2007 RBK Eurocamp: Day Three

2007 RBK Eurocamp: Day Three
Jun 12, 2007, 07:41 am
Boban Marjanovic, 7-3, Center, 1988, Hemofarm, Serbia
2 game totals: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 3 turnovers, 7/10 2P

Luis Fernandez

Perhaps the player generating the most buzz these last couple of days, Marjanovic is one of these freakishly big guys you can usually find in a camp like Treviso, but he's also emerging as one of the most intriguing. 7-3, with a great wingspan, a very nice frame and already some serious strength, he's made big strides from the player that barely could get off the bench for the U-18 Serbian National Team last summer.

You can really tell that he uses his size, not being afraid of mixing it up inside, looking for low post positions, chasing the offensive glass, going towards the rim whenever he gets the ball in his hands within 10 feet from the basket, often for the dunk regardless of whether he faces opposition or not.

Taking contact from rivals is not a problem for him at all. He's still a bit robotic, but he showed some decent low post moves and promising jump-hook ability with both hands. He enjoys some touch in his huge hands, and indeed looks pretty decent from the charity stripe. He tried shooting from the mid-range distance in in-game situations, and regardless of the misses, wasn't completely off. Yesterday he had problems securing the ball in his hands, as he fumbled it a couple of times after he had already caught it.

Marjanovic is not an athletic player, but he runs the floor quite well for a player his size, and you can see he's a work-in-progress in terms of his quickness and coordination. And still, he surprises with some moves, like a perfectly executed dribble (against opposition) and layup after receiving the ball in transition. It's really interesting to stress that he moves on court with nice criteria, with a solid understanding of the game. On top of that, he seems like a really nice guy, joking with everybody (which doesn't mean that he isn't serious about the game) and perennially in a good mood. In a basketball world where most 7-foot plus players seem to be playing the game solely because of how tall they are, you can tell that Marjanovic really likes being on the court.

Saul Blanco, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Fuenalabrada, Spain
13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 3/3 2P, 2/4 3P, ½ FT

Jonathan Givony

After a fairly underwhelming performance in the camp so far, Saul Blanco came out and had an excellent showing in day three. He showed very nice quickness putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket, attacking the basket aggressively and either finishing the play himself craftily or finding the open man on the perimeter. He had a number of very athletic rebounds, particularly on the offensive end, showing off his excellent toughness as well as his knack for being in the right place at the right time.

It’s not hard to tell that Blanco is coming off an excellent season playing in the best league in Europe, as he looks like a consummate professional who knows how to play the game. He even left a good impression with the part of his game that is considered weaker than others—his perimeter shooting—going 2/4 from behind the arc, even if his inconsistent release point and the quickness in which he gets his shot off still leaves something to be desired.

He may have also been a little too unselfish on some of his drives (something that plagued him even before in the previous day), getting to the rim nicely with his excellent first step, but preferring to dish off to the perimeter rather than use his solid leaping ability to finish strong at the hoop. All in all, though, this was a very strong showing from the Spanish shooting guard, one that made us ponder hard whether he might be a guy who is worth an NBA team investing a late 2nd round pick in, just to see how he continues to develop down the road. There are a few things to his game that remind you of a slightly taller Jose Calderon.

Rudy Mbemba, 5-11, Point Guard, 1987, Frankfurt Skyliners, Sweden
13 points, 2 rebounds, 4 steals, 15 assists, 3 turnovers, 2/4 2P, 3/6 3P

Luis Fernandez

The tiny Swedish point guard seems to be settling down as the camp advances. He still makes some questionable decisions, getting trapped from time to time on dead-end paths from where his size can’t help him get out alive, but it seems pretty obvious that yesterday he seriously tried to run the team's offense better and distribute the ball, for the most part taking only the necessary risks.

He particularly excelled in transition, almost always delivering the ball for easy baskets, but also did a nice job on the pick and roll or feeding cutters, actually completing some spectacular assists. He's a player that looks for the definitive pass, but was pretty effective doing it—finishing with an excellent 15 assists on the day, compared with just two turnovers. Mbemba keeps showing his nice deep touch, especially whenever he goes up for the pull-up jumper (actually he air-balled a fairly open three-pointer in catch-and-shoot fashion). Rudy was also pretty clutch, knocking down a couple of extremely important threes, even if he missed two free-throws that put the game in jeopardy. He also showcased his ability to finish near the rim with creative layups using his strong body to gain room and force fouls, and his quickness on the defensive end.

