얼마전 유로리그 정규시즌이 막을 내렸습니다. 지금은 16강 풀리그가 한참 진행중이죠. 드래프트 익스프레스에서는 앞으로 NBA에서 뛸 가능성이 높은 유망주들의 성적을 평가했습니다. 기대만큼의 활약을 펼쳐준 선수들. 잘했지만 약간 아쉬웠던 선수들, 기대에 미치지 못했던 실망스러운 선수들의 3부분으로 나눠서 기사가 올라왔네요. 제가 힘 닿는데까지 해석해서 올려보도록 하겠습니다.
앞으로 갈수록 각국의 유망주들이 NBA에서 뛸 가능성이 많으니 이 기회에 한 번 점검하고 가는 것도 좋겠죠. 당장 올해 드래프트 참가가 예상되는 선수들도 꽤 있습니다.
참고로 여기서 다룬 선수들은 아직 NBA에 드래프트 되지 않은 선수들입니다. 그러니까 예를 들어 지난 월드챔피언 십에서 미국팀 격파에 선봉장이었던 그리스의 쇼세니티스 같이 이미 NBA 드래프트에서 뽑혔으나 아직 유럽에서 뛰고 있는 선수들은 제외되었다는 말이죠.
Rudy Fernández, 6-6, 1985, Shooting Guard, Joventut
성적 : 24 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 53.9% FG, 46.2% 3PT, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 spg
루디 페르난데즈가 여러 방면에서 유로리그 초반에 행동을 제약했던 부상을 극복하자, international level에서 가장 생산적인 22살 이하의 선수가 누구인지는 분명해졌다. 최근 월드챔피언 십에서 스페인 국가대표팀의 일원으로 금메달을 따낸 루디는 이번 유로리그를 통해서 인상적으로 때때로 막을 수 없는 모습을 보여주면서 과거에 있었던 스카우터들의 모든 의구심을 일소하고 있다. 과거에 루디의 리더십이나 계속적인 안정감, 아웃사이드 슈팅의 스트로크, 팀의 제 1옵션이 될 수 있는가에 대한 의문점들이 있었다. 하지만 루디는 그의 나이에도 불구하고 이런 의문점들에 대해 유로리그를 통해 답을 제시하고 있다.
지금까지 최고의 시즌을 보내고 있는 루디가 플로어위에서의 경기력 뿐만 아니라 정신적인 면에서도 극적으로 발전했다는 것을 인정하지 않는 사람은 단 한명도 없다. 물론 그의 퍼스트 스탭이나 스스로 득점을 만들어내는 능력은 아직 최고의 레벨에 있지는 않다. 그러나 지금 루디는 자신이 가지고 있는 운동능력을 마음껏 발휘하고 있으며 단순히 팀에 기여하는 선수가 아닌, 확실한 득점원, 믿을만한 슈퍼스타로 급부상하고 있다.
게임을 집어보자. 루디는 뛰어난 공격력으로 상대팀의 골머리를 썩게 하고 있다. 그는 점점 강력해지고 있으며 기동력과 운동능력을 갖췄다.열정과 경쟁심도 갖추고 있다. 특히 잘 달릴수 있으며 인상적인 컷을 보여주고 게임에 대한 탁월한 감각을 지니고 있다. 승리에 대한 굶주림 또한 리그가 계속되면서 강해져가고 있다. 드리블과 1대1에서는 약점을 지니고 있었지만 마무리하는 능력을 갖추고 있다. 종합적으로 보면 그의 몸을 어떻게 사용하여 수비를 떨쳐낼 수 있는가를 알고 있다. 드리블을 이용한 점프슛에는 아직 발전이 필요하지만 삼점슛 능력은 뛰어나다. 언제 패스를 해야하며, 언제 볼을 요구해야하는지 알고 있으며 긍정적인 사고를 하고 있다.
