Yotam Halperin profile
Drafted #53 in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Sonics
Height: 6'5" (196 cm)
Weight: 200 lbs (91 kg)
Position: PG/SG
High School: Merto-West High School
Hometown: Ra'anana, Israel
Current Team: Hapoel Jerusalem
Win - Loss: 8 - 4


2009 Euroleague Final Four Preview (Part Two)

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
May 01, 2009, 08:18 am
Israeli combo guard and former Seattle Supersonics 2nd rounder Yotam Halperin has been exactly what Coach Giannakis was hoping when he bought him out of his contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv this past summer. Halperin has been incredibly efficient from the field (64%) and especially beyond the arc (49%), and has had no problem accepting his role off the bench and running the offense smoothly when called upon. Halperin never turns the ball over and is somewhat of a reluctant scorer. His NBA potential isn’t off the charts, but in the right situation, he could probably be a solid rotation player.

Euroleague Final Four Preview

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Apr 30, 2008, 02:33 pm
Although he already has two Euroleague titles underneath his belt at age 24 (of which he played minor roles), Halperin has blossomed into one of the top guards in European basketball this season, providing an incredible lift to Maccabi at some key moments with his terrific outside shooting, playmaking ability, and overall basketball IQ. He might be considered the most important player on the roster along with Terence Morris, and will be heavily scrutinized by various members of the Seattle Supersonics (who drafted him in 2006 under a different regime), including GM Sam Presti. He may be viewed as a Beno Udrih type, a skilled and savvy combo guard who can play a supporting role in the NBA. We’ll be keeping an eye on him.

Blogging Through Israel (part five)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Nov 18, 2006, 11:49 am
Yotam Halperin played fairly well today, though he still wasn’t nearly assertive enough on the offensive end. He has a solid shooting stroke, and is very consistent from the free throw line. In transition, Halperin also displayed the ability to take the ball at the defender and draw a foul, which led to 6 free throw attempts. He has the ability to see plays developing ahead of time, and usually passes the ball to the right spot. Halperin’s ball handling was a little sloppy today, and he turned the ball over twice when dribbling left. He was very stable throughout the game, however, and finished off with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Blogging Through Israel (part four)

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Nov 16, 2006, 10:19 am
Yotam Halperin continued to show flashes of being an NBA player, but is unable to put it together consistently over long stretches of time. He did a good job moving the ball and finding open teammates, but didn’t create off the dribble like he has potential to. His outside shot wasn’t falling, and his only baskets came off easy looks inside. Halperin seems very passive on the court, and doesn’t play with any type of fire or emotion. He put up 9 points on 3 of 7 shooting with 6 assists in 34 minutes. If he could ever play to his potential, Halperin would be a nice rotation guy in the NBA.

Euroleague Preview: Final Four Sleepers

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Wojciech Malinowski
Wojciech Malinowski
Oct 22, 2006, 10:46 pm
Back on the team is 6-4 local combo guard Yotam Halperin, a talented ball-handler, shooter and distributor who was drafted following the terrific season he had with Olimpija Ljubljana last year. Halperin lacks the athleticism to create his own shot and effectively guard his position, and is often criticized by fans for being too passive on the court.

RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: Day Two

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jun 13, 2006, 09:30 am
Our other guy, Yotam Halperin has finally emerged as a true leader on the court, catalyzing the offensive game of his squad. He’s one of the most seasoned and experienced players here, and in a camp so infested with guards with little-to-no distributing abilities, it’s refreshing to see Yotam evolving on court even if he’s indeed a combo guard.

After an average first day, where he looked for his own shooting opportunities, Halperin was much more willing to share the ball in day two, attracting defenses in penetration or pick-and-roll sets to feed the open man. The guy is so skilled it’s a please to watch him dribbling the ball, delivering a pass or taking one of his perfect-pictured jumper. It’s pure silk.

The results of the vitals for him looked nice as he reached 27 inches in the in no-step vertical with a 31 one-step. He’s looking fairly quick here, although it’s crystal clear that he’s not on par with the average NBA point guard. But talent as his will always eventually draw attention in the second round.

