Roundup: Spectacular De Colo

Roundup: Spectacular De Colo
Apr 23, 2008, 12:52 am
Player of the Week: Nando De Colo

As much as we’ve become accustomed to what Nando De Colo produces game in and game out, it still doesn’t get any less impressive. This past weekend he delivered another astounding performance, leading Cholet to a road victory over Pau-Orthez with 25 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, earning our Player of the Week nomination in the process. He has emerged as an extremely reliable scorer, and averages over 20 points in the last 9 games with surprising ease, not forcing shots or situations.

In this particular game, De Colo often looked spectacular, with flashy plays such as a slashing move sneaking the ball behind his back in order to avoid an opponent and finishing with a perfect left-handed layup, or a superb behind-the-head pass off the dribble. Its remarkable how easy the game comes to him, how poised and naturally talented he looks. Either knocking down shots (he was money in the bank from the perimeter in this game), driving in heavy traffic (showcasing his excellent handles and footwork) or finding quick passing solutions in complicated situations (he enjoys a terrific feel for the game and easily sees the court), basketball seems effortless for him, and almost every single time he touched the ball resulted in something positive for his team.

As usual, the downside of his game came on the defensive end. Matched up with an athletic wing, he suffered containing his match-up’s cuts, often reacting late, being out of position or even ending up outmuscled. His average lateral quickness was eventually exposed again, although the fact that he’s playing as a combo guard and is not forced to guard the opposing playmaker relieves him from the task of having to challenge the quickest rivals (something that won’t happen in the NBA if he eventually ends up there). Indeed, and given his excellent display on the other end of the court, if De Colo showed a significantly better defensive level, we should be talking about a first-round caliber guy.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

Jose Angel Antelo is flirting for the third consecutive week with the 20-point, 10-rebound mark for L’Hospitalet in the LEB Oro League, leading this weekend’s effort against Union Baloncesto La Palma (19 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks), although his team couldn’t take home the victory and is in danger of being relegated to the 3rd division. The Spanish forward is back to the second division after failing to establish himself in the ACB the last season. He’s still 20 years old and will have plenty of opportunities to achieve it in the future; meanwhile, the LEB Oro seems like the perfect place for him. Averaging 10.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in about 22 minutes per game, he’s a productive cog on his squad, showing basically the same stuff that once made him one of the most statistically efficient juniors in Europe. He’s still a face-up power forward who lives off his shooting stroke and driving ability, combined with a superb knack for the offensive rebound (averages 3.2 per game, second in the league). However, he’s making strides with his perimeter accuracy, and even if he shows the same old unbalanced release on his jumper, he’s netting 41% of his behind-the-arc attempts. His shot selection looks improved, and he now doesn’t rely as much on his perimeter firepower, sometimes opting for the mid-range or just going all the way to the basket. He shows a very solid first step here and we can even see him eventually going left and using his left hand to finish around the rim, which used to be an extremely rare feature. Anyway, his rebounding ability stands above the rest of his game, showcasing his superb hands, wingspan, positioning and nose for the rebound. On the downside, he’s still not much of a defender, lacking activity and consistency, particularly on team defense, and he’s not particularly creative for his teammates in the offensive end.

Luigi Datome seems to finally be finding regularity in his performances, just as the Italian league regular season is about to come to a close this weekend. Once an impact player as a newcomer in the Italian League playing for Montepaschi, injuries and lack of playing time had undermined his confidence and game level. Now in Legea Scafati he’s slowly growing back into a solid contributor. He opened this past week with 18 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the loss against Armani Jeans Milano, following with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the victory against La Fortezza Bologna. Both scoring efforts are his top marks of the season, and he has reached double digits in the last four games, his longest streak this campaign.

Elmedin Kikanovic keeps coming up with strong offensive outbursts from time to time. This past week, he buried 27 points (13/14 from the field), along 7 rebounds, on Borac Cacak, followed by a 16-point, 3-rebound performance against Partizan.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Vaidas Cepukaitis has regressed this season in terms of production in the Lithuanian NKL (second division), going from averages of 10.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 22 minutes, to seeing his playing time decreasing to only 16 minutes, with 9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. But it goes beyond the numbers, as he’s barely showing any glimpse of expanding his offensive game (unlike what he had displayed this past summer). No drives and no low-post moves (at least in the few games we’ve seen of him this season), a few short jumpers, regular pick-and-roll situations finishing near the basket, and second-chance points off offensive rebounds. We were certainly expecting something more at this point.

Rounding Up… The Dreadful 1989 Generation

1989 is steadily growing into the worst international generation in recent memory when it comes to NBA potential. Going past Serge Ibaka, I wouldn’t dare to put my money on any single player to be drafted down the road. Someone will emerge sooner or later, that’s for sure, but it’s not usual to see such a weak crop when it has already left the junior stage.

Summarizing quickly… Mamadou Samb’s development is going extremely slow and he’s not even such a great athlete (his vertical leap is pretty underwhelming). It takes just a look at Milan Macvan playing with veterans to realize –in case it wasn’t clear enough- how limited his NBA potential is, as talented as he is. Antoine Diot hasn’t managed to improve that much since the days when he impressed at the U-16 stage. Zygimantas Janavicius still plays too out of control, and his perimeter stroke is nowhere to be found. His teammate Cepukaitis is our Who’s Not feature this week. Semen Shashkov, perhaps the most gifted player of the group in terms of physical tools, looks like your typical extremely inconsistent Russian that will greatly struggle to eventually overcome that inconsistency. Another Russian, Dimitriy Khovstov, transmits a laid-back attitude that will hardly help his development….

We could keep going, but we would hardly find any optimistic outlook anyway.
The guy who has probably left the best impression this season is Dusan Katnic. The Serbian point guard, already one of the top backcourt players in the past U-18 European Championships, paid a visit to the Vilagarcia Basket Cup with his team Mega Aqua Monta some weeks ago, and exhibited his high-quality finesse game. We’re talking about a pretty skilled playmaker, poised and elegant. He’s not greatly explosive or athletic, but he gets things done relying on fundamentals, on his footwork, driving ability, court vision or knowledge of the game. He can shoot with range, he can sneak between rivals, he easily finds his teammates either from the perimeter or off the dribble, he shows a very solid off hand, he looks effortless playing the game (sometimes a bit too much indeed). You can easily feel the talent there, although his defense left to be desired, and anyway his potential is not off the charts.

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