Posts Tagged ‘Giannis Adetokunbo’

A Draft Night Unlike Any Other

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NEW YORK – We need to wait for the Earth to stop spinning three times the speed of light for the official analysis. But for now, there is the detailed breakdown of the draft in technical terms:

Wow.

Everyone knew going in the only predictable part about Thursday night at Barclays Center would be the unpredictability, and still it was a jolt. It was so swirling that the player the NBA previously referred to as Giannis Adetokunbo became Giannis Antetokounmpo by the time he, Giannis A., went to the Bucks at No. 15. It was so upside down that Hakeem Olajuwon, the first player announced by new commissioner David Stern in 1984, was back on stage — famous red bow tie and all — either as the full-circle sendoff to Stern’s final draft or because Olajuwon could still get backup minutes for about 60 percent of the teams.

There has never been a hectic draft like it. The line of possibilities for Cleveland, with the wide-open first pick, were long in a year with no obvious choice — which is a kind way of saying no one deserved it. Then, when his name was called, Anthony Bennett was taken aback anyway.

“I’m just as surprised as everyone else,” said the UNLV power forward with the versatile offensive game. “I didn’t really have any idea who’s going No. 1 or who was going No. 2. I heard everything was up for grabs. But I’m just real happy, glad that I have this opportunity, and I just got to thank God for everything.”

It was a surprise because most other front offices had it down to a race among Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and Alex Len, but hardly a reach. Bennett was the third-best prospect on the board in the estimation of some teams, and the Cavaliers do have a history of making the bold move, as in Tristan Thompson at No. 4 in 2011. Now, Bennett and Thompson will be competing for at least a portion of the minutes.

There were the trades. Dallas, trying to shave as much money as possible to build the war chest for free agency, moved from 13 to 16 and then from 16 to 18 before keeping Shane Larkin. How very NFL draft of them. Golden State went from not having any picks to buying No. 26, trading back to 29 and then trading back to 30 and taking Nemanja Nedoovic.

Then there were the surprises. No one could have imagined the Bobcats spending No. 4 on Cody Zeller until word of the possibility leaked earlier in the day. Noel, arguably the best prospect of all, lasting until the Pelicans at No. 6. McLemore, ditto, lasting until the Kings at No. 7.

There was also the really big surprise. Noel to the 76ers for Jrue Holiday as the point-guard solution in New Orleans and a pick in the loaded 2014 draft that is only top-three protected. Nice work by the Pelicans.

Hectic? On what would have been one of the busiest nights for the league anyway, the seismic shift of the Celtics continued with reports of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry being traded to the Nets, who play in the arena where the draft was being held. Two future Hall of Famers and Brooklyn redoubling efforts to make a push in the Eastern Conference, that’s all.

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Meanwhile, out on the main stage, Trey Burke had been taken ninth by the Timberwolves. Unexpected, number one. And traded to the Jazz? Unexpected part two.

“Well,” he said, “it was kind of a shocker that the Timberwolves selected me. So I was kind of thrown off a little bit. I was happy at the same time. I was excited. I got to walk across the stage that I’ve been watching since I was a little kid. Once I found out I was getting traded, it was kind of like, ‘What do I do?’ I had the hat on and everything. So I really didn’t know what to do. They told me to sit in the back room until it was confirmed. Now that it’s confirmed, I’m happy to be in Utah.”

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Being settled is a good thing, too. Especially on this night.

adidas Eurocamp: The Wrap-up

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TREVISO, Italy – News, notes and observations as the adidas Eurocamp concluded Monday and NBA front offices began to return home for the final push toward the June 27 draft:

