Player of the Week: Tadija Dragicevic
To round up what weve already reported about Dragicevic this season, its interesting to note how he looks everyday more of a complete offensive player. He evolves all over the court: from the perimeter to the lane, feeling completely comfortable also in the mid-range distances. Hes starting to showcase some off-the-dribble skills with his long-range shot, although he still needs to gain significant consistency here; anyway, shooting open from standstill positions hes almost money in the bank. He also seems more under control while attacking the basket, always trying to take advantage of unbalanced defenses (he seems to be controlling a little bit his turnovers, although he committed five this past weekend), while showing some soft touch to finish against opposition, an ability that hes also using from the low post. Besides, he moves pretty well off the ball, trying to take advantage of the pick-and-roll play (which often ends up being a pick and pop). Generally speaking, hes showing increasing poise on the court.
As always, he leaves us skeptical about his NBA potential. The guy is becoming so productive, that it would be really surprising if a wealthy European team doesnt take him right this upcoming summer. Then he will have a nice chance to prove if hes able to deliver some dirty work to compliment his offensive skills, such as more defensive aggressiveness, better defensive rotations, or more rebounding. It would probably be the most effective way for him to convince someone that hes worth a chance in the NBA, given that his offensive repertoire would struggle in a translation to the American league due his physical and athletic shortcomings. So, even if we shouldnt completely rule out a call in the second round, it doesn't look all that likely at this point.
A Look at Henk Norel
Norel enjoys an excellent combination of length and skills, while also delivering nice athleticism. His biggest knock has always been his physical build, as hes an extremely skinny player with only a decent frame, and thats why its taken him so long to blossom. In LEB Oro hes facing pretty strong competition (its likely a top-10 league all across Europe), and indeed hes often being outmuscled, but still, Norel is finding ways to contribute by relying on his abilities and size.
A rather promising post player, this is an area where his physical fragility is still slowing him down. Norel enjoys nice footwork and can finish with both hands near the basket, but hes not comfortable operating down low against physical defenders. I dont think hes soft, indeed hes willing to take contact, but its really difficult to properly execute while being seriously outmuscled. So whenever he could use his low post game as a go-to ability in his repertoire, right now its only another weapon he tests from time to time. Indeed, if he receives near the basket, he often prefers to pass the ball taking good use of his nice court vision and decision making, which he also is able to find teammates from the high post.
When it comes to scoring points, Norels most effective weapon right now is probably his jumper. Hes a very nice spot-up shooter, showing very solid mechanics and nice quickness in the release. His range extends out to the international three-point line, but hes your classic mid-range gunner. He also puts the ball on the floor with both hands, showcasing his very nice ball-handling skills for a player his size, in order to look for the basket or kick the ball out to the perimeter.
One of the most encouraging characteristics of Norel is his willingness and ability to play above the rim. Hes a nicely reactive player who easily dunks the ball (in one-handed fashion if needed), which helps him to cash in his off-the-ball movement whenever he receives near the basket.
Defensively, Norel suffers again in the low post on a physical level, being sometimes banged by stronger post players. However, he shows nice positioning, good lateral quickness and interesting activity. Still, hes not much of an intimidator, and almost never goes for the block.
Norel looks like a rather smart player with high basketball IQ. He shows a nice feel for the game, his decision making is pretty solid, and he knows how to fill spaces or where to pass the ball. Hes a pretty talented player.
Draft wise, Norel looks like a second-round pick in the making. His NBA potential will clearly rest in his ability to gain strength hes pretty far from there- which would probably turn him into a first-round-caliber guy, but his thin frame leaves a dark shadow of uncertainty in that regard. Hes proving to be fairly effective in the top LEB level, so we should see him next season earning his pay in the ACB league, which happens to be the campaign when he becomes automatically eligible. We shouldnt expect a sudden impact there, while its highly unlikely that hell be able to take a huge leap forward in his physical development, but his length, skills and potential in general will likely draw a lot of interest in the second round.
State of the Prospect: Whos Hot
Ricky Rubio impressed with his outing in the first game of the two-legged eight-finals in the ULEB Cup. His team DKV Joventut travelled to Russia to face Khimki, one of the very best squads in the competition, in what couldve been considered as an anticipated final. However, the Spanish team demolished its rival following the impressive performance of Rubio, who collected 18 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. He particularly shined in the scoring department, enjoying some awesome stretches when he connected on perimeter shots and layups with ease, while his defense provided easy points for Joventut as usual.
Nando de Colo seems to be perennially living above the 20-point mark these days. This past weekend he went for 23, adding also 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. However this time his team Cholet couldnt prevail on the road against Orleans.
State of the Prospect: Whos Not
News and Notes
-While we wait for the International rosters of the Nike Hoop Summit to be released, weve already learned that two very intriguing likely first round picks in Serge Ibaka and Alexis Ajinca will be participating. Nicolas Batum unfortunately did not get clearance from his club to join them in Portland.
-Herb Rudoy of Interperformances also informed us via email that Israeli small forward Omri Casspi, who is playing some of the best basketball of his career lately with European powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, will definitely be putting his name into this draft. Last week against Hapoel Holon (a very strong team in Israel), Casspi had an outstanding outing with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 22 minutes. The San Antonio Spurs just sent two representatives (George Felton and Rob Hennigan) to scout him this past weekend.