At 1-3 before this game, young Partizan Belgrade looked to stay within range to the group's top by beating a CSKA squad that is filled with superstar talent, yet struggled to be dominant in the Euroleague so far. However, youthful ambition didn't have an effect as the Serb teams players were seen with hanging heads after just one quarter.
Belgrade was not only trailing by 11 points after 10 minutes, but also lost its struggling point guard, Leo Westermann (see below) to knee injury after just 8 minutes of play. Suddenly, 19-year old Boris Dallo (profiled last week here) had to step up against veterans Milos Teodosic and Jeremy Pargo. Partizan wasn't able to put up much of a fight though and traied by 24 at the half. Only Bogdan Bogdanovic (more on him soon) was able to score in double figures. Bogdanovic wasn't quite able to play as brilliant all-around as he was the weeks earlier, having only 2 assits and 2 rebounds with solid 13 points.
All in all, CSKA's potential finally showed, mostly due to their experience and their opponent's inexperience. CSKA shot 65% on 2's while Partizan shot 36%. Moscow had 27 assists to 7 turnovers while Belgrade had only 9 assists to 23 turnovers.
CSKA - Sonny Weems (18 pts, 6 assts, 2 rebs)
BEL - Joffrey Lauvergne (9 pts, 12 rebs, 2 assts, 1 stl)
NAN - Ali Traore (20 pts, 4 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk)
|Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul||5||0||434||358||123,3||101,1|
|Partizan NIS Belgrade||1||4||326||360||98,5||110,1|
What is this team?! Gulp. Well, after a 3-1 start, Turkish Anadolu Efes visited the 'Palacio de Deportes' in Madrid with justified ambition even though Real's run has been impressive... and the royals wouldn't disappiont again.
After the first half, quite foreseeable how this game would go. Real was able to score 'just' 19 points, yet allowed only 13 by Anadolu. In the second quarter, Real Madrid put it's motor up to ~60% and - led by excellent point man Sergio Rodriguez who had 11 assists with no turnovers - widened the margin to 24. Despite only scoring 23 points in 20 minutes, Istanbul's spirit was not yet quite broken. In the third quarter, they scored another 23 points but couldn't shorten the deficit as Real scored 23 themselves.
In the 4th quarter, Real put the nail in the coffin... and it was historic. In just 10 minutes, Real scored 33 points and had 4 players with 14+ points. They hit 13 of 23 threes and while going to the line 23 times, kept Istanbul to only 4 (!!!!) free throws while defending the paint well, allowing just 41% on 2FGs.
This team is a monster offensively and defensively. Nikola Mirotic, on a 'so-so' night of 14 points on 7 shots, 6 rebs, 2 stls, 2 blks and 1 asst was outshined by Ioannis Bourousis (17 pts, 7 rebs, 2 assts, 2 blks) and the bearded Sergio.
REAL - Sergio Rodriguez (14 pts, 11 assts, 1 stl)
AIST - Jamon Gordon (6 pts, 6 asts, 5 rebs, 2 stl)
STR - Alexis Ajinca (16 pts, 11 rebs, 2 blks, 1 ast, 1 stl)
|EA7 Emporio Armani Milan||3||2||382||389||105,1||109,9|
|Anadolu Efes Istanbul||3||2||378||385||103||104,3|
|Brose Baskets Bamberg||2||3||373||421||104,8||115,3|
The game was close throughout. Daniel Hackett made a lay-up at the end of the third quarter to tie the game at 61-61. Terrific Zoran Dragic (made all six of his attempts inside the arc) gave Malaga the lead after a strong And-1 play and a layup. The Italians looked to lose control of the game, trailing by five after just two minutes played, but three pointers by Mindugas Kuzminskas and Thomas Ress put them up again. Ryan Toolson came through for the hosts with 4 points in a row, answered by free throws from Daniel Hackett and a three pointer by Viggiano for the one point lead. Carlos Suarez tried to retake the lead, but missed. Fran Vasquez rebounded his miss, tried to lay it in, but failed too. Siena's Othello Hunter took the defensive board, but Vasquez was still there, stealing the ball and getting it to Nik Caner-Medley who got fouled on a three pointer. Back by one point, Medley could have forced Siena to take a three for the lead, but his nerves didn't quite hold up and he only made the last free throw to tie the game. Siena's Joshua Carter and Malaga's Earl Calloway missed three pointers before Jeff Viggiano hit a Nowitzki-esque step-back flamingo at the buzzer for the win.
