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The big day of Joffrey Lauvergne

February 28th, 2013 · No Comments

During the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade, I also had the possibility to follow the Adriatic League game between Partizan Belgrade and Union Olimpija Ljubljana. Over the last two years, Nemanja Nedovic used this moment where lots of NBA Scouts are present to showcase his skills. This time, the French big guy Joffrey Lauvergne was best at improving his stock during the Seniors game on Saturday evening.

The French big guy, who left his long-term club of Chalon during the season had a short stint with Valencia before joining his friend Leo Westermann at Partizan Belgrade in December 2012. The intensive practices under coach Dule Vujosevic have already shown some results as Lauvergne looks more athletic and explosive than we remembered him from France. He had 4 dunks in the game and all of them where quite impressive ones. Another change in the 2m10 tall player’s game is that he nearly never touched the ball outside of the three-point area. Posting up strongly, Lauvergne struggled a bit in the beginning as he turned the ball over in double team situations. However, he showed some interesting moves with his back to the basket, where he likes to turn to the baseline. He can finish these moves with his left hand, also in difficult situations. He used though the relative slow feet of the Olimpija big men to beat them with an improving quickness and footwork.

On the defensive end, Lauvergne showed some excellent defensive positioning which was one of the main reasons of his extended playing time in this game. Additionally, he did a very good job boxing out his man and attacking the glass hard to collect the defensive board. Out of these situations, he ran the floor really well to finish fast breaks as a trailer. With Partizan, Lauvergne looks to have focused on his inside game without trying to prove that he can play from outside. When he tried to play facing the basket, he turned the ball over or could not create a positive offense. On a long-term basis, neglecting his outside game is not a solution as Lauvergne has shown in the past that he can be dangerous from behind the three-point line. But it looks like the Partizan coaching staff has decided to work on the Frenchman fundamentals as an inside player first which is certainly not the wrong way to go. Once these have been improved, Lauvergne will for sure also work on his handle and find back his outside game which makes him quite more dangerous player down the road.

Leo Westermann had quite some problems in this game to have some impact. The French guard, who has shown some nice games in the beginning of the season struggled right from the start to bring up the ball against the aggressive defense from Olimpija. He finished the game with only 4 points and 2 turnovers. Westermann set up the offense but his only scoring impact came in the paint when he posted up the smaller Ljubljana guards. He could not create many open shots for himself and found his team mates only on one single assist. The tall PG needs to find his rhythm back which might become more difficult as the elimination from the Euroleague has reduced the number of games that Partizan will play this season. Right now, he is still a starter for Partizan but this might change if he does not turn around in the next weeks.

Dejan Musli had also a relatively quiet game as the big night of Lauvergne reduced his minutes. Scoring mainly on jump hooks, Musli did not show anything that we did not know about him before. Being in his draft year, it does not look like he is improving his stock dramatically or if he is getting lots of consideration by NBA Teams at the moment. Despite the well-known intense practices of Partizan, Musli does not look to be in perfect shape at the moment. We will see how he finishes his season in order to be able to see what’s next for him.

Nikola Milutinov and Bogdan Bogdanovic had too little of playing time to make any judgment of their development. On the Slovenian side, the number of prospects was quite high either so let’s check who had a game game for the Slovenians.

 

Alen Omic is an impressive body in the paint but unfortunately, the Slovenian big guy is quite flat-footed. He is a big guy who works on the floor without major explosiveness or athletic plays. His back-to-the-basket game is not really existent but he can create some positions on the low post. The classical jump hook looks to be his first option but he can also nail the jump shot from 3-4 meters on the baseline. Being 2m17 tall and born in 1992, the upside potential for Omic looks good though. On the defensive end, he had some good positions and was present in shot blocking at moments. He needs to work on his athletic presence if he wants to make the next step and become a factor on the Euroleague level. The technique is there and he might become an interesting option for a second round pick next season.

UPDATE: In fact, Alen Omic stayed in the Draft in 2012 and went undrafted. He is an NBA Free Agent right now.

The Finnish guard Sasu Salin, who looks to be there forever already, had certainly one of his better games of the season. Finishing with 13 points but also 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 6 drawn fouls, the 1991 born guard was very valuable for his team. Salin though remains mainly a defensive worker and three-point threat. He can make a career out of that if he can become very regular from behind the arc but he still looks to be more of a streaky danger. Rarely attacking the basket, Salin needs to improve his handle in order to become more versatile as well.

Klemen Prepelic, who was already portrayed by the website a few weeks ago, showed again what kind of talent he is. Born the same year than Leo Westermann, he clearly won the internal match-up of both guards. Playing at a very high intensity level, Prepelic came up with a great hustle steal play in the first half that showed both his defensive presence and basketball understanding when saving the ball from going out of bounds in spectacular fashion. Prepelic did a good job in Pick and Roll situations, even if he has a clear preference for attacking over his right hand. Quite explosive, he can create his own shot without that many problems and can score the difficult three-pointers in step-back fashion for example. With his right hand, he can also finish on the floater or even the running hook shot depending on the situation. But mostly, he avoids to go fully to the basket and tries to avoid the contact going for the softer technical play. Still more of a scorer than a creator, Prepelic showed some nice passes though but we remain with our comparison that he can develop into a Jaka Lakovic-like backcourt threat in the next years.

The 93 born Luka Rupnik started the game well as he put a lot of pressure on Leo Westermann full court. He suffered though from his lack of size as the French guard posted him up on several occasions. On the offensive end, Rupnik showed some nice stuff on Pick and Roll situations but his overall impact remained limited in the 10 minutes he was on the court.

In our next post, we will come back to the game between Mega Vizura and Metalac which featured one of the most promising PG talents in Europe in the person of Vasilije Micic.

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