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Adidas Next Generation Kaunas 2015: the Bigs

April 3rd, 2015 · 1 Comment

After the guards and forwards, here is finally the report on the best big guys from the Adidas Next Generation event in Kaunas. This report features of course info on Martynas Echodas, Jonathan Jeanne and Omer Yurtseven but also on one of my favorites prospects, Zigmars Raimo.

Martynas Echodas – 2m04 – PF – 1997 – Zalgiris Kaunas

Echodas was the most dominant big guy of the event. Maybe a bit undersized for playing in the paint on the highest level, the Lithuanian Power Forward showed great explosiveness on both sides of the court to grab rebounds and score on the defense. He likes to finish at the rim and use his well developed body to overpower opponents. The 2m04 tall forward tries to get every offensive rebound and he has a good timing to create second chances for himself or his team. He goes up well off two feet but lacks maybe a bit of a second jump to finish strongly after a hard battle for a ball.

Out of the low post, Echodas is using more his power and leaping abilities for the score than a polished back-to-the-basket game. He can score with the basic jump hook, mainly of his stronger right hand, both off two feet or as a running hook shot. Echodas can also face up to take the jump shot but it is not his main offensive weapon. With his superb energy level, the forward is really good in transition where he can come as a trailer to finish strong at the rim. With his limited size though, he might be a bit short for the top level as he lacks the necessary ball handling skills to become an effective player for the PF position. Nevertheless, his rebounding and strength should give him an opportunity on the professional level relatively soon and a lot depends on his technical skills improvements over the next years how high he can go.

Stats: 22.0ppg (62.1% 2FGs), 10.3rpg, 2.0apg, 2.3topg, 28.0PIR

Laurynas Birutis – 2m11 – C – 1997 – Zalgiris Kaunas

Laurynas Birutis was the second big guy for Zalgiris and he was a great complement to Echodas. Very long and timid at moments, Birutis was more of a finesse player when it came to scoring. He finds good positions in the paint and has a raw but diverse arsenal of moves to finish. He can go for the baseline dribble attack out of the low post but also finish on the jump hook from the right side. His shooting touch is good but he lacks the toughness and explosiveness to be a real dominator in the paint on the offensive end. In defense, Birutis was very present as a shot blocker because of his length. However, you could expect him to reject more shots. Despite grabbing 10 rebounds per game, he is not an explosive rebounder and he profited a bit of the presence of Echodas in the paint. Birutis though looks as the more interesting prospect on long term from this team as he has the size for the highest level and an improving skill set.

Stats: 13.3ppg (60.0% 2FGs), 10.0rpg, 1.3bpg, 22.0PIR

Jonathan Jeanne – 2m15 – C – 1997 – INSEP

What a difference a year makes might be the best description for Jonathan Jeanne. Running around the court like a deer and shooting only 3s last year in Belgrade, Jeanne has completely changed his game since and has developed into a legit NBA prospect. Even if he remains quite narrow lacking large shoulders, Jeanne has become more physical which looked quite difficult considering his frame. First of all, he impressed on the defensive end where he is developing some basic rebounding understanding and has become a very good shot blocker. His lateral speed is good as well so that he is a very effective hedge defense player on Pick and Roll situations. Additionally, he is quite a good outlet passer after defensive rebounds which is important for the athletic playing style of INSEP.

On the offensive end, Jeanne’s game has completely changed. He is now working in the low post,  going for some jump hooks with either hand or attacking the rim out of the dribble. He rarely takes a three point shot but he remains dangerous from outside the key which makes him quite difficult to guard. His ball handling is quite good for a player of his size and you could see him attack the hoop from the top of the key after a cross over dribble. He even went for some drive and kick plays which makes him a legit prospect to play on the PF position in the future. A lot will depend on how Jeanne progresses in the future. If his learning curve remains constant to what it has been over the last 12 months, Jeanne can develop into a highly interesting player quickly.

