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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
21 Viktor Khryapa SF/PF
27 years old, 6' 9" 235lbs.
22 Earl Calloway PG
26 years old, 6' 3" 175lbs.
23 Andre Owens SG
27 years old, 6' 4" 200lbs.
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.