DraftExpress Overseas Free Agent Rankings: Players 13-24

DraftExpress Overseas Free Agent Rankings: Players 13-24
Dec 29, 2009, 12:29 am
We take a look at the players ranked 13-24 in our overseas free agent rankings, starting with Benetton Treviso combo guard Gary Neal.

Part One: American players who returned to the NBA

Part Two: Players making significant jumps in our rankings

Part Three: European players coming off the list

Part Four, Americans Moving off the Rankings

DraftExpress Overseas Free Agent Rankings: Players 1-12

13 Gary Neal PG/SG
25 years old, 6' 4" 210lbs.
Benetton Treviso

Now in his third season in Europe after an eventful NCAA career, few American guards are thriving as much as Gary Neal is in Italy right now. He leads the league in scoring at over 20 points per game, and is managing to do so in an extremely efficient manner (65% 2P, 37% 3P, 5 FTAs per game) despite shouldering an absolutely massive offensive load for retooling Benetton Treviso.

Neal operates as Benetton's main facilitator and is looking absolutely outstanding creating shots for himself and others on the pick and roll, being arguably the most complete offensive player in that league.

While no one will confuse him with Steve Nash anytime soon, he has improved his playmaking skills substantially while keeping his turnovers to a minimum. Neal is very effective off the dribble and possesses a terrific mid-range game, needing very little space to get his shot off thanks to his quick release and excellent body control, being equally dangerous coming off screens.

Fluid and highly versatile, yet not incredibly explosive, he gets the rim nicely and finishes well around the basket, often opting to dish the ball off to an open teammate cutting to the rim or spotting up if things are looking overly congested in the painted area.

While obviously no NBA team will be giving him the type of Brandon Roy-esqe offensive freedom he's enjoying in Benetton at the moment, it's legitimate to wonder whether he has the talent to translate his very intriguing game back to this side of the ocean. "I'm happy in Europe,” Neal has said in the past, “but of course I'd like to play in the NBA because it's in the United States where it's easier on the family."

The main thing he must work on is his defense, though, as he lacks great size or length and doesn't always appear to be putting in the best effort on this end of the floor, particularly fighting through screens and such, although he is capable of making plays from time to time thanks to his quick feet and solid anticipation skills.

As far as we can tell, Neal has never participated in any NBA summer leagues (even after leading the Turkish league in scoring at 26.5 ppg as a rookie) and was not invited to the NBA pre-draft camp either following his senior year.

Is it time to amend these wrongs and give him a longer look this summer? We absolutely think so. It seems like Neal is open to that too.

“He's game for anything,” his agent David Bauman told us via email. “He'd love to be in NBA, but he won't do it if it means a big financial loss.”

"The key for Gary is he sees basketball as his profession. If he can make a good living in the NBA, he would love to go. But he won't be like many of these players today who will claw and fight in the summer league, turn down good money overseas, just to try to make a roster in October."

"He has come a long way since Towson State and being undrafted. His first job was for $55,000 in a small team in Turkey. He did so well that after 4 months, he was 'traded' to FC Barcelona for big money. He's been blossoming in Treviso for the past two seasons. He is the perfect player for Europe and has adjusted well."

"Gary is a free agent after this season, so everything is possible."

"I remember during Gary's NBA workouts guys like Leo Papile of the Celtics and Tony Ronzone of the Pistons telling me Gary is 'instant offense' for a second unit, aka Flip Murray."

"Having said that, if the right situation presented itself to Gary for the NBA, we're all ears. Otherwise, he knows he will have a long and lucrative career in Europe (similar to the trajectory of our client J.R. Holden and others...)"

14 Ibrahim Jaaber PG
25 years old, 6' 2" 170lbs.
Lottomatica Roma

Jaaber was covered in depth in an article two weeks ago, which can be found here.

15 Novica Velickovic PF
23 years old, 6' 9" 240lbs.
Real Madrid

Since going undrafted in 2008, all Novica Velickovic has done is develop into one of the most promising young forwards in European basketball, first as the leader of overachieving Partizan (who shockingly made the Euroleague quarterfinals) and now as a key cog in Ettore Messina's rotation with Real Madrid.

