Definitely a sleeper as far as the NBA draft is concerned, Kravtsov is a player who only a handful of NBA teams seem to have a good handle on at the moment. Hes what you would call a late bloomer, having grown a few inches over the past two and half a years, and added over 25 pounds of muscle just during the last year. You dont have to look any further than here to notice the emphasis Tomo Mahoric, his assistant Bostian Jaske and B.C. Kyiv put on physical conditioning, weight lifting and such than this kid. Kravtsov has a great frame and especially good upper body strength, fitting the bill and then some for a player his size.
More than just a 7-footer with an NBA body, though, Kravtsov possesses outstanding athleticism on top of that to complete a very intriguing physical profile. He runs the floor extremely well, moves laterally quickly and fluidly, and is absolutely explosive around the basket, looking capable of tearing down the rim every time he goes up to finish. Hes also quick off his feet to contest or block shots, giving him virtually everything you could ask for physically from a player his size.
Skill-wise, Kravtsov still has a ways to go to catch up with the tools he possesses. There are two things he does very well, though, which allows him to remain a pretty productive big man considering his age, Kyivs deep rotation, and the level of competition they play at. Those would be his shot-blocking skills, and his ability to finish around the basket.
The defensive end of the floor is probably where Kravtsov will always be most interesting, surely as far as the NBA is concerned. Looking beyond his size, frame, and athleticism, he also has pretty good instincts as well, particularly regarding his shot-blocking ability. Kravtsov gets low in a fundamental defensive stance guarding his man in the post, doing a great job following the ball, bodying up his matchup, and giving him very little space to operate. He has excellent lateral quickness sliding around to keep up with slashing guards or pivoting big men in the paint, and is quick off his feet and challenge a shot, coming up regularly with blocks both on-ball and from the weakside, with impressive timing. He did a terrific job on Mario Austin
in both games Kyiv played Benetton, giving him fits around the basket. As a rebounder he also does an excellent job, pulling down nearly 6 boards a game in just over 17 minutes.
Like many young big men, Kravtsov used to have major problems biting on pump-fakes and trying to block absolutely everything in the paint, which usually got him in foul trouble. Hes improved considerably in this area, but still has quite a bit of room for improvement here still. He seems to have a tendency at times to let his man back him down in the post, waiting for him to go up with his shot, all the time thinking that hell simply be able to rely on his outstanding physical tools to block him at the rim, instead of just playing good defense.
Offensively, Kravtsov is a very limited player at the moment, mostly sticking to dunks around the basket, transition plays, and offensive rebounds. He has the potential to make a big impact in the paint with his physical tools, but doesnt really know how to establish great position for himself in the post at the moment. When he does, he shows very average post moves, besides a basic jump-hook he can hit with either hand from very close range, although he clearly prefers his right hand. We were told by Coach Mahoric that he actually has pretty nice touch from the perimeter, even out to the 3-point line, but right now he never tries anything of that nature. We should note that he only shoots 44% from the free throw line on the season. When he gets the ball in the paint, though, you can bet money hes going to try to dunk it thunderously, going right through his defender or anything else that stands in his way.
Beyond his lack of experience, Kravtsov has a couple of things holding him back at the moment. For one, his hands are good, but not great. He also lacks some balance and coordination, making him look fairly awkward or mechanical at times. His feel for the game does not appear to be exceptional, having a bit of a sleepy look on his face and not being the quickest guy to react to things happening around him on the floor. His knowledge of the game is clearly limited, as this is really his first season seeing major minutes at a high level. Hell look a little lost from time to time, on a pick and roll play for example defensively where he switches the screen, when the gameplan called for him to hedge.
All in all, Kravtsov is a player that NBA teams need to take notice of, since 7-footers with his combination of physical tools and defensive skills are not that easy to find these days. He still has a long ways to go to reach his full potential, but thats probably part of the reason why hes so interesting at the moment. As a 1987 born prospect, he only becomes automatically eligible for the draft in 2009. It appears that he would be best served using that extra year to continue to improve and in the process help his draft stock. Some scouts we spoke with (even international ones) didnt know who he was, even if it must be said that Pete Philo did bring him to the Reebok Eurocamp in 2006, where our very own Luis Fernandez already had the good eye to take notice of him
. Hed surely be a player teams will look at in the second round to draft and stash in Kyiv for a few more seasons, hoping he indeed continues to progress as anticipated. If Kravtsov has a big season next year, though, it wouldnt be a stretch to imagine him getting looks in the first round as well.