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Euroleague Review & European Prospect Bigs #3

Barcelona hands Olympiacos its second loss in a row while Tel Aviv rolls to seven consecutive wins. Partizan Belgrade shocks CSKA while Real Madrid's magical thir quarter dismantles Bayern's defense, leading to a bballbreakdown special by Coach Nick. With its third loss in a row, Fenerbahce Istanbul is in a little crisis while Emporio Armani bounces back with its second consecutive win. Also, the most intriguing young power forwards and centers I see on the continent!

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports


Olympiacos Piraeus 72 - 81 FC Barcelona
Juan Carlos Navarro - FC Barcelona - EB13
Champion Olympiacos Piraeus loses its second game in a row, falling to Spanish contender FC Barcelona for whom 34-year old Carlos Juan Navarro had a vintage performance, scoring 21 points for the second time in two weeks.
The home team came out of the gate well, taking a 23-18 lead after the first quarter which shrunk to a two point lead at halftime. Juan Navarro and youngster Alejandro Abrines scored five consecutive points to give the guests the lead and 'La Bomba' Navarro went on to score 11 more points over the next eight minutes, scoring just one point less than all of Piraeus combined in the third.
In an exciting fourth quarter, both teams combined for 50 points. A three pointer by Belgian sharpshooter Matt Lojeski and free throws from Bryant Dunston got the hosts within two with four minutes to go. Lojeski had the chance to retake the lead on a three, but he missed and Juan Navarro nailed another three on the other end on a crucial sequence that got Piraeus behind by five instead of up by one. Down by three and with a minute to go, Brad Oleson hit a big three pointer and closed the game by hitting four more free throws.

Piraeus - Georgios Printezis (17 pts, 3 rebs, 2 stls, 1 asst)
Barcelona - Juan Carlos Navarro (21 pts, 2 assts, 1 stl)

Unicaja Malaga 89 - 75 Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul
Zoran Dragic - Unicaja Malaga - EB13
The intriguing match-up between Unicaja Malaga, led by Zoran Dragic & Nik Caner-Medley, and aspirational Fenerbahce Istanbul didn't dissapoint, at least for three quarters. Istanbul suffered a brutal collapse in the fourth quarter and lost to an impressiev performance by the Spaniards.
With a four point lead, Istanbul went into the fourth quarter behind the hot shooting from Linasz Kleiza and Melih Mahmutoglu who combined for 8-11 threes. Vladimir Stimac and the brother of Goran opened the quarter with four points for Malaga, interfered by a Kleiza dunk. Jayson Granger and Ryan Toolson were not quite impressed and led Unicaja on another 5-0 run before Emir Preldzic and yet again Kleiza answered with five of their own. Dragic and Kleiza excahnged buckets at the 36 minutes mark... and well, that was it from the Turkish guests who went scoreless for the next four minutes. Threes by Dragic and Carlos Suarez gave Malaga the lead followed by a few more baskets by Dragic and friends. 14 of 27 Malaga fourth quarter points by Dragic who leads his team to a nice win over frustrated Turks.

Malaga - Zoran Dragic (24 pts, 3 assts, 2 stls)
Istanbul - Bo McCalebb (16 pts, 8 assts, 5 rebs, 1 stl)

EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 83 - 76 Laboral Kutxa Vitoria
Milan - David Moss (12 pts, 6 rebs, 2 stls, 1 asst)
Vitoria - David Jelinek (12 pts, 3 rebs, 3 assts, 2 stls)

Panathinaikos Athens 78 - 64 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Athens - Stephan Lasme (16 pts, 8 rebs, 2 assts, 1 stl)
Istanbul - Dusko Savanovic (11 pts, 4 rebs, 2 assts, 1 stl)


Group E W L +/- ORTG DRTG
Panathinaikos Athens 3 0 38 108,4 101,6
FC Barcelona 3 0 31 114,0 105,3
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 2 1 21 104,7 105
Unicaja Malaga 2 1 2 113,5 108,5
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 1 2 -1 110,8 106,6
Olympiacos Piraeus 1 2 -26 111,5 106
Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 0 3 -30 118,1 109,6
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 0 3 -35 100,6 107,3


