The People's Commissariat for Draft Information bids you welcome to an argument in favor of drafting Sergey Karasev, the 19-year-old swingman from BC Trimph Lyubertsy of the Russian PBL. Karasev would be a minor reach at No. 11 overall (Chad Ford, who loves European players, has him going No. 13 to the Mavericks, while DraftExpress puts him at No. 18). Depending on how you feel about Giannis Antetokoumpo, and whether you count Alex Len as an American prospect because he went to college here, Karasev might be lucky to be the Third International player off the board. But the Sixers could go get this swaggering lefty from the Moscow Oblast, and if they did, he'd probably be oblast to watch in Philadelphia.
The knock on Karasev is that he's not a great athlete. At 6-foot-7, 205 pounds, he's tall enough to play either the 2 or 3 in the NBA, but he'll need to bulk up some in order to keep from wearing down against the likes of LeBron James and Paul George and Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay and other Eastern Conference personages who make "small" forward sound unfortunately oxymoronic nowadays. The good news: one would expect a 19-year-old to bulk up as time goes on, even if he leaves a country where the four major food groups are beef, potatoes, sour cream and cabbage. At the risk of running afoul of the Larry Bird Draft Comp Law, we're not talking about Andrei Kirilenko here.
But can Karasev shoot? Da, tovarisch. He can shoot: 86 percent from the foul line last season, and he's been electrifying, insofar as one can be electrifying, in pre-draft workouts. And that's the trick. If you're drafting 11th overall in one of the worst drafts in recent NBA history, you can't really screw around trying to luck into a superstar. In the NBA, you can be a valuable role player even if you can only do one thing, provided you do it really well. So for a team that (one presumes) would be running an offense that includes long-range shooting, a reliable, confident shooter would seem to be an asset worth acquiring. (This, by the way, is why I'd be in favor of trying to sneak into the back end of the first round and pick up Jeff Withey. If he's a rotation player only, who cares if he has no offensive game?)
If we're assuming that Karasev's lack of speed, strength and ups are legitimate long-term issues and not the result of assumptions made based on his demographic information, who cares? There is no legitimate sparkplug scorer on this team, and a shooter of Karasev's quality would be a boon to what was one of the league's worst offenses last year, satisfying a need so dire it's worth sacrificing a little bit of speed and defensive capability. Hell, Kyle Korver's been a rotation player for ten years, and I can run faster and jump higher than he can. NBA coaches have spent the past few years coming up with creative ways to hide their shooters on defense--you can do the same with Karasev, even if he's no faster on the dead run than, say, Jrue Holiday is at a Trotsky. I asked Derek, who knows more about such things than I do, and he's concerned about Karasev's reliance on his
right left hand and inability to finish at the rim, but again, he's still an unfinished product.
In short: Karasev's not perfect, but his positive attributes (shooting ability, youth and upside, potential to stash in Europe and let him develop, potential to bury the blog readership under an avalanche of Russia-related puns) outweigh the negative, particularly in the muddy middle of a terrible draft.