2007 RBK Eurocamp: Day Four

2007 RBK Eurocamp: Day Four
Jun 14, 2007, 01:43 am
Camp wrap-up:

The RBK Eurocamp in Treviso was once again a big success this year, certainly worth the 5 very valuable calendar days it takes up during this crucial time of the year. While the level of play might not have always been spectacular, you can’t put a price on the value of seeing the amount of (often obscure) international prospects we got to take in during a matter of four days, between the 45+ camp participants and the various teams that came through to compete against the all-star selections. As Boston Celtics General Manager Chris Wallace told us during one game this camps “saves NBA teams an incredible amount of time and money…making it an invaluable experience for us.”

Day Four Individual Prospect Recaps:

Giorgos Printezis, 6-9, SF/PF, Olimpia Larisa, Greece
19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 5/10 2P, ¾ 3P, 23 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Giorgos Printezis clearly saved his best for last here at the RBK Eurocamp, coming up with one of the most impressive individual performances seen in the four days of action. He led the RBK all-star game in scoring in a rout over the U20 Russian National team, showing off glimpses of his many versatile skills.

The first would be his very quick first step, which he used on numerous occasions to make some very strong moves to the basket. He doesn’t have great body control or explosiveness to contort himself in traffic and finish super creatively around the hoop, but he is intelligent enough to usually get the job done. Having a prototypical frame for an NBA small forward, complete with excellent strength, he is able to finish strong even after taking contact. Printezis crashed the glass pretty well also, showing nice quickness in the process and the toughness and aggressiveness to get the job done.

Where Printezis was at his best in this game was probably behind the 3-point line, though—knocking down shot after shot when left open on the perimeter. He’s not the kind of guy who will openly look to create shots for himself from behind the arc, but if given a second to square his shoulders and set his feet, he showed that he has the ability to hit his shots at a very nice clip. He made a living in this game off the catch and shoot.

Something we came away still unsure about following this camp was Printezis’ ability to defend athletic small forwards on the perimeter, even if his lateral quickness does not look all that poor. This is something that NBA teams might want to take a closer look at if they bring him in for NBA private workouts leading up to the draft. Printezis did a very nice job here, going from being almost completely off the radar to giving NBA scouts we spoke with plenty of food for thought regarding whether he might be worth investing a 2nd round pick on. At the end of the day, that’s what camps like this are really all about.

Joao Gomes, 6-6, Shooting Guard, Barriense, Portugal
26 points, 4 rebounds, 5/5 2P, 4/5 3P, 26 minutes

Luis Fernandez

After three days of unimpressive showings, Joao Gomes finally had his breakout performance in the last day of the camp. For some stretches, he reproduced the shooting orgies he had delivered in the Vilagarcia Basket Cup (where we saw him two months ago). He put on display his very nice array of jumpers and ability to create them: in catch-and-shoot fashion coming off cutters, after a jab step with the opponent in front of him, off the dribble with a slight fade-away move, pulling up after a hesitation move...he looks very difficult to stop when he's on fire like that. Still, it wasn't only about shooting the ball. Gomes also shined in slashing situations. He's not that much of a ball-handler, but can take advantage of favorable situations to attack his rivals going both ways and showing very solid footwork and terrific balance flying towards the basket, which allows him to executes moves in the air to avoid defenders and still get the layup off with either hand.

Even if he's not the guy with the best basketball IQ around, lacking some creativity and passing skills, he's a good athlete with an excellent stroke and very nice ability to finish near the rim, while he works pretty well on defense and rebounding the ball. If the scouts were still paying attention, this late performance should leave him with a pretty solid status in the second round.

Alexey Shved, 6-5, PG/SG,1988, CSKA Moscow, Russia
7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, 2/3 2P, 1/6 3P 16 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Shved was yet another highly regarded NBA draft prospect to make it out to Treviso to face off against a contingent of the RBK Eurocamp all-stars. The 1988 Russian guard didn’t have a great showing-- coming off the bench and not looking like a real focal point of the team as one of the youngest players on it—but he did manage to drop some glimpses of his excellent potential.

