Day one mostly revolved around catching up with the various members of the basketball industry, all of which seem to be out in full force. As Angelico Biellas General Manager Daniele Baiesi told us in our Eurocamp preview on NBA.com, this is a perfect setting to mix watching players in with business, and indeed were hearing plenty of chatter coming from the direction of the bleachers with agents peddling their players, teams looking for prospects to sign, and old friends catching up on their experiences from the past season.
Some of the names that jump off the page of the NBA credential list include Danny Ainge (Boston Celtics), Calvin Booth (NBA player), Mike DAntoni (New York Knicks), Maurizio Gherardini (Toronto Raptors), Dave Griffin (Phoenix Suns), Fred Hoiberg (Minnesota Timberwolves), Steve Kerr (Phoenix Suns), Ronnie Lester (LA Lakers), Dennis Lindsey (San Antonio Spurs), Daryl Morey (Houston Rockets), David Morway (Indiana Pacers), Donnie Nelson (Dallas Mavericks), Milton Newton (Washington Wizards), Kevin OConnor (Utah Jazz), Kevin Pritchard (Portland Trailblazers), Pat Riley (Miami Heat), Tommy Sheppard (Washington Wizards), Jim Stack (Minnesota Timberwolves), Rick Sund (Atlanta Hawks), Jay Triano (Toronto Raptors), Masai Ujiri (Toronto Raptors), Donnie Walsh (New York Knicks), and many many others that we probably missed. Pretty much every major basketball agency and all of the top European teams are represented here as well.
Looking through the rosters and figuring out who actually showed up, we find a good deal of talent both in terms of players who will get drafted this year and prospects for the future. Rodrigue Beaubois and Patrick Mills appear to be the headliners at the point guard position, and well get to see those two go head to head tomorrow morning. Patrick Beverley is another guard that teams will want to get a look at, and the same can be said for Frances Nando De Colo, USCs Daniel Hackett, and Russias Alexey Shved. In terms of the wings and big men, Henk Norel, Jonas Jerebko (more on him below), Joe Ingles, Slava Kravtsov and Vladimir Dasic appear to be the main prospects for this years draft.
You can sense a slight hint of disappointment in the absence of Brandon Jennings and a host of Serbian prospects who were denied the exposure this camp can provide by their own national teams federationincluding Milan Macvan, Nemanja Bjelica, Marko Keselj, Dragan Labovic, Milenko Tepic and Miroslav Raduljica. Jan Veseley was also barred from leaving for Treviso by his Serbian team Partizan Belgrade.
Still, there is a strong sentiment from the NBA people in attendance that this is indeed the strongest roster put together from top to bottom since this camps inception.
Trying not to be too quick to jump to conclusions off our initial impressions from day one, it was still hard to ignore the immediate impact that Russian combo guard Alexey Shved was able to have on the floor in the camps very first game. 16 points, 2 assists and 5 steals on 6/9 shooting was his final stat-line, but the influence he had extended well beyond what were able to see in the box-score.
Clearly the most naturally talented player we saw, Shveds combination of fluidity, confidence and skill-level was unmatched by any of the other players on the roster. He had a number of extremely impressive sequences, for example coming up with an impressive block while trailing the 6-10 Elmedin Kikanovic . He also showed some athleticism finishing acrobatically around the basket plus the foul in transition, and a high skill-level pulling up off the dribble in gorgeous fashion from 18-20 feet on numerous occasions.
Shveds feel for the game was always evident with the excellent court vision he showed, but he clearly has work to do with his shot-selection and overall decision making, which still arent quite up to par. Regardless, its extremely difficult to see how he could spend another year rotting on CSKAs Moscows bench, which is exactly why it will be important for him to find a situation where he can finally see real playing time this upcoming season.
Ironically enough, Shved is one of the few interesting players here at the Eurocamp who elected not to make himself eligible for the draft. Next year he will be automatically eligible, though, and based off what we saw here, could strongly be in the mix to get picked in the first round.
Playing on the same winning Red team, Patrick Beverleys stat-line was pretty impressive in his first game, finishing with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists and 6 fouls drawn. He looked somewhat out of sorts at times running the point, but this is to be expected considering that these teams have just been put together and the players have not yet had time to establish any chemistry with each other. He was very persistent looking to create his own shot and get to the basket, showing an aggressive first step and good quickness getting by his man, sometimes to finish with a pretty floater in the lane. He also did a good job getting in the passing lanes, sometimes gambling excessively, but still coming up with good results, allowing him to show off his athleticism in transition situations, including one emphatic dunk to cap off the game.
One player we want to take a closer look at in the next few days is Georgian Tornike Shengelia. The 18-year old only saw 17 minutes in his first game, but still managed to show some impressive shot-creating ability considering that he stands a legit 6-9.
On the losing side, Slovenian wing Jaka Klobucar started this camp right where he left off last year, looking extremely aggressive on both ends of the floor, showing a solid first step putting the ball on the floor, making perimeter shots in impressive fashion (4/5 3P) and also showing solid vision passing the ball with either hand. He may not have had much of a season with Olimpija Ljubljana, but he definitely didnt let that get in his way today.
Jonas Jerebko wasnt here for day one, hes still resting after just being eliminated from the playoff Italian league semifinals just two days ago, and has not yet decided whether hell participate in the camp. The NBA people here will surely be disappointed if he elects not to play, but it appears that well get a chance to see him on Monday.
In the second game, Rodrigue Beaubois showed off the incredible strengths he brings to the table as an NBA prospectparticularly his incredible physical tools, which came in really handy in transition. His first performance was somewhat unevenon one hand hes clearly the most athletic player at this camp, but hes still figuring out how to fully utilize his natural tools, especially in terms of making good decisions and getting others involved. No other draft-eligible player in this camp shares his potential, though. He hurt his wrist and is in question for day two.
Ole Miss David Huertas put on a phenomenal shooting display, with 15 points, all on jumpers, but little else. Spanish forward Pablo Aguilar looked as polished and experienced as you would expect considering his status as a legit ACB player. Well talk about him more deeply tomorrow, since hes been very impressive. Boban Marjanovic was able to dominate the paint in some stretches, but there are serious question marks about his lack of mobility and poor motor as far as the NBA is concerned.
In the third game of the day, Patty Mills very talented team was blown out almost right from the get-go by Nando De Colos very French influenced team. Mills made plenty of shots but really struggled to control the pace of the game from the point guard position, not finishing particularly well around the basket and appearing to settle excessively for outside jumpers. His teammate Joe Ingles had somewhat of a nightmare performance, with just 1 point and 3 turnovers in 30 minutes.
FMPs junior team got smoked by the Reebok all-stars in the last game of the day, with Dejan Musli the only one that showed up to play for the overmatched Serbians, most of then four or even five years younger than their competition. Teenage sensation Nenad Miljenovic is here in attendance but did not play due to a minor injury.
Check back with us tomorrow as we further evaluate this camp.