  • All indications are that Croation small forward Dario Saric will withdraw from the draft before the June 17 deadline for international players. While his agent, Robert Jablan, told BourbonStreetShots.com that the decision has been made, some teams are understandably wondering if this is an attempt to secure a promise. After all, Saric previously went from signaling he would stay in Europe to applying for the draft and now has turned around again about five weeks later despite no change in his standing with his stock still somewhere around the teens. One executive said chances are “about 99.9” Saric will jump out of the pool, meaning the NBA is not yet closing the door on 2013. Another said “It sure sounds like it,” when asked whether Saric is staying in Croatia. They’re waiting for 100 percent by June 17.
  • The positive reviews continue for Alex Abrines, who is getting looks for late in the first round without getting much publicity. It didn’t help his North American marking that Abrines was not at Eurocamp because his season in Spain was still in progress. “I don’t like him. I love him,” said one scout who has watched the Spanish shooting guard many times. “His feel for the game is incredible.”
  • Australian shooting guard Dante Exum is draft-eligible for 2014 and would open next season as one of the top prospects, but said “My gut tells me right now I’m going to college,” partly because he is intrigued by the idea of a run with a top U.S. program and partly because that would allow him to avoid the packed Class of ’14 led by Canadian phenom/incoming Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins. That would position Exum for 2015. The son of Cecil Exum, who won a national championship with North Carolina in 1982, has made one campus visit, to Indiana, and puts the Hoosiers at the top of his working list if he goes the NCAA route for 2014-15. He loves the college feel in Bloomington and the basketball tradition. He is also getting attention from a lot of other elite programs – mentioning Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan – so no decision is imminent.
  • The Bulls’ 2011 investment pick of Nikola Mirotic looks better all the time. Chicago got him at 23 while planning to keep him in overseas to develop, some teams said a year ago he might have cracked the lottery in 2012, and now this from a European scout when asked where Mirotic would go in the 2013 draft: “Lottery, easy. Five-six-seven-eight.” Lottery very easy, in other words. Mirotic, who might be able to play some small forward at 6-10 but is likely destined to an NBA future at power forward, was recently named MVP of the ACB in Spain, the second-best league in the world. Indications are that he will spend one more season there before negotiating with the Bulls.
  • Eurocamp may relocate. The gathering of top prospects and talent evaluators from several leagues around the world will return to the traditional home of the La Ghirada complex in Treviso in 2014, but adidas officials have had initial discussions about moving the event to Paris, Berlin or Munich closer to its global headquarters in Germany, or Spain. The shoe company wants to make a big push on the basketball front in Germany and Russia.
  • The reviews for Giannis Adetokunbo on Sunday night with the Greek national under-20 team in a tournament in nearby Jesolo were a step forward. They weren’t terrible 24 hours earlier – can’t shoot, not strong enough, but a very good feel for the game for an inexperienced player that has mostly faced bad competition. But Adetokunbo was more assertive on offense Sunday and in stretches more looked the part of an NBA first-round pick against an age-group field. He needed to show that.

Adetokunbo Scouting Run An NBA Event

JESOLO, Italy – No mascots, no Red Panda or Quick Change at halftime. No lob dunks, no TV timeouts, no air rifles shooting balled-up T-shirts into the crowd in the upper deck. No crowd in the upper deck.

But what an NBA happening Saturday night.

Greece-Croatia in the opener of a four-team under-20 tournament inside Pala Arrex was not just another age-group matchup in another neutral setting in another sleep gym that couldn’t build excitement if it had a quarry’s worth of equipment. It was Giannis Adetokunbo, international man of mystery, in a real game at the same time the adidas Eurocamp was taking place 30 miles away in Treviso, and that meant it was a league event.

Dozens of executives and scouts broke away from Eurocamp in the early-evening to make Jesolo by the 6:15 p.m tip, putting recognizable faces everywhere among the crowd of approximately 300, in the latest attempt at a decision with the June 27 draft bearing down and Adetokunbo still tracking to the end of the first round.

Is he a worthwhile investment for a team willing and able to be patient with a long learning curve or a one-hit wonder of 2012-13 who has gone from nowhere to the guaranteed money only because he faced very weak competition in a lower-division Greek league?

Saturday offered little in the way of concrete answers. Or as one front-office veteran said when asked afterward what he learned from Greece 62, Croatia 52: “Not much.”

Adetokunbo is smooth and has a good feel for the game for a 19 year old with little, and maybe less than that, experience against elite players. He can handle the ball at 6-foot-8, a particularly intriguing aspect, though nowhere near well enough to seriously be considered a possibility for a matchup nightmare at point guard. He can’t shoot. And he needs to get a lot stronger.

“Three or four years,” one scout said of a realistic timeline for Adetokunbo to make an impact in the NBA. “Maybe five.”

The Croatians were probably a step up from the competition Adetokunbo had faced in Greece, the equivalent of Division II or III in U.S. colleges. He did not, however, overwhelm the opponent in the way a prospect with size, mobility and court sense should torch a junior national team 19 days before the draft. The unknown to at least some of the NBA evaluators, and maybe all, was whether he was unable to assert himself or was simply fulfilling the role handed down by the Greek coach.

To members of personnel departments seeing him for the first time, it was not a great first impression. But there will also be more chances. The age-group tournament continues Sunday evening with Greece against Turkey, as the Europcamp also continues in a dose of convenient timing and location for NBA front offices. Before leaving Jesolo on Saturday, some had already bought game tickets to return.

The Eurocamp itself faced further attrition with the loss of two of the biggest names, with French center Rudy Gobert going from planning to play one of the three days in Treviso to withdrawing all together because of food poisoning and Australian shooting guard Dante Exum skipping at least the opening day to rest a foot injury. Exum instead did light shooting on a side court in the La Ghirada complex.

Neither absence will have a major impact – Gobert, trying to make a push to get into the end of the lottery, was at the Chicago pre-draft combine and has a full schedule of visits to NBA teams leading to June 27, while Exum is not in the draft until 2014 at the earliest and possibly 2015. Additionally, small forward Sergey Karasev, who would have been a candidate to play at Eurocamp, or at least show up for private workouts and interviews with NBA executives, has cancelled all visits, Yahoo! Sports reported. Karasev apparently has a promise from a team, but also gives up the chance to impress someone else enough into pick him higher and make more money.