Koponen easily boosted his draft stock more than anybody during his week in Memphis. The young point guard from Finland had been a relative unknown to most scouts in attendance, but proved in the end to have what it takes to play against athletic competition.
During the practices, Koponen ran the World Select team like a veteran while making great reads out of the half court offense. Great awareness in terms of knowing where the defenders are as well as what the offensive players were doing within the offense allowed him to run the team like he had been playing with the group for a period longer than a handful of days.
When scoring in the practices, Koponen relied mostly on his ability to knock down three pointers with nice consistency. In addition to a high release point, he also elevates well when shooting the perimeter shot. Though he doesnt look for his own offense unless other options have been exhausted, Koponen can hit the three pointer on the move or on an open kick-out with his feet set.
After his great play throughout the practices, the final concern surrounding Koponen related to his ability to play against the pressure defense of more athletic players. He had no problem operating against Aleksandar Ugrinoski
and Chen Jianghua
throughout the week, but its a whole new task to play against guys like Derrick Rose
and O.J. Mayo
Statistically, the 6 assists and 1 turnover were the most important numbers for Koponen, but his impact on the court went far beyond the numbers. The young point guard ran the pick and roll like a veteran, making many great reads and showing the awareness to find the open cutter nearly every time. On the pick and roll, Koponen had picked up the instinctual tendencies of his teammates on the offensive end after only a week of practices. During one possession, he was running a pick and roll with his back facing the right sideline when the man guarding Nicolas Batum
ran over from the blindside to steal the ball. Showing great awareness, Koponen spun and threw the ball simultaneously right before the help defender arrived, hitting Batum who took the ball to the hoop for an easy two points.
The young point guard rarely looked for his own offense in the game, choosing to play the distributor role instead. Early on in the game, Koponen received an outlet pass and took the ball all the way in transition for an easy two points. This basket ended up being his sole points inside the paint during the entire game. From behind the three point line, he only made one of his three attempts throughout the game, despite the fact that he can usually knock the three down at a better rate. The three he did make came on a high pick and roll, where Koponen found the bottom of the net from a couple feet behind the NBA three point line. On his other two attempts, one was forced up quickly at the end of the shot clock, and the other nearly went in from NBA range.
The athleticism of Team USA didnt seem to bother Koponen at all, and he looked pretty quick himself throughout the game. Against the press, Koponen took it coast to coast twice, finishing inside the first time and drawing a foul the second. In the half court, he only made on ill-advised drive in the lane, choosing to be patient working within the offense throughout the rest of the game.
Throughout the week, Koponen proved he has a future in the NBA. He proved to have quickness and athleticism to play the American game, and his command of the pick and roll offense is extremely mature for a teenager. In addition to great size for a point guard, he also shows great composure and developed shooting ability. Petteri Koponen
may potentially declare this season, but could possibly boost his stock with a year against top level European competition. Either way, he can enter and pull out before the deadline if he doesnt receive the feedback hes looking for this season.