Adriatic League 2005/2006 Recap

Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Apr 26, 2006, 03:58 am
After not getting a chance to play significant minutes for Euroleague champions Maccabi Tel Aviv, this year Halperin decided to go on loan to Ljubljana instead. This has obviously turned out to be a great move for him, since he has emerged as one of most promising scorers on the European scene, and is now highly sought after by powerhouse teams such as Climamio Bologna. The poor season Olimpija has suffered through has little to do with Yotam’s efforts, since he was their best and most consistent player all year long. He was one of the toughest assignments in the league for opposing defenders on a nightly basis, as he was prolific both as a slasher and as a shooter. Given his ability to score, and Olimpija’s lack of quality offensive threats, Halperin should probably be taking more than just 8.5 FG attempts per contest.

Despite playing at the SG spot for most of the season, Halperin still showed solid ability to create for teammates and recorded a nice number of assists, finishing third in the league. After slowly seeing his stock plummet as his minutes with Maccabi evaporated, Halperin is back on the NBA radar with his impressive outings in the Euroleague, Adriatic league, and let’s not forget by leading the World Junior Championships in Argentina in scoring by averaging 23.5 points per contest.

While his athleticism and defense are certainly concerns for NBA scouts, Halperin’s size, excellent skill-set and production on the highest European level make him a strong 2nd round candidate for this upcoming draft. Recent buzz in the States says that he will have an opportunity to even work his way into the late first round once he arrives for private workouts with NBA teams in a few weeks. Check out his recently updated profile linked above for a more detailed report on his strengths and weaknesses.

Yotam Halperin NBA Draft Scouting Report

Apr 15, 2006, 02:49 am
Listed at 6-5 (196 centimeters), Halperin has terrific size for an NBA point guard. He compliments that with a nice frame featuring solid lower body strength, and a good wingspan as well.

Halperin’s biggest strengths revolve around his offensive versatility, intelligence, and the experience he brings to the table. Halperin has the potential to play either backcourt position in the NBA depending on what role his team is looking for from him. He started playing the point guard position at a very young age and has done it fairly extensively at the European level.

Offensively, Halperin is intriguing since he’s the type of player that can score from anywhere on the floor, being both a terrific shooter and slasher as well as possessing a solid mid-range game.

He has terrific form on his jump-shot, getting nice elevation off the floor and releasing the ball quickly with range that extends to the NBA 3-point line. He shot 50% from behind the 3-point line on a sizeable amount of attempts (4 per game) in the Adriatic league. In the Euroleague his percentages dropped a bit to 37.2%, but much of this has to do with the poor way his team was built and the lack of support he got from his teammates on the offensive end. Halperin is equally comfortable shooting in rhythm off the dribble as he is in catch and shoot situations, and has been forced to take a large amount of attempts of these sort this past season.

As a slasher is where Halperin really made a name for himself at the European level, though. He’s first and foremost an outstanding ball-handler, particularly with his crossover, and he has the ability to change speeds quickly and show an extra gear on his 2nd and 3rd step that most would not anticipate. Halperin reads the angles presented to him instantaneously and makes quick decisions with the ball in his hands, changing directions, contorting himself with superb body control, changing hands and finishing beautifully off the glass, often with contact. He gets to the line at a pretty nice rate and converts 90% of his attempts at the Euroleague level.

Halperin is not an explosive athlete by any means, but he does a great job getting by defenders using his head more than he uses his feet. He has an assortment of crossovers, hesitation moves, and head or body fakes he can throw at opponents, being extremely shifty in his movements and constantly keeping his man off balance and on his heels with his herky-jerky style of play. He has a really nice crossover he can go to in particular. He creates his own shot very well at the European level, and is more than capable of going to a pretty polished mid-range game if the lane is not available for him. Halperin likes to stop on a dime and pull-up off the dribble, and shows very nice elevation on his jump-shot when doing so. His release is silky smooth, and his shot falls for him at a very good rate thanks to his excellent touch. In the Adriatic League Halperin shot 58% from inside the arc on a sizeable number of attempts, while at the Euroleague level he shot 52.2%.

As a point guard, Halperin’s ball-handling skills, court vision and basketball instincts all lead to believe that he has what it takes to continue to play the position in the NBA as well. He is a fine passer in both static situations as well as on the move, driving the lane with his head up and picking up plenty of assists on the drive and dish.

