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NBA Basketball Without Borders Europe Camp Top Prospects

NBA Basketball Without Borders Europe Camp Top Prospects
Sep 12, 2016, 12:11 pm
Scouting reports and interviews on six of the top prospects seen at the NBA Basketball Without Borders Europe Camp in Finland this past week, including Isaac Bonga, Nikola Miskovic, Kristian Sjolund, Onuralp Bitim, Goga Bitadze and Philipp Herkenhoff.

Isaac Bonga, 6'9", PG/SF, 16.8 years old, Frankfurt, Germany

Strengths
-Has tremendous size for any perimeter position, having measured 6'9 in shoes
-Body is underdeveloped but has significant potential to continue to improve. May be able to increase his athleticism significantly in turn
-Big hands and very long arms
-Rangy and fluid athlete who operates at different speeds. Has long strides operating downhill
-Spent quite a few minutes at the point guard position and looked comfortable doing so
-Extremely effective taking rebounds off the defensive glass and igniting the fast break
-Has a highly advanced feel for the game for someone his age
-Plays with a calm and mature demeanor
-Creative and unselfish passer who regularly makes highlight reel caliber plays seeing over the top of the defense. Finds teammates sprinting the floor in full stride with pinpoint passes for layups
-Shows solid touch from the perimeter. Regularly makes 3-pointers. Throws the ball in the basket when left open despite his unconventional mechanics.
-Already a highly versatile and effective defender with the potential to develop into a huge threat on this end of the floor.
-Likes to play defense and has incredible tools to do so thanks to his size, length, instincts and competitiveness. Covers ground extremely well. Gets in a stance, moves his feet and can pressure the ball
-Racks up blocks, steals and rebounds at a very impressive rate.

Weaknesses
-Not overly explosive vertically. More fluid than anything. How much more athletic will he get in time?
-Misses more shots around the basket than you might hope
-Only 188 pounds. Lacks strength in a serious way at the moment, especially in the lower body. Affects him significantly as a driver where he isn't strong enough currently with the ball
-Jump-shot is a work in progress. Doesn't have a natural stroke. Has a long and slow release. Guides the ball with his off hand Doesn't show much ability to make pull-up jumpers if the defense cuts off his driving angles. Needs to work on his off the dribble shooting ability.
-Needs to improve his ability to operate without the ball. Not just with his shooting but also as a cutter. Needs a lot of dribbles at the moment to be effective
-Still figuring out how to value the ball consistently. Makes a lot of unnecessarily risky passes trying to thread the needle for highlight reel caliber passes.
-Has suffered some nagging injuries early on that hopefully won't hamper him long term

Outlook: Easily the best long-term prospect at the event. Draw quite a few comparisons to Giannis Antetokounmpo from scouts in attendance with his style of play. Born in Germany, but parents emigrated from Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the early 90s. Comes from a soccer family. Older brother plays professionally for Leverkusen, while older sister also competes at a high level. Has all the makings of a special prospect with his size, ball-handling ability, passing and defensive versatility, but will need to improve his shooting significantly to reach his full potential long term, as he isn't an overly prolific scorer at the moment. Was identified early on as a top-level talent in his age group in Germany. Invited to play at the U16 European Championship already as a 14-year old.

Interview:


Nikola Miskovic, 6'9, Small Forward, 17.6 years old, Mega Leks, Serbia

Strengths
-Tremendous size for a small forward at 6'9. Big shoulders and strong lower body
-Has the skill-set of a perimeter player but should be able to spend some time as a face-up 4-man as he fills out.
-Excellent shooter with feet set and off the dribble. Has very good mechanics and is aggressive looking to get his jumper off
-Solid feel for the game and scoring instincts. Plays with great confidence
-Can straight line drive with fluidity, even shows some ability to change speeds and get going downhill
-Can rise up and make a turnaround jumper over the top of the defense

Weaknesses
-Not polished at the moment. Still figuring out how to put everything together
-Average ball-handler. Struggles versus pressure. Doesn't know how to create high percentage offense for himself consistently yet in the half-court
-Average passer. Tends to freeze out his teammates at times. Needs to improve his ability to operate within a team concept. Can improve his body language
-Has great size but that's negated somewhat by his lack of length

Outlook: Son of a long-time 6'10 professional, Dejan Miskovic who played all over Europe. Aggressive, hungry scorer who put the ball in the basket from all over the floor all week long in Finland. Shot the ball extremely well at 6'9 and showed the ability to do more than that at times as well. Somewhat of a late bloomer, and is a little bit raw in turn. Hasn't been very productive in most settings he's played in outside of here yet. Feel for the game and experience-level is still catching up to his ability.

Interview


Kristian Sjolund, 6'8", Small Forward, 17.0 years old, Tompkins High School (Houston, TX), Norway

Strengths
-Has excellent size for a wing player at 6'8 to go along with solid length
-Skinny frame, but looks like he can continue to add bulk to it in the coming years.
-Outstanding athlete. Highly explosive. Gets up around the rim impressively. Tries to dunk everything. Highlight reel in the open court
-Shows good potential as a shooter. High release point. Makes open shots regularly
-Plays with a great motor. Very active on the glass. Shows good toughness despite how underdeveloped physically he is
-Gets quite a few blocks, steals and rebounds indicating solid instincts in addition to his size and athleticism
-Handles the ball in the open court. Tries to make the extra pass. Fairly unselfish

Weaknesses
-Frame has a ways to go. Lack of strength affects him significantly on both ends of the floor currently.
-Very unpolished in virtually every facet, both skill-wise and in terms of experience. Doesn't have one consistent means of scoring at the moment
-Not consistent with his jumper at the moment. Doesn't shoot it the same way every time. Looks very off-balance at times. Gets streaky results
-Below average ball-handler in the half-court. Ball slows him down. Doesn't change speeds or directions. Not clueless with the ball, but will take him some time to develop his shot-creation ability at his size
-Doesn't want to use his left hand handling or finishing

Outlook: Talented wing player with great physical tools and a budding skill-level. Still at an early stage of his development relative to his peers, but has a very high ceiling to continue to improve. Born in Norway but has moved back and forth to the US due to his father's work. Currently going to high school in Houston. Drawing interest from the likes of Michigan and Virginia and definitely has the talent to play at that level. Was clearly one of the best long-term prospects at the camp. Not getting any real buzz nationally at the moment, but that will definitely change once he becomes more well known.

