Roundup: Bomber Sakota

Roundup: Bomber Sakota
Nov 21, 2007, 02:16 am
Player of the Week: Dusan Sakota

Buried under the incredible depth of Panathinaikos’ roster, Dusan Sakota somehow spent the past few seasons hiding the scoring power he had shown at the junior stages. This year, playing with Panionios, he has had a perfect chance to show what he can do on the basketball court, while finally enjoying consistent minutes. After some ups and downs, nice, but not spectacular performances, Sakota finally blossomed with a 22-point showing that greatly helped his team win on the road over a Euroleague squad such as Aris, and eventually granted him the weekly MVP award of the Greek League.

It was a three-point shooting outburst, as Sakota connected on almost everything he attempted from behind the arc. It’s been no secret for many years now that his great shooting stroke is the main weapon of the Greek forward, and nothing seems to have changed. Exhibiting his excellent mechanics with a very quick release, he netted 6 of his 8 attempts in which every single scored shot looked perfect, going extremely clean through the net. On the other hand, he also exposed his limitations, as he looked again looked like too much of a one dimensional player, precisely relying excessively on his perimeter stroke.


There’s not much Sakota can do on the court with consistency besides launching long-range bombs. He can put the ball on the floor, but his first step is pretty average, and he doesn’t show great ability working his way through opponents using his ball-handling skills and body. Indeed, he’s still a rather skinny guy who needs to add weight. And even if he was never too fond of the low post, it might be a good reason why he’s not trying to produce from there to take advantage of his 6-10 body. So he basically sticks to spot-up jumpers, preferably long-range ones (his three-point attempts more than double his two-point shots), where there’s less risk of physical contact, sometimes in pick-and-pop plays, or just waiting for open looks within the ball flow, exactly what he did against Aris. At least he’s really good in this department, a real gunner, and credits over 60% in field goals so far in the Greek League, with 53% from the three-point line and still staying perfect from the charity stripe after 12 attempts. Anyway, Dusan also showed a couple of very good passes from the arc, once feeding a continuation and another time finding a cutter. He’s a pretty decent passer indeed, amassing 3 assists in the game.

On defense, coach Markovic protected Sakota (while also protecting the team) by switching what should have been the logical match-up for him, Jeremiah Massey (a very aggressive and athletic player, a star in Europe), with the opposing centers, not so physical and not nearly as dangerous offensively as the American forward. Still, Sakota showed nice a attitude and activity, but luckily for him, his opponents weren’t physical on him and he ended up doing a fine job. Anyway, he’s still a below average defender who needs to gain aggressiveness. Although not a great rebounder by any means, he also managed to contribute in this game with 8 boards.

In terms of his NBA draft outlook, Sakota can only hope for a call in the second round call, and still, it look like a long shot at the moment.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

Jan Vesely delivered his best game in his still short tenure with Geoplin Slovan. Despite his team’s defeat, he managed to score 18 points, grab 5 rebounds, dish out 2 assists and record 2 steals against a fairly strong team such as Hemofarm. We had the chance to see the Czech player this summer in the Division B portion of the U-18 European Championship, but in the sole game we could attend of the Czech Republic, Vesely was completely dominated by his Belgium counterpart. Being unable to display his low post game against a much more physical rival, he just left a promising impression in terms of his physical build.

Ante Tomic recorded an Adriatic-League career-high 26 points in a loss against local rivals Cibona, adding also 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. Tomic has scored in double digits in the last seven games, and he’s finally receiving big minutes after some initial struggles. Still, he’s failing to dominate the competition (only averaging 5.9 rebounds and 0.5 blocks) due to his problems developing physically, which ultimately might jeopardize an attempt to jump to a superior level of competition.

Maxim Sheleketo dropped 34 points on Alytus in his last game at the BBL’s Challenge Cup. This is a sort of second division of the Baltic League featuring the second tier squads from first divisions in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. His team VEF Riga is doing a good job there, going 7-1 so far. Actually, their only defeat came in the single game where the Russian couldn’t score in double digits. He’s averaging 17.1 points, has reached the 20-point mark in the last three games, and credits a 41% average from behind the arc, while also contributing 5 rebounds per game.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Víctor Claver is going through a severe scoring drought. This past week he went scoreless both in the ULEB Cup and the ACB league. Actually, he hasn’t been able to contribute a single point for his team in four of the last five games he has played. He seems to have lost some of the confidence he showed late last season. He’s struggling with his perimeter shooting (3/14 from the arc this campaign), which ultimately greatly affects his entire game. His opponents grant him space to prevent him from penetrating, while Víctor is not particularly gifted to score or draw fouls in heavy traffic, so he can lose a great deal of offensive effectiveness. Add his troubles on the defensive end given his lack of a true position there (sometimes outmuscled in the low post, still not laterally quick enough to contest perimeter players), and coach Katsikaris is finding good enough reasons to reduce his playing time (less than 10 minutes in last week’s games combined). We’ll see how much time takes Claver to change this negative dynamic. His confidence problems are well known, and what should be his breakout season might turn out to become a disappointing year.

Rounding Up…

With MMT Estudiantes suffering the injury of both of its point guards, Jayson Granger has been given a chance to play with the first team in the ACB League. Coming from Uruguay, the son of an American basketball player, he’s a 6-2 guard born in 1989. Relatively strong, physically mature, he’s not a guy oozing with potential, but rather a complete and effective player given his age. Decently athletic, fairly quick, he’s aggressive on the court, even incisive displaying nice ball-handling skills to attack his opponents. Showing decent court vision, he can find his teammates preferably off the dribble and in transition, but can also come up with solid passes from the perimeter in the set offense. He’s also solid with his jumper with range out to the three-point line and the ability to release his shot off the dribble, although he losses effectiveness in the process. He’s an active guy on defense, and probably enjoys already a mature enough body to battle with ACB guys. All in all, he doesn’t really show any single great characteristic in his game, but he’s a decent player. In his ACB debut, he had 10 points, 1 assist and 1 rebound in the loss against DKV Joventut.

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