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Roundup: New Year, Same Rudy
by: Luis Fernández - Director of International Scouting
January 15, 2007
Our international weekly roundup is back after Christmas break. It’s 2007 folks! New year, new life… or not. Some things don’t change, and one of them is the terrific season Rudy Fernández is delivering. Nobody has shined more than the Spanish shooting guard these past weeks. We also pay special attention to Gasper Vidmar, one of the Geoplin Slovan youngsters who is particularly stepping up lately.

Player of the Week(s): Rudy Fernández

At this point, Rudy looks like our perennial “player of the week”, but it’s well a deserved honor. During our Christmas break he delivered back-to-back outstanding performances in the Euroleague, leading DKV Joventut to consecutive (and dramatic) victories that secured a spot for his team in the Top-16 stage.

Both games were within Joventut’s reach in advance, but still very complicated ones. Partizan is a very dangerous team at home in Hala Pionir, particularly when the court is packed with the very noisy and intimidating Serbian fans (as it happened this time). Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv is always a very competitive squad, indeed the main rival for Joventut in the hunt for second place in Group B.

As expected, Joventut struggled to beat its rivals. Partizan and Maccabi dominated their respective games for the most part, and it wasn’t until the last quarter when Joventut came back to claim the victory. The key player both times was no other than Rudy Fernández, quite a clutch guy who loves these hot situations. Three pointers, aggressive plays attacking the rim, ability to force fouls, great activity on defense, Rudy can operate at a different level in these final minutes to help his team prevail. After delivering a great three-point shooting exhibition, he virtually closed the game against Partizan with an impressive turnaround mid-range jumper over Predrag Drobnjak, finishing his performance with 26 points, his best Euroleague scoring effort.


Against Maccabi, Rudy came off the bench to help defeat last year’s Euroleague finalists. He had suffered an ankle injury over the weekend in the ACB League that didn’t allow him to finish the game against Real Madrid, and was doubtful to step on the court. However, once he got into the game rhythm, we saw the same super active guy, to the point that he grabbed 7 rebounds. No trace of the injury indeed. Again taking advantage of his perimeter stroke, and particularly attacking the rim in the last minutes, he finished with 21 points that meant a superb victory for Joventut.

As has been happening all season long, Rudy is being aggressive on the offensive end. He has grown aware of his leadership duties and is actively looking for the basket. The notorious drop in his assist average is quite significant for this matter. However, it doesn’t mean that he’s forcing plays or making bad decisions. Those have never been labels in Rudy’s game since he’s a pro. He just gets the job done. His stroke, skills and athleticism allow him to succeed on a regular basis when it comes to adding points. Particularly, his perimeter stroke looks much improved in the last few months. Open shots are a piece of cake for him, and he’s even knocking down more complicated ones. He can quickly release his shot over his defender if he’s not close enough to him. He also can execute some quick dribbling in front of his match-up before suddenly pulling up and shooting the ball. All in all, he’s slowly gaining accuracy off the dribble, although he still can’t knock down wild long-range jumpers, a la Belinelli; Rudy needs a certain balance to remain effective.

Still, if Rudy were relegated to a more complimentary role (which should happen, at least in early stages in the NBA), his passing game would surely come back stronger. In the end, he’s a quite an adaptable guy on the basketball court if we talk about role on a team. His biggest problem right now is his poor first step, which limits his ability to create his own shot. If he could overcome this flaw, he would become a virtual lock for the lottery.

Taking a Long Look at…

Gasper Vidmar, who is making himself room in the Adriatic League with fair success. We’ll rely on our Balkan scout Kristian Hohnjec to talk about him:

"While Geoplin Slovan might be the worst team in the Adriatic League, they can at least afford to let their talented youngsters play and gain invaluable experience against good competition at a very early stage in their career. At the beginning of the season, Gasper Vidmar was the least heralded Slovan prospect, but lately he has turned himself into their top post option, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds, while playing just 22 minutes per game in the last three.

Vidmar’s upside relies in his ability to score around the basket. Gasper is very skilled in the low post, possessing a variety of moves he can display, while he has excellent hands and soft touch around the hoop. Despite being able to produce by himself with his back to the basket, Vidmar also moves well without the ball. He’s particularly active on the offensive glass, grabbing 2.6 rebounds (3rd in the League) in just 17 minutes per game. Gasper has a "nose" for the ball, anticipates and puts himself in the right position. Vidmar seems to enjoy an above average basketball IQ and a good understanding of the game, but he needs to improve his passing ability. Up to date, he has committed 29 turnovers while dishing out just 4 assists.

From a physical point of view, Vidmar is average at best by NBA standards. He is 6-11 and has nice mobility and decent footwork in the paint, but lacks any kind of explosiveness and basically plays under the rim. This is obvious on the defensive end where he struggles cleaning the boards and altering shots. Gasper is a relatively poor presence in the paint, despite showing some toughness and willingness to take physical contact. Unlike the typical European big men, Gasper doesn’t have too much of a perimeter game. He doesn’t show any ability to put the ball on the floor and drive past his opponents, nor is he a good mid-range shooter. His mechanics look solid from the free-throw line and he is converting 74.5% of his attempts, so there is some potential for him to expand his offense outside of the paint. Gasper looks like a 2nd round talent at the moment; but he will need to show more versatility and improve his body in order to get drafted."


