Petro's biggest strengths at the moment relate to his physical attributes, which put him in a class of his own in this year's draft class.
Petro has great size and an outstanding body for a 19 year old, being ready to come in and get minutes right off the bat and take the pounding that NBA big men dish out after some minor work in the weight room. His frame is excellent and is ready to put on about as much muscle as he'll need in the NBA. His wingspan is very good as well, and he already knows how to use it quite well to intimidate around the basket.
Athletically, he moves extremely well for a 7 footer, running the floor quickly, fluidly and with good coordination. He has somewhat of a laid-back demeanor to him, but when he wants to, he can certainly get up off the floor, on both ends around the basket. He's not Amare Stoudemire or anything like that, but he'll definitely be considered one of the more athletic 7 footers in the league almost right off the bat. The ease in which he moves around the court is particularly impressive, he's mobile moving both east to west and north-south, and can show on the pick and roll and then get right back to his place in the post.
Offensively, Petro relies mainly on a lethal baby hook shot, which is clearly his best asset in the paint. It's pretty hard to block as he performs it swiftly off the dribble and fluidly, sometimes off a quick spin move, but with a very soft touch. He is adding range to his shot (out to about 14 feet), mostly from the baseline or from various positions around the post (although no bank shot at all), but he has room to improve here still. Through his hard work, Petro has become a very good free throw shooter for a 7 footer, going from 46% two years ago at the line, to 50% last year, and up to 72% this year in the French league and 75% in the Euroleague. He has the footwork and quickness to beat his matchup in the paint and enjoys attacking the rim, not being soft at all and having no problem taking contact around the basket. He has a decent handle for a player his size, although he does not use that much because of his role on the floor.
On the defensive end, his size, wingspan and athletic ability make him very intimidating around the basket. He has very good lateral quickness, which allows him to stay in front of his man in the paint. He used to be incredibly foul prone, and although he still has trouble with this occasionally, he has reduced the amount of unnecessary fouls he commits drastically this year, showing that he is coachable and able to learn from his mistakes. The fact that he is a physical player that likes to bang (allow the refs rarely let him), along with his excellent physical attributes, should tell you that he has a future on the defensive end in the NBA.
Considering his age (he'll only turn 20 mid-way through all-star weekend next season, being younger than both Robert Swift and Gerald Green), size, frame and athleticism, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that he has a big upside to improve. He's already a much better player than he was last year when he entered the draft.
Rebounding seems to be his biggest flaw right now, he just doesn't have very good fundamentals when it comes to boxing out his man and establishing position, although he has all the physical tools needed to excel here. Part of that will come with better coaching, but he also lacks a certain degree of fire to his game, not always looking like he is giving 100% and fading from time to time in terms of his intensity on the court. His motor isn't bad, he just loses his focus at times and makes youthful mistakes, something that hopefully he will improve on as he continues to mature.
Defensively, he can block shots due to his size, wingspan and leaping ability, but still needs to improve his timing and court awareness a bit, as well as using his body better to stay out of foul trouble. Man to man, he uses his hands a little too much, which is where a lot of his fouls come from, but he shouldn't have a problem getting better here with good coaching and experience because he can move his feet quite well.
Offensively, like most athletic teenage 7 footers he is still a bit limited besides simple moves like the catch and dunk and an excellent little baby hook shot. His footwork could stand to improve and he would benefit from adding more moves to his arsenal in the paint. He has all the physical attributes in the world to be a dominating player inside the paint, but needs to learn how to use them better.
Overall his feel for the game is not off the charts. He struggles at times with set plays in the half court offense, like on pick and rolls for examples. His improvement has been slower than expected the last two years mainly due to a lack of playing time. Sometimes his team will give him big minutes and he'll be very productive, and sometimes he'll come in for a few minutes at a time or won't play at all.
Petro started playing basketball competitively at the age of 13. He was recruited by the French academy INSEP (home of Tony Parker, Ronny Turiaf and many others) from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (home of Mickael Pietrus and others), a French colony where he played from 2000-2003.
Petro signed with Pau-Orthez, one of the leading teams in France, in 2003 and was played sparingly in his first season. He was named to the All-European Junior Championships team (see: Centers of Attention article in links section) last summer with a big game against Italy for the Bronze Medal
This past season Petro became a solid rotation player and even started at times, being a little bit inconsistent in terms of minutes played and production, but still having some fine games even in the Euroleague. The French league is considered a second tier league in Europe, just behind Spain, Italy and maybe Greece, but right there in the mix amongst the best leagues in the continent after those. It's an extremely athletic league that resembles the NBA (in terms of tempo and style of play, not talent) more than any other domestic competition in the world.
Petro declared last year for the draft and despite being considered a lock for the first round and even supposedly garnering a promise from the Nuggets at #21, he withdrew to develop for one more year in Europe and earn a lottery selection.
This year he has declared once again, and while some experts have pegged his stock in the mid twenties, NBA teams feel that there is no shot at him falling past the teens considering his physical attributes and upside. Athletic 7 foot teenagers with budding skills usually don't stay on the board that long. His range appears to be from about 7-20.