MAL - Carlos Suarez (4 pts, 7 assts, 3 rebs, 1 stl)
SIE - Daniel Hackett (19 pts, 7 asts, 4 rebs, 2 stl)
MUN - Chevon Troutman (15 pts, 8 rebs)
|Stelmet Zielona Gora||1||4||366||417||103,4||118,1|
After saving Krasnodar last week with clutch shots, Krunislav Simon did it again and helped Kuban take a surprising win over Spanish side Laobral Vitoria.
Lokobasket came out focused on defense, allowing just 13 points while scoring 21 on their own. Derrick Brown looked to log another great performance as he had 10 points in the first 10 minutes. Walter Hodge gave Laboral a much needed spark, scoring 12 points in the second quarter and being instrumental in a 29-19 run over those ten minutes to take a two point lead. In an up-tempo game, the score remained close.
With two minutes to go, the Spaniards seemed to trail away as four consecutive points by Milko Bjelica and a layup by Thomas Kelati gave the guests an 8 point lead. Within two minutes, Marcus Williams scored seven points to tie the game. Walter Hodge, who as good in the second quarter made the crucial mistake on fouling Williams on a three point attempt. Marcus Williams made all of them and suddenly, the hosts only trailed by two. Kuban's players of the game were instrumental for the last play that decided the game. Laboral feared another fastbreak by Kuban, so Thomas Herutel took a low risk shot at the top of the key which he missed and Derrick Brown rebounded. Malaga's defenders had their eyes only on Marcus Williams who got up the court quickly and drove the ball towards the baseline. Laboral overplayed the strongside badly and Williams fired a pass to Simon who was wide open for a corner three which he made for the win. Two game winners in a row for Simon!
KRA - Derrick Brown (23 pts, 6 rebs, 2 assts, 2 blks, 1 stl)
VIT - Andres Nocioni (15 pts, 7 rebs, 2 stls, 2 blks, 1 asst)
VIL - Renaldas Seibutis (17 pts, 4 assts, 3 rebs, 2 stls)
|Maccabi Tel Aviv||4||1||400||366||109,5||100,3|
|Crvena Zvezda Belgrade||2||3||413||413||110,7||113,6|
|Laboral Kutxa Vitoria||2||3||390||397||112,1||109,4|
|Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius||1||4||352||400||101,4||114,5|
Best Campaign Watch
|Nikola Mirotic||Real Madrid||22||80,9||83,8||1,53||19,7||21||14||2,4||4||1,2||0,8||2||1|
|Malcolm Delaney||Bayern Munich||24||51,3||66,0||1,19||20,9||26||15||1,2||1,4||3,8||1,2||1||0|
|Bojan Bogdanovic||Fenerbahce Istanbul||24||63,6||67,4||1,25||23,6||33||20||0,6||2,4||1,6||1,2||1||0,6|
|Rudy Fernandez||Real Madrid||28||54,3||59,2||1,02||24,2||25||13||0,4||2,4||3,8||1,8||2||0,4|
Under-23 Best Campaign Watch
|Joffrey Lauvergne||Partizan Belgrade||22||51,6||58,9||1,00||13,5||34||9,2||3||8,8||1,6||1,4||0||0,6|
|Bogdan Bogdanoic||Partizan Belgrade||21||47,1||50,4||0,91||27,6||24||12||1||1,2||2||1,2||2||0,4|
|Nicolo Melli||EA7 Milano||22||59,7||64,2||1,09||16,5||23||8,8||3||4,6||0,8||1,2||1||1,4|
|Kenan Sipahi||Fenerbahce Istanbul||18||64,3||69,3||1,39||9,9||16||4,4||0||0,8||1,2||0||1||0|
|Alessandro Gentile||EA7 Milano||21||50||54,0||0,93||24,9||25||12||0,8||1,8||3||1,8||1||0,4|
Euro NBA prospects on the horizon #2
Guards - Part 2
4. Leo Westermann (Partizan Belgrade)
6'6" - born in 1992 - France
Leo, Leo, Leo, what to make of you? Today, few players in European ball excite me as much as Westermann. The 21-year old has a terrific combination of size, pristine vision and passing skills for a point guard. The Frenchman is an elite euroball play maker in the making and as far as his offensive potential is concerned, he is definitely NBA caliber. Still, there are constrains on his NBA outlook and among European analysts, he is not the most popular NBA hopeful. Those doubts arise mostly from his physical build which is causing him problems in Europe already, and could shut his dream of playing in the ultra-athletic NBA down.