State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

Marco Belinelli has found his scoring touch these last weeks. Combining the Italian Lega and the Euroleague, he has averaged 20.7 points in the last seven games he has played (against the likes of Olimpiacos, Dynamo Moscow or Benetton Treviso). Considering his game style, it’s obvious that his improved three-point percentages have helped him a lot. Actually, in that game span, he enjoys a very nice 42.6% shooting percentage from behind the arc.

Jonas Maciulis enjoyed consecutive solid outings in the Euroleague these past two weeks. He had 18 points, 3 rebounds and 5 steals against Winterthur F.C.Barcelona and 21 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals against Fenerbahce Ulker. Maciulis is some of the only good news Zalgiris has received lately, a team that keeps losing games and ranks last in the competition.

Ali Traore apparently enjoyed a very happy Christmas. He was the top scorer of the LNB All-Star Game, coming off the bench to record 24 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. In the following game, back to the regular season, he delivered his best outing of this campaign, with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. Hopefully, we’ll talk about him more extensively next week.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Tiago Splitter keeps struggling lately. His game looks severely regressed. It’s probably the result of the same back problems that have been bothering him this season. Reportedly, he’s getting better, but it seems that he still hasn’t been able to completely recover. What we’re seeing reflected on the court is a softer and more offensively timid Splitter. Forget about any one-on-one game (as he showed very early into the season); currently he only plays without the ball to get scoring options near the rim. And still, he’s struggling a lot finishing there, looking slow and soft when it comes to putting the ball up into the rim. Of course, we expect Splitter to bounce back once he gets rid of his physical problems; otherwise, he would likely fall out of the lottery next June.

Vitor Faverani has gone from heaven to hell in less than a couple of months. He was a sensation early in the Adecco LEB league (Spanish second division) for Cai Zaragoza, collecting headlines thanks to his statistical production and intriguing potential. Here at DraftExpress you might have read about his excellent performances, but we already warned then about his problematic character. Faverani has impressive tools to play the game, but show little fire doing so. He lacks intensity and devotion. For a young player filling a foreign spot (only two allowed per squad) in a team like Cai Zaragoza that is desperately looking for promotion to the ACB League, it can be a recipe for disaster.

And it seems that disaster is close: Faverani hasn’t played in the last two games and the word is Cai Zaragoza will cut him and search for a more experienced and reliable player on the market. Apparently, it wouldn’t cost a cent for Cai to cut the Brazilian big, loaned from Unicaja Málaga. If it finally happens, we could even see Faverani getting some action with Unicaja in the ACB League as the team only has one non-European player in the roster (Daniel Santiago). Otherwise, expect Faverani to go back to Clínicas Rincón Axarquía in LEB-2 (third Spanish division), which is a kind of farm team related to Unicaja.

Rounding Up…

The LEB is actually quite a tough league for youngsters, not only because of the notable level, but particularly because of the competitiveness you find with teams desperately wanting to move up to the ACB League. Faverani is not the only guy suffering the consequences. Just ask Gustavo Barrera (better known as Panchi Barrera), who is already almost out of Leche Rio Breogan. He was reportedly yelled at loudly by his coach during the game played on the 4th of this month. Following that day, Panchi has never reported back to team practices, and Breogan wants him out. This season, he has averaged 2.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, meaning a great step back from what he did the last campaign. Barrera is becoming a doomed player too early in his career, and it’s a very sad story considering the fact that we’re talking about a major basketball talent.

Coming from Uruguay, Barrera enjoyed his coming-out party in Spain, coupling with Rudy Fernández in the L’Hospitalet Tournament in 2003 while leading Joventut to victory there. Panchi impressed everyone with his passing skills and court vision, while his connection with Rudy paid huge dividends. Afterwards, both followed opposite directions. While Rudy had a terrific rookie season in the ACB League with Joventut, Panchi was sidelined because of his foreign passport, which limited his ability to crack into Joventut’s or any other team’s roster. He spent almost two years inactive, severely hurting his development in crucial years and frustrating the hopes he had coming to Spain. According to people in Joventut, he somehow lost the joy of playing the game. Still, last season he enjoyed really nice game stretches when loaned to Ciudad de Huelva, basically whenever his coach trusted him with big minutes. However, it seems he’s not a guy who easily overcomes adversity, and frustration might have been stronger than him this time.
 


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:
8.0 Pts, 2.5 Rebs, 2.0 Asts


Gasper Vidmar
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 09/14/1987
27 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Darussafaka , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PF/C,
NBA: PF/C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
11.1 Pts, 6.4 Rebs, 2.0 Asts


Predrag Drobnjak
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 270 lbs.
Birthday: 10/27/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #20 in 1997 Draft
by the Bullets
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
5.3 Pts, 1.6 Rebs, 0.8 Asts


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