Player of the Week: Rudy Fernández
We can find the most noticeable areas of improvement this season in his shooting stroke and work without the ball. Hes nailing his three-pointers with good consistency, enjoying a 48.3% of accuracy from beyond the arc (4/7 vs. Cibona). Its still mostly a static shot, as he struggles shooting off the dribble from that range, but Rudy releases it fast and hes smart cutting and finding spaces to fire it. Actually, his movement without the ball also has the mid-range distance as an objective, as well as his trademark dunks off alley-oops. Against Cibona we could see Rudy cutting and coming off screens to receive the ball about 13 feet from the basket, turn around and shoot in fade-away fashion, all performed with great quickness. Hes very active looking for these kind of options and his teammates also look for him.
Besides, his good decision making is always there, although his assist numbers have dropped as hes looking for the basket more aggressively (hes been credited with only a single assist in the Euroleague since the opener against Panathinaikos). Rudy never forgets the rebounding department, and he looked particularly active against Cibona with 5 captures, as well as delivering very nice defense, becoming another piece of a quite aggressive perimeter game in Joventut, always searching for the steal (2 facing the Croatian team).
This last weekend, in the ACB League, he had 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in 25 minutes playing against Tau Vitoria. It was a loss for Joventut, but its pretty clear that Rudy has stepped up in terms of leadership for his team.
Despite still drawing doubts about his NBA potential (particularly concerning his physical build and ability to create his own shot), performances like this one will really come in handy for Rudy in order to get a spot in the first round of the next draft.
Taking a Long Look at
Ricky Rubio, who delivered another sample of the kind of player he is.
Once again his defense and decision making on the offensive end made the difference for him. Rubio perfectly combines an excellent ability to stop his matchups (hes everyday a more reliable defender on the ball, showing very nice lateral quickness and anticipation) with his incredible knack to steal the ball. He did a terrific job on both Jerry McCullough and Davor Kus, while coming away with 5 steals. Its becoming so ridiculous that Rubio already leads the Euroleague with 3.5 per game (he also leads the ACB League with 2.45). Of course, hes also the leader per minute steals, getting one every five minutes hes on the court. Truly staggering.
On the offensive end, hes passing the ball really well. He drives and effectively dishes, and he also perfectly executes the extra pass, which is pretty logical since he rarely takes the shot unless hes given plenty of space. He got 5 assists this way against Cibona. Obviously, shooting remains the main concern; he could only score 3 points from the free-throw line. We also have to mention his rebounding effort, as he averages 2.3 per game, not bad at all for a 16-year old kid who plays 17 minutes per game and stands 6-4. He pulled down 2 against Cibona.
Uros Tripkovic, who gave signs of hope in this weeks Euroleague game against one of the two biggest powerhouses currently in the Old Continent as well as the only undefeated team so far in the competition: Panathinaikos. We saw a much more active and aggressive player in Tripkovic, successfully attacking the rim and finishing near the basket even with opposition (he had a few and-one plays). He also dished the ball showing nice decision making, as well as battled on the boards looking for rebounds. His perimeter shooting wasnt there (only 1/6 from the three-point line), and actually hasnt been for the whole season (he credits a woeful 16.7%). Tripkovic was expected to be a much more reliable shooter at this point, but it seems that he cant find the proper rhythm for the moment. He finished the game contributing 14 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds to Partizan. This weekend he didnt play in the Adriatic League due a minor problem in the ankle, but he might come back already this week for the next Euroleague game.
Zoran Erceg, who delivered a season high 24 points coming off the bench, also adding 6 rebounds and 2 steals, to help FMP to beat Snaidero Udine on the road in the ULEB Cup.
State of the Prospect: Whos Hot
Marc Gasol had his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds while helping Akasvayu Girona to beat MMT Estudiantes on the road. Its the fourth consecutive game he scores in double figures in the ACB League, becoming one of the most solid centers in the competition. Gasol is a force in the low post; with his size and weight its very difficult to stop him: he bangs, shows nice footwork and delivers fairly effective semi-hooks. Besides, hes working well boxing out and positioning himself for rebounding, while showing a nice basketball IQ. As always, a lack of athleticism is what limits his potential and draft stock, but hes currently firmly planted in the second round.
