Thursday, July 12, 2007

Euroleague Final Four Reunion in Canada

NBA GMs seem to be wising up when it comes to evaluating European prospects, moving away from spending draft picks on very young players with no practical game experience (Milicic, Tskitishvili, Podkolzin) and in the direction of picking up players who have proven themselves in the tough competition of the Euroleague (John Hollinger has shown (Insider) that Euroleague stats can be translated into NBA stats somewhat reliably).

I think that the three international guys drafted at the end of the first round who have experience performing well in the Euroleague - Belinelli, Rudy Fernandez, Splitter - will end up being three of the best value picks of this year's draft when all is said and done, and I also think that Juan Carlos Navarro will be a solid offensive weapon in the league, too (thanks to the guys at Bullets Forever for inviting us yayhoos to offer a quick JCN scouting report in their space).

Of course, no one is taking this concept further than the Toronto Raptors, who - with today's signing of Maceo Baston - are conducting a veritable Euroleague Final Four reunion in Canada.

Check out these box scores from recent Euroleague championship games:
2005 - Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Tau Ceramica Vitoria:
Current Raptors in game: A. Parker, J. Calderon, M. Baston
Also note: Warriors superfan S. Jasikevicious and T. Splitter

2004 - Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Skipper Bologna:
Current Raptors in game: A. Parker, C. Delfino, M. Baston
Also note: A young Belinelli and the ubiquitous Mr. Jasikevicious

2003 - FC Barcelona vs. Benetton Treviso:
Current Raptors in game: J. Garbajosa
Also note: A. Varejao, J.C. Navarro and Jasikevicious yet again (yes, he won 3 Euroleague crowns in a row - I still believe he can play in the League if he finds the right situation); Raptors VP/asst GM Maurizio Gherardini was Benetton's GM at the time, too

Throw in Rasho Nesterovic, who won a Euroleague title in 1998, and that's a full six Raptors with Euroleague Final Four experience, plus Bargnani, who helped Treviso to an Italian League title in 2006 while also getting some Euroleague experience. And Uros Slokar was on that Benetton team as well.

As much as I respect the Euroleague, I'm frankly surprised that Mssrs. Colangelo and Gherardini have decided to go *this far* in a Euro direction. I think it will be interesting to see in the future if Toronto starts to become a favored free-agent destination for top European players in the NBA, both b/c of the welcoming atmosphere of the organization and b/c the lifestyle in Toronto is a bit more Euro-friendly and easier to acclimate to than in the States.

P.S. While we're talking Euros, today's Darko signing by the Grizzlies just made this post even more entertaining to us....


At 3:01 AM, Blogger John said...

I have a question for you guys if you don’t mind. Besides Anthony J Parker, is there other American players who went to Europe first before they made it big in the NBA?

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antonio Davis played in Greece and Italy before signing with the Pacers.

Sam Mitchell played in France before joining the Wolves.

There are probably tons more.

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous dan said...

Bruce Bowen played in France many years and was a good scorer!

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bruce bowen...

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

danny ferry played in italy

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Sergi P. said...

Not really as big as AP, AD and Bowen, but I remember a few who have gone on to have decent NBA careers coming from Europe: Darrell Armstrong, Chucky Atkins, Charlie Bell, Udonis Haslem...

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5:07 PM, Blogger Gregg said...

I believe Brian Shaw played in Italy before getting an NBA gig but I could be wrong about that.

Do you think that Toronto is trying to attract top european players because they have had some difficulty (McGrady and Carter being the two most prominent names) keeping american college/highschool produced talent when their deals are up?

Perhaps this is not a deciding factor but a smaller issue that they hope to avoid in the future.

Just a thought anyways.

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous SK said...

I think thats bang on personally. Theres a perception in the NBA that Toronto is, if not Siberia, a tax-ridden, poor-weather destination. Its might be easier to sell the multiculturalism of a city like Toronto to European players then Canadian income taxes to Americans.

Wasnt it Vince who said guys dont want to play her cause theres no ESPN and the NBA highlights are shown after curling? (Although in my opinion Vince just wasnt trying to find the ball games...indicative of a larger trend)

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Eoin said...

Maybe not a huge deal for you guys, because he wasn't a massive, massive star, but Mario Elie played in Ireland and won Championship with a club called Killester in Dublin before going on to win a Championship with the Spurs when he returned to the US.I think he also played in France.

At 3:34 AM, Blogger Manel said...

Also Mark Jackson

At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the raps didn't have trouble keeping t mac and vince because of location...those guys had tons of baggage, tmac was jealous of vince, and then vince was pissed at management...but vince did sign his extension when the team was playing well, and that's really what it came down to.

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous jk said...

just a clarification about income taxes... if you're american working in a foreign country you still pay american income taxes. i'm sure all nba players are told this when negotiating with the raptors.

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black american players dont want to play in Canada. This was painfully clear in Vancouver and even in Toronto which is really like any major US city (this is not Montreal which is in a french province) with a huge black population.

Toronto figures players who have lived and played in countries abroad (some even where english is NOT the main language!!!) will be more willing to play there.

And winning basketball in Ireland is like winning hockey in Saudi Arabia. Its tier 3 or 4 ball where talking about.

Your top 4 basketball nations in europe are Spain, Serbia, Italy, Greece.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger John said...

Thanks for the response. I'm very grateful.

But another importnt info....

Let me be the first to say CONGRATULATIONS on the signing of Luis SCOLA. You have no idea what talent great mercurial talent that you have in your roster.

I personally believe with him, alongside YAO and T-MAC, the ROCKETS are going to be a great contender to capture the NBA crown.

Special invitation to all Rockets Fans to come and visit my blog at

Your comments and opinions are much appreciated

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