The arrival of Dirk Nowitzki to the NBA has brought an increasing demand and expectation for similar shooting ability from any European big man who has followed him since. And while this pattern is frequently false, as good of a stroke of many of those guys might have, in the case of Vladimir Veremeenko we're talking about a true sniper. The Russian enjoys one of the quickest releases amongst forwards you will find anywhere; it's automatic and very reliable from mid-range distances. He can make it off the dribble, while squaring himself for a balanced shot, and almost never in a wild fashion.
Fortunately, Veremeenko is not just a one-dimensional player. Standing 6-11, he takes advantage of his great mobility and coordination from the power forward position.
He runs the court very well, and enjoys a very good first step and nice handles that allow him to penetrate, giving him the ability to punish his defender with his superior quickness. He can also produce from the low post, although he usually looks for a turnaround jumper in those situations.
Veremeenko understands the game pretty well. You can feel it while watching him pass the ball, quickly and to the right place, or just by observing his efficient movement without the ball while looking for room to operate.
He's quite a nice team defender, careful with rotations and sometimes even energetic while trying to come up with a block from the weak side, showing a nice vertical leap and good timing. He has good lateral quickness for the power forward spot as well.
Despite the various small forward characteristics that Veremeenko enjoys, there's little doubt he will end up playing as a power forward considering his size. Otherwise, he would probably suffer too much on defense as his lateral quickness is not quite good enough to contain wing players.
So this leads us to another defensive concern: right now, Vladimir is still a bit skinny to defend the low post. He usually gets banged down there in Europe, and while he can perfectly live with it on this side of the ocean, the amplified version of this problem stemming from the constant physicality that he would face in the NBA on a nightly basis might turn him into a defensive liability. Besides, he's not really overly aggressive as it is. Although we should consider that there's no real reason to believe that he won't be able to add enough weight to make a living at the power forward spot.
Not everything is perfect regarding his shooting. Considering the type of player he is, he would really benefit from being the three-point threat that he would represent in the NBA, but right now he isn't that consistent enough in Europe from that area. He should try to improve his range as much as possible. He could also try to improve his post game and finishing skills there, because he will need them in the NBA.
Something that leaves a bit to be desired is the degree of fearlessness he displays when taking the ball to the basket, as he doesn't always gets the job done with traffic in the paint. In general, he doesn't look like a hot-blooded player, not showing too much emotion, and not looking overly intense.
Veremeenko looks quite mature. Strength aside, it doesn't seem like there's too much room for him to grow as a basketball player; he likely won't become significantly better than he is right now (which isn't all that bad).
At the age of 15, Veremeenko was already playing in European competition in the Korac Cup with his hometown team Spartak Gomel. In 2001, he made the all-Belarusian league first team. For the 2002/03 season, he moved to Russia to play for Avtodor Saratov, averaging 11.3 points and 6 rebounds in the SuperLeague. The following season he raised his stats to 14.2 points, 7 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Veremeenko saw himself moved to Dynamo St. Petersburg after this new team bought Avtodor's place in the SuperLegue in 2004, afterwards building one of the most competitive rosters in Russia. But Veremeenko hasn't slowed down while playing for a much better team. In the Russian SuperLeague he's currently averaging 14 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists, while having 13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his team's so far undefeated run at the FIBA Europe League.
Veremeenko has played on all the different Belarusian youth national teams. His most impressive stat line came in 2003 from the qualifying round of the U20 European Championships, when he averaged 28 points and 13 rebounds. In 2001 he was already playing for the senior National Team.
There's a good chance that Veremeenko will declare for the 2005 draft. A 6-11 player with his skills shouldn't have a problem being selected in the late first round, or in the early second as the worst case. He could wait another year, especially if he doesn't get a first-round guarantee, but considering his maturity, it doesn't look like he could significantly improve his stock in the meantime.
Voted best player of Belarus three years in a row (2002-04).