Roundup: Tomic, Finesse on the Court

Roundup: Tomic, Finesse on the Court
Mar 13, 2008, 04:34 am
Ante Tomic went for consecutive 20 plus point games this past week, showcasing once again the superb talent he enjoys. Still, he won’t be that happy, as his team lost both games. Despite suffering heavy competition coming from other prospects (De Colo, Tsintsadze or Dragicevic, to name a few), he came away with our Player of the Week award. We also pay special attention to Mérida, a small team playing in the Spanish fourth division, that currently features a couple of young South-Americans: Douglas Nunes and Matias Nocedal.

Player of the Week: Ante Tomic

It was a bittersweet week for Ante Tomic. His team Zagreb was eliminated from the FIBA Eurocup, and couldn’t beat Buducnost either at home in the Adriatic League. However, he stayed very strong in adversity, delivering consecutive 20 plus point performances. Against Barons, he had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Back in the Balkan competition, he added 24 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.

What we are seeing this season from Tomic is both very intriguing, but also highly concerning. It’s intriguing in the sense that Tomic emerges as the ultimate finesse big man, but also concerning because his physical development is taking him way too long, seriously jeopardizing his ability to succeed at a top basketball level. Although you can notice some slight bulk added to his body, he still looks very skinny, both in his legs and upper body, while his frame doesn’t promise great strides in the future.

Skill-wise, he’s showcasing some truly impressive stuff from the low post. He can deliver really refined moves that include fakes, spins, and reverse-moves, as he exhibits excellent footwork and the versatility to use both hands to finish around the basket. As you can guess, he’s not a banging type of post guy, but he neither avoids contact; in the end, his great size and abilities makes it work on a regular basis. He nicely complements his low-post game with a pretty solid spot-up mid-range jumper, although perhaps released a bit slowly. He also can easily put the ball on the floor with both hands and work his way to the layup, particularly against centers, showing excellent coordination in the process.


We often miss a degree of aggressiveness in Tomic’s offensive game. For example, it’s extremely rare to see him dunking the ball, which is pretty uncommon for a 7-2 and relatively athletic guy. Even when it seems like the logical and easy choice, he usually goes for the layup. It would probably help his pick-and-roll productivity, which is not particularly high at this moment.

That aggressiveness is also missed on defense. To start with, Tomic looks rather underwhelming when it comes to using his great length to intimidate. As fluid as he can look displaying an offensive move, he often seems a bit stiff on defense. His lateral quickness is poor, as he often doesn’t bend his knees enough and sometimes struggles recovering his position after a rotation. On top of that, he’s not physical with his opponents, with his physical weakness being part of the problem. However, he does seem to care about rebounding and makes an effort to box out his match-up.

Anyway, he’s a talented guy with a high basketball IQ, well reflected in his passing game, as he can find his teammates either from the low post or facing the basket.

It’s hard to recognize the best scenario for Tomic. By all accounts, he’s not ready for the very physical NBA, but at the same time, it’s not clear that waiting another year will help his draft stock. To move to a better European team might not be easy as well depending on his contract situation. We’ll see what happens, but it would be a pity to waste such a special player.

A Look at…


In other circumstances we might not be writing at all about this player, but since he received some hype early this season, we wanted to share our two cents now that we have managed to acquire some footage on him.

The thing is, on paper he looks like an intriguing guy: he’s 6-10, athletic and he can reportedly play the small forward position. That’s a pretty appealing combination. However, when you actually watch him on the floor, the intrigue soon disappears.

Douglas Nunes is playing in Merida, a Spanish team in LEB Bronze, which is fourth division (a level probably on the range of the weak-to-average second divisions across Europe), and he almost always officiates as a power forward (we’ve seen him in three different games, and always has filled that position). It makes sense since at 6-10 playing at that level, he’s always one of the tallest players on court, if not the tallest. Anyway, it’s not easy to picture him playing on the perimeter, since his athleticism doesn’t translate well to his lateral quickness (he’s more of a solid leaper than a very quick guy), while his off-the-dribble game looks really limited.

Still, the biggest issue about Nunes is the fact that he’s a soft player that often refuses to use his athletic gifts. He’s actually very soft. In some areas of the game, it looks painful, and his skinny body doesn’t particularly help him either (his frame is also average). His defense is highly underwhelming. He’s not particularly strong in his lower body, so he’s not solid guarding the low post. As mentioned, his lateral quickness is average at best, and he struggles staying with smaller guys whenever he switches defensively. The worst part comes in defensive rotations, as he lacks any kind of aggressiveness, and wouldn’t take a charge to save his life. Instead, he will stay passive, use his hands or look for a block, although his timing is not the best around.

