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Roundup: Impressive Joventut Duo
by: Luis Fernández - Director of International Scouting
December 4, 2006
DKV Joventut gets the headline this week thanks to its extremely promising backcourt. Rudy Fernández, our player of the week, is on fire lately, while Ricky Rubio astonishes by leading the Euroleague and the ACB League in steals per game at the age of 16. Other highlighted players include Uros Tripkovic and Zoran Erceg.

Player of the Week: Rudy Fernández

Rudy Fernández seems to have reached another level of play. He has become a much more active and decisive player on the offensive end this season, assuming responsibilities and leadership duties. He took over this week’s Euroleague game against Cibona with 22 points in only 18 minutes of playing time (beyond coach Reneses’ typical rotations, he was in foul trouble). With him on the court, Joventut enjoyed the best runs in the game and played the most fluid basketball. It has meant coming back to the winning path for his team, after a couple of losses with Rudy basically sidelined due to injury (he could only play 4 minutes in the second game, against Lottomatica Roma).

We can find the most noticeable areas of improvement this season in his shooting stroke and work without the ball. He’s nailing his three-pointers with good consistency, enjoying a 48.3% of accuracy from beyond the arc (4/7 vs. Cibona). It’s still mostly a static shot, as he struggles shooting off the dribble from that range, but Rudy releases it fast and he’s smart cutting and finding spaces to fire it. Actually, his movement without the ball also has the mid-range distance as an objective, as well as his trademark dunks off alley-oops. Against Cibona we could see Rudy cutting and coming off screens to receive the ball about 13 feet from the basket, turn around and shoot in fade-away fashion, all performed with great quickness. He’s very active looking for these kind of options and his teammates also look for him.

Besides, his good decision making is always there, although his assist numbers have dropped as he’s looking for the basket more aggressively (he’s been credited with only a single assist in the Euroleague since the opener against Panathinaikos). Rudy never forgets the rebounding department, and he looked particularly active against Cibona with 5 captures, as well as delivering very nice defense, becoming another piece of a quite aggressive perimeter game in Joventut, always searching for the steal (2 facing the Croatian team).

This last weekend, in the ACB League, he had 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in 25 minutes playing against Tau Vitoria. It was a loss for Joventut, but it’s pretty clear that Rudy has stepped up in terms of leadership for his team.

Despite still drawing doubts about his NBA potential (particularly concerning his physical build and ability to create his own shot), performances like this one will really come in handy for Rudy in order to get a spot in the first round of the next draft.

Taking a Long Look at…

Ricky Rubio, who delivered another sample of the kind of player he is. You surely remember that he scored 51 points in the final of the European Cadet Championship; on Thursday in the Euroleague he didn’t make even a single field goal, and still was a key player for Joventut’s victory in the top European competition, joining Rudy Fernández in a terrific guard-combo exhibition.

Once again his defense and decision making on the offensive end made the difference for him. Rubio perfectly combines an excellent ability to stop his matchups (he’s everyday a more reliable defender on the ball, showing very nice lateral quickness and anticipation) with his incredible knack to steal the ball. He did a terrific job on both Jerry McCullough and Davor Kus, while coming away with 5 steals. It’s becoming so ridiculous that Rubio already leads the Euroleague with 3.5 per game (he also leads the ACB League with 2.45). Of course, he’s also the leader per minute steals, getting one every five minutes he’s on the court. Truly staggering.

On the offensive end, he’s passing the ball really well. He drives and effectively dishes, and he also perfectly executes the extra pass, which is pretty logical since he rarely takes the shot unless he’s given plenty of space. He got 5 assists this way against Cibona. Obviously, shooting remains the main concern; he could only score 3 points from the free-throw line. We also have to mention his rebounding effort, as he averages 2.3 per game, not bad at all for a 16-year old kid who plays 17 minutes per game and stands 6-4. He pulled down 2 against Cibona.

Uros Tripkovic, who gave signs of hope in this week’s Euroleague game against one of the two biggest powerhouses currently in the Old Continent as well as the only undefeated team so far in the competition: Panathinaikos. We saw a much more active and aggressive player in Tripkovic, successfully attacking the rim and finishing near the basket even with opposition (he had a few and-one plays). He also dished the ball showing nice decision making, as well as battled on the boards looking for rebounds. His perimeter shooting wasn’t there (only 1/6 from the three-point line), and actually hasn’t been for the whole season (he credits a woeful 16.7%). Tripkovic was expected to be a much more reliable shooter at this point, but it seems that he can’t find the proper rhythm for the moment. He finished the game contributing 14 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds to Partizan. This weekend he didn’t play in the Adriatic League due a minor problem in the ankle, but he might come back already this week for the next Euroleague game.

Zoran Erceg, who delivered a season high 24 points coming off the bench, also adding 6 rebounds and 2 steals, to help FMP to beat Snaidero Udine on the road in the ULEB Cup. Erceg, a 1985-born player and therefore automatically eligible for the next draft, joins the second-round-bubble group of internationals that might be selected for some NBA team to stash in Europe hoping for successful development. At 6-11, he displays a nice combination of size, athleticism and skills. He’s a fundamentally sound and quite versatile player who can either face the basket to shoot from the perimeter, put the ball on the floor for slashing purposes, or play with his back to the basket in the low post, while he also looks active without the ball. On the downside, he’s a bit skinny and doesn’t enjoy the greatest frame, sometimes lacking a certain degree of aggressiveness, and struggling a bit in the rebounding department or when it comes to getting the job done after receiving the ball under the rim. He currently averages 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds, and his future on the international scene seems quite promising (he already was in the pre-selection of the Serbian National Team last summer).

