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Draft Buzz 6/6/03

Fri, 06/06/2003 - 5:56pm

By Aran Smith

[img_assist|nid=4479|title=Pavel Podkolzine|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=180|height=270]Jack and the Beanstalk

The "Siberian Bear" is out of Hibernation.

Pavel Podkolzine's workout went unbelievable according to sources. He is a bigman who can shoot threes and has incredible mobility. One source even speculated he could go as high as third overall!

He is obviously very raw but for many teams who hadn't seen him, the giant is real. And for some team fairy tales may come true. You just don't find bigmen with the agility he displayed. He is still a project because he hasn't learned to play against a high level of competition but he has an incredible frame and athleticism to go with it. A team will have to wait a few years for him to be a factor but his upside is incredible.

What a big guy is doing learning how to shoot three's is anybody's guess but it may have helped impress teams on just how agile this kid is.

Scouts were utterly blown away. Phrases like "Is this kid for real?" were being used. Scouts have never seen a guy that big and athletic dunking lobs and shooting 3's. The Clippers have said they will not let him get by their pick. He has really boosted his stock and could go as high as 3 or 4, and most likely wont slip past the 6th or 7th picks.

Pavel is obviously a risky pick, and while that can be said about just about any player, it is especially true because Pavel lacks game experience. However when you have a player with his considerable upside, swinging for the fences is justified.

Worst case scenario Pavel will turn into a Gheorghe Muresan. He will have a few great years but due to his size, the injury bug will keep him from having an extensive career. One factor in Pavel's favor is that Muresan was bigger and always more limited by his size. Pavel can move a lot more fluidly and has even developed range on his jumpshot.

In games, Pavel has shown that he is a great rebounder, which is encouraging. If his offensive game never becomes a factor he will still be a valuable player because of his defense and rebounding abilities alone. But Pavel has the soft touch and the makings of an offensive game.

The Nuggets might take him, or they could use their pick to trade down with Toronto who likes Anthony more than Denver. The Nuggets have a logjam at the SF position and appear to like their current players and have been shopping their pick. A trade scenario involving the 3rd and 4th picks plus an additional player is a good possibility. The Nuggets would make the trade under the condition that Toronto take Anthony and not Podkolzine who they would select 4th.

There's also the scenario that Denver just decides that Pavel is too good to pass up and takes selects him with their pick instead of trying to get something for Anthony.

Camping in Chicago

Ndudi Ebi and Charlie Villanueva conducted a private workout for teams on Thursday. Scouts described the workout being very one sided. Villanueva was very disappointing. As one NBA scout put it, "the scouts in attendance didn't last 15 minutes, they were running for the doors." Villanueva's attitude is what really rubbed the scouts the wrong way. "He just doesn't have a professional approach to the whole thing." Villanueva will likely make the sound decision and follow his commitment to UConn.

[img_assist|nid=4480|title=Ndudi Ebi|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=180|height=212]Ebi on the other hand had a positive workout. He was hitting his shots pretty well, which has been an aspect of his game in question. There's no disputing his talent and potential. It's more of a question of how far away he is from contributing. With an underdeveloped body and lacking a true position, he will be a SF on the next level, but lacks SF skills. His best attribute is probably his defensive intensity and shot blocking ability. But that isn't a huge factor playing the 3 in the NBA.

Rashard Lewis is probably the player whose game Ebi's most resembles. Like Ebi, Lewis attempted a jump from high school to the NBA. Comparing him to fellow Texan, Lewis: Rashard had more athleticism and size and still fell into the second round. On the the other hand, in 1998 when Lewis was drafted, there was less acceptance about taking high school players.

There was almost a message being sent to youngsters not to make the jump and Lewis was made an example of sitting in the green room with tears in his eyes on draft night. Lewis has proven a number of teams wrong including his hometown Rockets, with rumors they gave him a promise and backed out on. Now there is less of a stigma involved and teams know that the old adage "good things come to those who wait" is often a good rule to live by.

