RaptorsHQ Prospect Preview #6 - Valanciunas, Vesely, Motiejunas and Biyombo

Jan Vesely - The most athletic European draft prospect ever?


With only two weeks to go before the NBA Draft, the HQ rounds up some of the lesser known prospects in this year's draft with the help of the good folks at Euroleague Adventures...

I've never used an online dating service.

Not that I frown upon such things, or think less of anyone who uses them, I've just never bothered to give them a shot. 

(Although admittedly a few years ago I was very tempted to try E-Harmony in order to test the regression equations used to 'match people."  It's my my Wages of Wins based DNA I suppose.)

However I have quite a few friends who have tried these services out, and all have described them in a similar manner.

Essentially you narrow your pool of interest right off the bat, based on some criteria.  This criteria could include common interests, physical appearance, desire to have an affair, seeking a Cougar, whatever.

After that, you begin a process of evaluating individuals in that smaller pool, through a series of dates, and hopefully you find that perfect match.

Sound familiar?

A bit like the NBA draft no?

This year though the dating pool for NBA General Managers is a bit murkier than usual thanks to the inclusion of various foreign players, many of whom there's simply not a lot to go on.

Yep, we all know about Bismack Biyombo's triple-double at the Nike Hoop Summit and the highlights of that game seen here:


But what else do we know?

And does one momentous game equal a lottery pick?  NBA Draftniks love to throw around Serge Ibaka comparisons when referring to him, but why is everyone forgetting a very similar prospect from the not-so-distant past, Saer Sene?

And even the more well-known players who made their living last year overseas; Jan Vesely might be the dunking ninja...


...but can he do anything else?

To get some much-needed assistance with these folks, our CanBall ace Ray Bala looked to Nick Gibson, of Euroleagueadventures.com to help us out.

Nick and his crew at Euroleague Adventures have been covering basketball on the other side of the pond for some time now, all the while acting as the official European basketball bloggers for Slam Online.

As expected, Nick pulls no punches in his analysis below, and provides a fresh take on some of the mystery men of this year's draft...

...not to mention their "Darkometer" ranking...

Jonas Valanciunas, 6'11" 240 lbs, PF/C

Darkometer Profile on ELA: Euroleagueadventures.com/the-darkometer/jonas-valanciunas/

Jonas plays like a spastic Great Dane. Elbows flying all around as he lopes down the court in just several strides, you're never quite sure where he'll pounce next. There's not an understated move in his arsenal, and he launches himself at would-be put-backs on offense and soon-to-be swatted balls on D with a reckless abandon that still seems somehow calculated. He hustles right on through the whistle and occasionally into foul trouble, but not the frustrating kind; he'll barrel through a screen, deliver some hard hackage when he's helping someone else's man, but you won't see him flail carelessly at a missed assignment or flimsily slap at a ball handler who sliced his double team in half.

He's got the motor and the athleticism to bridge the gap between where his back-to-basket game is and where it will be in three to four years. Plus, he's more polished on the pick and roll than any big in this draft, making him a valuable cog to any offense, even if the ball rarely touches his hands.

Most importantly, Jonas knows Jonas. While the Morris twins and Derrick Williams are busy proving to the scouts that they can slide up to small forward and hit the occasional jumper, Jonas is hopping in and out of the paint, posting and re-posting, rolling and rarely popping, perfectly content to use all six feet and eleven inches to his advantage. He's proud to be a big and is willing to work his ass off until he's one of the best.

*His buyout with Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania has been set at $3 million, and he has 3 years left on his current deal. Whoever drafts JV may well get Rubio-ed.

Jan Vesely, 6'11" 240 lbs, F

Darkometer Profile on ELA: Euroleagueadventures.com/the-darkometer/jan-vesely/

Aside from Travis Leslie, Jan Vesely is the best leaper in this draft. He could dust off the rim with his eyebrows if he cared to and his shoes shouldn't have to step in the paint to initiate his dunk sequence. On a bad team he'll be asked to shoot more than he'd like, resulting in a field goal percentage not at all indicative of his usual efficiency and selectiveness. When he's out of the action he tends to blend in, but give him a running start to the rim and he'll remind everyone why he was worth the lottery pick.

Want to render him useless? Isolate him on the wing with a foot or two of space and make him think. Make him contemplate. Most importantly, make him dribble. And once ball meets floor, make him change directions. He probably won't hurt you, but he certainly won't panic, either. And once the possession's through he'll sprint back down and lock down your small forward. He's been around the block and played in front of Serbian and Greek crowds that would make [insert NBA arena name here] sound like a lullaby.

At worst, you've got a starter-quality forward and highlight machine with All-Defensive potential---most likely an honorable mention, as politics and laziness keep the first and second teams chock full o' big names who pick their spots on D.

Quite simply, you've got the most athletic European draft prospect. Ever.

Donatas Motiejunas, 6'11" 240 lbs, PF

Darkometer Profile on ELA: Euroleagueadventures.com/the-darkometer/donatas-motiejunas/

I'm terrible at math, therefore, I hate it. If I were an accountant, I don't think I'd enjoy my life.

But Donatas is great at basketball. So why is it so hard to tell if he really loves it? Why doesn't he punch the clock happily when he shows up to a job most of us still dream of well into our YMCA days?

People close to him say that it's his personality; he's admittedly a relaxed, thoughtful kid. But so was Tim Duncan, yet he sacrificed neither results nor work ethic to accommodate his repose. Donatas needs to step on the gas from day one to establish himself as a weapon, and not some floor-stretching placeholder in an offense that churns furiously around him. He's got moves upon moves---more than anyone else in this draft, in fact---and with a timely shove from the right coach, he might be able to rattle them all off in a single game.

I could tell you some cookie-cutter drafthead stuff like, "He has the length to become a solid defender on the next level if he can add some muscle and up the effort level," but it'd be meaningless. Technically, it's true, but he'll never defend because it's not a priority. No need to fill your heads with visions of help-side swats and floorburns. Donatas won't have many of either.

What he will have is a green light when he catches the ball, be it under the hoop or 20 feet out. If you dare, play him 30 minutes a night and hope he can outscore the guy he's "guarding." It's a risk some team's sure to take.

Bismack Biyombo, 6'9" 240 lbs, PF/C

I would've written ‘Mack's profile this time last year. Thing is, I had no idea what a "Bismack Biyombo" was at the time so it would've been mighty difficult. Here was this gangly African manchild playing on Fuenlabrada's second division squad to start the season, and next thing you know he's called up to become an essential piece to an ACB playoff team and recording triple doubles in the Nike Hoop Summit.

He's only 6'9" but since people don't usually block shots with their heads, it shouldn't be a problem; his wingspan is listed at 7'7". He leaps quickly and jams fiercely, but don't expect to be Wow-ed by a turnaround or hook shot. Bismack knows what he's out there to do and seems content to thrive on a putback-based offense (for now, at least).

Biyombo's greatest quality? Mystery. His legend grows as the draft draws nearer, but it would surely fade as more holes in his game came to the surface (because rest assured, there are holes aplenty). The over-studied prospect is often the most maligned (see: Donatas Motiejunas), and Bismack is nothing if not underexposed.

Expect a top five blocks/minute guy with a shooting range that extends no more than an arm's length from the rim.

And expect a Trump-like call for his birth certificate before he signs on that dotted line.

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