Shved has nice tools for the combo guard position, featuring good size, long arms and very nice athletic ability, even if his frame looks pretty frail at the moment. He has a quick first step and pretty good ball-handling skills with either hand—making him a threat to go one on one at any time. He also likes to operate in the mid-range area, usually to pull-up smoothly off the dribble after going left. He hit one 3-pointer in this fashion and another from about 18 feet out, but struggled otherwise with his long-range shooting today.

Shved is billed a big point guard, and even if he played off the ball quite a bit in this game, still showed a pretty good understanding of how to find the open man on the drive and dish—making quick decisions within the flow of the offense and doing a good job feeding the post with entry-passes. He did get a bit wild at times, though, leaving his feet before having made up his mind as to what he wants to do, and causing a couple of unnecessary turnovers due to his over-exuberance trying to make the spectacular play. His Russian coach wasn’t going to stand for such a thing from one of the youngest players on the team, so he was promptly benched for a few minutes after throwing the ball carelessly out of bounds on one occasion.

Despite being a year younger than most of his teammates and up to three years younger than the players he was matching up against, Shved still stood out on the defensive end. His long arms and nice lateral quickness help him out in this area, but he also seems to have good instincts on this end, even if he has a tendency to gamble a bit for blocks and steals.

All in all, Shved did a good job showing off the various tools he has at his disposal, even if he still looks a couple of years away from being able to contribute at the senior level and eventually try to play his way into first round draft consideration. Being a product of the very well respected CSKA Moscow youth development system, he’s obviously going to be getting some good coaching to help him along that path.

Saul Blanco, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Fuenalabrada, Spain
7 points, 3 rebounds, 3/3 2P, 26 minutes

Luis Fernandez

The Spanish shooting guard finished the camp with another solid outing, this time being more aggressive in terms of scoring points. Blanco is a naturally unselfish guy who usually prefers to feed a teammate, as he had been doing these days, but at some point he should try to take advantage of his strength and athleticism to finish himself, as he enjoys the tools to be effective here. In this last day he went all the way to the hole on three different occasions, particularly shining with a right-handed floater over an opponent using the glass and with a nice dunk where he showed some of his athleticism. Even if his first step is nothing much more than decent, his strength and long strides help him to get the job done, while he's usually under control in order to take decisions while slashing.

Saul has shown maturity and intelligence during the camp (actually he's studying Telecommunications Engineering, pretty impressive since it's one of the very most difficult degrees in Spain), very good decision making, an increasingly better shooting stroke, and very good defensive and rebounding activity. Although not extremely intriguing, he's a player with nice potential who understands the game and seems to enjoy the attitude and mental strength to keep improving for many years (indeed, we have seen him working on his own on his perimeter shot during the past summer). The fact that many NBA teams we’ve spoken to have admitted to not having done their homework scouting him in the ACB league probably hurts his stock in the draft, but still it wouldn't be that surprising if someone bet on him with a very late second round pick, even if it seems a bit unlikely.

Rudy Mbemba, 6-0, Point Guard, 1987, Frankfurt Skyliners, Sweden
9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 3/5 2P, 1/1 3P, 24 minutes

Jonathan Givony

After a couple of excellent performances here at the Eurocamp, which very likely have helped out his stock, Rudy Mbemba slowed down to a certain extent in the last game against the U20 Russian National Team, partially due to a slight injury he might have suffered taking a hard spill to the ground.

Mbemba looked a lot more aggressive early on looking to show off his terrific slashing skills. He came up with two big dunks early on, utilizing his excellent ball-handling skills, particularly his lightning quick crossover, to make his way into the paint and either find the open man underneath the hoop or finish the play himself. He also made some very nice post-entry passes on the fly, again showing his improving knowledge of executing the pick and roll, but also had a couple of careless forces getting a bit wild with his dribble.