Ali Traore, 6-9, Power Forward, 1985, Le Havre, France
14 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 6/9 2P, 2/2 FT, 26 minutes

Jonathan Givony

This was a performance a lot more in line with what we saw out of Ali Traore at the NBA pre-draft camp just a week ago, using his body to carve out space inside and showing a nice arsenal of post moves with which to finish with once he created his own shot. He showed a nice little spin move and crafty finish, a pull-up jumper from 14 feet, a strong, fundamental drop-step, and a very pretty turnaround jumper to complete the picture. All in all, this was a very nice showing from the extremely strong Frenchman, owner of a 7-4 wingspan. We would have loved to see him put that length to better use in the rebounding department, though, where again he looked very flat-footed not reacting to the ball coming off the glass in his area, something we saw at the pre-draft camp as well. After being pressed a bit on the importance of a big man like him hitting the glass as hard as he can, Traore promised to deliver 10 boards tomorrow. We’ll see if he can live up to that.

Luigi Datome, 6-9, Small Forward, 1987, Montepaschi Siena, Italy
18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 6/7 2P, 2/6 3P

Luis Fernandez

Datome came with the Italian U-20 team to play against a selection of players from the EuroCamp, and as expected, he stepped up as the leader of his National Team. After a bit of a disappointing season, not getting any playing time in Siena and being loaned to Legea Scafati, where he didn't particularly blossom, it was a nice opportunity to vindicate himself in front of a large contingency of NBA and European scouts.

Datome showed most of his array of weapons here. He was incisive attacking the basket, showing a good first step, excellent quickness and a nose for looking for the rim. Indeed he drew a consensus "oooh" with a one-handed reverse dunk off a baseline drive. He also showed his deep touch, even if he was inconsistent from the perimeter. We missed a bit of his mid-range game, where he's pretty effective in off-the-dribble jumpers, although he knocked down a nice short bank shot after hanging up in the air.

Even if not a great creator on the offensive end, he surely understands the game and passes the ball pretty well within the offensive flow. Very active in the rebounding department, his uses his athleticism, reactivity and length to come up with rebounds on both ends of the court, actually providing him with a few second-chance points from the offensive glass. His activity extended to the defensive department, either on his man or in rotations, staying alert in the passing lines. He's a competitive player that barely saves any degree of intensity to get the job done.

Anton Ponkrashov, 6-7, Point Guard, 1986, CSKA Moscow, Russia
2 game totals: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 10 turnovers, 3 steals, 5/8 2P, 2/7 3P, 52 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Ponkrashov had one very good first game going up against a fellow Eurocamp team, and then one awful game matching up against the U20 Italian National Team a few hours later. Like many guys that did 2+ hours of drills in the morning and then two full games in the afternoon, fatigue had to play a role in the way he looked down the stretch.

Ponkrashov showed off his full capabilities as a big point guard in the first game, doing a terrific job getting everyone involved. He made crisp passes around the perimeter to find open shooters spotting up on the wing, and also got to the basket despite his underwhelming first step to force rotations and then find the holes in the defense. Ponkrashov is not the most explosive guy finishing around the basket, but he was able to knock down a couple of shots from mid-range or from behind the arc today. He also utilized his size nicely on one occasion to post up a smaller guard and then kiss the ball off the glass.

In the second game Ponkrashov clearly suffered matching up against a similarly big guard in Daniel Hackett who did not allow him to survey over the top of the defenses the way he is usually accustomed to. He looked tired and very frustrated, visibly disappointed in himself everytime he went to the bench. There are still plenty of question marks amongst the scouts we spoke to regarding whether he has the athleticism or perimeter shooting skills to find himself a true position in the NBA, although there is no doubt that he’s clearly one of the most talented guys here, especially in terms of his feel for the game.

Ivan Paunic, 6-4, Shooting Guard, 1987, Vojvodina, Serbia
9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals, 2/2 2P, ¼ 3P, 2/5 FTs

Jonathan Givony

This was another very solid game for the talented Serbian shooting guard Ivan Paunic, doing a lot of little things to both impress the scouts in attendance and help his team stay in the game. Paunic started off the game much the way he’s produced at the camp so far, by knocking down a 3-pointer on the catch and shoot. His shot didn’t fall for him very well after that, but he did do a nice job mixing it up in other ways, whether by moving off the ball intelligently or showing nice quickness spinning into the paint. Paunic is a very tough player who isn’t afraid to get scrappy when the opportunity arises. He clawed his way to a couple of nice rebounds over the top of much taller defenders, and played some absolutely terrific lock-down defense himself. He also showed some decent passing skills from time to time, although he does have a tendency to get a bit wild on occasion. All in all, this has been a very good camp for Ivan Paunic so far.

