuanian big Jonas Valanciunas. More long than large, he had some trouble against Musli in the final defensively as he does not have the mass and weight of the Serbian Center. Valanciunas is already more of a finesse and athletic player than Musli will probably ever be. His long arms help him to be a presence above the rim both on rebounding and shot blocking.

He looks already pretty intelligent in what he does on the court, going for several fakes and recognizing the right situations. In terms of post moves, for the moment he has a nice turn around jump shot and tries also different kind of over plays. However, he struggled when passing out the ball in double teams. He recognizes the situation but his passes looked several times really bad. Due to his athletic built, Valanciunas can run the floor pretty well.

He should also be able to add muscle during the upcoming years. Combined with his wingspan and shotblocking abilities, he can develop into a very interesting prospect on the Center position and being the counterpart of another Lithuanian 7-foot prospect (Donatas Motiejunas) in terms of playing style. Still one year younger than the rest of the players, Valanciunas should develop into a terrific player on the U18 level next season.

Stats: 16.1ppg (60% 2FG) 10.9rpg 2.9bpg

Nika Metreveli (2m12 – 1991 – Montepaschi Siena)

For the Georgian Forward/Center, I don’t know that much to add to my previous scouting on him. He is a very versatile player that can attack the basket from outside and that is more a forward when playing offense while defensively, he is really the man in the middle for the Montepaschi team. He has good body control, athletic abilities which are above average for European standards and a nice shot up until the three point line and beyond.

He has good footwork that helps him on his drives where he can come up with nice spin moves in order to go around his defenders on which he can also score with a foul. Defensively, he is present in the rebound area with a good timing for the ball and to block shots. His future won’t probably be on the C spot, or more in a role as shooting PF.

Stats: 13.3pgg (47% 2FG 46% 3FG) 9.3rpg

Bakary Konate (2m05 – 1993 – Gran Canaria)

To finish my reports about the NIJT, I will also have a few words on one of the youngest players of the tournament, the 1993 born Bakary Konate. For having him seen already during the Stella Azzurra tournament in Rome, I must admit that he has progressed since then. He has some kind of jump hook that he finishs quite nicely now around the basket and looks to have also gained in terms of court vision and basketball IQ.

However, he is pretty slow laterally in defense and gets beaten of the dribble in multiple occasion. But being a hard worker on the rebound, for the moment, all of his potential lies in the great athletic abilities and the upside he possesses as a 15 year old. Seeing him in 2 years will probably give a way better possibility to predict his long term future.

Stats: 6.9ppg (56% 2FG) 7.7rpg

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