European Prospects

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NIJT London 2013: the Wings

May 28th, 2013 · No Comments

In our second part of the Nike International Junior Tournament review, we will talk about the wing players. Here again, the reports might not go into much details because of the schedule and some players have already been analyzed during the NIJT in Belgrade.

Alberto Abalde – 1m95 – SG/SF – 1995 – Joventut Badalona

Alberto Abalde was a deserved MVP of the NIJT event in London as he was probably the most explosive scorer of the tournament. The 1m95 tall SG was however more than just a scoring threat as he was did his job in sharing the basketball in well-oiled team chemistry but also grabbing nearly 6 rebounds per game. First of all, Abalde does not have an outstanding basketball body as you can see sometimes in such events. He is built like most of the Spanish guards in quite a long way with good wingspan. You could see a young Rudy Fernandez is his body structure but he is not a leaper like the current Real Madrid player.

When it comes to Abalde’s game, you see first of all a player who is able to create his shot at will on this level. Is it out of Pick and Roll situations, off the ball in catch and shoot fashion or the classical pull-up jumper out of the drive, Abalde showed all of these moves and this with superb field goal percentage. His mechanics are quite rapid without being lightning quick though and he has a good elevation on his shot. He can also attack the basket and finish with contact as he has an excellent body control and good technique. On the negative side though is that he seems to hate his left hand for the finishes as he avoids it all cost going for tough right handed layups coming from left or even doing the up and under move when a left handed layup would have been easier.

When we speak about Abalde, we do not really have an NBA prospect though. So don’t count on him filling any of the NBA’s slots in the future. Even if his speed looks good, the lack of high-level athleticism and an improvable ball handling might be some issues that will take away a big time career from the Spanish guard whose sister played in the WNBA. On the other hand, you also have to add that Abalde was shooting with extremely high percentages throughout the event in London which might have put him in a better light that he actually is. But he will certainly become a good ACB player down the road if he can stabilize his shot on the current level and become a little tougher on the defensive end.

Stats: 17.8ppg (60.6% 2FGs – 50.0% 3FGs), 5.8rpg, 2.3apg

Jose Nogues – 2m02 – PF/SF – 1995 – Joventut Badalona

Another major part of the Joventut success was the wiry wing player Jose Nogues. Playing a bit of both forward positions with a clear tendency for the PF spot, Nogues has however seen some minutes on the 3 which should become his future position on the professional level. However, during the minutes we saw him as SF, he was by far less effective than on the PF spot where he could beat his defenders with his speed and shooting skills. Nogues is quite a long but not very large player who runs the floor very well and is doing a good job on the fast break.

Even if the overall impression on Nogues was good, when you look into the details, there are some issues with his game. The three-point shot of the 2m02 tall player is not very stable as his arm is always fading a bit away when taking the shot. His speed is good in the open space but he struggles to beat his defender with a quick first step. He lacks a bit of explosiveness too but is overall a good jumper. Nogues needs to improve his technical skills in order to become a full-time Small Forward in the future. He might develop into a poor-man’s Victor Claver if he can add the necessary physicality to his game which will probably be tough as Nogues’ frame is not looking great in order to add some bulk.

Stats: 15.0ppg (50.0% 2FGs – 23.1% 3FGs), 4.8rpg

Mario Hezonja – 1m98 – SG/SF – 1995 – FC Barcelona

Mario Hezonja was certainly the most talented player of the tournament. The Croatian prospect has superb size for the SG position, excellent athletic abilities and an overall great technique. But his tournament was a total mess from a personal point of view. Disastrous shot selection and a questionable attitude marked his game which is not a major surprise when you have seen him play already before where mood changes were nearly as present as glimpses of superstar talent. Hezonja showed what kind of potential he has by doing some spectacular things like left handed floaters or finding his team mates on the great pass but on the other hand, he could never take over his team as a leader as you could expect it from such a talent. Nevertheless, it is probably only a question of time until Hezonja will establish himself as one of the top players in Europe, if his mind can follow his talent.

Stats: 4.7ppg (33.3% 2FGs – 11.1% 3FGs), 4.3rpg, 2.7apg

Marc Garcia – 1m97 – SF – 1996 – FC Barcelona

When Hezonja was probably the guy on the Barcelona roster who made the least out of his talent, Marc Garcia was the clear opposite. Scouts, if you look for a corner three specialist, this is your player. Marc Garcia had a shooting percentage on corner threes that was probably close to 70% during the NIJT in London. His overall shooting was great from behind the arc but you had the feeling that he could not miss from his favorite spots. His jumper is very fluid and executed with great speed in both catch-and-shoot but also out of the dribble where he can come up with the step-back three for example. Due to his excellent shooting from outside, defenses closed out hard on him so that he had to put the ball on the floor at times.

When attacking the basket, Garcia was less effective as he is quite thin and not build to score with the contact. His moves are fluid but his ball handling is not better than correct. His overall technique though is good to protect the ball when driving but he has physical limitations that prevent him from being a high-level prospect. However, with his qualities as a corner-three point threat, Garcia will certainly have a very nice future in a more and more stats-driven future.

Stats: 17.5ppg (37.5% 2FGs – 54.5% 3FGs), 3.8rpg

Adria Catenys – 1m99 – SF/PF – 1995 – FC Barcelona

Adria Catenys was some kind of do-it-all forward for the Catalans. The lanky player was doing a major job on the defensive end where he often took care of the best scoring wing while also being very present in rebounding. Quite athletic and a good runner, Catenys excelled as a wing on the fastbreak to sprint up the court for the finish. He also scored some nice back-door plays, also as alley-oop. Catenys was also able to come up with the occasional three-point shot and was very effective in all the little aspects of the game. Catenys was the ideal complement to Marc Garcia on the wing as he took care of the parts of the game that Garcia was not that present. The question is how good can both players be on their own, the future will tell us.

Stats: 11.8ppg (50.0% 2FGs – 35.7% 3FGs), 7.0rpg

Nedim Buza – 2m01 – PF/SF – 1995 – OKK Spars Sarajevo

The elegant wing from the Spars Sarajevo team looked to me as the most interesting prospect of their big three. Good mobility and a very sweet shot are the main characteristics of the 1995 born wing. He had to play a lot of minutes on the PF position though but his natural future destination should normally be the 3 spot. He has excellent mechanics in catch-and-shoot situations and can hit the ball from everywhere on the court. His ball handling though needs to be improved especially on his left hand if he wants to become a full-time SF.

Stats: 12.3ppg (40.0% 2FGs – 40.0% 3FGs), 8.3rpg

Damien Inglis – 1m99 – SF – 1995 – INSEP

After dominating the NIJT in Belgrade, Damien Inglis came back to earth in London with games more in line with what we knew from him before. Less ball dominant and way less effective, Inglis tried to take over the leadership role as he did in Belgrade but he simply could not. His outside shot was not falling so that the defenses could sink down on him which did not allow him to pass his defender as his first step is not really great. Inglis was also less effective in his passing as he could not force the defense coming for the help as he simply could not get by his defender and provoke that kind of situation. With his level being down, the whole team was playing less effective as a large part of the INSEP offense was built around him.

Stats: 11.0ppg (56.3% 2FGs – 21.4% 3FGs), 5.7rpg, 2.7apg

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