Tau Vitoria; 6-4; 1977; PG; 3 games, 32.9 mpg, 6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 9.7 apg, 4.3 spg, 3.3 TOpg
Sort of like we did with Jorge Garbajosa last year even if he wasnt too much of an NBA prospect, this time we had to feature Pablo Prigioni (his successor as MVP) after his fantastic tournament, which comes to confirm an awesome season that has placed him among the best point guards in Europe. Last season, playing off the bench behind José Manuel Calderón (currently with the Raptors), it was pretty obvious that Tau evolved more fluidly with him on the court. But this season has been a true coming out party for him. He leads both the Euroleague and the ACB League in assists per game, with a total of 6.7 per game on average, a remarkable amount for international basketball where assists are much tougher to accumulate.
Prigioni is the ultimate pass-first playmaker, a master of the pick and roll play. His virtuosity pairing with Luis Scola reminds us of the likes of Nash & Stoudemire or even Stockton & Malone. Indeed the team orchestrates its offensive game almost always starting from picks in the high post. Hes the engine that makes Tau run, a necessity for a team that is becoming dangerously dependant on him. In the final, he set a new record of assists in the competition, with 15 dimes. His court vision, while excellent, perhaps is not off the charts, but hes incredibly smart and shows an awesome basketball IQ leading his team and a privileged quick mind.
That quick mind is seeding the terror on the rival point guards, victims of his hunger for steals. Its rare the game that Prigioni doesnt come away with a steal from an inbound pass after a basket. Everybody knows it already, but it keeps happening. In the Cup, he was even more prolific than usual.
You might wonder why he isnt a serious NBA prospect despite his wonderful skills. Well, Pablo is not a great athlete. Hes average in Europe, which would make poor in the NBA. Its questionable whether he would be able to deal with the very quick American point guards. Besides, hes not a shooter a la Jasikevicius, although hes fairly reliable when left open. And hes not a kid anymore. Anyway, if you cant get a look at him in Europe, you will likely be able to enjoy his play in the next World Championships in Japan this upcoming summer.