Player of the Week: Zoran Erceg
FMP tied Hemofarm this past week at the top of the Serbian SuperLeague following the excellent display of Zoran Erceg. He had 16 points in a victory against Partizan that allowed FMP to surpass the Serbian powerhouse in the ladder. A few days later, Erceg erupted for 24 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, while FMP consolidated its top position by easily beating Vojvodina.
Hes not a bruiser, nor a hustler; hes not a great defender or a remarkable rebounder; hes not a great passer or game creator; he doesnt have an NBA body; hes a finesse big man who lives off his scoring abilities, hes an offensive specialist NBA-wise with questionable effectiveness due to his thin frame. The problem here is, unless youre really a superb offensive player, it rarely makes the cut. Usually, only star players are allowed to remain as scoring specialists in the NBA, and thats even more obvious when it comes to European guys, who often struggle with the level of toughness, strength and athleticism that the NBA requires. Erceg would need to really master his skills, because he would likely be regularly outmuscled on both ends of the court.
Still, you dont find 6-11 guys with Ercegs abilities every day. He can shoot, he can drive, he can even play in the low post if his opponents strength allow him to, he understands the game, he has nice mobility, he is a real basketball player. Even if not very likely, by no means we should rule out that he could become a useful guy as he develops physically. If a somehow similar type of player like Oleksiy Pecherov (tougher, bigger physically and better rounded, thats true) managed to sneak into the first round in last years draft, Erceg certainly has a fair chance to hear his name called next month.
Taking a Long Look at
Ohayon is very much the same played we saw at the 2005 U-18 European Championship, a classic distributing point guard with limited physical and athletic gifts, but more than enough talent to effectively run a teams offense.
At 6-2, the lefty Israeli playmaker is a bit undersized and not particularly athletic. He wont light up most defenders with his quickness, but relies on his very solid skill repertoire to get the job done (even if sometimes its not enough). A very nice ball-handler, Ohayon uses both hands and a variety of direction changes to beat his opponents, particularly crossover moves and reverses, showing excellent footwork in the process. Hes a poised and smart player who rarely gets out of control and likes to involve his teammates in the offense. Yogev enjoys remarkable court vision that he puts on display to feed his distributing vocation. His ability to dish assists off the dribble after beating his match-up and force defensive rotations is beautiful. But he can also play from the perimeter, feeding the big guys and generating ball movement. All in all, he has the makings of a real floor general.
Ohayon can score points as well. He has been steadily improving his perimeter stroke over the past few seasons, although theres still work to do. Anyway, he shows nice quick mechanics to release the ball. Hes rather effective from the mid-range area, even shooting off-the-dribble. Around the basket, hes quite skilled delivering left-handed layups. Not the best defender around, he logically suffers from his physical shortcomings, but still he does a decent job.
Obviously this doesnt look like the profile of a NBA player. But still, its fair to expect Ohayon to become a very nice player in Europe, even a premier point guard if he maximizes his potential.
State of the Prospect: Whos Hot
Omri Casspi followed Yogev Ohayons efforts to help Galil Elyon advance to the semifinals in the Israeli league. He had 14 points in the crucial thriller against Ironi Nahariya, and improved to 22 points and 5 rebounds in the regular seasons closer versus Ironi Ashkelon.
Danilo Gallinari is emerging as a key piece in the playoffs for Armani Jeans Milano, and his input has resulted invaluable for his team to reach the semifinals in the domestic league. He was probably the best player in the third-game loss against Whirpool Varese with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals. Actually he was the only player in Milano to finish with positive plus/minus figures in the game. He kept his offensive punch in the decisive fourth game that sealed Milanos passport for the next stage, with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Again this time he displayed the best plus/minus stats in his team.
Nemanja Aleksandrov delivered a season-high 25 points in the Serbian SuperLeague in the victory over Masinac, also adding 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Its probably his best game this season, although the rival is far from being among the crop in the Balkan league. Actually Crvena Zvezda rolled over them by almost 30 points. At least Aleksandrov is giving good signs to think about a much more consistent season next year.
Igor Milosevic chose the other game Crvena Zvezda had last week to step up and showcase his abilities. With 21 points and 3 steals, he led his team in the classic rivalry showdown against Partizan (actually, a much more serious rival than Masinac). Unfortunately, they fell 5 points short of the victory. Its interesting to note that Milosevic couldnt dish even a single assist despite his offensive activity. Hes certainly not the most distributing-oriented playmaker.
Rudy Fernández couldnt stop Gran Canaria Grupo Dunas from tying the quarterfinal series in the ACB playoffs, despite scoring 23 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in the fourth game. Its impressive to see how Rudy has been able to reach double digits in scoring in the last 16 games in the ACB league.
State of the Prospect: Whos Not
Mirza Teletovic lost the little credit coach Maljkovic had given him the very same moment Tau Vitoria signed Lou Roe for the playoffs. Hes now the fifth man in the inside rotation and only played some garbage time in the first and third games of the quarterfinal series against Unicaja Málaga (even then, he went scoreless), just to see the entire second game from the bench, despite the fact that Tau enjoyed 20-points advantages during some stretches (they finished the game 16 points up).