Velickovic is not the prototype of what the NBA typically looks for at the forward position, as he's a below average athlete who doesn't possess an extraordinary skill level. What he lacks in pure talent he more than makes up for with his smarts, fundamentals and toughness, though, being the all-around glue-guy type that does a little bit of everything out on the floor.

Velickovic is very effective with his back to the basket, showing nice footwork and touch to compliment his aggressiveness and pure grit inside the paint. He can attack his matchup off the dribble a bit, and while he's not what you would call a pure shooter, is capable of spacing the floor and making shots from beyond the arc when called upon.

Velickovic is an extremely efficient offensive player who executes offensively, crashes the boards hard and plays excellent defense, despite not possessing great length or lateral quickness. He reads his matchups well and does a good job of getting his opponent to settle for tough shots, and is not afraid to throw his (still developing) body around in the paint. While Real Madrid likes to use him at the small forward position from time to time in big lineups, there are some question marks about whether he'd be able to do the same in the NBA.

Having signed a three year contract this past summer after Real Madrid paid a big buyout to Partizan, Velickovic probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Another few seasons in top-level Europe surely won't hurt him, though, and if he can find a way to become a real knockdown shooter in the near future, the NBA could be an interesting option for him down the road.

16 Qyntel Woods SF
28 years old, 6' 8" 221lbs.
Asseco Prokom

Woods appears to be slowly finding a home for himself in Poland with Euroleague team based Prokom Trefl. He's an absolute stat-stuffing monster in Europe at the power forward position, putting up huge scoring numbers to go along with impressive rebounding and assists.

With his terrific size, length and athleticism, coupled with the success that many combo forwards in the NBA are enjoying these days, Woods should be ranked much higher than he is on this list. The problem is that he may have burned too many bridges with his off the court antics, which will likely cause some teams to shy away from considering bringing him on board. With that said, he may be ready for a second chance at this point, and on a non-guaranteed contract could end up making some NBA GM look very smart if he's ready to put his past behind him.

17 Travis Watson PF
28 years old, 6' 8" 245lbs.
Zalgiris Kaunas

Watson has never gotten much attention from the NBA, which is a bit surprising considering his physical tools and the way he's produced in the Euroleague over the past few years. He's again leading the Euroleague in rebounding this season, averaging just a hair under 15-boards per-40 minutes pace adjusted, and while he's doing it for a bad team, he's obviously a guy that at the very least deserves an extended look.

Watson fits the mold of your undersized bruiser who likes to mix it up inside and finds a way to get the job done. He has a wide body to go along with a great wingspan, excellent hands and solid athleticism, and while he can look a bit lazy at times getting up and down the floor and competing defensively, you can't argue with the production he brings to the table, as he's also an excellent finisher around the basket.

He's a tough guy who is not afraid to stick his nose in on the offensive glass, and it's possible that in the right role with the added motivation that should come with playing in the NBA, he could be a valuable contributor at the 4/5 spots coming off the bench. He's one of the rare big men on this list who isn't making much more than the NBA minimum, so it's possible that an offer of that nature could be enough to get the job done.

18 Devin Green SG
27 years old, 6' 7" 210lbs.
Olympia Larissa

Not many players can claim to have had as unlikely a career as Devin Green has over the past few years. A last minute invite to the Portsmouth Invitational tournament back in 2005—likely more due to the fact that he went to school down the street at Hampton (of the anonymous MEAC conference, where he played mostly power forward) than because of any real NBA interest—Green shockingly made the Lakers roster the following year and managed to stick all season long.

He spent the next few years alternating between thoroughly dominating the D-League, toiling in NBA summer leagues and training camps, and bouncing around places like Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Ukraine, never really sticking around in one place for very long and likely missing out on establishing himself as a legit NBA player in the process.

Green has regardless looked like an interesting prospect pretty much every time we had a chance to fully evaluate him, as he possesses terrific versatility to go along with a very NBA friendly profile with his excellent physical tools. He can create his own shot effectively, defend multiple positions, make plays for others, and make shots from the perimeter at a good enough rate to wonder why he hasn't gotten another chance.