At the Adidas EuroCamp, poor Leo was measured with quite severe case of T-Rex wingspan of just 6'4" while standing at almost 6'7" without shoes. He's not an athletic dude either so his physical frame is showing to cause him troubles mostly defensively where he lacks the foot speed and horizontal length to contain smaller guards. Offensively, he struggles to get all the way to the basket to get good attempts at the rim. He rather relies on his basketball IQ and handles to get to the spots he looks within the perimeter and fire up mid-range shots on some separation. He's not much of a threat to score at the basket himself (in 5 Euroleague games he's 1-for-9 at the rim!), but is a passing wizard who will find a teammate rolling or cutting to the basket even in minimal space so it's still quite tough to trap him.
While his physical frame opens up questions about his success in the NBA, you can't but love his work ethic and the fight he puts into his career. Despite having a big role on France's side ASVEL Lyon's squad and getting significant time on its Euroleague & Eurocup squads as a 19 year old, Westermann wasn't satisfied with the team's outlook and his individual exposure. With first criticism on his underdeveloped physicality arising, Leo went to Partizan Belgrade of Serbia, Europe's top address for developing young players. Here, Leo put himself under considerable pressure as he was asked to be the leader and play maker of an inexperienced team that competed in the Euroleague. Despite the adjustment of going from a very fast paced French league to the slow paced system in Serbia and a heavy shedule of Serbian league play, Adriatic league play and the Euroleague, Westermann did fine and lead his team to the Adriatic League championship. While his Adraitic league play is stellar this year again (2nd in league in Offensive Rating, yet only USG% of 16), he is again struggling with tougher competition in the Euroleague. This graph here shows you the difference between his performance in the Adriatic and the Euroleague. Leo shot just 31% on 2s (2012: a measly 36% on 2s) before going down with a knee injury which unfortunately was today confimred an ACL tear by poor Leo.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Diagnostic has been confirmed , my LCA is torn , horrible news but i have to deal with that (1/3)</p>— Westermann Léo (@lwestermann) <a href="https://twitter.com/lwestermann/statuses/402400459958542336">November 18, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
A very tough break in a difficult season for the French youngster who is still obviously developing on the big stage. The ACL injury will throw him back too but there is still just so much to like about this floor general. Westermann was seen as a sureshot to get drafted in 2014 (would he enter) a few months ago, but his slump at the top level and the injury might shoot his chance to have his rights held by some NBA team next year. He's still just 21 and few point guards at that age have bloomed as early and as complicated a job, so there's still two years for him to bounce back from his knee injury and mediocre international play. All the best to Leo, knee injuries suck.
|Leo Westermann||PER GAME||PER 30|
3. Marcus Eriksson (La Bruixa d'Or Manresa)
6'5" - born in 1993 - Sweden
Eriksson has been one of the biggest prospects at shooting guard for some time in Europe now and for some reason, he hasn't gotten the recognition he deserved, especially if compared to bigger hypes like Mateusz Ponitka. The 20-year old is as pure as a shooter can be. At the 2013 Under-20 European Championship, Eriksson fired nearly seven 3PA per game (9 games total) and hit them at 37%. For FC Barcelona II, Eriksson shot six 3PA per game (25 games in total) and hit them at a ridicolous 50% (151 total 3PA). In 2012, at the age of 18, Eriksson shot 6.5 3PA per game (28 games in total) and hit 45% (183 total 3PA). Well, you get the idea. This kid can shoot as well as anybody.