Partizan NIS Belgrade 73 - 72 CSKA Moscow
Partizan NIS celebrates - EB13
Oh well, that did not go that well for the Russians. In an emotional contest for the Serbs who got their coach back at the sidelines after he was hospitalized, Belgrade pulled out a shocking upset over CSKA on a big game of young combo guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Moscow played well throughout the game, showing fantastic in and out game (27 2FGA, 25 3FGA) that couldn't be stopped, but they couldn't stop Partizan either which dominated on the offensive glass and hit a high percentage on its three pointers, especially Bogdanovic who went 4-8 from three.
At 50-50, the teams went into the fourth quarter in a game that saw two dominating players in Bogdanovic and Nenad Krstic who just couldn't be stopped inside, converting on 11 of his 14 attempts. Bog-Bog hit a three to start the quarter, followed by Sonny Weems and Milos Teodosic convertign a layup and a three pointer. Joffrey Lauvergne's And-1 put Partizan in front again, but on the other end, Lauvergne and friends yet again couldn't stop Krstic who rolled in for an easy two. Partizan's Tarrence Kinsey was fouled on a made shot, made the free throw before CSKA's Sonny Weems  was fouled on a made three pointer. Down by one, Bogdanovic hit a three followed Kinsey two.Krstic and Weems hit free throws to tie the game with three minutes late but Bogdanovic was unimpressed, nailing another three. Weems turned up yet again hitting a three on his own before Bogdanovic split free throws. With a minute to go, hit a shot to take a one point lead. Milenko Tepic turned on the scene by hitting a crucial baseline shot in transition, hieving the hosts up by two again before Weems got fouled by Kinsey. Weems hit both free throws for another one point CSKA lead. Down one, Bogdanovic went for the three on which he was fouled by Viktor Khryapa who looked on like a sad dog as Bog hit two free throws for a tiny one point lead that won the Serbs the game. Lots of big shots and stupid fouls down the stretch.

Belgrade -Bogdan Bogdanovic (27 pts, 2 rebs, 1 asst, 1 stl)
Moscow - Nenad Kristic (27 pts, 7 rebs, 2 blks, 1 asst)

Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 62 - 63 Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Mantas Kalnietis - Lokomotiv Kuban - EB13
Oh well, that did go well for the Russians. Despite not being a perfect team by any means, Krasnodar is putting up an impressive Euroleague debut and beats Istanbul on its home turf - on its third game winner already this season!!
The hometown fans were happy with the first quarter as Istanbul went out on a 16-4 run that ended in a 20-12 lead. Slowly but steadily however, Krasnodar was able to rub away the lead and went into the final quarter with a tie.
Krasnodar's Mantas Kalnietis rose up for a dunk before Henry Domercant and Milan Macvan hit back-to-back triples. Krasnodar's Richard Hendrix split free throws and Derrick Brown scored twice in a row before Carlos Arroyo stopped the bleeding with a layup for a three point lead. With three minutes to go, Kalietnis scored again but Carlos Arroyo came through once more with an and-1 play, stretching the lead to four points. Richard Hendrix got hacked again by Pops Mensah-Bonsu. His free throws made it a one possesion game. Arroyo's closeout three pointer rimmed out and landed in the hands of Krunislav Simon who was Krasnodar's buzzer beating game winner twice in the regular season already. Simon launched the three but missed, Mensah-Bonsu securing the ball for Istanbul. To the disbelief of Istanbul's home fans, Arroyo turned it over at the hands of Mantas Kalnietis. On a night in which Krasnodar hit just 4-17 threes with Kalnietis being 0/3 from range before the shot, the Lithuanian guard tried to get separation but was defended beautifully by Mensah-Bonsu on the perimetr. Kalnietis settled for a tough shot that fell through the net as Kalnietis fell to the ground on his off-balance jumper. Big sequence for Kalnietis and a great road win for Loko.

Istanbul - Pops Mensah-Bonsu (10 pts, 7 rebs, 1 stl)
Krasnodar - Derrick Brown (16 pts, 7 rebs, 5 stls, 4 rebs, 1 asst)

Madrid - Rudy Fernandez (24 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assts, 1 stl)
Munich - Bryce Taylor (14 pts, 4 rebs, 12 asst, 1 stl)

Zalgiris Kaunas 78 - 87 Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
Kaunas - Justin Dentmon (21 pts, 10 assts, 6 rebs, 1 asst, 1 blk)
Tel Aviv - Yogev Ohayon (10 pts, 11 assts, 4 rebs, 3 stls)


Group F W L +/- ORTG DRTG
Real Madrid 3 0 45 123 95,8
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 3 0 25 111,7 101,4
CSKA Moscow 2 1 21 108,6 97,5
FC Bayern Munich 2 1 0 112,5 110
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 1 2 -16 101,3 103
Partizan NIS Belgrade 1 2 -21 97,5 108,8
Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 0 3 -12 105,1 110,2
Zalgiris Kaunas 0 3 -42 99,6 108,3

