Despite only narrowly qualifying for the Copa del Rey together with his Banca Civica Sevilla club, Tomas Satoransky
managed to advance past the quarterfinals with a win over Unicaja, thus giving us (and the dozen or so NBA teams in attendance) two opportunities to watch him in Barcelona.
Satoransky saw almost all of the 28 total minutes he played at the point guard position, only attempting five shots overall, which is a fairly representative sample of the role he's asked to play for this team.
Measured at an impressive 6-7 at the adidas EuroCamp in Treviso last June, Satoransky has tremendous size for either guard position, even if his 6-7 wingspan and 207 pound frame are just average. He's a solid athlete, capable of playing above the rim, but not showing tremendous quickness in the half-court or the type of blow-by speed you expect to see from a player at his position in the NBA. Once appearing rail thin when we first saw him all the way back in the summer of 2008, he's done a nice job developing his body over the last few years, and will likely continue to fill out considering he's still only 20 years old.
After a terrific adidas EuroCamp performance last summer, many were expecting Satoransky to have a breakout year in this, his third season in the ACB. Instead, through 22 games, his minutes, usage rate and scoring output are actually down from last season, which is a bit disappointing.
The backup to American guard Earl Calloway
, Satoransky plays a somewhat limited role for Sevilla, often being asked to just bring the ball up the floor, hand it off to a teammate, and then move to the corner and see how the offense develops. Watching his film from the entire season, Satoransky has noticeably lacked aggressiveness, often pulling the ball back in transition, deferring to teammates excessively, and even passing up good opportunities to score.
While it's clear that this team is built around the inside scoring prowess of Paul Davis
(the league's best per-minute scorer), Satoransky's role makes him a bit difficult to evaluate. It's unlikely he would see many minutes (if any) at the point guard position in the NBA, making his situation in Sevilla very foreign compared with how he might be utilized at that level.
Further complicating matters is the way Satoransky's jumper has regressed as of late. Whereas last season he made 40% of his 2.5 3-point attempts per-game, this year he's both taking (1.5) and making (30%) less of these shots, while continuing to show the same unattractive mechanics we've seen throughout his career. With time and space, Satoransky is capable of making his catch and shoot jumpers, but things seem to fall apart for him when forced to shoot quickly and/or off the dribble.
While not overly aggressive with the ball in his hands, Satoransky has the ability to create offense for himself and others, something we've seen from him in other settings. He's a solid ball-handler with both hands showing good footwork and body control, and using nice court vision finding open teammates creatively. He doesn't always have the initial burst to turn the corner on his matchup, which makes it difficult for him to break down opponents in the half-court at end of shot-clock situations, and he lacks some strength, toughness and/or aggressiveness finishing plays around the basket.
Defensively, Satoransky has good size and plays with a solid intensity level, often being asked to put pressure on the ball, even very far away from the basket. Showing just average lateral quickness, he gets beat off the dribble a fair amount by smaller players, and may have an even more difficult time in the NBA where there is considerably more space to attack slow-footed guards, something that may be a concern moving forward.
While Satoransky's size and basketball IQ continue to stand out and leave room for optimism regarding his future, it's difficult to point out any one part of his game that will translate seamlessly to the NBA at this stage. Whether it's his role on this team, his youth, the overall style of European (and particularly Spanish) basketball, or just a lack of development, it's difficult to get overly excited about what Satoransky has shown up until this point this season.
Barring another tremendous showing at the adidas EuroCamp in June, Satoransky may have to wait until his draft-eligible year (2013) if his goal is to get drafted in the first round and/or get brought over immediately to the NBA next season. Otherwise he'll have to hope he gets picked by a strong organization in the second round and be optimistic that things work out for the best. To his credit, he is reportedly very much gung-ho about the NBA style of basketball and would likely do whatever it takes to make it in the NBA, which can't be said about all young European players these days.