He slowed down a bit in the 2nd half, but that doesn’t take anything away from the excellent camp Mbemba had—probably making him the favorite for MVP honors.

Anton Ponkrashov, 6-7, Point Guard, 1986, CSKA Moscow, Russia
2 game totals: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 turnovers, 3/5 2P, 2/7 3P, 43 minutes

Luis Fernandez

After the impact he caused in last year's EuroCamp here in Treviso, this edition, even if decently solid, has been slightly disappointing for him. His last day wasn't his best, perhaps being a bit burned out going for the second double-header in consecutive days. He couldn't find his teammates as easily as in previous days, wasn't that effective looking for the basket, either with jumpers or in transition, and he even lost a bit of poise unnecessarily over-dribbling the ball. Perhaps the most obvious conclusions we have learned here about his game is how he suffers matching up against bigger defenders that don't allow him to use as comfortably the size differential he usually enjoys, as Ponkrashov sees the court and passes the ball usually above his rivals.

Over the course of the week it was pretty obvious that the Russian point guard was lacking focus, causing him to get extremely frustrated with himself, which only usually made things worse. It’s not clear whether he is suffering from rustiness after not having gotten that much playing time this past season (even if he was certainly a rotation player), or whether it was the pressure of playing in front of the NBA scouts that really got to him. What is certain is that he definitely turned the ball over too much, and forced his 3-point shot excessively.

Ali Traore, 6-9, PF/C, 1985, Le Havre, France
10 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 block, 5/7 2P, 15 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Traore had another decent showing on the offensive end today, looking pretty reliable using his body to score easy points around the basket. At times he looked like a bit of a black hole, though, refusing to pass out of double teams in the post and getting called for traveling on a few occasions.

After guaranteeing to pull down 10 rebounds when we last spoke yesterday (he asked us why we don’t consider him a potential first round pick like other scouting services), Traore only managed to get 2 today—further confirming his biggest weakness as an NBA prospect. Having the chance to evaluate his rebounding skills very closely throughout his time on the court, we can say with some confidence that he does a very poor job boxing out his opponents and doesn’t seem to put much effort into going after rebounds that are out of his area—even having a few balls snatched right out of his hands by smaller opponents. For a guy who isn’t the tallest, explosive or most skilled prospect in the world, this has to be considered a serious cause for concern.

Victor Claver, 6-9, SF/PF, 1988, Pamesa Valencia, Spain
2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, ½ 2P, 0/1 3P, 22 minutes

Luis Fernandez

Likely the top prospect at the camp, Claver hasn't damaged his stock one bit after his showing here, which is already a great success after his impressive performance in the ACB playoffs. He didn't make much noise in his last day here, but still he delivered some intriguing details. Growing in defensive toughness since the days we first reported about a few years back him in the L'Hospitalet tournament, Claver has actively looked for charges to force offensive fouls. He also did a nice job hedging pick and roll situations, stepping in the way of the ball-handler without hesitation. He also has provided some spectacular moves while dribbling the ball; particularly yesterday when executing a great direction change in transition at full speed. Actually, he's taking advantage of any opportunity he has to take the ball up-court in early transition. Next season he should become an important contributor for Pamesa Valencia in the ACB League.

Artur Urazmanov, 6-1, Point Guard, 1987, CSKA Moscow, Russia
2 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1/1 2P, 0/2 3P, 13 minutes

Luis Fernandez

If we weren't deliberately scouting him during the game, we probably wouldn't have even felt his presence on the court. We ignore if he's coming of an injury or anything similar, as his athleticism didn't look as exuberant as in past occasions, but anyway he delivered an extremely poor performance, being consistently beaten on defense (both Mbemba and Ponkrashov were pretty tough match-ups for him, as he couldn't keep up with Rudy's quickness and Anton's size and strength), and was completely ineffective in the offensive end, over-dribbling the ball at times and not making his shots.

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