NBA DRAFT PROSPECTS - BIGS 4. Mouhammadou Jaiteh (JSF Nanterre)

6'11" - born in 1994 - France

DraftXpress scouting video

Along with Dennis Schröder, French Mouhammadou Jaiteh was one of the success stories of last year's Nike Hoop Summit.
With impressive physicality at a young age (7'4" wingspan), Jaiteh has been able to dominate in amateur and youth circles fairly easily. Popping on the stage in 2010 at the U16 Euro Championship, Jaiteh excelled as a rebounder and finisher inside albeit in a rather low usage role. 2011 was a year of tests for Jaiteh who didn't only impress at the U18 Euro Championship (11.7 pts, 9.8 rebs in 25 minutes of play) but was also asked to take on an extended role on the Centre Fédéral de Basket-Ball team. Jaiteh might have been younger than most players in the competition, given his body it was still disappointing to see him struggling so ba to score near the rim (39% on 154 2FGA). Strong rebounding and drawing fouls stayed a common theme for him but scoring just 4.6 points in 18 minutes and not showing much on the defensive end started becoming a concern.

Jaiteh had to take a leap in the Youth League with a year of experience under his belt and he did. In 30 minutes per game, Jaiteh averaged 14.3 points with a much better rate at the rim and a solid jumper (55% on 281 2FGA and 143 FTA), 10.2 rebounds (3.8 ORBS), 1.1 assts, 1 block and 1 steal. Participating again at the U18 Euro Championship, Jaiteh finally also took on the role of a go-to-scorer with sucess, averaging 16.6 points in 28 minuts over 9 games (65% on twos) and a game high of 31 and 16 rebounds in 33 minutes against Denmark and Rasmus Larsen (see below).

After proving to have notched another level, Jaiteh was picked up by Boulogne of the Pro B, France's second highest league where he put up similar numbers to last year, scoring efficiently and often, rebounding like crazy and drawing foul after foul. This year, Jaiteh transferred to Euroleague participant JSF Nanterre. Ater not needing much other than his frame to dominate on the boards and the basket in the last two years, Jaiteh seems to struggle a little more against tougher competition, converting "only" 51.7% of his 2FGA in league play and struggling to make his presence felt on defense either as a shotblocker or help defender. He started struggling recently, going 7-21 over his last three games. After doing a solid job in the Euroleague, he's getting good minutes in the EuroCup (Nanterre participates there after being ousted from EL) and has been responding well. Great body, rebounder and an itnriguing jump shot, but there are concerns about his offensive rawness around the block and his defensive ability. 3. Kristaps Porzingis (Cajasol Sevilla)

6'11" - born in 1995 - Latvia
Power Forward

Porzingis in this year's ACB

Porzingis with the monster block on Ilimane Diop

Porzingis at the Under-18 Euro Championship

Wow, I really REALLY like this kid. Looking at the picture next to this text you might think that defense would be a weakness for this thin Latvian, but he reminds me a lot of Andrei Kirilenko at this side of the court despite obviously not being able to guard smaller threes. The IQ, activeness and athleticism is there though.

Like a Pau Gasol, Porzingis is one of the very rare European high upside late bloomers. Virtually unknown two years ago, Porzingis creeped his status to "decent talent" over the last year and eventually had his coming out party at the European Championship in 2013. There, Porzingis set a record of 4.9 blocks per game in 30 minutes per contest over a span of nine games. Add to that 11.7 points and 10 rebounds. In the bronze medal game against Spain with its top prospects Ilimane Diop (look below) and Marc Garcia, Porzingis almost had a triple double with 11 pts, 15 rebounds and 9 shots.

As a late bloomer, Porzingis is catching up quickly now after signing with Cajasol Sevilla of the Spanish ACB two yeras ago. After getting spot minutes in the league as well as European club competitions, Porzingis is seeing constant minutes in Europe's best league at a very young age alongside talented young teammates like Ondrej Balvin and Willy Hernangomez. In 13 minutes per game, K-Porz rebounds 2.3 misses, blocks 0.9 shots and gets 0.9 steals. His 2FG% of 41% might seem like a concern, but we have to keep in mind that Porzingis is crazy young to play with such competition. Also, he's by far more an outside big than an inside big as evidenced by an alarmingly poor rate of drawn free throws that extends to his days as an U1X-amateur. He will definately need to find a balance here but he's already flashing  terrific ballhandling skills which were good enough to get him past defenders and to the rim among his peers. He's not very good and somewhat clueless near the basket when he has to initiate action and I hope he'll work on that since it's a glaring weakness in his offensvie reportoire. He's looking solid as an off ball guy spotting up at the three point line and using his athleticism and IQ to cut to the basket. The AK-comparison stops on offense here however as he has not shown any feeling for being an above average passer at his position. Despite being a sound shooter, he's had mixed success with three poitn range. With Cajasol, he's being encouraged to take threes at a decent clip and it has been working so far this season as he's hit 9 of 23 triples.

