European Prospects

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U19 World Championship 2013: the Big Guys

July 27th, 2013 · No Comments

Better later than never is the motto for this post as it describes the post players of the U19 World Championship 2013 in Prague. Here again, we only covered the European and Australian players from the games that we have seen.

Nikola Milutinov – 2m13 – C – 1994 – Serbia

One of the few seven-footers in the tournament, Nikola Milutinov was also one of the biggest prospects in this age group. Very long and mobile, Milutinov first of all runs the court really well and has tremendous hands which is already a good start for a Center. He is doing a great job in sprinting the court in transition and he can finish quite well as a trailer in these situations. Mainly used in Pick and Roll plays, Milutinov is an excellent roller who can finish strong with the dunk but also stop outside the key for the short jump shot or hook. Not often given the ball in the low post, Milutinov though showed that he can come up with the occasional back-to-the-basket play where he was a preference for the jump hook.

Milutinov is not a superb rebounder or shot blocker but he is having a good vertical presence with his length and good jumping abilities. A play that underlined his potential was an offensive rebound which he grabbed to be followed by a 180 degree pivot move to finish with a strong one-handed dunk over the defender. This is the kind of situation that gives you an indication how high the ceiling is for Milutinov as he has a good shooting touch around the key as well so that he can be used in various ways in the future. The 2m13 tall player started several games for Partizan Belgrade in the Euroleague which shows as well how high the coaches in Serbia see him. With some more experience, especially on the defensive end, Milutinov is certainly a player that is on the NBA Radar already and should climb up some Draft boards over the next season.

Stats: 10.7ppg (57.8% 2FGs), 5.9rpg, 0.8bpg

Nikola Jankovic – 2m03 – PF – 1994 – Serbia

Nikola Jankovic did a tremendous job with the Serbian team in Prague as a Power Forward. Quite versatile to be used, Jankovic can post up players of his size and finish with two or three different back-to-the-basket moves like the jump hook or a drop step. Jankovic also can play from outside putting the ball on the floor and beat his man on the drive, even with his left hand. However, still his jump shot is not falling from out side the key which limits his future development. This comes through as well on the free-throw line where Jankovic struggles to be regular.

The main strength of the Serbian player who will be on the roster of Verviers-Pepinster next season in Belgium is his offensive rebounding and finishing in the paint. There are not many players on his level that are that effective grabbing offensive boards and finishing them immediately with the contact. It has been an issue for several years already but if Jankovic can work on his shot to become more secure, he has the potential to play on a very good level and even with him being undersized, he still continues to be a force in the paint when growing older.

Stats: 11.2ppg (52.6% 2FGs), 7.1rpg

Nikola Jokic – 2m09 – PF/C – 1995 – Serbia

Tremendously talented and one year younger than the other players, Nikola Jokic improved over the tournament getting used to the level and showing his great variety of skills to the whole world. Playing often as a PF with his 2m09 tall and strong frame, Jokic showed that he can do his job as a Pick and Pop player as well as being present in the low post. Gifted with great hands and a nice shooting touch, Jokic looked to be the most talented of the three Serbian Nikola’s playing in the paint. Still quite young to the game, the potential of Jokic looks exciting as he has all the tools he needs to develop into a great prospect down the road.

Stats: 7.1ppg (67.9% 2FGs – 30.8% 3FGs), 5.0rpg

Denis Krestinin – 2m00 – PF – 1994 – Lithuania

The Lithuanian forward did a good job in Prague in his role as rebounder. Not gifted with a great scoring talent, Krestinin is constantly attacking the glass to grab rebounds on both ends of the floor. Not really boxing out perfectly, the 2m00 tall energizer goes more for the ball than for his man but his good athletic possibilities help him to play that way. The 1994 born player has a good body, he is quite long with good arms but not much developed physically. He is also quite quick of his feet which helps him to be a good shot blocker. Offensively, Krestinin is a bit limited as his jump shot around the key is not very regular. Additionally, his ball handling does not allow him to play from outside so that he is stuck in his PF role on this level.

Stats: 5.2ppg (53.1% 2FGs), 5.4rpg, 1.1bpg

Martinas Geben – 2m06 – PF/C – 1994 – Lithuania

A player that has not been known that much in Europe so far as he is playing High School Basketball in the US, Martinas Geben showed an interesting skillset during this U19 World Championship. The 2m06 tall inside player has a good shooting touch and can knock down jumpers around the key or even from behind the three-point line. Displaying a good size and a physical built that is promising, Geben can develop into an interesting PF player for the future as he has some basic ball handling as well that gives him the possibility to beat slower defenders of the dribble. Athletically, he is decent for European level with a good and quick second jump which helps him a lot in offensive rebounding situations. Playing in the US should help him to secure a mid-major spot in the Class of 2014 as hs versatility and size are definitely assets on this level.

