Five young European players have put their name into the big basket of draftable players for this year. The quintet is now among a long list of players who could hear their name called by David Stern on June 26th during the NBA Draft in Madison Square Garden.
BallinEurope.com today presents the five eligible guys and has talked to an European Scout currently working for an NBA team to get his opinion on each player.
Danilo Gallinari (height 2.08 meters, current team Armani Jeans Milano)
Gallinari already showed his great talent this season in the Euroleague, where he was the very young leader of the Milano team. He averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the main European competition while leading Milano to a semifinal spot in the Italian league. Gallinari possesses all-around skills, good athletic abilities and can score from anywhere on the court.
Scouting report: Of all the Europeans, Gallinari is the most ready for the NBA. He is a skilled offensive wing who can shoot, understands the game, and has the necessary confidence and toughness.
Nicolas Batum (2.04m, Le Mans Sarthe Basket)
Batum was considered the best talent in Europe before this season, but he could not really develop the same potential as Gallinari in the Euroleague season and had a lot of ups and downs. Batum probably remains one of the best combinations of basketball skills, court vision and athleticism, however. If he adds a good jump shot, he can become a great player.
Scouting report: Batum is a high-potential shooting guard who could become a lockdown defender, shot creator, and 1-on-1 scorer if he develops a mean streak.
Alexis Ajinca (2.13m, Hyères Toulon)
The second Frenchman among the early entrants, Ajinca is probably the greatest physical and athletic prospect in the NBA Draft from the European side. Ajinca really changed his game this season and was transformed into a center. In the youth categories, Alexis was playing more outside where he could knock down shots and drive to the hoop against bigger guys. He added a lot of weight this year and now plays hard in the paint, where he is a great shot blocker.
Scouting report: Alexis is a skinny shot blocker with decent touch to mid-range and is a good passer for his size. The question remains as to how tough he is. Also, can he defend in the low post?
Serge Ibaka (2.08m, L’Hospitalet)
Ibaka came from a bit out of nowhere this season, and we’ve already discussed his arrival in Europe here. So after a season in the Spanish LEB Gold and a good showing at the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Ibaka decided to stay in the draft and take his chances. Ibaka is a raw physical specimen who is still learning how to play basketball; he has amazing athletic abilities and has already developed a proper shot. However, ball-handling and basketball knowledge are far from top-class standards at the moment.
Scouting report: Ibaka is a high-potential power forward with shot blocking and rebounding abilities who runs the floor and has surprising touch for his short time playing basketball. He might be a very good player in a few years.
Ante Tomic (2.17m, KK Zagreb)
Tomic is the prototype of the Balkan center: very tall, good shot and great understanding of the game. On the other hand, toughness and physical presence is an issue for him. However, in Tomic you have a greatly talented individual player who has better fundamentals than some forwards and perhaps better court vision than some guards. Tomic, who has already tested the waters in the NBA Draft several times, remained in the selection this year for good.
Scouting report: Tomic is a skinny but skilled power forward with a nice mid-range game and is very good in the pick-and-roll. But is he able to defend at the NBA level?
Besides the early entrants, a whole lot of European players are automatically eligible for the NBA Draft, and all players born in 1986 are now qualified. BallinEurope believes that the guys with the best chances to be drafted from this class are Nikola Pekovic, Omer Asik, and eventually Anton Ponkrashov. Goran Dragic is also a possible choice, while Semih Erden may end up somewhere in the second round as well.
Our NBA Scout opines that Omer Asik and Goran Dragic have the best chances from this group to hear their name on Draft Day.