It doesn’t get much better in the rebounding department. Nunes often forgets to box out his opponents, fuelling his team’s struggles with the defensive rebound, lacking any aggressiveness attacking the ball, and often just refusing to use his leaping ability. At some point, you have the impression that he’s afraid of stepping on somebody and hurting his ankle, which did happened in one of the games we saw (by the way, it was odd to see not a single teammate or coaching staff member dropping by to aid him, not even to ask him about his condition, having to limp his way to the bench completely alone).

Offensively, Nunes seems to stick to a big-men repertoire. He shows quite a nice spot-up jumper with range out to the three-point line, and nice form on his release. Indeed, he also looks very reliable from the free-throw line, although he’s not that frequent a visitor to the charity stripe (logical given his lack of aggressiveness). He also asks for the ball in the low post in order to release turnaround jumpers or jump-hooks trying to cash in off his superior size. We did see him netting a nice left-handed bank-hook, but his footwork seems limited, and his lack of strength and physical game doesn’t help him to produce here with any consistency. A significant source of production for him comes from continuations from the high post or receiving the ball near the basket taking advantage of some defensive rotation. If the zone is clear enough, he can get pretty high to finish with a nice dunk. Finally, you can eventually see him putting the ball on the floor to attack his match-up, showing ability to drive both ways, a decent first step, and long strides on his way to the basket.

In terms of passing game, Douglas never shows anything special. Besides, his hands are a bit suspect, perhaps lacking some strength there.

All in all, he exhibits a general lack of aggressiveness, and it’s hard to come out impressed with any of the stuff he delivers on the floor. He’s averaging 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 26 minutes per game. He could do worse statistically speaking, but it’s nothing to write home about. In the end, providing his intensity doesn´t suffer a major boost, and his game doesn’t improve significantly, I would be pretty much shocked if he ends up being selected in the draft.


Currently sharing the floor with Nunes, Matias Nocedal arrived to Merida a few weeks ago. We had the chance to watch his debut in LEB Bronze, perhaps not the best situation to evaluate a player, but we won’t likely have any other for the remainder of the season.

Logically, Nocedal often looked a bit out of place, still in the process of merging with his teammates. He played both guard positions, but apparently will primarily fill the point guard spot. Beyond his normal struggles given the fact that he’s new to the team, Nocedal again exposed his current limitations as a playmaker. He’s not a consistent distributor and game director. He didn’t create much offense for his team, and didn’t always take good decisions. He’s a rather explosive player who can easily take his opponents off the dribble, but he would often find himself unsure about how to follow his slashing move, not finding his teammates fluidly, and sometimes running into dead-ends.

However, he did also left plenty of intrigue. Besides his ability to easily beat his match-ups relying on his athleticism and ball-handling, Nocedal looked good shooting from behind the arc, and showcased his remarkable off-the-dribble ability with his jumper, connecting on a wild mid-range attempt. He also showed his athleticism finishing a cut with a layup high off the glass and especially with an aggressive put-back dunk as he attacked the offensive glass storming in from the perimeter. He also looked good in transition, dishing a few excellent passes. Defensively, he had some troubles against the very quick American point guard he had to defend for some stretches, so he might need to work a bit on his lateral quickness.

There’s nothing much more to say. Only that he can really benefit from this stint in Merida, earning valuable experience that should allow him to mature as a point guard and settle his game down.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

George Tsintsadze led Tartu Rock past Ural Great to clinch a place in the FIBA Eurocup Final Four. He stepped up in the third game of the series with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists to punctuate his team’s historical accomplishment with this achievement. He was also named as a starter in the FIBA EuroCup all-star game later this month, also to be held in Cyprus.

Tadija Dragicevic keeps rolling with massive scoring efforts, and actually this time he went for a career-high 34 points while leading Red Star over the weak Slovan. Dragicevic added 10 points and 4 assists, and now leads the Adriatic League both in efficiency and scoring (20.4 points per game).

Nando De Colo, of course, with another ridiculous performance this past weekend in the LNB. 29 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists to lead his team Cholet over the league leader Le Mans. He’s probably a top-5 international prospect in terms of performance level (let’s throw him in with the likes of Rubio, Gallinari, Pekovic and Dragicevic, for example).

Serge Ibaka delivered his sixth double-double of the season (he’s barely fallen short a few other times as well) with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a monstrous 7 blocks. His input was instrumental for L’Hospitalet to beat Ciudad de la Laguna Canarias. He leads the LEB Oro in rejections, with 3.1 per game.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Miroslav Raduljica’s first season with FMP’s first team is going pretty unnoticed. Working under the shadow of the rather effective Peja Samardziski, he has only been able to crack the court for 8 minutes a game, averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds (which, on the other hand, is not bad production for that highly limited playing time). Since mid January he hasn’t been able to stay on the court for double digit minutes, and his scoring high dates back to October. It’s not precisely the situation we would have envisioned for a guy who cracked the all-tournament team back in the 2006 European Junior Championship.

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