Stats: 5.8ppg (53.2% 2FGs), 5.2rpg

Guillermo Hernangomez – 2m09 – C – 1994 – Spain

Growing stronger and more mature, Hernangomez looks more and more like a young copy of Felipe Reyes without his struggling from the free-throw line. Doing a good job in the low post, Hernangomez is developing more and more his jump shot around the key and I would not be surprised if he starts shooting from behind the arc in the future. The 2m09 tall Real player is really effective in the paint where not many players have his physical presence at this level. He can finish with either hand from close and is excelling to put the ball into the basket with contact. Out of the low post, he has also improved in the face up game where he can come up with brilliant fakes to catch his defender in bad positions. The big Spanish inside player underlined in Prague that he will be the dominant post player for the National over the next decade.

Stats: 10.9ppg (67.7% 2FGs), 5.4rpg

Sebastian Saiz – 2m02 – PF/C – 1994 – Spain

What a tournament this has been for Sebastian Saiz. After a year in the United States, Saiz has developed a really big body in the last twelve months and he was one of the most dominating inside players with a relentless work in the paint. Saiz has a great wingspan and is one of the most effective offensive rebounders of his generation. He has a tremendous feel for grabbing the boards and his explosiveness helps him to outjump some of his opponents. Not very tall with his 2m02, his wingspan helps him though to play a lot bigger in a Kyle Hines style that you rarely see in Europe. Really undersized for the Center position, he was nevertheless the perfect rotation for Hernangomez.

When Saiz is a super energizer on both ends of the court with his rebounding screens and defense, the future Ole Miss player needs though to work on his shooting touch. His jump shot is not very effective and he does not use it that much at the moment. Also, Saiz sometimes struggles to finish from close as he is so energetic that he loses the focus on his finishes. After developing his body and explosiveness over the last season, Saiz should work on his pure basketball technique over the next years so that he can become a high-level prospect as next step.

Stats: 9.6ppg (55.4% 2FGs), 9.4rpg

Nicholas Duncan – 2m01 – PF – 1995 – Australia

Not your typical basketball body, Nicholas Duncan reminds me of a younger version of the former New Zealand National team player Pero Cameron. Short and large to not use other words, Duncan displays a fantastic energy on the court and gives his team a push on both sides. Defensively, he can put a lot of pressure on forwards playing them from outside as he has a surprising lateral speed despite his body. He boxes out very well and goes hard for rebounds from which he can push the ball up the court occasionally with 1 or 2 quick dribbles. Offensively, Duncan is relying on two moves mainly. First there is the catch-and-shoot three point shot where he was superbly effective during the days in Prague. The execution is not lightning quick but the technique is there. Next to that, he likes to post up his defender where he can use his superior physical presence to back down in the low post and finish with some kind of no-jump hook once in the middle of the lane. Duncan is really a no non-sense player who should have some immediate impact for the College team Boise State where he will play next season.

Stats: 9.8ppg (52.1% 2FGs – 55.0% 3FGs), 5.2rpg

Dane Pineau – 2m03 – PF – 1994 – Australia

Physically, Dane Pineau is more or less the opposite of Nicholas Duncan as the Australian forward has a great long body with a good wingspan and excellent athletic and running abilities. On the other hand, the game of Pineau does not differ that much from Duncan as he is either scoring close to the basket or shooting from behind the arc in catch-and-shoot situations. The 2m03 tall forward is doing also a good job as swing passer from the top of the key from where he also likes to put the ball on the floor here and there. His speed allows him to do that but his limited ball handling skills are reducing his promise as a driver. Unfortunately, Pineau had his worst game in the semi-final where he missed nearly all of his attempts from close where he is normally very effective. Defensively, Pineau is excellent as his lateral speed is really good for a player of his size and he is ferocious rebounder. He can stay next to his man on the drive without any problem and can also come up with the shot block from behind.

Stats: 11.8ppg (43.8% 2FGs – 53.8% 3FGs), 9.0rpg, 1.3bpg

Jonah Bolden – 2m04 – SF/PF – 1996 – Australia

The probably biggest prospect next to Exum in the Australian roster was the athletic swingman Jonah Bolden. The 1996 born forward did not play much but he showed tremendous potential in the few minutes he spent on the court. Bolden first of all has a NBA body to work with over the next years with elite athleticism for the SF position. His ball handling looks quite interesting as he is able to put the ball on the floor and push it hard on the break. Next to that, he has also quite interesting shooting touch and he is also a gifted passer. Still two years younger than the competition, Bolden should develop into a dominating force over the next two years until he graduates and can move to play College Basketball on the high-major level.

Stats: 2.6ppg (58.3% 2FGs), 2.9rpg, 0.7bpg

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