View Full Version : 5/16 ESPN INSIDER (Oggy and Mladen picked as "impact" players)

05-16-2003, 02:11 PM
Both Oggy and Mladen are named here...let's get them here for next year !!! I'm starting the movement !!!

Following in Ginobili's footsteps
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Friday, May 16
Updated: May 16
9:30 AM ET

It's been quite a year for Emanuel Ginobili.

One year ago, Ginobili, coming off of a Euroleague MVP award, was leading his team, Kinder Bologna, to a berth in the Euroleague Finals.

Two months later, Ginobili was ducking and weaving through defenses at the World Championships, helping his home country, Argentina, capture a surprising silver medal. Thursday night, Ginobili's latest journey was nearing completion. His Spurs had just knocked out the mighty Lakers. Next week he'll be playing in the Western Conference Finals.

And Ginobili's had a lot to do with it. Ginobili averaged 11.7 ppg on 51 percent shooting against the Lakers. He shot 61 percent from beyond the 3-point line and averaged 2.2 steals per game in just under 25 mpg.
Not bad for an international rookie who was drafted in the second round three years ago.

Coach Gregg Popovich, for one, knows that Ginobili isn't really a rookie. "He's been there before," Popovich said. "He's not impressed by all of this. He's not really a rookie in that sense. He's won European championships.

"If you've ever been to one, they're as raucous or more so, than NBA playoff games. We're talking about a lot of people with guns around the stadium making sure things are OK. Smoke-filled rooms, gyms, people going crazy with flags and nationalistic fervor. He's been the MVP in those kinds of situations.

"So being in a playoff game I don't think is going to intimidate him. If he has a bad game, it's not because he's intimidated. If he has a good game, it's not because he's lucky. He either played well or poorly. But it's got nothing to do with the whole scene around the game."

Ginobili wasn't the only Euro drafted in the second round making a big impact. Pistons rookie Mehmet Okur is playing big-time minutes for Detroit down the stretch. Like Ginobili, he's been through much tougher times than an NBA playoff series.

"You go down to them, in tunnel, and sometimes, people are yelling and throwing things. They throw coins. I get hit in the head (he points to his skull) bleeding. There is blood." Smoke, blood, fires and flying objects. The NBA's a piece of cake compared to this, right?

While talk about the high number of international players entering the draft will dominate discussion for the next few months, another group of NBA rookies will come to America this summer under the radar the same way Ginobili and Okur did. They are among a group of first- and second-round picks and international free agents who have stayed overseas the past few years seasoning their games.

Here's a sneak peek at five more international players who could have a Ginobili-like impact in the NBA next season.

1. Dejan Bodiroga, SF, Yugoslavia
The line: 6-8, 230, 29-year-old. Drafted No. 51 by the Kings in the 1995 NBA Draft
The skinny: The Euroleague MVP for the second straight year, Bodiroga has shrugged off offers from NBA teams in the past. Both the Rockets and Raptors were willing to trade for his rights last season, but neither team was willing to pony up the cash it would take to bring him here. With a second straight Euroleague championship under his belt, is this the year Bodiroga decides to play in the NBA? He's under contract one more year with Barcelona, but he can get out of it in the right situation. He'd be a great fit on a team like the Lakers. Is there any team willing to pay the price to find out? He'd probably command close to the full-mid level exception to play in the U.S.

2. Nenad Krstic, C, Yugoslavia
The line: 7-0, 245, 20-year-old. Drafted No. 26 by the Nets in the 2002 NBA Draft
The skinny: Last year, Krstic was a skinny back-up center on Partizan who drew some comparison to Vlade Divac. The Nets left him in Europe for a year to develop and it's paid off big time. This year, his game has exploded. He's bulked up, grown an inch and become a big-time center in Europe. If he had waited a year to put his name in the draft, he'd be a sure-fire lottery pick this year. That's great news for the Nets. With Dikembe Mutombo looking cooked, he could become a major addition to the Nets next season.

3. Milos Vujanic, PG, Yugoslavia
The line: 6-3, 195, 23-year-old. Drafted No. 36 by the Knicks in the 2002 NBA Draft
The skinny: Vujanic was the top point guard in Europe last year and the leading scorer in the Euroleague. How did he slip all the way to 36 in the NBA draft? He didn't have a U.S. agent and didn't come to America for workouts. The result was that the Knicks may have gotten the steal of the draft. There are reports that Vujanic won't play for the Knicks this season, but will instead go to the Euroleague champion F.C. Barcelona club this year. However, like everything in Europe, no one knows for sure if this is actually done. Vujanic is still under contract until his team is eliminated from the playoffs and can't officially sign a deal until then. In the meantime expect Divac, a co-owner of the team, to convince Vujanic to play in the U.S. He's ready to come over and could make a big impact on the Knicks this season.

4. Ognjen Askrabic, F, Yugoslavia
The line: 6-9, 245, 24-year-old. Undrafted.
The skinny: Askrabic is one of the best players in Yugoslavia who hasn't come to the U.S. The Mavericks wooed Askrabic last year, but he couldn't get out of his contract. This year he's a free agent and the bidding should be fierce. Numerous NBA teams have come to Belgrade to check out his game. In the Yugoslavian league, Askrabic has consistently ranked in the top five in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocked shots all season. Some wonder whether he's a bit of a tweener for the pro game. He doesn't have the quickness to guard 3s and may not be strong enough or big enough to guard fours. However, someone will give him a look.

5. Darius Songaila, Lithuania
The line: 6-9, 248, 26-year-old. Drafted No. 50 by the Celtics in the 2002 NBA Draft
The skinny: Songaila has been a big-time performer on CSKA Moscow, one of the best teams in the Euroleague this season. He's tough, versatile and now he's battle tested. Songaila averaged 14.5 ppg during the Euroleague Final Four. Celtics GM Chris Wallace told Insider that the Celtics would like to bring him back over this summer. With new ownership, the team should be able to afford to sign Songaila to a reasonable deal. He could give the Celtics a good option in the post that they really lacked this season.

Other internationals to watch: Andres Nocioni, F, Argentina (free agent); David Andersen, F, Australia (2nd round pick for Hawks); Juan Carlos Navarro, G, Spain (2nd round pick for Wizards); Federico Kammerichs, F, Argentina (2nd round pick for Blazers); Luis Scola, F, Argentina (2nd round pick for Spurs); Mladen Sekularic, G, Yugoslavia (2nd round pick for Mavs)

05-16-2003, 02:17 PM
We definitely need impact players. Our competition keeps getting them. If we just keep standing pat, things are not going to be looking so good for us soon.

05-19-2003, 11:42 AM
It's time to bring Sekularic over...and to get Oggy signed, in my opinion.

Hopefully, some of our international posters can give us an update on how they're doing.

05-19-2003, 04:12 PM
Oggy & Sekularac impact players? suuuure....