Miroslav Raduljica, 7-0, Center, 1988, FMP Zeleznik, Serbia
14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 2/5 2P

Luis Fernandez

The most well-rounded and polished center in the camp, Raduljica looked very aggressive attacking the rim yesterday. He went up for dunks again and again, showing excellent mobility out of pick-and-roll plays and nice reactivity going up for the finish. Actually he barely could finish a single dunk, as he was repeatedly fouled hard, but produced with great accuracy from the free-throw line. This insistency looking for the dunk might be related to the fact that Raduljica had been struggling a little bit knocking down his jump-hooks against bigger defenders. This is not last summer's U-18 European Championships, where he virtually toyed with the inferior competition, although he's a skilled guy who should be able to adapt pretty soon. Running the court, taking good decisions in the offensive end, solid on defense, he's a very reliable center and he's proving it here.

Mantas Kalnietis, 6-5, Point Guard, 1986, Zalgiris, Lithuania
2 game totals: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 turnovers, 5 steals, 4/7 2P, 1-3 3P, 48 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Kalnietis had a pretty up and down day today, displaying both the good and bad parts of his game. He showed off his terrific athletic ability time after time, putting tremendous pressure on the defense and coming up with some spectacular finishes at the basket. He was constantly in attack mode with his slashing mentality, although over-dribbling at times and causing some pretty foolish turnovers when he got out of control with his dribble, or just plain trying to be too fancy when fatigue kicked in.

He knocked down a few nice shots, for example a pull-up jumper to start off the game and then a very difficult 3-pointer at the buzzer as the first quarter came to a close. On the pick and roll he did a solid job, although he still has a ways to go in terms of learning to read defenses and responding to what is thrown at him. At the end of the day, Kalnietis possesses overwhelmingly more tools than almost any other guard here, and therefore has to be considered one of the most intriguing players we’ve analyzed in Treviso so far, even if he still has quite a ways to go to polish up his skill-set and decision making.

Romain Duport, 7-1, Center, 1986, Le Havre, France
2 game totals: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 3/4 2P, 1/4 3P

Luis Fernandez

It's being a sort of a disappointing camp for Duport. The big Frenchman is relying way too much on his perimeter stroke, with poor results, while looking uncomfortable the few times he visits the low post. His footwork doesn't seem there, like he intended to move his feet, but they didn't properly react. Unless he goes for a simple turnaround shot, it doesn't seem to work for him. So generally speaking, he's being pretty much a non-factor on the offensive end. On the other hand, he's running the court very well and actually looks decently athletic for a guy of his size, relatively easily getting off his feet.

Nikita Shabalkin, 6-8, Power Forward, 1986, Samara, Russia
2 game totals: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 7 turnovers, 8/13 2P, 1/3 3P, ½ FT, 53 minutes

Jonathan Givony

There was a lot of good mixed in with quite a bit of bad from Nikita Shabalkin today as well, although in contrast to most guys, he actually played better at the end of the day when most of his teammates were struggling fatigue.

Shabalkin has been awfully quiet throughout the entire game so far, and the first game started exactly the same way Treviso has gone all along for him. The fact that he was barely getting any touches didn’t help matters too much obviously. Shabalkin really came alive in the decisive fourth quarter though, scoring on a swooping hook shot, playing the pick and roll nicely to receive and finish quickly inside, and putting the ball on the floor. He wasn’t very active besides that, though, only coming up with 2 rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

In the 2nd game of the day—against the Italian U20 team, Shabalkin did a much better job. He showed off his nice shooting touch with a baseline jumper and then a catch and shoot 3-pointer, while also displaying extra soft hands make tough passes around the basket and pulling down 8 rebounds in 23 minutes. Shabalkin’s biggest issues revolve around his lack of quickness and explosiveness finishing around the basket, often getting caught in no-man’s land around the many 7-footers here when he tries to go up at the hoop without a pump-fake. He’s really the kind of guy that needs to play in a system alongside a good point guard to really be effective, as he’s not the most naturally active guy in the world who will go and look for his own stuff. All in all we expected a bit more from Shabalkin based off the tape we watched coming in here, although he certainly hasn’t played poorly.

Dusan Mladjan, 6-4, Shooting Guard, 1986, Reggio Calabria, Swiss/Serbian
11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1/3 2P, 3/7 3P, 27 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Although shooting 3/7 from behind the arc isn’t something to sneer at, this obviously wasn’t as impressive a game as Dusan Mladjan’s 25 point outburst in 21 minutes yesterday, where it seemed like he couldn’t do any wrong no matter what he tried. Today Mladjan did a lot more wrong, looking quite selfish at times in jacking up bad shots early in the offense, showing absolutely no conscience regardless of the situation. He’s got a quick release and very nice mechanics—making him one of the most effective long-range threats you’ll find at the camp, but he definitely needs to improve his shot selection.

