2006 FIBA Worlds--Young Studs
This is a little rundown of the young non-USA prospects who impressed me in the '06 FIBA Worlds. I also threw in a couple young guys who are currently in the NBA (Delfino, Darko & Ilyasova), all who had increased roles with their national team.
Cenk Aykol (Turkey)- He did not overly impress me in group play but grew on me as the tourney went on. Great size for a PG & has good speed. The Hawks own his rights. Probably better than what Atlanta has now at PG with Speedy, so the Hawks maybe should try to bring him over as soon as possible.
Marco Belinelli (Italy)- This kid was as good as he was cracked up to be before tourney. Sure-fire lottery pick if he decides to place name in '07 draft class. World-class athlete with a sweet shooting stroke which is a potential deadly combo. Needs to tweak his shot selection (gets a little too happy with his outside shot) & needs to add some weight. Has a chance to be an all-star caliber talent in the NBA.
Carlos Delfino (Argentina)- Was great coming off the bench sharing minutes with the other great wings for Argentina (Arg. did not lose much of anything when they replaced Manu with 'Los). Shot the ball well, great ball-handler & passer off the dribble, great athlete, & hit the boards well combined with solid defense. I thought this guy has had starting caliber talent for a couple years & should have saw more burn last year in Detroit--he has to see more time this year. If not, Det needs to get him to a team where he can start.
Rudy Fernandez (Spain)- Similar to Belinelli: great athlete with a nice outside shot. Shot the ball very well in the tourney. Comes with great energy & loves to run the floor. Was a consensus 1st round pick before tourney, maybe solidified a mid-round selection with his play. But, he really needs to hit the Tapas bars hard the next couple years.
Mickeal Gelabale (France)- Brought great effort on the defensive end. Very good on-ball defender which is a godsend to Seattle. He should see some good minutes behind Rashard & Ray since there's not much wing depth on the Sonics. Shot the ball alright, but is not known as a good shooter, & his mechanics are nothing special. Could use some weight as well.
Ekenne Ibekwe (Nigeria)- The current U. of Maryland forward was very active on both ends of the floor. Crazy athlete who had some of the best finishes in the tourney. Also, hit the boards well. Was huge in the near upset Germany. Needs some weight. Not really sure the post skills or face-up skills are there & he could be caught between positions in the NBA, sort of like Hakim Warrick. But could be a nice hybrid forward off the bench in an uptempo system (a la the Suns). With the way the NBA seems to be headed toward undersized line-ups, he could have more opportunites nowadays at the 4 spot.
Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey)- This kid is legit. A little uneven play in the Worlds, but injuries had some to do with this. Showed glimpes of NBA-style game: step-back jumpers, pull-ups off the dribble, fadeaways to combine with good size & athleticism at the SF. Can easily see him being a starter in 2-3 years, probably supplanting Bobby Simmons who the Bucks can hopefully deal for a legit starting caliber point guard that they still need; sorry Steve Blake is not the answer. On top of that he's spitting image of Josh Harnett after being worked over by Antonio Tarver for a couple rounds.
Darko Milicic (Serbia)- Had a great tourney teaming with Igor to provide Serbia with a great combo. Was a force inside & out--was showing off his elbow jumper (probably a little too much) & showed off some of his sweet low-post moves. Also, a major presence in the paint on the defensive end. Still has a tendency of not finishing shots strongly & fades away too much on some of his shots; his body language at times can still be discouraging.
Sergio Rodriguez (Spain)- Portland draftee did not see a ton of time, but did show shades of his talent when given the chance, especially vs. Argentina. Great speed, wonderful handle & solid shot. Needs to reign in his flashy tendencies, but will have time to develop with Portland behind Jarrett Jack.
S. Schortianitis (Greece)- Highly efficient in the tourney--nearly 8 ppg in only 10 mins. per game on 19/22 shooting overall. Although, he had trouble with turnovers in his limited minutes. I knew this guy was big but did not really understand how huge he was until he was matched vs. Elton Brand and how much wider he was than Elton. Very nimble with nice hands & decent hops. Definitely could be a solid back-up in the NBA, not sure he can be a starter though. The Clippers need back-up bigs now, so you could see him in the next 1 or 2 years & he has a very cheap buyout which makes things easier.
Vasilieos Spanoulis (Greece)- Current Houston Rocket played out of his mind in the US game, so some people might be overrating him because that was the only game they saw of him. Not as good of a shooter as that game made him out to be. Very good at penetration & has legit speed that should translate to the NBA. Also, a very tenacious defender. Has good size for a PG. Although, he really never showed much in the way of passing or creating good looks for his teammates. Might just be a solid back-up combo guard in the NBA at best, but Van Gundy should love his toughness & defense.
Tiago Splitter (Brazil)- Outplayed his frontcourt partner, Varejao & was the MVP for Brazil. Has a similar rep to Varejao-- good defense & boards--but brought some offense to the table that was a bit of a surprise. Probable lottery pick if he can keep his name in draft (has buyout issues).