View Full Version : 5/5 ESPN Insider (Sleepers in the draft)( Posted for UMMMMMM OK)

05-06-2003, 06:31 PM
What's after Darko?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Monday, May 5
Updated: May 5
3:40 PM ET

BARCELONA -- It's 1:46 a.m. ET Monday, and I've just arrived in Barcelona. Within the next few days, thousands of international basketball junkies and dozens of NBA GMs, scouts and personnel will converge here to take in what has to be one of basketball's most exciting events -- the Euroleague Final 4.

On The Road Again
NBA Insider Chad Ford has hopped across the pond once more for an up-close look at some of the top European prospects in the 2003 NBA Draft. Follow Ford's trip in his daily journal:

Monday: Beyond Darko

Next: Pavel Podkolzin

It's only May 5, but for all 29 NBA teams, it's already time to start thinking about next year. Whether their teams are preparing for the second round or the 2003 NBA Draft -- the NBA's greatest talent evaluators aren't loving the NBA playoffs live.

Instead, they're wandering through Europe with travel guides, fistfulls of Euros, grainy Interpol photos and tattered Insider prospect reports.

Their quest? Find the next Dirk Nowitzki. Or the next Peja Stojakovic. A Vlade Divac clone would be nice. Given the current state of the draft, even a Gordan Giricek or Emanuel Ginobili will do.

The war in Iraq, global fears of terrorism, and the spread of SARS aren't enough to keep the hard-core off the trail of the international elite. For many GMs, their jobs will depend on finding a diamond in the rough in Europe.

For the most part, they have to come here. College players and even high school players are scouted extensively. There are very few surprises anymore. The international field, however, is still the wild west. There are still nuggets left to be unearthed.

Want to know an international scout's biggest nightmare? Hearing a name called on draft night that he has not heard.

"With the 27th pick in the draft the Sacramento Kings select Boyko Mladenov ... " David Stern says from the pulpit at Madison Square Garden.

"Who?" the GM and owner ask.

"Ummmm ..." the scout replies. His hesitation betrays him.

"You're fired," the GM and owner say in unison.

This isn't an easy business.

At this stage of the game they're cramming for their June 26 final. Many teams have been scouring Europe since December in search of the next great thing. Before this weekend, agent Marc Cornstein estimates representatives from about 20 teams had seen Darko Milicic in person.

NBA types began converging on Thessoloniki, Greece, late last week to catch Darko's team, Hemofarm, play in the FIBA Final Four.

Many probably walked away disappointed. Foul trouble and continuing issues about a 17-year-old's role on a veteran team limited Darko's minutes and production.

Still, it probably didn't matter. According to several lottery team scouts, the only way Darko was going to do damage to his stock was by blowing out his knee. He walked away from the event healthy.

An up-close view satisfied scouts that Sofoklis Schortsianitis is a legitimate 6-foot-10.
There was a sigh of relief from both sides of the pond.

From Thessoloniki, NBA teams will disperse. Some already have been to Crete to check out the other 17-year-old phenom in this draft, Sofaklis Schortsianitis, whom agent Marc Fleisher confirmed has declared officially. Schortsianitis' nickname is Baby Shaq, which is good, considering his real name sounds like some strange affliction Jerry Krause caught as a kid.

Schortsianitis scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in 20 minutes of play against Hemofarm. But the most important news was that scouts seem to be starting to concur that he's a legit 6-foot-10 with shoes. That alone will cause his stock to rise.

If that doesn't help it enough, Sofaklis is getting a pretty intense personal trainer to work him out for the next few weeks. Pacers guard Ron Artest is flying to Greece next week to work out Sofaklis and get him battle tested for the NBA. Lets just hope it only makes him tougher, not crazier.

Other GMs will be off to Yugoslavia this week to get another good look at several other top Yugoslavian players, including sweet-shooting two guard Alexsandar Pavlovic and 7-foot-6 giant Slavko Vranes.

Still others are off to France to check out super-athlete Mickael Pietrus and his teammate Boris Diaw.

If you've been reading Insider since December you've already been there and done that.

I'm here, again alongside Pistons international scouting guru Tony Ronzone, to get up close and personal with several other young players who could end up making a major impact in this draft.