Stats: 14.0ppg ( 57.5% 2FGs – 1/6 3FGs), 7.4rpg, 2.8topg, 2.8bpg, 19.0PIR

Stephane Gombauld – 2m04 – PF – 1997 – INSEP

The years go by and Stephane Gombauld remains more or less the same player, at first sight. Gombauld is still the superbly athletic and long-armed forward who has all the tools to become great. Great rebounder and excellent lateral speed, Gombauld can be a force on the defensive end with his energy level and above the rim play. He floats well to the right spots and is excellent when it comes to hedging on the Pick and Roll or flying into the passing lanes. On Offense though, there seems to be not that much progress as he remains quite effective in the paint but still not a reliable outside threat. However, Gombauld is taking outside shots now with more confidence and it should be a question of time until he can make three-pointers on a regular basis. In the French N1, he is currently at around 30% from behind the arc. Additionally, Gombauld has shown some glimpses of attacking the basket on the dribble and creating some open opportunities for his team mates. The 1997 native remains a really intriguing prospect who can develop into a top level talent if he can improve his outside game. It looks like he is currently making that step and it will be interesting to follow how well that works out in the future.

Stats: 13.3ppg (66.7% 2FGs – 0/5 3FGs), 6.3rpg, 3.0apg, 2.8spg, 3.3topg, 1.5bpg, 19.8PIR

Lukas Kvedaravicius – 2m05 – PF – 1997 – Lietuvos Rytas

It was not a really good tournament for the Lithuanian big but somehow I felt it important to mention him. A 2m05 tall and quite athletically gifted big man is always interesting as he is also capable of shooting from behind the arc. But as his percentages were really bad over the the event, his overall stats do not look that good either. The right handed power forward can attack the basket on the drive from the three point and finish with the foul at the rim. Kvedaravicius can also use his weaker left hand to put the ball on the floor and finish in the paint. He has a good second jump for the put back as well as he is physically interesting.

Stats: 7.7ppg (27.8% 2FGs – 2/13 3FGs), 5.7rpg, 5.0PIR

Alexander Kurbatov – 2m07 – PF – 1997 – CSKA Moscow

If there would be an example of a shooting big man, Alexander Kurbatov would be a good one. The Russian Power Forward player was mainly playing from outside where he could use his nice three point shot to spread the defenses. Slow-footed, Kurbatov does not ooze you with explosive moves in the paint or when putting the ball on the floor. He showed that he can beat an opponent of his size on the dribble but this was more by using a good overall technique than speed. Kurbatov rarely played with his back to the basket and was also only a mediocre rebounder for his size. On the defensive end though, he was quite present as a shot blocker with good positioning and smart decision making.

Stats: 23.3ppg (41.4% 2FGs – 9/18 3FGs), 7.0rpg, 2.0bpg, 25.0PIR

Omer Yurtseven – 2m08 – PF/C – 1998 – Fenerbahce

It was a really dominating performance by Omer Yurtseven at the ANGT in Kaunas so that he was elected into the All-Tournament Team without a surprise. Being a year younger did not hinder him from dominating physically in the paint on both sides of the court. Executing his moves a bit slowly but with great effectiveness, Yurtseven was virtually unstoppable when he got the ball in the low post. The jump hook is his go-to-move at the moment where he can use his large hands to hold the ball in any position and find a good angle for the finish. As he is capable to finish with either hand, Yurtseven showed some impressive moves in the low post changing his finishing hand when he decided to avoid the baseline move and went instead for the middle.

Additionally, Yurtseven showed an improving game facing the basket. He knocked down multiple jump shots from around the key and even went out to the three-point line for the occasional attempt. His mechanics are well oiled but also a bit slow. However, this perfect execution is a guarantee for being that effective on everything the Turkish big guy is doing on the court. As he is such a threat from everywhere on the court, Yurtseven can also attack the close-outs on the dribble with either hand. On the defensive end, Yurtseven was very present with his rebounding but also a great threat as a shot blocker. His nice length and excellent timing make him a superbly interesting talent for the highest level as he has all the tools to become a dominant player on both sides of the court. Maybe still in a growing phase, Yurtseven seems overall like a very mature guy concerning his body language and approach to the game. It will be interesting to see how he develops already over the next twelve months as he has another year in the U18 category ahead of him.