Giorgos Printezis, after netting 31 points the previous weekend, went for 26 against PAOK, with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. The opposing frontcourt couldnt keep up with his quickness and aggressiveness attacking the basket. Printezis is fairly explosive player who doesnt hesitate if he sees space to slash towards the basket. On the other hand, he wasnt as productive from the three-point line as in other occasions (just 1/3).
Renaldas Seibutis scored a season high 20 points for Maroussi en-route to a win against Panellinios. He has reached double digits in the last 4 games, and his three-point accuracy looks much improved, shooting 69% in that span. It is extremely important for Seibutis to show consistency in his long-range stroke; hes a very solid shooter just one step into the arc, but those few feet of range are really important in the top international level. Hes just not the kind of super-athletic wing that can completely rely on his slashing abilities.
State of the Prospect: Whos Not
Luigi Datome is not getting any love from his coach coming back from the injury he suffered this summer. He plays in most games, but sees very limited action. He averages 4.1 minutes in the Italian Lega, with only 17 points to speak of in the 9 games he could hit the court. Actually, the only time he surpassed the barrier of 10 minutes of action (13 against Livorno) he managed to produce 8 points.
Marco Belinelli had one of his best showings of the season this weekend. Its not that strange that he scores 24 points, but its becoming rare to see him netting half of his three-point attempts (3/6). Besides, he also added 3 assists and 5 boards, matching his career-high mark in rebounding (a department where Marco is not particularly prolific). Still, his team Climamio suffered an upsetting defeat in Cantu after having beaten the rather tough Efes Pilsen in Istanbul a few days before, digging in the very disappointing record that the team exhibits on the domestic front (4-6). The lack of a reliable frontcourt is hurting Climamio as well as Belinelli himself, as he suffers from defenses that focus their efforts on Bolognas perimeter game. Also its interesting to note that Marco is passing the ball quite well despite the large amount of shots he takes; after all, hes a good passer who enjoys a quick mind and nice court vision.
Career highs for Mirza Begic with 16 points and 11 rebounds, also adding 4 blocks against Hemofarm, in another loss for Geoplin Slovan, the worst team in the Adriatic League. Still a raw player, particularly in the physical department, 7-3 centers like Begic are always attractive for NBA teams in the second round, and performances like this one will surely help him in order to hear his name called come draft night. If you want details about his style of play, be sure to check out what our Balkan scout Kristian Hohnjec wrote a few weeks ago.
14 points (staying perfect from the field), 12 rebounds and 2 assists might sound like an impressive performance for Tiago Splitter. It was a good one, obviously very productive, but we didnt see anything special in this game coming from the Brazilian. He scored basically receiving under the basket after good moves without the ball, although he netted a mid-ranger from the free-throw line. His rebounding figures surprise because this is not his biggest strength, but he stayed quite active and had one of these days when the ball just seemed to keep coming. In the ACB League, he settled for 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, helping Tau to beat DKV Joventut. All in all, hes the same old reliable (albeit a bit unspectacular) Splitter.
Coming off an injury early this season, Carlos Suárez is struggling a little bit trying to get in shape. However, this week he had 19 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in the FIBA EuroCup against CSU Asesoft Ploiesti. He converted 5 treys off 9 attempts, digging in the dependence he currently has on his perimeter stroke. His limited athleticism and ability to create his own shot seriously slow down his potential, even if hes bound to become a very reliable guy in Europe.
Ukrainian prospect Kyrylo Fesenko has finally left the domestic powerhouse Azovmash searching for minutes in Cherkasky, a more accurate team to gain experience with actual playing time. The 1986 born 7-footer made his debut in the FIBA EuroCup against the Russian team Samara with a double double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 boards.