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…
Dennis Schroeder’s been climbing mock drafts since showing great work ethic throughout and an outstanding performance in this year’s Nike Hoop Summit – geez, did no one notice his breakout year with New Yorker Phantoms in 2012-13? BiE supposes ultimately it doesn’t matter because this kid’s obvious athleticism, long reach, solid defense, outside touch and strong finishing speak for themselves; of all the European prospects in this draft, Schroeder could well be the most NBA ready … on the right team.
Consensus: The majority of our considered draftniks like Schroeder to be going in the no. 14 to 18 range, with the Utah Jazz, Boston and Atlanta thought to be the most likely takers. (Draft Express also has Schroeder landing in Utah, but selected at no. 21.)
Best case scenario: Perhaps most commonly compared to Rajon Rondo, Danny Ainge & Co. may have to resist temptation if Schroeder’s still available at pick no. 16. A few have suggested that a teaming with German compatriot Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas might prove fruitful, depending on what the Mavericks do about Darren Collison. BiE reckons the Utah Jazz to be the best fit, however: The Jazz closed this season with a depth chart listing Mo Williams, Jamaal Tinsley, Earl Watson and Jerel McNeal at point guard; with Williams and Tinsley both free agents, couldn’t Schroeder start for this team, like, tomorrow?
Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™: Schroeder to the Utah Jazz at no. 14.
Despite playing only in second-division ball in Greece and Spain, Giannis Adetokunbo has been receiving scouts’ attention for years thanks to his intriguing physique: He’s officially listed at 6’9” and 196 pounds with a 7’3” wingspan and incredibly huge hands. His abilities as a passer and ball-handler have allowed him to play the 1, 2, and 3 spots; with some development, the sky is the limit for this promising athlete.
Consensus: Somewhere between nos. 15 through 17 – picks held by the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks – though a couple of mock drafts like him at no. 22 to the Brooklyn Nets.
Best case scenario: Since he’s now signed a four-year deal with Zaragoza, it’s likely that Adetokunbo won’t be making the jump to the NBA immediately. Speculating on a good fit for this guy bursting with potential is just that: Speculation. So BiE’ll go with the Celtics; should Giannis develop over the next season or two, he might make a nice lynchpin for a storied-but-rebuilding franchise.
Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™: Adetokunbo to the Milwaukee Bucks at no. 15.
Yahoo Sports reported early this month that 19-year-old Sergey Karasev had cut short the pre-Draft process, returning to Russia after having received a promise from an unnamed team in which Karasev “is likely to be selected in the Nos. 14 to 24 range of the first round.” The Russian is especially touted, thanks to three seasons in the PBL/VTB League/Eurocup and three medal-winning summers with the national team.
Consensus: Narrowing down the Yahoo supposition a bit, Karasev is most frequently seen going at no. 18, 19, 20 (to Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago Bulls, respectively) though a couple of dissenters like him at no. 13 to the Dallas Mavericks.
Best case scenario: Where could Karasev take his high basketball IQ and great court vision to make an immediate impact? Virtually anywhere among those teams at 14 to 24! BiE would love to see Karasev end up in Chicago; with half-court defense his weak spot, learning from Tom Thibodeau could bring the Russian to star levels quickly.
Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™: Karasev to the Atlanta Hawks at no. 17 or 18.
Though Rudy Gobert has led France’s Pro A in blocked shots two seasons running and is noted for his offensive efficiency, he’s a bit of a mixed bag overall: outstanding on defending in the paint and graced with seriously long wingspan but with a post game and upper-body strength that could use some work to compete in the NBA.
Consensus: The majority here say Gobert goes to Oklahoma City, though opinion is divided whether he’s called at no. 12 or at no. 29. (Has BiE mentioned that this draft is awesome?)
Best case scenario: While Thunder backers may be drooling over a Swat City lineup starring Ibaka and Gobert, BiE likes the possibility of Gobert with the Indiana Pacers and would love to see the tutelage Roy Hibbert and France-born Ian Mahinmi could offer. Or a spot on the Denver Nuggets might work if Gobert can keep up with the speedy pace there.
Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™: Gobert to the Brooklyn Nets at no. 22.
Near the end of the first round of this draft, strong working knowledge of chaos theory may be needed for any facsimile of a reasonable forecast of who-goes-where. Case in point: Livio Jean-Charles. Jean-Charles was the high-scorer in the Nike Hoop Summit game but is still seen as a potential NBA role player. Or not.
Consensus: A late first-round/early second-round pick. USA Today’s “common sense” mock has the French lad going as high as no. 26 to the Minnesota Timberwolves because Minny can always use another European. (Actually, this pick is justified by the Wolves’ perceived need for athleticism, but hey.) Meanwhile, Draft Express has him penciled in for one of the Portland Trailblazers’ early second-round picks, at no. 39 or 40.
Best case scenario: Strictly pragmatically speaking, a late first-round selection would be best for Jean-Charles to grab that guaranteed contract – the Oklahoma City Thunder could use such an athletic forward in the immediate- to short-term and draft at no. 29.
Official Fearless Prediction: Jean-Charles to the Oklahoma City Thunder at no. 32.
With FC Barcelona, Marko Todorovic spent much of the 2012-13 season buried on the bench, averaging about seven minutes per game in Euroleague and the ACB. At 6’11”, he plays well with good shooting range at center but might benefit from some weight training (he’s officially listed at 240 pounds but this seems a bit high). With a bit of a light résumé at the professional club level, his natural talent and untold potential should nevertheless get his name called in the mid-second round … although BiE wonders if he’ll ever play NBA ball.
BallinEurope Official Fearless Prediction™: Todorovic to the Milwaukee Bucks at no. 43.
Alex Abrines has been snaking up and down mock draft boards since the NBA playoffs, with most informal observers certainly unsure about the Spaniard due to his up-and-down playing time with FC Barcelona in the Euroleague; with roster problems in the second season, Barca depended more on the 20-year-old in the playoffs. While utilitarian enough, Abrines hardly set Europe alight in his limited minutes, implying that Abrines certainly won’t be jumping to the US right away.
Official Fearless Prediction: Abrines to Utah Jazz at no. 46.
Why aren’t more draftniks paying attention to Nemanja Nedovic, a guy who’s played in top tournaments and European leagues from the 2008 Nike International Junior Tournament to this year’s Eurocamp? Here’s to thinking that nearly any fan base landing with Nedovic will be running to Google-search the name minutes after Adam Silver makes the announcement – and that this most athletic guard prospect will ultimately be considered a steal.
BallinEurope Official Fearless Prediction™: Nedovic to the Los Angeles Lakers at no. 48 – not at all wishful thinking. (Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.)
Bojan Dubljevic signed a three-year contract with Valencia in 2012, jumping over from Montenegro and racked up the accolades in this season’s Eurocup: He was named the league’s “Rising Star” in addition to an All-Eurocup second team nod. While his 6’10”, 240-pound physique allows Dubljevic to be a force under the basket as well as on pick-and-rolls, the downside for the big guy is his speed and despite a good basketball IQ, his passing game can use improvement.
BallinEurope Official Fearless Prediction™: Dubljevic to the Indiana Pacers at no. 53 if they don’t go big earlier; otherwise, to the Washington Wizards at no. 54.