On the pick and roll is where Halperin particularly excels, as getting a screen set for him by a teammate is all he usually needs to create offense by getting into the lane and either finishing himself or finding the open man, or pulling up off the dribble for the jump-shot if the passing or slashing angle isn’t there. Halperin is the type of point guard who will regularly create something out of absolutely nothing, threading the needle unexpectedly with a bounce pass from the baseline to a cutting man for a wide-open layup, throwing a sudden lob from the perimeter for an alley-oop, or just finding the open man simply and unselfishly coming off a curl for a jump-shot. His peripheral vision allows him to make difficult passes in all directions, and he shows no hesitation to go and make the play once he starts seeing it develop. His basketball IQ is generally considered terrific and the word “heady” always comes up numerous times when discussing him with scouts and basketball people.

In terms of intangibles, Halperin’s are very strong. Beyond his excellent feel for the game, Halperin has played and performed extremely well at every single level of play Europe has to offer. Starting with the junior categories with the Israeli national team, Halperin was always the top scorer in Europe at every competition he attended, whether with the cadets, the U-18’s, the U-20’s or the U-21’s as recently as last summer in Argentina by scoring 23.5 points a game. Halperin played for four seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv and won four Israeli championships, four Israeli national cups and most impressively, two Euroleague championships. Halperin only played marginal roles on these teams, but still garnered valuable experience everyday in practice by going up against the likes of Sarunas Jasikevicius, Anthony Parker, Arriel McDonald and others. This year Halperin was arguably the best young player in the first stage of the Euroleague, scoring nearly 14 points a game, with 3.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 36 minutes a game.

On the court, Halperin has a cool and calm demeanor to his game, which can often be taken as apathy or passiveness. He’s highly coachable and an outstanding teammate who first looks to get everyone around him involved in the game, and only then will start to look for his own points. The fact that his extremely well respected coach never takes him out of the game should tell you plenty about how much he is appreciated by him. Off the court, Halperin is considered a pretty impressive kid as well, well-spoken and not known to cause any problems.

Halperin doesn’t have nearly as many weaknesses as he does strengths, but the ones he does posses have proven to be fatal in the past for similar players to him.

The first thing you notice is that Halperin is not as athletic as your average NBA guard, being highly fluid and coordinated, but not all that explosive. His first step in particular is not all that impressive, often needing a screen, some nifty ball-handling skills or other crafty tricks to be able to get by his man already at the European level. Not being the most explosive player getting off the floor to finish at the rim, Halperin will have to add some upper body strength to continue to get his shot off effectively in the paint once he does get in the lane. Much of his game revolves around his ability to slash to the hoop, so if this is taken away, will he become a one dimensional player like what seems to have happened with Beno Udrih?

While he has plenty of experience running the point, he does not always play the position full-time, and therefore will sometimes get fazed by intense pressure defense and have to pick up his dribble since he doesn’t quite have the explosiveness to get by his man. He’s not your prototype pure playmaker who controls tempo of the game and shows great leadership skills out on the floor, but with the skills he does posses he is more than adept at playing the position in a backup role at the NBA level.

Halperin’s biggest concern as far as the NBA goes will probably be considered his defense. While he is a heady defender who anticipates well, has solid fundamentals and knows how to get in the passing lanes, there are concerns regarding whether his lateral quickness is good enough to help him stay in front of the much more explosive NBA guards.

At times Halperin can be unselfish to a fault, even when his team needs him to step up to the plate and take over a game. This was much more of a problem playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv than it was with Olimpija Ljubljana, but we still saw signs of that come out this year. He’ll get quiet for long periods and not really look to make his impact felt on the game, being a bit passive and not really the leader by example you would expect from a player who is easily the best and most talented on his team.

His team actually had a very poor year by their standards, narrowly missing out on advancing to the Euroleague top 16, and only finishing a very disappointing 10th in the Adriatic league with a 10-16 record, failing to advance to the playoffs for the first time in quite a while. There is even some concern in Ljubljana that their perennial Slovenian powerhouse might do the unexpected and lose out on the championship in the domestic league, which they traditionally own. Much of this has to do with how poorly his team was built (it was largely assembled by an agent as a means to get his younger clients Euroleague experience), but part of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of their best player as well.

