Europeans in 2013 NBA Draft: Consensus, Best-Case Scenarios, Official Fearless Predictions™ on our Top 10

NBA Draft Day 2013 is upon us and while US-based media mostly grouses about the lack of high-quality players this time ‘round, European basketball fans have much to look forward to one year after a first round passed with no Continental player selected. In the 2013 edition, a dozen or so European ballers are reasonably in the running to hear their names called within the 60 picks – and several will go in the first.

BallinEurope today takes a look at our top 10 prospects for this NBA Draft and Officially Fearlessly Predicts the fates of each. From thousands of mock drafts floating about the blogosphere, BiE called on seven good sources in order to form something of a “consensus” opinion. (“Consensus” is in quotes there for this oddest of drafts in which even the no. 1 overall is a question mark – and any semblance of agreement is lost by no. 7 on this list…) In seeking wisdom from all corners great and small, the mix includes specialists NBAdraft.net and Draft Express; big media outlets Yahoo Sports and the USA Today’s “common sense” mock; and the Hoops Hype, Dime Magazine, Real GM and Prospects in Europe websites.

Let the speculation roll on and enjoy the show tonight (this morning CET)!

The BallinEurope top 10 includes the following…

Alex Len is the poster boy for the uncertainty principle overriding the 2013 NBA Draft as the conception of Nerlens Noel has gone from prohibitive no. 1 choice to possibly the second-biggest center available behind Len. The Ukrainian first garnered serious buzz on opening day in 2012, when he was able to torch Noel and his Kentucky Wildcats for 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks; unfortunately for Len (though maybe also fortunate, as Noel’s stock drops), ankle surgery preempted his pre-Draft workouts.

Consensus: A top six pick, most likely by the Cleveland Cavaliers at no. 1, the Charlotte Bobcats at no. 4 or the New Orleans Pelicans at no. 6. (This draft is awesome.)

Best case scenario: Is Len facing lose-lose situations with any of these three teams, each of which worked him out in the pre-Draft? If taken at no. 1, Len gets a fat contract with immediate high expectations and Bargnaniphobia as just the second-ever European chosen first. At no. 4, he goes to the Bobcats and, well, they’re the Bobcats; at no. 6 with the Pelicans, Len figures to get quality time but with a smaller paycheck. All things considered, BiE sides with the personal cash grab: Best for Len is to go to the Cavaliers … and help the city of Cleveland hold its breath in anticipation of Lebron James’ impending freedom in 2014.

Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™: Len to the Charlotte Bobcats – and gods have mercy on him…

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On Hezonja, Todorovic plus a couple of Swedes: FC Barcelona’s future as bright as the present?

Barcelona’s future: Alex Abrines, Mario Hezonja, Marko Todorović

As though FC Barcelona’s red-hot play – they’re now at 14-4 overall after an 0-2 start in Spain – weren’t enough to keep European basketball devotees watching, here are two more reasons for you: Mario Hezonja and Marko Todorović.

At just 17 years old and despite missing the entire 2011-12 regular season, Hezonja finally got a taste of the action in Barça’s 78-48 laugher over Beşiktaş in Turkey last Friday night. His Euroleague debut stat line read five points, two rebounds and one steal in a few ticks under 12 minutes of play.

Hezonja again did not play in Spain this weekend, unlisted on the roster for Barca’s 81-64 win over Cajasol in Liga Endesa play; the 12th-man spot was filled by 20-year-old Todorović of Montenegro. In the Beşiktaş game, Todorović’s 12 minutes of court time was the most he’s gotten all season and the national teamer was good for four points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Potentially the nucleus of a shiny new Barca frontcourt? Continue Reading…


NBA Draft expansion: What does it do to/for Europe?

Sports media and the blogosphere blew up a couple days ago, as the possibility of adding a third round to the NBA draft was reported to have been discussed as part of the ongoing labor negotiations. By day’s end Wednesday, some had publicly opined that this idea could be the “Best Thing To Come From [the] Lockout.”

Of course, here are BallinEurope, we basically had one question: How does this affect The Continental game?

Below, BallinEurope UK guy Sam Chadwick takes a look at some of the pros and cons – or rather the Massive Benefits and Consequences of an NBA Draft round three – vis-à-vis European basketball. Plus, there’s some stuff about Darko Milicic.

So how many rounds is too many? The current NBA Draft has two rounds, two picks per team with a total of 60 players making the grade to join the world’s most elite league.

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Donatas Motiejunas declares for draft; BallinEurope revisits prospect

One of last year’s projected top five selections in the NBA Draft has declared instead for the 2011 edition of the world’s biggest hoops talent lottery: Big man Donatas Motiejunas deferred in 2010 because “really felt like he needed another year of international ball before he was ready for the NBA” … so how has one more go-around with Benetton Treviso enhanced his chances in the American league?