수비에서 루디는 본능적으로 볼을 쫗고 좋은 풋워크를 지녔다. 가로수비능력도 좋고 바디 컨트롤을 꾸준히 발전시키고 있다. 부드럽게 스크린을 빠져나가는 능력도 지녔다.그가 앞으로 맞상대할 최고의 운동능력을 지닌 NBA의 가드들을 상대할 수 있을 정도의 스피드를 지니진 못했다. 하지만 스피드 부족을 커버할 수 있는 기술들을 지녔고 충분히 수비를 해낼 수 있다. 루디의 골격은 2004년에 비해 거의 자라지 않았지만 지금까지 해온대로 노력을 한다면 NBA에서 눈에 띄는 신체적인 어려움을 겪을 것으로 보이진 않는다.
종합적으로 볼 때, 루디는 지금까지 최고의 시즌을 보내고 있으며 소속팀 유벤투트를 유로리그 16강으로 이끌었고 8강진출을 위해 노력하고 있다. 우리는 앞으로도 루디의 성공시대를 지켜보게 될 것이다.
Jonas Maciulis, 6-6, 1985, SF/SG, Zalgiris
성적 : 30 mpg, 12.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.4 spg
Jonas Maciulis was the only player, along with Rudy Fernandez, that showed extended maturity as a rookie during this Euroleague season. Aggressive and very dedicated, Maciulis managed to steal the show quite often, despite playing for the most unlucky team of the competition. This bad luck helped increase his playing time, but has nothing to do with the increased effort that the youngster was showing as the season was moving on, which made him the most trustworthy perimeter player of Zalgiris after the first round.
Maciulis has a very good body for the wing position and is strong and experienced enough to make good use of it. His basketball IQ is rather high for his age and he is already a competitor, after just half a season. He struggles sometimes and there are some shortcomings in his game, but he is athletic enough and has quite a good wingspan to cover for them. Maybe in the long-term, it will be proven that he isn't big enough to be more than a decent small forward, but this is his natural position and he has been learning it pretty well so far. If he needs to play some shooting guard in further stages of his career, he won't be bad, but he will have to work on his shooting and ball-handling skills, both of which are not the best parts of his game. In any case he could emerge as a nice big first-pass guard, with his ability to take advantage of his teammates and become more creative.
Defensively, Maciulis is very good. He can provide his team with decent size and he has the footwork and passion to prevent opponents from outmuscling him. Very good use of both his strong hands and his feet give him a lot of steals, making him probably the most complete youngster on both sides of the floor this season. He is a fighter and has good defensive positioning to add in his overall fine ability to fill the stat-line, while he is a rather good shot-blocker for his age and height, still lacking the timing to compete with older and bigger players though. Maciulis is not your typical European prospect in the sense than he is more of a bruiser than he is naturally skilled, but it wouldn't be a shock if a team decided to gamble on him in the 2nd round to see if he can develop the rest of his game over the course of the next few seasons in Europe.
Ricky Rubio, 6-5, Point Guard, DKV Joventut, 1990
18.1mpg 3.6ppg 2.5rpg 3.3apg 3.5spg 2/10 3FG
After a sensational performance at the European Cadet Championship, it was expected that 16-year old Ricky Rubio would get some minimal playing time for Joventut. But few could have predicted that Ricky would emerge as an essential part of his team's success, becoming roughly Badalona's first guard off the bench. Rubio leads the Euroleague in steals per game at an amazing 3.5, even though he plays only 18.1 minutes per contest. His ability to steal the ball from opponents is truly unique, never giving up on a play and putting consistent pressure on ballhandlers with his length and terrific hands. Ricky anticipates what his opponent will do with astonishing results, seeing plays before they actually happen. He is already among the premier defenders at the point guard position in Europe. His defensive potential is really scary and down the road he could became a true game changing force on that end of the floor.
On the offensive side, Rubio shows the poise and decision making of an accomplished veteran, improving all the time at running his team and being a pass-first playmaker with very good court vision and ballhandling ability. He is good at slashing to the basket thanks to his technique,excellent length and decent quickness, showing patience and intelligence once in the lane to dish the ball off to open teammates or finishing by himself. He has some troubles finishing in traffic though since he doesn't get great elevation off the floor and is weak physically. His lack of a productive pull-up jumper is also a notable weakness, since once he gets separation from his defender, it is quiet predictable that he will go all the way to the basket looking to score by himself or passing the ball to a teammate. Rubio's major weakness at the moment is his shooting ability, he doesn't excel from any range, showing questionable motion on his shot and a real lack of consistency.