Monday night I'll be in Milan, Italy. From there, we'll travel up to Varese to get a look at the "Russian Bear," 18-year-old Pavel Podkolzin. As you may recall, Pavel was the mysterious 7-foot-4, 300 pound Siberian prospect Insider first reported on in December.

Back then he was unknown to anyone outside of Clippers scout Fabricio Bensati, who worked in Italy. Since the report, 18 NBA teams have trekked to Italy to watch Pavel play. Tony and I are spending the day with Pavel, watching him work out and hearing his story.

Tuesday, we're splitting up. Tony will be off to Latvia (yes, Latvia) to check out a hot point guard prospect named Kristaps Valters. I'll travel from Varese down to Bologna, Italy, to check out Argentinian shooting guard Carlos Defino's miraculous rehab. Delfino tore ligaments in his ankle a little more than a month ago but reportedly is ready to play again. He's a likely late first-rounder if he gets a clean bill of health.

Wednesday, Tony and I will meet up again in Madrid, Spain, to spend the afternoon with 18-year-old prospect Maciej Lampe. Lampe's agent Keith Kreiter, claims he received calls from more than 20 NBA teams after an Insider story on Lampe a few weeks ago.

What was originally set up as an interview and workout for this story appears to be turning into something much bigger. While most NBA scouts had heard of Lampe, they hadn't scouted him extensively. His decision to declare for the draft this year caught them with their pants down. A solid showing this week in Madrid could make Lampe a lock for the lottery.

Brazilian prospect Anderson Varejao has scouts buzzing.
Thursday, Ronzone and I fly back to Barcelona to attend the Euroleague Final 4. We'll catch up with Brazilian big man Anderson Varejao, widely considered the top international prospect in the draft behind Darko. His team, F.C. Barcelona, will play in the Euroleague Final 4.

We'll also get the chance to check out several other top prospects here, including Russia's Victor Khryapa and Sergei Monya. We'll also see a kid who might be the best 16-year-old player in Europe -- Manuchar Markoishvili, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from the country of Georgia who is already getting meaningful minutes on one of the top teams in Europe, Benetton Treviso.

We'll also catch up with former Wake Forest star Darius Songailia, who has become the star of the Russian team CSKA Moscow. The Celtics drafted Songailia in the second round last year, and it's looking like GM Chris Wallace may have gotten a steal. Several international scouts claim that had Songailia skipped college and played in Europe the way he has this season, he'd be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

After the Euroleage Final 4 ends Sunday, we're not resting. On Monday morning we'll drive from Barcelona to Bilbao, Spain, to check out the next Darko, 18-year-old Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter. Splitter's agent, Herb Rudoy, is keeping his client out of this year's draft, but watch out for him in 2004. If David Stern doesn't get his age limit, many scouts feel Splitter will be a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft.

After a few hours with Tiago, we'll drive from Bilbao to Pau, France, to get a closer look at Diaw and Pietrus. Both players have the potential to end up in the lottery after the smoke clears.

After that, we collapse.

Ummmmm Ok
05-06-2003, 06:37 PM
Thanks i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

05-06-2003, 07:46 PM

Barcelona to Bilbao to Biarritz (Pau). I want that sucker's job.

05-06-2003, 11:33 PM
We have to draft a center for the future. No softies in the middle, no more finesse players.

05-07-2003, 11:29 AM
Reading all those articles about the upcoming draft I think it´s possible that around half of the first round picks this year will be used on foreign players. That´s alot.

Ummmmm Ok
05-07-2003, 11:59 AM
<< Monday night I'll be in Milan, Italy. From there, we'll travel up to Varese to get a look at the &quot;Russian Bear,&quot; 18-year-old Pavel Podkolzin. As you may recall, Pavel was the mysterious 7-foot-4, 300 pound Siberian prospect Insider first reported on in December. >>

Still waiting to hear more about this kid. Whoever drafts him will have to let him sit in Europe for 2 years, but damn his size alone looks awesome. i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif

05-07-2003, 01:15 PM
Ummmm OK, if I remember correctly he was described somewhere as being &quot;raw&quot;. You know what that means. Someone who just happens to have a huge frame but not much of a game to go with it. I could be wrong though, too lazy to look it up.