He's playing in mid-level Greece this season and is clearly one of the better American players in that very competitive league, again making you ponder whether he can't play at a much higher level. He has a reputation for being overly unselfish at times, but is still young and talented enough to get yet another look this upcoming summer, if he hasn't already tired of waiting for the NBA that is.

19 Chris Warren (Bilbao) SG/SF
28 years old, 6' 5" 220lbs.
Bizkaia Bilbao

A very interesting story in his own right that we covered in-depth last year, Warren is the kind of abnormally late-blooming American player you tend to find at times in the European ranks.

He has NBA size, bulk and athleticism, and has shown that he can defend his position, create offense and put the ball in the net at the highest levels of European basketball. That alone should be enough to garner some looks from teams as a potential minimum salary candidate. There is not much to say about the way he's played this season thus far after moving from Avellino in Italy to Bilbao in Spain, as he missed six weeks with an injury and only recently returned to action. A strong season in the ACB may be just what he needs to get him over the hump, especially if he can dispel some of the question marks about his game, particularly his shot-selection and pedestrian shooting percentages.

20 Stephane Lasme PF
27 years old, 6' 7" 213lbs.
Maccabi Tel Aviv

Coming off a phenomenal rookie European season with overachieving Partizan Belgrade, Lasme is settling into a smaller role on a bigger team in Maccabi Tel Aviv. He continues to be an absolute statistical monster on defense, collecting a ridiculous 6 blocks and steals combined per game per-40 minutes adjusted in the Euroleague. He's also a very good offensive rebounder, and does a good job playing within himself, even if he's not much of a factor as a scoring threat. Although he's on the small side at 6-7, there's a chance that he could be a productive player in the mold of Chuck Hayes or Joel Anthony in the right role. The team that initially drafted him—the Golden State Warriors—obviously were never going to be a good fit seeing as they don't value the things he does well.

21 Viktor Khryapa SF/PF
27 years old, 6' 9" 235lbs.
CSKA Moscow

A former first round draft pick who never really found his place in the NBA, Khryapa continues to stake his claim as one of the best forwards in European basketball. In the NBA he was primarily used as a small forward, but he's proven to be much more effective as a face-up four who rebounds, defends and collects garbage offense unselfishly without any plays being run for him. If he were a lights out 3-point shooter (he showed flashes of that last year) he probably never would have left the NBA. He's also been a bit too turnover prone throughout his career, but in a smaller role that likely won't be as much of an issue. Khryapa is one of the highest paid players in European basketball, making 2.5 million Euros net per year, which is at least the equivalent of the NBA's mid-level exception, something that makes it a little difficult to see him coming back to the States anytime soon. On pure talent and versatility though he surely has what it takes.

22 Earl Calloway PG
26 years old, 6' 3" 175lbs.
Cajasol Sevilla

Calloway had a very nice rookie season playing for Euroleague squad Cibona Zagreb last year, and is now garnering excellent experience in the ACB with Cajasol Sevilla, one of the surprise teams of the league at 8-6. He's struggled somewhat making the adjustment to the very disciplined Spanish defenses in the early going, as evidenced by his high turnover-rate and poor 2-point percentages, but has been absolutely lights out from beyond the arc this season. That's a good sign since that hasn't really been the case throughout his career, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep that up. Has terrific size for his position to go along with solid athleticism and is still young at 26 years old, so at the very least he could be a guy to keep in mind as a terrific summer league candidate, if not more than that.

23 Andre Owens SG
27 years old, 6' 4" 200lbs.
Turk Telekom

Owens was covered in depth in an article two weeks ago, which can be found here.

24 Pooh Jeter PG
26 years old, 5' 11" 175lbs.
Hapoel Jerusalem

Jeter is settling in nicely into a feature role with Hapoel Jerusalem after starting off the season coming off the bench for Euroleague team Unicaja Malaga. We may be a bit biased in this case, but in our mind there is no reason not to think that he's right on the cusp of the NBA with his terrific quickness and creativity. He proved as much by being one of the best point guards in summer league playing for Portland. His improved perimeter shooting ability is a major plus, as are his strong intangibles, and his size may not be as much of an issue these days considering the success that many sub-six-foot point guards are having in the NBA right now.

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