Halperin joined Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth system when he was just 8 years old. He was considered a star in the making very early on in his career and was groomed as Israel’s first ever NBA player from a very young age. 7 years ago, at age 15 he received his first opportunity to play for the Israeli National Team, at the Cadet (U-16) level, and did not disappoint averaging nearly 16 points a game in the Challenge Round. One year later at age 16 he began playing at the Junior (U-18 level), against players much more physically mature than him. He averaged 7.6 points per game in under 19 minutes here. 2 years later, still at the Junior level because of his age, he led all players at the European Championships in Germany in 2002 by averaging 23.4 points per game, along with 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals. Halperin was on his way to being named MVP of the U-18 European Championship for Juniors until he injured his ankle in group play. He continued to play in extreme pain and scored 18 points in 26 minutes as Israel lost to Lithuania in the quarterfinals. Halperin also participated in the qualifiers for the U-20 European Championships that summer despite again being two years younger than almost all the players there, averaging 12 points and 2.3 assists in 27 minutes per game on 68% shooting from the field.

In 2003 at age 19 Halperin was invited for the first time to play for the Israeli senior national team in the Eurobasket championships in Sweden. He came off the bench to average 5 points in 12 minutes per game, helping Israel finish a surprising 7th in the competition. He went back to the U-20’s in 2004 for his swan song with that team, averaging 25.3 points and 4.3 assists in the qualifiers for the European Championships on 62% shooting from the field and 53.3% from behind the arc. After helping them make the actual European Championships, he took his team to the Finals while averaging 20.3 points per game (good for 2nd in the tournament) before losing and finishing with the Silver medal, a huge accomplishment for tiny Israel. He capped off a marvelous career with the Israeli junior teams at the U-21 World Championships in Argentina in 2005, again leading the tournament in scoring with 23.5 points per game. Later that summer he again played with the senior national team in the men’s European Championships, averaging just under 5 points in 8 minutes per game.

As mentioned already, Halperin moved to Olimpija Ljubljana over the summer of 2005 and was arguably the best young player in the first stage of the Euroleague, scoring nearly 14 points a game, with 3.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 36 minutes a game on excellent shooting percentages.

Halperin is planning on coming to the States in mid-May to train and prepare for private workouts with NBA teams. He is considered a very strong 2nd round prospect with a chance of moving into the late 1st round with good workouts. He has stated on numerous occasions that he is very much intent on making a team this summer and becoming the first Israeli player to play in the NBA.

Euroleague Regular Season's Top-5 Performers

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Almantas Kiveris
Almantas Kiveris
Carlo Sandrinelli
Carlo Sandrinelli
Feb 18, 2006, 12:07 am
Yotam Halperin confirmed himself in the second part of the competition as the leader of a rather weak Olimpija team, falling one win short of qualifying for the Top 16, which means that his Euroleague season is over. Yotam was one of the very few bright spots for the Slovenians, as he played well above expectations and showed himself as one of the most prolific young scorers in all of Europe.

Even with the arrival of new coach Zmago Sagadin, who is known for using 10 or even more players in his rotation, Halperin stayed on the court for at least 30 minutes every game. He played almost strictly at the shooting guard spot, which seems to be his most comfortable position despite being successful as a full time point guard in the junior national team categories. He was more inconsistent in the second part of the regular season, with one awesome game for example against Climamio in Bologna, almost leading Olimpija to a sensational overtime win with 26 points and 6 assists; but also with poor ones like against Tau Ceramica’s strong defensive backcourt where he finished with 6 points and 1 assist in 36 minutes of action.

Overall Halperin showed impressive scoring abilities combining very advanced shooting and slashing skills. His shooting stroke isn’t the prettiest in Europe, but it is quick enough for him to get it off even under pressure and coming off screens. He is indeed more accurate when he has time to set his feet and perform static jumpers. Yotam proved to be a good slashing threat thanks to his ball-handling skills and deceptively quick first step. His speed isn’t off the charts and that might be a limiting factor for him as far as the NBA is concerned, but for Europe it is more than adequate.

Defensively he was very solid defending shooting guards, but on a few occasions when he was forced to guard playmakers it was clear that his lateral movement is not good enough at the moment to execute this assignment properly. This, along with his inability to make teammates better is what makes us think that his NBA position is at the shooting guard position, despite having good passing and ball-handling skills.

As a 1984 prospect, Yotam is automatically eligible for this year’s draft and should be considered a strong second round pick. In the best case scenario he could get some love in the late first due to a not especially impressive class of NCAA point guards. Halperin is a player who at a young age appears to be close to fulfilling his potential and is more ready then most European prospects, but his possible production next year will depend on how well he can adjust to the speed and defensive requirements of the NBA game.

