One of the biggest surprises in Serie A this season has been Achille Polonara, a 6'7 combo forward playing for Banca Tercas Teramo. The long, left handed forward appeared in just a handful of games last season, but is averaging 16.4 minutes per-game this season and has impressed in a number of areas.
A good athlete with a rangy frame, Polonara proves to be an exceptionally active rebounder despite severely lacking physical strength. Similar to Jonas Jerebko when he arrived in Italy, Polonara needs to add some bulk to his frame, however his narrow shoulders lead us to believe he faces an uphill battle in that endeavor. Regardless, the 19 year old Polonara crashes the glass on both ends with energy, despite getting knocked around by stronger players on occasion.
Offensively, Polonara shows some intriguing potential, but will need some time to mature before he can be considered a consistent scoring threat. He displays some touch on his jump shot with range out to the three point line, but lacks the footwork and confidence to consistently make an impact from the outside. He's able to take the ball to the rim in a straight line, and while he struggles with physical defenders and forces some drives to the basket, he can make some athletic plays inside. More of a hustle player at the moment, Polonara's lack of strength hurts his finishing ability, but he gets to the line at a nice rate, is already an active rebounder (ranking 7th in the league per-40 minutes), runs the floor well in transition, and has some tools to work with down the road.
On the defensive end, Polonara shows a good work ethic, but lacks great fundamentals and discipline two things he'll only developed with consistent playing time. His length allows him to block some shots around the basket (he in fact ranks #1 in the Italian league per-40 in this category early on), where he plays especially hard to overcome his lack of bulk, and makes up for some of his mistakes out on the perimeter. While his lateral quickness isn't great, he could become a solid individual defender with additional coaching.
On the whole, Polonara has had a fairly impressive start to the season. Considering this is his first campaign seeing consistent minutes against high-end competition, he's performed admirably. A very good athlete for a European prospect, Polonara is a player to keep an eye on, especially if he continues to add weight to his frame and begins to see more minutes to shape his offensive repertoire. At his size, he'll surely need to show the potential to make the conversion to the small forward position eventually.