05-07-2003, 01:17 PM
<< Podkolzine, the guy who had limited playing time in U-16 championships in 2001, who was not good enough for Russian U-18 NT in 2002 and who likely would have been forgotten by Russians has impressed Italians very quickly. Siberian bear from Novosibirsk is a developing big man whose best days are ahead of him. Podkolzine can block shots and rebound. He is in the process of gaining more confidence in his low post moves. Podkolzine is still learning the game, but he's got a lot to offer - starting with his huge frame. Physical and aggressive in the paint, with development he could become a load to defend and tough to score on.

From NBA draft.net. Hmmmm don´t know what to think about him.

Also the nbadraftnet mockdraft has 12 foreign players going in the first round. They´ve got Lampe (the guy who was injured) going at six.

05-07-2003, 01:25 PM
The projected Mavs pick at Nr. 29 is Aleksandar Pavlovic. He´s a 20 year old 6&quot;7 SF from Yugoslavia.

<< Strengths: Extremely athletic swingman, with great size, long arms and great explosiveness. His size and athleticism make him a very interesting prospect. This is a guy who has everything to be a star in Europe and a “player” in the NBA. He is playing his first season at a high level and has already earned an important role on a team with other young stars like Cabarkapa and Koljovic. He has great ball-handling ability for his size and he's a force offensively. He's unstoppable when he's on, because of his great arsenal of moves. He can penetrate with both hands, using his speed and crossover. And if you leave him space he can shoot in your face, off the dribble, with the pull-up jumper. He's pretty fearless about going inside, and has a great knack of finishing in traffic with acrobatic moves. He plays very aggressively and he wont hesitate to dunk on people. He can score a lot in spurts. His offensive game is complemented with nice passing skills, and court vision. He's basically a complete package on offense. The sky is the limit.

Weaknesses: His biggest problem is that he needs to learn how to use his skills. He is too aggressive with the ball, he looks to go 1 on 1 every time he touches the ball. He forces some shots and, more important, he lets the defense concentrate on him every time he has the ball because they know he will go 1 on 1. Defense is still an area for him to develop. He can be a effective defender, with his athletic abilities, but right now perhaps he is too confident he can stop every one and block every shot. He needs to gain poise.

Notes: Buducnost is a team in Europe with one of the better junior programs. Has emerged all of a sudden as a top NBA prospect. Where did he come from? It is extremely difficult to emerge in Yugoslavia. The talent is very thick, and in order to stand out a player must be very good, and it usually takes some time.

05-07-2003, 02:46 PM
<< We have to draft a center for the future. No softies in the middle, no more finesse players. >>

Easier said than done and easier with a top 3-5 pick than the last pick in the first round. But I do agree. I wish the Mavs could find some beefy-take-no-crap kind of middle man soon.

05-16-2003, 04:29 PM
Podkolzin is impressive. He's a real monster,not just tall but incredibly developed physically, And to top that,his athleticism is above average.
Yes,he's raw but he came to Italy from a small town in Siberia little longer than 1 year ago with almost no coaching,picked on size alone (and he's grown 5 inches since then...). His development curve has been steep,looks like he can become a true basketball player,not just a hoverinh giant. I understand how one can be tempted to pick him in the lottery,despite the present unsufficient skills.
Mind though,his size is deceptive: he's a kid who blushes and can't find the words when intervied about girlfriends...

Schortianidis 6'10&quot;? no way

Markoishvili is another wonder: this kid plays with a poise and savvy just incredible for a kid his age (17). He's a true basketball player,but whether he's a hot NBA prospect will depend on other factors too,like size/role,having a definite position in the NBA

Darius Songaila is definetely NOT the star of CSKA,whatever the clown meant with it

Khryapa has offered the most surprising performance in the F4 by shutting down Dejan Bodiroga (who went on to win the trophy for his club again,like last year),a feat never accomplished before - included two-times NBA defender of the year Ben Wallace. Made me wonder for the first time whether he really is the second coming of AK

i second the scout report on Pavlovic: the kid has some out-of.the-ordinary skills,but he probably overrates them at this stage. Nevertheless,i'd rather have them cocky than shy

05-19-2003, 11:46 AM
ESPN Insider keeps predicting 13 international players will go in the first round. now...we all know some people will slide...BUT last year 6 were taken in the first.

All in all, it's going to be a HUGE increase over last year.

What does this mean ?

Does it say more about American college players or the international game ?