Euroleague Stock Watch Part 2 (Stock Up)

Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Almantas Kiveris
Almantas Kiveris
Carlo Sandrinelli
Carlo Sandrinelli
Dec 23, 2005, 12:25 am
Halperin’s decision to leave his long-time home Maccabi Tel Aviv for the less prestigious Olimpija Ljubljana has been terrific for him so far. He has become indispensable for the Slovenians as their absolute go-to-guy offensively.

While production-wise Halperin has been one of if not the most impressive youngster in the Euroleague so far, draft-wise it doesn’t look as good. While he certainly helped his case with some astonishing Euroleague games (the best-one coming against Climamio), it remains clear that his potential might be limited to Europe.

He started the season as a backup PG, but the coach quickly moved him to the shooting guard position when it became clear that he couldn’t run the team effectively. Halperin has instead displayed awesome scoring ability, thanks to a nice combination of shooting and slashing skills, which makes him very hard to guard. He has a very good jump-shot with a very smooth and quick release, also showing the ability to catch and shoot from static positions. He can get into the lane as he has very good ball-handling skills along with decent quickness.

Yotam has a skill-set of a point guard, showing very good passing skills, but what makes you question his ability to play the point at the NBA level are his defensive instincts. His lateral quickness is not good enough to keep up with faster PG’s even on the European level so far. Since the arrival of a new coach--defensive minded Zmago Sagadin, Halperin showed improvement foremost in his attitude and has proved to be capable of at least defending the shooting guard position.

Besides his defensive shortcomings that hamper his NBA potential as a 6-4 combo guard, Halperin has also shown poor decision making skills running his team. He over-handles the ball sometimes, making the offensive stagnant and looking for his own shoot excessively. Halperin has a very advanced skill-set, but it remains to be seen if he has enough size and athleticism to get a contract in the NBA league someday. As a 1984 prospect he is automatically eligible for the 2006 draft and its possible that someone might give him a shot in the late second round in order to hold on to his rights in hope that his point guard skills improve down the road.

Eurobasket Preview: Group D

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Sep 15, 2005, 11:15 pm
Coming off the bench for Israel, if he’s lucky, will be talented, but enigmatic combo guard Yotam Halperin. Halperin was considered one of the most talented guards in his age group as a teenager because of his terrific performances in International competitions at the junior level. That potential has yet to materialize into actual high level performances at the senior level, though, for what appears to be a variety of reasons.

Halperin joined Euroleague powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv age 18 and has seen sporadic playing time since. When he did receive opportunities to shine, he often looked overwhelmed and passive. Inopportune injuries have also set back his development as a player. After receiving permission from the Israeli army to leave the country just a few months before his mandatory service was complete, he will now be joining the Slovenian Euroleague representative Olimpia Ljubljana, a team with a long and rich history that has fallen on hard times over the past few years because of their extremely limited budget compared with other teams in Western Europe. There he should have more opportunities for playing time outside of the harsh spotlight and expectations of the Israel media and fans. His rights will still be owned by Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Halperin is a tall PG with a scorer’s mentality who is equally as adept at putting the ball in the basket from short and long range as he is at finding the open man. Offensively he is extremely skilled and has consistently been a top scorer in International play in every junior category he’s played in, including a month ago in Argentina at the U-21 World Championships. Defensively he’s shown some potential as well. His ball-handling skills are good while his basketball IQ is high. His biggest weakness has to be on the mental side. Despite being named to the first team all-tournament at the World Championships in Argentina, Halperin’s performance there can’t be considered anything less than a massive disappointment. He often disappeared when his team needed him the most, showing questionable decision making skills, shying away from the ball in key moments and doing a very poor job leading his team when they needed him the most. This has been something that epitomizes Halperin’s progressions over the last three years, and it can’t be considered anything less than highly concerning.

After being a regular fixture on the national team for the past few years, Halperin was only called up at the last moment to the Israeli squad this time after an injury to one of Israel’s guards. He played only one minute in the “Additional Qualifying Tournament” and was not present for most of the preparation, leading us to believe that his playing time in Serbia and Montenegro will be minimal at best baring any injuries.

In regards to his draft prospects, Halperin is automatically eligible for this year’s draft as a 1984 prospect. He has some serious ground to make up, but an excellent season in the Euroleague and Adriatic League seems like a fantastic way to make up for that. He’ll have every opportunity to showcase his skills playing in Ljubljana, and only time will tell if he can take advantage of that.

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