European Prospects

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Adidas Next Generation Kaunas 2015: the Wings

February 28th, 2015 · No Comments

In the second part of your report on the Adidas Next Generation Tournament, we will talk about the best wing players which include Rodions Kurucs, Richard Freudenberg and Bathiste Tchouaffé among others.

Arnoldas Kulboka – 2m02 – SF/SG – 1998 – Zalgiris Kaunas

The Lithuanian forward did not play many minutes after the first game because of a slight injury. However, he cold show some very interesting things knowing that he was a year younger than the competition. The long forward who can also potentially play as Shooting Guard on the next level moves really well on the court and displays great fluidity. He can shoot the ball particularly well, especially in catch and shoot situations. Kulboka does not jump very high off the ground when he is going for a pull-up jumper but his length allows him to have a good release point. When he is defended by smaller players, he can bring the ball to the low post and score with his back to the basket. All in all, Kulboka looks like a highly interesting prospect who unfortunately did not play many more minutes in the games that I attended.

Stats: 6.8ppg (41.7% 2FGS – 4/7 3FGs), 3.8rpg, 9.5PIR

Richard Freudenberg – 2m02 – SF – 1998 – Bayern Munich

It was a tough tournament for Richard Freudenberg who never really could dominate a game as you might have expected. The German wing struggled to get good shooting opportunities as all the defenses were focused on him. He could not develop his mid-range game on a regular basis and was not really lucky from behind the arc. Nevertheless, it was good to see how he played against strong competition being used mainly as a SF or even a PF which is out of position for him. First of all, his shot remains his main strength as it is technically well executed and Freudenberg can create the necessary space to get open at will. With his good fakes and a nice first step, he can beat the defender on the dribble but he rarely goes all the way to the basket and he even struggles to finish at the rim at moments despite good athletic abilities. As his shot was not falling, Freudenberg shared the ball a lot with his team mates and rarely forced offensive actions.

Out of the drive, he went for good kick out passes on a regular basis for example. He also recognized well who is defending him so that he went to the post to score with his back to the basket but using mostly some turn around jump shot. On the defensive end, Freudenberg was probably a bit over-helping which implied him being late on his assignments. His above average shot blocking skills for a wing player remain impressive even if he does not force these actions and still rejected a couple of shots per game. Being a good rebounder is another part that makes him a very valuable asset on both sides of the court. It will be interesting what are the next steps for the 1998 born prospect who has yet another year of eligibility for the Adidas Next Generation Tournament. After having only played the U16 competition underage, Freudenberg should be a member of the U18 National Team this summer already.

Stats: 14.3ppg (44.4% 2FGs – 2/8 3FGs), 8.0rpg, 2.3spg, 4.0topg, 2.0bpg, 17.0PIR

Bathiste Tchouaffé – 1m96 – SF/SG – 1998 – INSEP

The French wing underlined again that he can be considered as one of the most promising prospects of his generation as he combines great physical and basketball skills. Even if his shot is not fully stable yet, he can knock down shots from all around the court with a relatively quick execution. Still very young, he has some time to stabilize his mechanics which will make him a very dangerous player in the future. He is particularly effective from the corner in catch and shoot situations but he can create his jump shot out of the dribble. He likes to do this from the mid-range territory even if his movements look a bit shaky which can though be explained by his long arms.

Tchouaffé is very good in attacking the close-outs and he can go all the way to the hoop where he surprisingly is mostly finishing on a layup and not a dunk. His athletic abilities should improve with his age and he will most likely develop into an above the rim finisher quite soon. On the defensive end, Tchouaffé has all the tools to become a real stopper. His wingspan is helping him already a lot and he has a great feel for the passing lanes in order to initiate the transition. His quick feet make him also a good 1-1 defensive player and his lateral speed is there to play against smaller guards as well. Tchouaffé might live a bit from his early grown physique but he can certainly grow bigger over the next year in order to become a real physical specimen for the highest level. The skills are there already and with a constant development, Tchouaffé should be ready for the next level relatively quickly.