State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

Marc Gasol had his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds while helping Akasvayu Girona to beat MMT Estudiantes on the road. It’s the fourth consecutive game he scores in double figures in the ACB League, becoming one of the most solid centers in the competition. Gasol is a force in the low post; with his size and weight it’s very difficult to stop him: he bangs, shows nice footwork and delivers fairly effective semi-hooks. Besides, he’s working well boxing out and positioning himself for rebounding, while showing a nice basketball IQ. As always, a lack of athleticism is what limits his potential and draft stock, but he’s currently firmly planted in the second round.

Giorgos Printezis, after netting 31 points the previous weekend, went for 26 against PAOK, with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. The opposing frontcourt couldn’t keep up with his quickness and aggressiveness attacking the basket. Printezis is fairly explosive player who doesn’t hesitate if he sees space to slash towards the basket. On the other hand, he wasn’t as productive from the three-point line as in other occasions (just 1/3).

Renaldas Seibutis scored a season high 20 points for Maroussi en-route to a win against Panellinios. He has reached double digits in the last 4 games, and his three-point accuracy looks much improved, shooting 69% in that span. It is extremely important for Seibutis to show consistency in his long-range stroke; he’s a very solid shooter just one step into the arc, but those few feet of range are really important in the top international level. He’s just not the kind of super-athletic wing that can completely rely on his slashing abilities.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Luigi Datome is not getting any love from his coach coming back from the injury he suffered this summer. He plays in most games, but sees very limited action. He averages 4.1 minutes in the Italian Lega, with only 17 points to speak of in the 9 games he could hit the court. Actually, the only time he surpassed the barrier of 10 minutes of action (13 against Livorno) he managed to produce 8 points.

Rounding Up…

Marco Belinelli had one of his best showings of the season this weekend. It’s not that strange that he scores 24 points, but it’s becoming rare to see him netting half of his three-point attempts (3/6). Besides, he also added 3 assists and 5 boards, matching his career-high mark in rebounding (a department where Marco is not particularly prolific). Still, his team Climamio suffered an upsetting defeat in Cantu after having beaten the rather tough Efes Pilsen in Istanbul a few days before, digging in the very disappointing record that the team exhibits on the domestic front (4-6). The lack of a reliable frontcourt is hurting Climamio as well as Belinelli himself, as he suffers from defenses that focus their efforts on Bologna’s perimeter game. Also it’s interesting to note that Marco is passing the ball quite well despite the large amount of shots he takes; after all, he’s a good passer who enjoys a quick mind and nice court vision.

Career highs for Mirza Begic with 16 points and 11 rebounds, also adding 4 blocks against Hemofarm, in another loss for Geoplin Slovan, the worst team in the Adriatic League. Still a raw player, particularly in the physical department, 7-3 centers like Begic are always attractive for NBA teams in the second round, and performances like this one will surely help him in order to hear his name called come draft night. If you want details about his style of play, be sure to check out what our Balkan scout Kristian Hohnjec wrote a few weeks ago.

14 points (staying perfect from the field), 12 rebounds and 2 assists might sound like an impressive performance for Tiago Splitter. It was a good one, obviously very productive, but we didn’t see anything special in this game coming from the Brazilian. He scored basically receiving under the basket after good moves without the ball, although he netted a mid-ranger from the free-throw line. His rebounding figures surprise because this is not his biggest strength, but he stayed quite active and had one of these days when the ball just seemed to keep coming. In the ACB League, he settled for 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, helping Tau to beat DKV Joventut. All in all, he’s the same old reliable (albeit a bit unspectacular) Splitter.

Coming off an injury early this season, Carlos Suárez is struggling a little bit trying to get in shape. However, this week he had 19 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in the FIBA EuroCup against CSU Asesoft Ploiesti. He converted 5 treys off 9 attempts, digging in the dependence he currently has on his perimeter stroke. His limited athleticism and ability to create his own shot seriously slow down his potential, even if he’s bound to become a very reliable guy in Europe.

Ukrainian prospect Kyrylo Fesenko has finally left the domestic powerhouse Azovmash searching for minutes in Cherkasky, a more accurate team to gain experience with actual playing time. The 1986 born 7-footer made his debut in the FIBA EuroCup against the Russian team Samara with a double double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 boards.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to luisfernandez@draftexpress.com .

 

Rudy Fernandez
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 172 lbs.
Birthday: 04/05/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Real Madrid , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #24 in 2007 Draft
by the Suns
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
13.2 Pts, 3.5 Rebs, 2.7 Asts


Ricky Rubio
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Birthday: 10/21/1990
23 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Joventut , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #5 in 2009 Draft
by the Timberwolves
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
9.5 Pts, 4.2 Rebs, 8.6 Asts


Uros Tripkovic
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 160 lbs.
Birthday: 09/17/1986
27 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Partizan , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: PG/SG
Quick Stats:
6.7 Pts, 2.2 Rebs, 0.8 Asts


Zoran Erceg
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 196 lbs.
Birthday: 01/12/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: FMP Belgrade , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PF/C,
NBA: PF/C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
11.5 Pts, 4.4 Rebs, 1.2 Asts


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