In our final segment of the 2011 Draft Primer we take a look at the European players who could be the Sixers pick in the first round. Be sure to check out our first two installments, which chronicled the perimeter players and post players.
Again, you know the drill. Not scouting reports, "Fit with Sixers" is how well their skill sets fit with the Sixers needs, etc. Check in after the jump.
Motiejunas is being mislabeled a bit, as many in the media are calling him a jump shooting big man. While he's improved his jump shot from last year, he still spends a very large amount of his time (perhaps more than any European prospect) with his back to the basket.
Motiejunas has a more diversified offensive arsenal than just about anyone in this draft. A fluid athlete, Moti has good footwork in the post and nice touch around the rim, and he's gotten considerably stronger over the past 12 months, adding both upper body and lower body strength to his frame. Combine that with an improving jump shot and good ball skills and you have perhaps as much offensive potential as any big man in this draft not named Derrick Williams.
As a cherry on top, he's a very good passer (again, perhaps the best big man in the draft in this regard), who if he translates his post game to the NBA could be extremely valuable.
So where does it go wrong, and why are we talking about a legitimate 7 footer with those skills as potentially being available with the 16th pick? Two obvious reasons, then a few more subtle. First, there's defense, which at this stage is bad. Then, there's rebounding, which at this stage can't be described as anything other than terrible. The hope was that as he developed his lower body that his rebounding would follow, but it hasn't. He doesn't appear to be all that instinctual of a rebounder, and sometimes the effort level is questionable.
Second, there's a question whether his post game will translate. Moti isn't the greatest at finishing through contact, and he may have trouble establishing deep post position in the NBA. Questions about his toughness and approach to the game don't help his cause.
All in all, Moti may have high bust potential, and even if he works out his defense and rebounding will likely prevent him from being an impact defender. But he is 20 years old, and with a world of offensive talent.
Fit with Sixers: Mediocre (Very good offensively, very bad defensively).
The man who "played one on none and lost", a workout which showed just how raw Biyombo is offensively and what a coach may have to work with. That being said, his defensive tools are undeniable, and he's played against some of the best (non-NBA) competition in the world.
An absolute chiseled frame with a 9'4" standing reach, who's an extremely good leaper with a quick second jump. Oh yeah, and he actually defends the pick and roll very well for a guy his size. All this combines to create a defensive package that is very rare to find.
On the other hand, he has nothing offensively. No jump shot, no touch around the hoop, and questionable hands. He may struggle finding time early in his career because of how incomplete of a player he is.
Ultimately, he's worth the risk. With the defensive potential he has, it's worth risking the 16th pick trying to obtain that. The question is, if he starts falling on draft night, how much do you have to move up to get him, and how much would you give up ? There are very few big men in this draft with the potential to control a game on either end of the court, and this guy has it. Playing in the ACB, even in an abbreviated season, goes a very long way to qwelling my fears about his ability to play against legitimate competition.
Fit with Sixers: Very good (could anchor defense).
Another forward who's all about defensive potential, this time on the perimeter. Jan Vesely is another who is sometimes incorrectly labeled a shooter, as in fact that's one of the weaker parts of his game. What he does have, in abundance, is length and athleticism.
At his best attacking the basket, either in transition, off of cuts, or in isolation situations, Vesely uses his length and athleticism to throw down emphatic dunks and wild forays into the lane. Both of these attributes also give him defensive potential that some have compared to Andrei Kirilenko, although I think that's overstated, as there's little chance he'll turn into the shot blocker Kirilenko was in his prime.
However, he's still raw offensively. His jump shot's still a work in progress, he doesn't have much of an in-between game, and his ball handling has a ways to go before he can consistently create for himself and others. And, while he has great length and overall athleticism, his lateral mobility is only average, which brings into question whether he can stay in front of NBA 3's.
Fit with Sixers: Bad (especially for short term).
Valanciunas has the potential to impact a game in many ways, at least in a few years.
He's got very good hands and above average touch inside, and is a very good pick and roll (dive) player because of that, using his length well down low. He's already a plus rebounder, and as he continues to add bulk this should only improve. His length makes him a potential weak side help defender, and his frame looks like it could add weight.
But whatever team drafts him will need to be patient, and not only because his contract buyout is likely to preclude him from playing in the NBA next year (if there is an NBA). He's still very raw defensively, with an unrefined post game and a little used jumper, although his free throw percentage gives us hope he'll eventually add that to his reportoire. Even defensively, he lacks builk, which holds him back in his post defense, and he's sometimes out of position, not all that uncommon for a 19 year old.
If there are 4 things I want my big men to do in the NBA today, it's: play a pick and pop/roll game, defend the pick and roll, defensive rebound, and provide weak side help defense. Jonas has the potential to do all 4, and they're all a fairly high probability of being realized.
If the Sixers can take advantage of his buyout situation artificially deflating his value, they should jump on it.
Fit with Sixers: Very good.
I don't know. Oh, sure, I've seen clips. But the amount of data we have on Kanter can only give us theories, very few can speak with any sort of confidence. He looks the part, and moves around better than I had expected. And he clearly has a lot of skill. But how will he react when he's matched up with a similarly sized (and skilled) big every night ? I can't say that I know, and considering the lack of experience he's had the last 2 years, I'm not sure who can.
Fit with Sixers: Who knows (but potentially good).