Marko Keselj, 6-9, SF/PF, 1988, Akasvayu Girona, Serbia
10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 3/4 2P, 0/3 3P

Luis Fernandez

After spending a year on Akasvayu Girona's bench, Marko is looking extremely rusty in this camp. He doesn't look comfortable or confident at all, particularly with his off-the-dribble game. He always hesitates whenever he attacks his match-up, losing any chance of success-- but at least yesterday he was not bumping into his opponents as he used to do the first days. Besides, he's looking a bit slow in his drives, showing average ball-handling and very questionable decision making. A bit better in the shooting department, he's gaining accuracy as the camp advances, but nothing to get that excited about. He's a well-known solid shooter with three-point range, and he has only shown flashes of his ability.

Victor Claver, 6-9, SF/PF, 1988, Pamesa Valencia, Spain
5 points, 5 rebounds, 1/3 2P, ¼ 3P, 22 minutes

Jonathan Givony

After yesterday’s phenomenal performance, we were hoping for a big encore from the Spanish combo forward, probably the best NBA prospect in the entire camp so far. He made some unselfish passes, showed great quickness getting to the basket, knocked down one beautiful 3-pointer, and even posted up a bit, but for the most part didn’t find a lot of success in most everything he did. He fluctuated greatly from being way too passive to being very shot-happy for short spurts, usually gravitating more towards the passive side as he coasted up and down the court.

Vladimir Dasic, 6-9, SF/PF, 1988, Buducnost, Serbia
2 game totals: 22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 9/13 2P, 1/8 3P

Luis Fernandez

It was the tale of two players today. The first one, a small forward who couldn't get the job done attacking his match-ups from the perimeter or attempting pull-up jumpers. The second, a power forward who moves extremely well around the basket, showing a very nice basketball IQ evolving off the ball. He did an excellent job rolling after picks, cutting and filling spaces in the lane. His quickness, body control, athleticism and ability to finish with both hands was a very difficult equation to battle against.

Inconsistent shooting the ball from the perimeter, he succeeded basically only in catch-and-shoot mode. Very active on defense, his strength, length and quickness are adaptable to the three frontcourt positions at this level. Actually, he spent many minutes guarding centers and did a terrific job anticipating and being physical on them.

Joao Gomes, 6-6, Shooting Guard, Barriense, Portugal
2 Game Totals: 7 points, 8 rebounds, 3/8 2P, 0/3 3P, 2 turnovers, 40 minutes

Jonathan Givony

If yesterday’s outing was just an average showing for the Portuguese swingman Joao Gomes, today’s double-header was even worse than that, struggling to get his shot going and looking fairly out of control in his drives. He’s clearly athletic and strong enough to get to the basket, also featuring long, nice strides to the hoop, although his ball-handling skills and feel for the game certainly leave something to be desired. Gomes has a reputation for being a pretty good shooter, but today his perimeter shot wasn’t falling for him at all, which further dampened the outlook for him on the day. Defensively he was very active and played extremely hard, but even here he was a bit out of control at times. He did hit the glass very well on both ends of the floor, though, taking advantage of his strong upper body, nice wingspan, and excellent quickness.

Daniel Hackett, 6-5, Point Guard, USC, USA
14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers, 8 steals, 3/13 2P, 2/5 3P

Jonathan Givony

Adding intrigue to what was already a very informative day of action was the appearance of USC freshman combo guard Daniel Hackett with the Under-20 Italian National Team. Hackett started at the point guard position for the Italians, and despite looking very much out of shape did a decent job for them, particularly in the first 25 minutes, which the Italians led the entire way. He got to the rim on numerous opportunities thanks to his toughness and above average athleticism, but could not find a way to finish—lacking a reliable floater once inside the paint. He shot the ball OK as well, even pulling up off the dribble to drain a deep 3-pointer as the buzzer expired in the first quarter. He was a bit out of control at times, but still showed a nice feel for the game, playing pretty good defense and doing a solid job of creating for himself and others. Its going to be very good for him this summer to get plenty of playing time and high level experience with the U-20 Italian team, and from what we could tell he’s going to play a pretty big role for him, which will help USC out tremendously as they try to recover from the loss of guards Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young, with the help of the incoming O.J. Mayo.

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