Unfortunately, as with so many young shooters, Marcus seems to be a little too comfortable with his excellent shooting and doesn't show much versatility in his game at this point. Especially his lack of confidence in his driving ability is a little concerning. He's not comfortable with creating offense for others and dosn't give you much on the boxscore apart from accumulating points in a hurry. While getting a decent amount of shots near the rim in 2012 (50% 2FG), Eriksson struggled mightly in 2013 and hit just 38% on his 2's. Thus, his game became even more perimeter oriented and his barely existing free throw drawing declined even more. It will be interesting to see how he'll pick his spots this year.
After proving that he can be a reliable and voluminous scoring option in the Spanish 2nd division, the 20-year old made a great decision to leave FC Barcelona II, and join ACB team La Bruixa d'Or. Here, he teams up with another super intriguing Scandinavian prospect in Rasmus Larsen (more on him in a few weeks). Eriksson is seeing big minutes with the team and started hot into the season, scoring 15 and 18 points in his first two games, hitting 7 of 13 from threes. He's still paper thin, but his shot is so effortless that it gives him great range either coming off a screen with a quick release or off the dribble. His excellent shooting at this age should make NBA GMs interested but he's definately still has a long way to go to become a more well-rounded player on both ends. His role with La Bruixa d'Or which started well into the season should give him plenty experience.
|Marcus Eriksson||PER GAME||PER 30|
|2013||FC Barcelona II||ESP2||25||38,1%||50,3%||88%||60%||61,8%||25,5||13||0,4||2,5||0,9||0,5||0,2||1||4,9||7,1||1,2||15,5||0,5||2,9||1,1||0,6||0,2||1,5|
|2012||FC Barcelona II||ESP2||28||50,7%||45,4%||87,3%||60%||63,1%||29,5||16||0,8||2,8||1,1||0,7||0,2||1||5,2||6,6||2,0||16||0,8||2,8||1,1||0,7||0,2||1|
2. Kenan Sipahi (Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul)
6'6" - born in 1995 - Turkey
Eurobasket was a huge embarassment for the proud Turkish basektball fans. But hey, cheer up, Turkey. After abysmal guard play and washed up ballogs like Turkoglu... how does an 18-year old pure point guard at 6'6" sound?
I absolutely love the potential of Kenan Sipahi for the same reasons that I loved the potential of Rick Rubio and Dario Saric: This guy is just too dominant and too intelligent - while also unselfish - for his age and if his learning curve goes normally, he should become a euro success story in the NBA. Watching the video I posted above should give you a hint on why this guy is so special. His ability to read the floor spontaneously as well as run designed plays to perfection does remind of Ricky. At least, it's special.
The Turkish Unicorn has been a pro since the age of 15, getting a few spot minutes with Turkish league team Tofas, and securing a 14 minutes per night rotation place at the age of 16 the subsequent season. Coaches love his seemingly robotic nature of sticking to his strengths on offense and running the point remarkably surgically for a teen. Ever since getting decent minutes as a 16-year old, Sipahi was able to keep his turnovers moderatly low compared to respectable assist numbers. When top team Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul came calling after assmebling a fun small ball roster this year, Kenan joined them, and despite losing minutes compared to his situation in Tofas, he's still seing around 15-20 minutes a night on a star ladden Euroleague team.