There is a certain excitement every time Rubio steps on the floor, as he has been producing remarkable results despite all the pressure from the fans and media. Ricky is certainly an unbelievable talent-- his competitiveness, intelligence and maturity is brilliant for a 16-year old. While he might not have the physical tools of some other European players, Rubio is currently a top prospect in the Old Continent and with the level he currently shows it would be a real surprise not to see him developing into a star player in one form or another. By the time he will be eligible to enter the draft, Rubio should be among the top players in European competitions and a very likely lottery pick, possibly the first European guard ever selected in the Top 5.
Dimitriy Khvostov, 6-3, 1989, Point Guard, Dynamo Moscow
8 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 0.9 apg, 1.3 T/Os
It all started with the opening Euroleague game of the season, when legendary coach Dusan Ivkovic decided to use teenage sensation Khvostov in a surprisingly close game against Euroleague newcomers Rhein Energie. Khvostov entered the court with more determination than even Ricky Rubio. He dazzled his opponents with his passion and killer instinct, earning fouls with his very quick movement, his nerve and quick first step. He should be moving more when without the ball, but he still found many shooting opportunities, even making an open shot, showing good mechanics and confidence. He was fought for every possession on defense, was coming from behind to steal balls and was using every inch of his body to prevent his opponents from slashing. He has a natural feel for the game, already knowing very well how to use his body to penetrate and being able to finish with his right hand, even when he is fouled. Well determined, yet not as team-oriented as one would expect given his young age, this game was the only one that Khvostov was a real factor for Dynamo. However, it was more than enough to notice his potential against senior competition. In other words, he grabbed his chance and never let it go.
As for his drawbacks, there are many holes to fill, but he isn't more than a kid and he has long ways to go. His thin frame may not be growing much. He is thin and weak and the bad news is that if he gains a lot of weight, he may be losing his nice mobility. As for his point guard skills, most would swear that Dimitriy can pass. But since we don't see it; they can only make this hypothesis, because he sees the court well. He is so confident with the ball on his hands and maybe thinks too highly of himself, meaning he doesn't really come out with that many assists, or at least as many as he should be providing his teammates with. A good idea would be to focus on that part of his game in the limited playing time he will be getting during the top-16 round and leave the offensive show for the Russian Superleague games. Right now, his task is to keep growing and improve his playmaking abilities, because otherwise, he may be seeing a step back in the following months of the year, especially with so many scouts checking his game in the upcoming U-18 Euro Championships.
Manuchar Markoishvili, 6-6, SG/SF, 1986
30.5mpg 10.6ppg 2.9rpg 1.4apg 1.4spg
Even through his statistical improvement in comparison with last year might not be that big, we saw a lot of development in Markoishvili's game over the past twelve months. There are still big question marks surrounding his NBA potential, but Manuchar has addressed some of his weaknesses quite well. Lately he has been especially playing with more consistency, which has been an issue for him in the past. Athletically, Markoishvili is very close to reaching his maximum, despite being 20 years old he is already bulked up properly and has good strength in both the upper and lower body. His size and quickness are average or slightly below average by NBA standards.
Markoishvili is a tough nosed defensive player, very aggressive and motivated. He makes full use of his physical capacities and always delivers maximum effort. However, there is again the question of how good he would be against athletic NBA swingmen, since he doesn't have great lateral quickness, nor size. On the offensive end, Markoishvili has steadily improved his jumper, which does not have text book form and could certainly use a quicker trigger, but he has a high release point and has been quite accurate when given a good look. He has also improved at creating his own shot, being able to get enough separation with his fairly solid ball-handling ability. Markoishvili is also an above average passer from static positions, while he is not quite as good off the dribble.
Given the depth of the 2007 draft, if Manuchar declares he would probably go undrafted. However with another good Euroleague campaign and showing some more improvement in his game, Markoishvili could hear his name called late in the 2nd round next year. As already stated there are serious doubts about his potential, but Manuchar is a solid all-around performer with a great attitude and work ethic. He will most certainly establish himself at the highest levels of Europe as a good role player, but we are not sure if he has enough to be a successful NBA player.