In this ACB season, the 18 year old has already showed flashes of his potential. His team's DRTG is much improved with him on the court. Against Euroleague team Laboral Kuxta Vitoria, the Latvian 12 pts, 6 rebs, 4 blks and 2 stls in 25 minutes. There's a lot to like about the way Cajasol is using Porzingis. He's not playing big minutes for them but is asked to do a lot in those minutes, running pick and rolls, looking to create his own shots on dribbles and carrying a pretty significant usage on offense. Just a nice situation for him unlike another super talent born in 1995, Mario Hezonja. He's the prospect that I am most confident about becoming a lottery pick. 2. Rasmus Larsen (La Bruixa d'Or)

6'11" - born in 1994 - Denmark

Brand new DraftXpress scouting video (12 min!!)

Larsen stepped onto the scene as a fundamentally sound big but people questioned whether he really had big time potential as a finesse big who relies his jumpshot too much and can't dominate in the paint due to a lack of physicality. After being pushed around a little too much in European camps, Larsen has bulked up significantly and might actually be the most promising European big man, if only offensively.

Despite being so young, Larsen got his name into scouting books in 2009 already when he played spot minutes as a 15-year old on Denmark's U16 team at the European Championship. One year later, he logged 30 minutes at the same competition, averaging 13 pts, 8 rebs, 2.6 blks and 1.1 stls. Larsen indicated that he saw himelf as a versatile big, attempting 22 three pointers while having trouble establishing himself down low, converting only 39% of his  80 2FGAs.

One year later, Larsen began playing professionally with a Danish team as well as participating in the U18 championship, and proving to be the player scouts saw a year before - experimenting with outside shots and struggling inside as a finisher and rebounder. Larsen started bulking up and looking to make his presence felt inside too but didn't change much during these last two years. This year, Spanish ACB team La Bruixa D'Or decided to take a chance on him and making him their starting center. There, Larsen forms a fun duo with 1993-born Swedish sharpshooter Marcus Eriksson. Larsen had a terrific start to the season as ACB MVP of the first week, scoring 21 pts with 13 rebs, 1 blk and 1 stl in 25 minutes over Joventut Badalona. Ever since, Larsen production has come down significantly and he's shooting just 44.2% on 2FGA's. He's still shooting it well from deep and rebounding well on the offensive glass, but struggled to convert shots in general as well as having problems with turnovers which made his minutes come down to <20 over the last few games. We shouldn't forget though that Larsen is still extremely young and so far doing a decent job playing a tough position in Europe's best league and on a young team. 1. Ilimane Diop (Laboral Kutxa)

6'10" - born in 1995 - Spain

Ilimane Diop in the ACB

6'10" with a wingspan of ~7'4" or maybe even ~7'5". That is most of what you need to know about Ilimane Diop. Physically, Diop is an impressive freak but has the obvious problems that guys with his stature (well, there are not that many...) have. A very high center of gravitity which makes it hard for him to do explosive moves and fight for balance which makes him turnover prone. He still has a knack for avoiding being trapped by twisting and turning hsi body like an eel to get some sort of angle around a defender and twoards a basket which is often enough to get a decent look thanks to his long body. Also, he seems to do a good job positioning on his guard's drives which makes him an easy and open target for hand-offs around the basket.

Diop came to Spain at a young age and after catching the eye of basketball scots was quickly granted a Spanish passport. Diop spent the last few years dunking on and blocking shots of unfortunate European teen migets (apart from Kristaps Porzingis - look above!)

This year, Diop is playing full time for Euroleague team Laboral Kuxta Vitoria where he longs just under 10 minutes per game so it might be a little tough to say anything about him at this point as he's still so young. Sure, guys like Portzingis and Larsen are playing big minutes at a similar age already but Diop's physical frame is uncanny. Also, some scouts say that he is not merely a Rudy Gobert even though he's also a low usage player in the pro's so far. But Diop is already showing a smooth jumper and a real feel for the game. Let's see.