Interview:


Onuralp Bitim, 6'6", Shooting Guard, 17.4 years old, Anadolu Efes, Turkey

Strengths
-Has good size for a 2-guard at 6'6, with good athleticism for a European wing. Looked much improved physically from the last time we saw him a few months ago. Was dunking on people left and right all week long.
-Has very advanced scoring instincts for a player his age. Puts the ball in the basket from all over the floor.
-Shot the ball extremely well at this camp. Particularly off the dribble, and with range out to the 3-point line
-Shows the ability to get low with his dribble and execute tight crossovers to create space and get to the rim
-Has solid court vision when he feels like passing the ball and getting others involved
-Athleticism allows him to make quite a few plays as an offensive rebounder and defensively when motivated

Weaknesses
-Doesn't have a great frame or much length. How much stronger can he get in the long term? Will other prospects in his age group catch up as they mature physically?
-Rubbed quite a few people the wrong way with his antics at times. Very demonstrative on and off the court. Has a cockiness that is bordering on arrogance. Body language can be poor when teammates mess up.
-Jump-shot is prone to streakiness. Doesn't shoot it the same way every time. Has a lot of extra motion with his mechanics and tends to contort his body sideways at times.
-Forces the issue badly with his drives. Plays very selfishly at times. Only seems to pass as a last resort
-Doesn't put forth much effort on the defensive end.

Outlook: Somewhat of a volume scorer who has struggled with turnovers and efficiency historically, but was really feeling it in Finland at the BWB. Won MVP honors of the all-star camp. Played far better than he did at the U17 World Championship in Zaragoza in late June/early July. Seemed to be having a lot more fun. Has a lot of talent, but raises a lot of doubts too. Seemed to initially be on the college track, but left Huntington Prep to return to his native Turkey at Anadolu Efes.


Goga Bitadze, 6'11", Center, 17.1 years old, Mega Leks (Serbia), Republic of Georgia

Strengths
-Very good size for a 17-year old center at 6'11, 250 pounds
-Has a strong frame and what appears to be a solid wingspan
-Mobile big man. Can get up and down the floor. Not a stiff by any stretch
-Very skilled for a big man his size
-Knows how to operate with his back to the basket. Has footwork and touch he can rely on in the post.
-Has solid shooting mechanics and good touch facing the basket. Even shows range out to the 3-point line. Career 25/73 for 3 in 37 games in the DX database.
-Above average basketball IQ. Solid passer.
-Solid rebounder

Weaknesses
-Body can improve. Not toned at the moment. Conditioning leaves something to be desired
-Not very explosive vertically
-Skilled, but not efficient inside the arc. Has shot a very poor percentage for his career from 2-point range (43.5% in 37 games). Doesn't finish that well through contact in traffic.
-Motor is inconsistent at this stage. Doesn't bring the same intensity level to every possession
-Looks lethargic at times defensively, especially when forced to step outside of the paint and move his feet on the pick and roll. Has average fundamentals on this end

Outlook: Was by far the most productive big man at the camp, which was admittedly very weak in terms of pure size. Has been productive at the FIBA national team junior level with the Republic of Georgia at the U16 and U18 level in the B division. Elected to make the jump to Mega Leks last year, where he'll undoubtedly have a chance to develop both physically and skill-wise. May lack a degree of upside due to his average athleticism, but will be on the radar for a while thanks to his combination of size and skill.

Interview:


Philip Herkenhoff, 6'10, Power Forward, 17.2 years old, Rasta Vechta, Germany

Strengths
-Continues to develop physically. Has grown to 6'10 in shoes, and has added some mass to his frame. Has some length
-Fluid athlete. Quick off his feet. Highly coordinated
-Soft hands. Catches everything thrown his way
-Strong feel for the game for a player his age at his size
-Very fundamentally sound. Good footwork in the post. Can execute sharp spin moves
-Can face the basket and make jumpers with good shooting mechanics and soft touch. Range out to the 3-point line
-Can handle the ball and create a little for himself and others off the bounce
-Unselfish and makes the extra pass
-Gets in the passing lanes with nice instincts

Weaknesses
-Frame still needs a lot of works. Especially in the lower body. Will likely always be on the leaner side
-Needs to improve the speed in which he gets his jumper off. Has potential as a shooter but still a ways to go in terms of becoming a knockdown type
-Not freakishly athletic in terms of speed, quickness and explosiveness. More fluid than anything. How will his athleticism evolve as his body fills out?
-Lacks a degree of toughness and intensity at times

Outlook: Long considered one of the top prospects in his age group in Europe, Herkenhoff continues to grow and develop physically, which is important considering how lean he still is. He was arguably the most polished big man in attendance at BWB, as its clear he has a strong feel for the game and has been very well coached up until this point. While he doesn't possess incredible long-term upside, its difficult to find power forwards in his mold who are as versatile as he is inside and out and making plays all over the floor, so its worth monitoring how he continues to fill out and develops his skill-set. Players in his mold are increasingly valuable in modern basketball.

Interview:

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