Some have speculated that Ebi could be drafted as high as the mid teens. But it's more likely he would fall somewhere in the late first round area, (22-29) and anything could happen at that point. Should he choose to hold off on his professional career, he would have a much better chance of allowing his game to incubate in a less intense environment. Being able to groom his skills against inferior competition really benefits a player like Ebi, who isn't of the caliber of a KG, Kobe, Amare, or T-Mac.

The guess here is that he will make the smart choice and end up pulling out of the draft, playing a year or two at Arizona and ending up a lottery pick down the road.

In scouts minds Ebi's solid workout and decision to pull out wont hurt his status in years to come. The same cant be said for Villanueva who has developed a bad reputation already. He'll have to show a commitment to gaining a new attitude and work ethic in college. And who better to instill that than Jim Calhoun at UConn?

More Flavor?

International players strike again.

Malick Badiane a PF out of Senegal had an unbelievable workout Thursday in front of NBA teams. "Blew 'em away" as one scout put it. He has played himself into the first round with a strong workout and some scouts were raving about him saying he could be taken as high as the late teens. Badiane brought the exact attitude missing from Villanueva, Ebi workout.

Badiane has been compared to Keon Clark because of his combination of quickness and long sleek frame. But Badiane is more of a post player. And unlike the lanky Clark who is a wonderful athlete, Badiane appears to have the ability to put some more weight on and become more of an inside force. Most refreshing about Badiane is his attitude. He has the willingness to be coached and really wants to improve and work on his game.

A bit of a mystery player having impressed many scouts at ABCD camp last year, Badiane had a strong year in low level league in Germany. Badiane also impressed scouts at last years Global Games.

With great "body strength", Badiane has the frame to add weight without seeing it hinder his agility. This is often a big problem for players with less natural body strength like Brian Cook, and Rick Rickert. Badiane has put on 14 pounds in the past year and his movements have remained very quick and fluid. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves and contribute to the hype machine, but we could be looking at a future top 10 center in the league in a few years.

According to Babacar Sy who knows Badiane well, he's a supreme talent, it's just a matter of getting his mental approach together. If Thursday's workout is any indication it appears Badiane has been putting things together.

Nene Hilario ended up as the second best athlete in the Athleticism test that the NBA gave players at the draft camp last year. Badiane would likely have similar results in this test as he has developed his strength to go along with his considerable athleticism. Badiane may have more natural explosiveness but less strength than Nene Hilario.

Last years top athlete according to the agility test was JR Bremer, a player who ended up going undrafted but became a starter at point guard for the Boston Celtics.

Movers And Shakers

Troy Bell has really been strong. He has played himself into the high second round area. He topped off a strong 17 point 7 assist performance with a 20 point performance. Everyone knows he can score and has great heart. The biggest question marks surround his size and point guard skills.

He measured at roughly 6-1 with shoes, so that's positive. His performance in the opening game dishing out 7 dimes has definitely led to consideration that he may have some point guard qualities to go with his considerable offensive game. Bell has accomplished one thing, he has proven to scouts that he can play in the NBA.

Dahntay Jones is another player who has impressed scouts. His stats have been modest, but he has shown the right attitude and his athleticism is among the best in the camp. After Jarvis Hayes, Jones might be the second best shooting guard coming out of college.

Theron Smith has been very impressive. With an injury that knocked him out for the entire season, Smith was kind of a wildcard coming in. However he has impressed scouts enough that he is now considered a high second round pick.

James Lang has been very impressive in the camp showing good mobility and that he's dropped some weight. He measured at just 6-8 without shoes on. Making him 6-9 with shoes. He does have a huge wingspan enabling him to play bigger than his size. However most scouts are skeptical about the weight issue. Names such as John "Hot Plate" Williams are mentioned when Lang is brought up. Lang will probably end up in the late 30's to early 40's.

Jameer Nelson and Mo Williams have been impressive but word out of Chicago is that scouts feel that both players would have a better chance to get in the first round by waiting a year. The huge number of point guards in this draft hurt both players chances. Jameer Nelson has created more buzz, and there are a few scouts that really love the kid. But his height is a big factor.