One of the few knocks at this stage of his game is his lack of scoring prowess. Even in youth competitions throught the U-16 to U-18 classes, Kenan has been neither a volumous nor a reliable scorer despite being a walking mismatch for due to size, IQ and explosiveness. He's shies away from shots that are not wide open - and within Fenerbahce, that's what he is told to do really. He's a very streaky shooter from deep and had trouble finishing at the rim in the Turkish league when he upped his possessions used. So far, he' struggling again in the turkish league, hitting just 4-17 shots (1-7 threes), but as in the prior two seasons, he's showing a knack of getting to the line where he hasn't missed a shot in the young season yet (12-12). Also, his assist to turnover ratio remains outstanding for a (young) euroballer. In 104 Turkish League minutes, Kenan has 22 assists to 5 turnovers. In the Euoleague, he has 6 assists, 5 steals and no turnovers in 79 minutes.
It's really fun to see him play with guys like Bojan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Linasz Kleiza and Bo McCalebb. They're euro stars and the thought of them sharing the court with a 18-year old kid in the driver seat for good portions of games is weird, but they actually listen to him. How much are teammates and coaches trusting him? He's not playing starter minutes, but he's actually started all of Fenerbahce's Euroleague games. I have huge hopes for Kenan and I see shades of Ricky Rubio (minus flashy passing.. Kenan's passing is ris-low and without much flash) and Michael-Carter-Williams types.
|Kenan Sipahi||PER GAME||PER 30|
1. Vasilije Micic (Mega Vizura)
6'5" - born in 1994 - Serbia
Micic was the fourth biggest name at the FIBA U-19 World Championship 2013, behind dominant US big Jahlil Okafor, Australian sensation Dante Exum and good old Dario Saric. As a reward for his good play, Micic was called to the Serbian senior national team to play at the Eurobasket where he played decent back-up minutes and helped Serbia qualify for next year's World Championship. Micic was leader of the team that gave the USA the biggest 'problems'. While the USA blew out their opponents by a trillion points on average, Serbia lost by nine in their first meeting and scored 68 points in the final against the US boys, the most of any team. Vasilije had a game high 24 points in the first meeting and a double-double in the final. He had problems with turnovers in both games, but his performance was still respectable, given that he went up against Marcus Smart. Internationals who do damage against hyped US high school and college kids stick with scouts, so there is obviously much intrigue around Micic.
Tools-wise, Micic reminds me a little of Deron Williams as he's not the most atheltic guy you'll find, but uses his bulk to get to spots on the floor to use his terrific vision to set up teammates. The video I posted highlights his wonderful drop-off passes in very tight area in the paint to rolling bigs which catches defenses by surprise over and over. His scoring outbursts at the U-19 championship hide the fact that he's actually a pass first point guard anyway. As a starting point guard at the age of 17 for Serbian Mega Vizura, Micic averaged 5 assists to 2.9 turnovers per game and was still a capable scorer, averaging 15.9 points in 34 minutes on good shooting all around, and a high rate of three throws drawn. Unfortunately, similar to Westermann this year, Micic' season was ended by ACL injury after just eight games. Micic bounced back in 2012-13 with similar numbers and led his team to Adriatic League qualification. This year so far, Micic is doing a nice job with Vizura in the Adriatic league, is 2nd in assists per game at 6.7 and with a minor scoring role, getting just ~10 points in 30 minutes.
Personally, I like Sipahi more, but I see that Micic, best case, has the best package to be an above average player in the NBA despite his lack of athleticism. Very good handles, persistent with his dribbling, intelligence, good shooting from range and size which allows him to play off the ball with ball-domimant types and potential to become an average defender too.
|Vasilije Micic||PER GAME||PER 30|
|2013||Mega Vizura||Serbia 1||41||48,1%||38,4%||66,7%||51,9%||55,9%||28||12||0,7||3,6||5||1||0||4||5,6||3,8||3,8||12,6||0,8||3,9||5,4||1,1||0,0||4,1|
|2012||Mega Vizura||Serbia 1||8||51,6%||47,8%||75%||53,3%||61,9%||33,8||16||1,4||3,5||5||2,5||0,1||3||6,9||2,6||4,4||14,1||1,2||3,1||4,4||2,2||0,1||2,6|