Stats: 15.8ppg (33.3% 2FGs – 11/25 3FGs), 4.8rpg, 3.0spg, 1.5topg, 15.0PIR

Krystof Chaloupka – 2m00 – SF – 1997 – USK Prague

The Czech forward was the only player on his team next to Ondrej Sehnal to be a constant scoring threat. Chaloupka was consistent from behind the arc in catch and shoot situations and showed that he can also attack the close out and finish at the rim. However, his overall shooting percentages inside the arc were bad. He moves well without the ball to get into good shooting positions which is his main strength. Chaloupka should be a player who can be used as a stretch four as he has undeniable outside shooting skills but he needs to improve his ball handling and mid-range game in order to have a chance to become a serious factor on the professional level.

Stats: 12.3ppg (30.4% 2FGs – 7/12 3FGs), 6.0rpg, 4.7topg, 7.0PIR

Arnas Berucka – 1m96 – SF/SG – 1997 – Lietuvos Rytas

Arnas Berucka was one of the better defensive players of the event. The Lithuanian wing was very present and made life very hard for anyone of his opponents. He was very quick on his feet in order to stay in front of his opponent and not afraid either if he had to guard a taller wing like Rodions Kurucs for example. Berucka was also very present as a defensive rebounder with good timing, positioning and correct athletic abilities. On the offensive end, Berucka was mainly used as a shooter and transition player. His jump shot was not always in balance which had an impact on his percentages but he was not the main guy on the offensive end either. Probably not a top level prospect, Berucka should be able to fulfill a role player job on the professional level in the future.

Stats: 8.3ppg (44.4% 2FGs – 3/10 3FGs), 5.7rpg, 1.7spg, 10.3PIR

Verners Kohs – 2m04 – SF/PF – 1997 – VEF Riga

Verners Kohs was a very effective option for VEF Riga that could be used on both forward positions because of his great size and shooting abilities. The long Latvian was quite effective from the three-point line both in catch and shoot and pull-up situations. His shooting mechanics are well developed and executed at a good speed. He also remained in balance when taking the shot after running at full speed in transition. Kohs moves well without the ball and glides to the right spots on the floor. He is not only dangerous from behind the arc but he can also attack the basket. Kohs finished his drives either at the rim or he used different mid-range options like the floater or the running hook. He lacks though a bit the necessary toughness to finish stronger in the paint. Overall, the 1997 born prospect can be considered an interesting player for the future as he combined good athletic abilities with size and skills.

Stats: 12.5ppg (52.6% 2FGs – 9/22 3FGs), 5.0rpg, 12.0PIR

Rodions Kurucs – 2m06 – SF – 1998 – VEF Riga

The Latvian forward was extremely impressive during the days in Kaunas. Despite being a year younger than his opponents, Kurucs dominated the game with ease and even doing this without forcing at all. With his size, length and speed, Kurucs can play both forward positions and can even handle the ball on a guard spot if the team wanted to play really big. Kurucs also has top level athletic abilities and the baseline drive from the corner that was finished with a two handed dunk was one of his trademark moves during the Adidas Next Generation Tournament. When he attacked the basket, he could also go for the mid-range jump shot or the perfect pass out of the dribble. His body stability is great for such a young player and this allows him to score against bigger guys in the paint. He can also post up against smaller players in the low post and he can finish from there either on the strong move to the basket or the turn around jump shot.

His overall shooting mechanics are excellent, always straight up in the air with a high release point and technically well executed. This makes him a dangerous player from around the three-point line. Therefore, players have to close out on him which he can use to attack the basket with his long steps very effectively. Kurucs is not only a good shooter in catch-and-shoot situations, he can also create the necessary space with his dribble. He has a good three point shot also after a crossover drive using the Pick and Roll or as a step back. On the defensive end, Kurucs has good lateral speed so that he is not in trouble when he has to defend against smaller players. With his length, he is a good presence in the defensive rebound as well. Additionally, he is superb shot blocker with his timing and athletic abilities and long arms so that he can be used well as a weak side help defender. One of the most impressive parts of his game is the way how he approaches the games. The 1998 born forward is not selfish at all, likes to share the ball and displays a very positive attitude at all moments.

Stats: 17.8ppg (78.6% 2FGs – 6/17 3FGs), 5.5rpg, 2.3apg, 3.3spg, 3.3topg, 2.8bpg, 24.5PIR