Williams measured tall at a legit 6-2 with good body strength. He is an intriguing prospect, but not a surefire first round pick and can vastly improve his stock by returning to school.

Both PG's have considerable potential and are serious bubble players. It would be a shame to see them stay in and get left out of the first round. But with so many players vying for the last several spots in the first round, a number of players will be left disappointed.

Chris Thomas has decided to give personal workouts and thus far the word is that he's probably in the second round. He also would benefit by returning to school.

Slovenian PG Sasha Vujacic has been decent but hasn't played well enough to get into the first round according to most. He will almost surely withdraw from the draft and wait a year. He'll project as a first rounder next year.

The early measurements are out with the remainder of players to be measured Friday.

Disapointments

Marcus Moore who some have speculated could be drafted as high as the lottery has really dropped in the minds of scouts. He apparently has shot himself in the foot with a miserable showing so far in the draft camp. One scout said his shooting touch is so bad that he couldn't possibly shoot himself in the foot because if he tried he would miss. The 35% shooting on the year may be too much to overcome despite the great passing and point guard skills in a 6-5 player. Moore would be best advised to return to college for his senior year to ensure a spot in the first round.

Marcus Hatten has had a disappointing camp thus far and will probably be looking at making a team as a free agent. His biggest problem appears to be running the point guard position. He's a wonderful player in the mode of a Steve Francis, but just doesn't have the freakish athleticism to overcome the height disadvantage. Hatten will likely be a difference maker overseas and could potentially play himself into the NBA in a few years.

Marquise Estill hasn't shown the type of assertiveness that teams expect and could potentially slip out of the draft.

Kyle Korver has been a big dissapointment. His shot seems to have gone AWOL. Which is really a problem when that's the only real thing that has scouts interested. Maybe it's a case of him focusing more on other aspects and that has affected his shooting. But this is a showcase and stepping up in this arena is key. He hasn't risen to the challenge. His inability to move has become very apparent and Korver probably doesn't have the athleticism for the NBA.

News out of Colorado with the USA trials: Emeka Okafor, Hakim Warrick and Ben Gordon were by far the best players there. All are seen as potential top 10 picks for next year.

Argentina Revisited?

[img_assist|nid=4481|title=Walter Hermann|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=179]First Argentina became the first country to beat a USA squad comprised of professionals. Now Argentinean Manu Ginobili is starring for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. The country also features a potential first round pick in Carlos Delfino. So what's next for Argentina?

An over 22 player who has improved his game tremendously over the past season is Walter Herrmann a 6-9 SF from Argentina playing for Fuenlabrad in Spain. Hermann has become one of the top (over 22) European prospects.

Hermann was the MVP of the regular season averaging 22.3 points, 9.7 boards, 0.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.8 TO's, 48% FG, 35% 3-PT, 78% FT. He's a player with considerable athleticism who can score and rebound. He's dangerous on the offensive glass, runs the floor, is aggressive penetrating, can make the 3 without being a real shooter. He's well defined physically, with a good coordination and nice frame and wingspan.

He also loves to dunk, and has been a Dunk Contest Champion twice in Argentina. As you can see in the photo, and yes the ball is on fire! You can go to http://www.juegodelasestrellas.com.ar/multimedia.shtml to see some videos of him (and Andres Nocioni) in Argentina.

His drawbacks are that he hasn't developed his passing skills like he should, his team defense is horrible. But his drawbacks are just a matter of work, and Hermann has demonstrated that he is a hard worker this year, his first season in a first division league, where he has to do something more than dunk on people. Right now, he and Andrés Nocioni are the best small forwards in Europe for the NBA in the over 22 range (not including Dejan Bodiroga, of course).

Although Nocioni is a little better now because of his experience and defense (he has just been named for the First All- Euroleague Team). NBA scouts have scouted him for a while now. Hermann's buyout is 400,000 Euros, around $470,000 , compared to the 3,000,000 of Nocioni's buyout (around $3,500,000).

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