Stats: 24.8ppg (56.6% 2FGs – 1/5 3FGs), 14.8rpg, 3.0bpg, 34.0PIR

Ercan Bayrak – 2m05 – PF – 1997 – Fenerbahce

The Turkish forward was the prototype of the player you have to like already because of his physical profile. Long arms with a large frame, Bayrak runs the court pretty well and has also quite good athletic abilities. Additionally, he is capable the score the ball up to the three-point line and is a great rebounder. He has a good second jump that he uses well for put back situations and he is also a surprising passer for his player type. Next to all these positives, Bayrak needs to develop his ball handling skills in order to become a prospect for the next level. His shooting skills are limited to catch and shoot situations so far as he is not really capable to create his own show out of the dribble but he can put the ball on the floor to attack the hoop. However, this is not his main strength as he prefers to hustle in the paint for second chance opportunities or scores after good passes from his team mates.

Stats: 11.0ppg (57.6% 2FGs – 1/11 3FGs), 7.8rpg, 2.8apg, 12.8PIR

Ahmet Duran – 2m04 – C – 1999 – Fenerbahce

One of the youngest players at the even was the Turkish big guy Ahmet Duran. Born in 1999, Duran has already an impressive physical presence and showed extremely strong rebounding skills. He is though not only a physical force, the 2m04 tall inside player has also a nice shooting touch and will certainly develop a good three-point shot over the next years. A little chubby at the moment, it will be really interesting how Duran’s body develops over the next years. Not the most athletic guy, he has though all the tools to dominate the U16 European Championship this summer with his overall basketball skills and unmatched physique in his age category.

Stats: 7.3ppg (50.0% 2FGs), 7.5rpg, 10.3PIR

Zigmars Raimo – 2m00 – PF – 1997 – VEF Riga

If there would have been an award for the most adorable player, the Latvian Zigmars Raimo would have won it without any problem. Not looking like your usual prospect, Raimo showed however tremendous basketball talent and was more or less the second most important player of his team next to Kurucs. Physically strong but short for playing on the Power Forward position, Raimo excelled with superb court vision and an incredible feel for the game. The Latvian was present in more or less every part of the game scoring the basketball at important moments, rebounding the ball and throwing superb passes. He has a couple of touch pass alley-oops, back-door finds or full court quarterback deliveries of pure beauty. I had so much fun watching him play.

Next to his incredible court-vision, Raimo was however also present in scoring despite his clear limitations as an inside player. He can knock down a three-pointer here and there but it is not his main threat. He likes to attack the hoop and go to the offensive rebound but his overall scoring skills are a bit limited for the highest level. But an incredible will and a great leadership make him a superb player to have on your team. The question on Raimo is about the next steps for his future. He has another year in front of him to finish his school in Latvia and he would certainly be a great asset for some mid-major schools that are running a free-floating motion offense where Raimo can play different positions and contribute.

Stats: 8.8ppg (38.9% 2FGs – 2/7 3FGs), 6.8rpg, 4.5apg, 10.3PIR

Karlis Silins – 2m11 – C – 1997 – VEF Riga

Listed at 2m11 but probably a bit shorter, Karlis Silins was the main inside option for the Latvian team. Silins is not the most explosive player and he even is a bit flat footed as he does not look yet fully comfortable in his body. He sometimes struggles to catch the ball on passes and his moves are not very fluid at the moment. This can all be the result of a growth spurt and should improve over the next months. Mainly used in the low post, Silins has some basic moves that he uses to get open but he struggles on the finish as he lacks strength to impose himself against more physical players. The big guy can also face the basket and take the mid-range jump shot where he showed correct touch. He has though not a real ball-handling in order to beat his man on the dribble. On the defensive side, he is only a mediocre rebounder as he lacks the explosiveness off two feet and the strength to box out his opponents. Because of his length, he can reject some shots as he likes to jump but this puts him also often in foul trouble.

Stats: 13.5ppg (56.8% 2FGs), 6.3rpg, 3.0topg, 1.3bpg, 9.3PIR

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