Approximately one year ago, the following was BallinEurope’s take on Motiejunas, in part.

Strengths: Donatas is a highly touted, talented centre coming out of Benetton Treviso (the same team that produced NBA draftees such as Toni Kukoc, Jorge Garbajosa and Andrea Bargnani) and is a shooting centre with range all the way out to the 3-point line and can hit it from almost anywhere, as well as this he has a good dribble-drive and can finish with either hand, resulting in him being exceptionally hard to guard…

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Brody, Pollin, Seiden “on the map,” into immortality with HOF inductions

America’s National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame has announced its inductees for 2011, well representing basketball with an NBA executive, a college notable and one of the most significant figures ever in Maccabi Tel Aviv history.

In the spirit of “last shall be first,” BallinEurope first congratulates Talbot “Tal” Brody. After his senior, All-America year with University of Illinois in 1964-65, Brody was chosen by the Baltimore Bullets as the no. 12 overall pick in the ‘65 NBA draft – but he forewent the opportunity to play ball in the big league, instead preferring to finish a graduate degree (imagine that happening today).

For the 1966-67 season, Brody began his career with Maccabi; the team immediately ascended to the European Champions Cup final four round with Brody starting at no. 2. Military commitments returned Brody to the ‘States for a couple of years and the SG played with the fifth-placing Team USA at the 1970 FIBA World Championship.

Returning to Israel for good for the 1970-71 season, Brody was soon made immortal in Israel sports history by guiding Tel Aviv to the European Champions Cup in 1977, part of the franchise’s first triple-crown season and the country’s first major sports championship. His post-game comments preserved a spot in history proper when he declared, in the face of certain geopolitical pressure from the Soviet Union throughout the competition with specific reference to Israel, the Cup victory to signify that “We are on the map, and we are staying on the map – not only in sports but in everything.”

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From A.I. to Zalgiris: The top stories in 2009-10 European basketball

As BallinEurope closes the book on the 2009-10 basketball season, it’s time to take stock of the year that was with the clarity of history. Without further ado, let’s retrospect on the top 10 Eurocentric basketball stories of the season.

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Pickett leaves Manhattan, drops out of draft, coming to Europe

An early “Welcome to Europe!” goes out this morning to All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference guard Rico Pickett, who yesterday announced that he’d be foregoing his senior year at Manhattan College to test his fortunes on The Continent for a season – this less than two months after announcing he’d be entering the NBA Draft.

The Rivals scouting report on the Decatur, Alabama-born guard praises his “very nice combination of size and athleticism at the point guard position,” stating that “Pickett is an unselfish setup man with good court vision. Good with either hand on the drive and [on] the finish, he can score both at the basket and from the outside. He does tend to force things to the rim when he gets in the lane, though, and has plenty of room to improve as a defender.”

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Tibor Pleiss: “One year of Euroleague, then the NBA Draft”

Another European player has announced his intention to enter the NBA Draft … the 2011 NBA Draft, that is.

Team Germany/Brose Baskets Bamberg big man Tibor Pleiss, the 2009-10 Bundesliga Rookie of the Year, recently informed German press that he’d like to play one more year in Europe before seeking to fulfill his dream in the NBA.

Said Pleiss to German-language Sport1 (translation courtesy Germany-based heinnews), “The NBA of course is a dream and I would definitely like to achieve this goal. [...] everything I have wanted to happen has happened. I will certainly stay in Bamberg one more year and prepare for the future. I still want to continue to improve to reach an NBA level.”

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Official 2010 BallinEurope mock draft, version 2.0: Round two

BallinEurope today presents round two of our 2010 NBA Draft mockup; there’s a pleasing European accent to the list, with the big Belarusian Artsiom Parakhouski figuring to go in this round (see to whom in this projection and quiver) and the tantalizing possibility of Kevin Seraphin potentially becoming the 12th French player in the NBA.

And then there’s Ryan Richards. Much to the chagrin of BiE’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, Richards seems personally hellbent on proving wrong those who, ahem, assessed him as just another European designed to waste away on NBA benches.

In any event, we present the official BallinEurope 2010 NBA mock draft 2.0 round two below. Round one can be found here.

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Official 2010 BallinEurope mock draft, version 2.0

Now that the order for the 2010 NBA Draft has been officially settled, BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, revisits his mock draft of last week with updated prognostications for the first 30 choices.

Prospective European draftees in Donatas Motiejunas and Miroslav Raduljica haven’t budged on Sam’s chart and much of the lower half remains the same, but new BiE favorite Nemanja Bjelica manages to sneak into the first round. And the inevitable shakeups in the top 10 keep things interesting as ever. And the BallinEurope crystal ball says…

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