Today, I give you a few thoughts on the different European playoff games I saw these last days.
- Let’s start with a player that got drafted already but who is still considered as a prospect. Joel Freeland, the 1987 born forward of Kalise Gran Canaria finished his season with the Spanish team this Sunday on a positive note despite the loss as he was the top scorer. Freeland showed a variety of ways to score from low post moves to jump shots and drives. In the post, he mostly used some kind of running hook which he executed of his left or his right hand. Additionally, he showed a nice catch-and-shoot baseline jump shot from 5 meters. He also beat his opponent of the dribble from the top of the key with very nice speed of his right hand. Freeland is also very present in rebounding where he essentially uses good positioning and boxing out go average nearly 6 boards per game in 22 minutes of play.
- Another 1987 born player in Spain but being automatically eligible in the Draft this year is Sergio Llull of Real Madrid. The guard impresses with great speed, good athleticism and a quick shot release on catch-and-shoot plays. And it is with these kind of skills that Llull scores the most for his team where he has a role a energy back-up and booster from the bench. Additionally, he has a role as defensive stopper if needed where he can use his athleticism to overpower the often smaller or less athletic European guards.
- Pau Ribas had a good game for Joventut in the last Playoff game of the season. The 1987 born guard scored mostly on difficult shots out of the dribble or with open shots around the arc. Not much considered as a NBA prospect, Ribas should however develop into a target for several high-level Euroleague teams in the next 2-3 years.
- It was probably the last game for Ricky Rubio in Europe and it was certainly not one of his best. Coming back from a small injury in a do-or-die game for his team, Rubio could not really make the difference as he still suffered from his leg. His defensive presence of course was not as usual and also his offensive creativity got hurt through the lack of speed he displayed. However, the overall talent level is not questioned.
- Recently elected Rookie of the Year in Germany, the 1988 born PG Per Günther finished his first BBL Playoff series against Bonn. The former Hagen player established himself as the backup of Dru Joyce throughout the season and all the executives of the team are highly satisfied with the work done by Günther. It would not be a big surprise if ratiopharm Ulm gives him the Starting job next season. The 1m84 tall guard is in fact doing an excellent job in running the point for the team of coach Mike Taylor. Setting up the plays, giving instructions to his team mates and calling them together for huddles, he looks like the future team captain already. Besides these soft skills, Günther scores mostly of open three point shots which he is not afraid of taking despite a pretty poor percentage so far. His ball handling skills have improved nicely over the season so that he gets less in trouble against aggressive defenses than a year ago. This skills together with nice speed open him some possibilities to attack the basket but his lack of athletic abilities prevent him often from scoring against the big guys.
- Another surprise in the German playoffs is 1988 born SG Karsten Tadda. Excellent defender (2 charges taken again this Sunday together with 13pts and 8rebs), Tadda played himself into the rotation of Brose Baskets Bamberg and is stealing the show from all the established pros of the team and also from the highly looked at NBA prospect Tim Ohlbrecht. The German PF is currently totally of and does not see many minutes with his team. I doubt he will stay in the draft or get any kind of return from his early entrance as it looks like his team will stay for a long playoff run which takes him away from possible NBA workouts.
- Another early-entrance candidate I had the possibility to see is Roger Aboubakar Zaki. The 7-footer from Nancy saw some Garbage minutes on Friday but he did not really display a lot of will for the few seconds he was on court. He was very active cheering on the bench but once on the court, all this energy was gone as you could see him walk up and down the court instead of trying to spring to get a possible look on the break. This did not look very promising in terms of mental approach for a NBA future.