This year's edition of the Euro Big Man Camp took place in the La Ghirada Sporting Complex in Treviso. The camp brought together some of the most promising young big men in Europe from ages 16-24 for a three day training session with some of the best coaches in the world. Every single NBA team was represented, and many of the sessions were taught by NBA personnel like Nuggets GM Kiki Vanderweghe, Dallas VP of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson, and former Cleveland and San Antonio player Danny Ferry, among others. Scouts and GMs were on hand along with DraftExpress to watch these young big men show their skills and to analyze their NBA potential.
This camp, combined with the Eurocamp later on in the week has been called the European pre-draft camp in basketball circles, and a dozen international early entrants will be present at both camps to try and up their draft stock. One of the main organizers of the camp and the person who invited us is Pete Philo, a former American player in Europe and the director of International Scouting for Reebok.
The camp itself was organized impeccably, with pretty much everything going smoothly and efficiently, in a way that ensures that these kids get the most out of the fundamental training that the coaches and trainers can offer. Most of the things they worked on were NBA type skills, which gave the scouts a great chance at evaluating how these players might be able to fit in eventually on an NBA team.
During these training sessions the players were put through drills like shooting the ball from different spots on the court positions, executing basic offensive and defensive schemes, playing in transition and post moves. At the end of the last day the players were split into four teams to play twenty minute long full court basketball games.
(7-5, 300 pounds, 1985)
Pavel's name is now well known to die-hard NBA fans. He came out from nowhere this time last year with an extremely impressive workout in front of many NBA GM's in Chicago. The word spread like wildfire and he was projected by analysts as a top 10 pick, before surprisingly pulling out his name from the draft after failing to receive a high enough guarantee in the lottery.
During the following year he didn't get much playing time for his team, the Varese Roosters, or at least as much as expected considering how highly regarded he was by some in the States. DraftExpress' director of international scouting, Luis Fernandez chronicled his struggles and analyzed his progression in THIS detailed article after the ULEB quarter-finals.
In these past few days, DraftExpress had the chance to watch him go up against players his age instead of in limited playing time against pro veterans. Pavel confirmed the good and the bad things you've probably heard about him by now, while showing some decent improvement from last year, but not necessarily in the areas that NBA teams would like to see.
First of all the most evident and obvious thing is, this guy is huge and has impressive mobility considering his size. He got up and down the floor swiftly and gracefully and moved very well in all directions. He hasn't lost any of his amazing athletic ability over the past year.
During the shooting drills Pavel showed a very soft hand, showing the ability to consistently hit the jumper from everywhere on the floor. Pavel is a true workout warrior, but this doesn't seem to show much in real games. He really knocked some socks off with his guard-like smoothness and ability to shoot off the dribble at 7-5, but major questions still remain about how these skills will translate to the NBA? This is the kind of stuff you look for out of your small forward or shooting guard, not your 7-5 center.
And that's exactly where his weakness lies. His big man skills. His footwork in the post is still somewhat poor and effective, he will score points and block shots based on his size and mobility, but he hasn't been taught how to use his body effectively at all, especially on the glass, where he lacks timing and positioning. He looks very lost at times, especially on defense, often caught off guard and just isn't the shotblocking threat you would expect out of a guy his size. Since his offense is especially raw at this point in his career, defensively is where you would like to see him earn his paycheck. And he's just not there yet. Like many players his age, his intensity wavers off and on from being extremely energetic and upbeat, while doing almost everything on the floor, to looking immature and even apathetic at times.
The best thing about Pavel's game is that he does not shy away from contact and has no problem being physical. He will bang in the post, go after rebounds and be super aggressive when going after shots. If he can learn how to use that part of his game more efficiently, along with learning the little nuances of the game that he sorely lacks, the sky is the limit for him as he continues to develop. It's not hard to imagine that coming down the road, but it will take a while. He has incredible talent, but he doesn't seem to know what his role is still. Some good and patient coaching will be needed, which is why he really needs to land in the right situation for him to reach his full potential.
At the end of the last day's morning session, there was an interesting competition: the players were divided into two teams, to simulate 3 on 3 fast breaks. After a few minutes the losing team would have had to do ten push-ups. In this exercise Pavel didn't look very good, he used his size near the basket but he was handling the ball too much and committed some dumb turnovers looking for the spectacular pass. His reaction was somewhat telling when his team lost three times in a row. The first time we counted six push-ups from him. The second he just pretended to do the pushups, moving his butt up and down. The third time he tried to hide himself to avoid the small punishment. Pavel is a really funny character, and it's not hard to see why people around him like him so much. He will fit in right away in an NBA locker-room setting, on the court though, you have to wonder how serious he is and where exactly the jokes end. He is a huge project, and he'll have to work incredibly hard his first few seasons to get meaningful playing time. We're not sure if this will be a huge concern, but it's something to think about. Another concern for GM's come draft day will be his health issues, his Pituitary gland which still has not been removed despite what was said last year and he is still taking medication for. Since we don't really know the full details about his condition and how that may effect his draft situation, we'll leave that up to his doctors and the GM's to decide.
(7-3, 230, 1986)
(7-3, 217, 1987)
(6-11, 226, 1984, 25 inch vertical)
(6-11, 238, 1982)
Very athletic, a high energy guy. Much more mature than anyone else because of his age, and provided a good barometer to evaluate other players by. Automatically eligible this year for the draft, and may have impressed the scouts enough to warrant a late 2nd round pick because of his physical characteristics. Excellent shotblocker and an impressive shooter. Good body and nice skill set even though it might not have been the best situation to analyze him for the first time. There was a good amount of chatter about him in the gym, he was always considered somewhat of a wasted project in his homeland of Spain, but he may just be a late bloomer. Decent stats in limited playing time in Italy: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks in 14 minutes per game. Might be a nice guy to draft at the end of the 2nd and stash overseas for a few years hoping he will continue to develop.
(6-11, 230 pounds, Croatia, 1986)