2012 adidas Eurocamp: Day 3 recap

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The final day of adidas Eurocamp didn’t necessarily feature the camp’s best players, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few guys who made their presence felt. The camp’s top prospects were long gone by Day Three, with Evan Fournier, Tomas Satoransky, and even Nihad Djedovic all choosing to forego the last day’s activities.

That left the door open for others to shine, and the main beneficiary of the top players’ absence seemed to be Tornike Shengelia. He showcased a nose for the ball and an ability to do the dirty work inside, along with an energy level and an offensive skill set that’s certainly worth being noticed by NBA scouts. His play on Tuesday, particularly in the final game against the France national team, was definitely one of the day’s highlights.

In talking to coaches and scouts, Fournier and Satoransky were the clear-cut winners of the camp in terms of solidifying or improving their draft position, but many other prospects — specifically the bigs at the 4/5 or the guys at the wing positions — were able to make waves, as well.

Here are some of the other names that stood out on the camp’s final day:

– Daniel Diez (Spain) was measured at 6’8″, 203 at camp. He’s Athletic, flies around the court on both ends, plays aggressive defense with nice footwork, and compliments all of that with a nice offensive skill set. In the camp’s final game, he used his speed to get out in transition multiple times, and defended the passing lanes to perfection. His energy, athleticism, and knack for the game is certainly a winning combination.

– Oleksandr Lypovyy (Ukraine, pictured) was solid in the last game of the day, and one of the better wings in camp overall. There were several times he was able to take it fearlessly to the other team’s bigs — at times absorbing contact in mid-air and continuing to get his shot up on the rim, before  following a miss with an offensive rebound and put-back for a score. He was named the camp’s MVP.

– Rudy Gobert participated in camp as a member of the France national team, and he had plenty of opportunities to be seen. He was one of the most athletic and polished big men seen at Eurocamp, and was able to score, rebound, and block shots with ease against most of his competition. He’s still a year away from being NBA-ready, and needs to get bigger and stronger to bang with the bigs he’ll see at that level. But the overall skill set is there, and if he continues to develop as expected, he’s a name you can expect to hear at a draft in the very near future.

– Darko Planinic (Bosnia) was another big man who had an excellent camp. At this stage, his size and strength (6’11”, 255) are his biggest assets, and he still needs to work on developing his offensive skill set. But his activity and toughness around the basket already make him a very intriguing prospect.

*****

Camp coaching director (and Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach) Bill Bayno held the morning lecture session that Kevin McHale had on Day Two, and once again the topic was post play. But Bayno’s differed in that he focused on specific techniques that guys can use to get to their spots, such as the swim move. Bayno also got quite a workout in himself, putting on the large arm pads and banging hard with the prospect he used to demonstrate the points he was trying to get across.

Bayno spent considerable time teaching post players how to make contact with the shoulder to create space. “Inside shoulder, outside hand” was the mantra he kept repeating — meaning, create that contact with the inside shoulder, before shooting with the outside hand so the defender can’t reach it.

Maik Zirbes (Germany) was the one Bayno worked with while teaching the rest of the players, and Zirbes responded well to the coaching, and looked strong with mostly good footwork while banging with Bayno’s arm pads during the workout. Also of likely interest to NBA scouts is the fact that he had the best measurement at Eurocamp in one of the categories most personnel evaluators like the most: wingspan. Zirbes came in at 87.5 inches.

One other fun note from Bayno’s session: Don’t like the fact that NBA players yell every time they go up for a shot in the lane, trying to draw a foul call from the officials? Blame the coaches, who teach players to yell every time they get hit at a very young age. “The refs play the yell,” Bayno told the players. “Yell and you might get the call. Don’t yell, and you probably won’t.”

Check out the following video of the first six minutes or so fo Bayno’s teaching session on Tuesday.

*****

Danilo Gallinari and Nicolas Batum were at camp on Tuesday, and held a question and answer session with the players. The two answered basic questions about who was the toughest player they’ve played against — both mentioned the same three in Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant — and Gallinari was even asked where he gets his hair cut,  which he answered with a sense of humor before camp director Arturas Karnisovas reminded the players good-naturedly that he was hoping they’d ask basketball questions.

Gallinari’s most interesting words came when he was discussing what it’s like for European players to transition to the NBA, and how hard they have to work to earn their respect. He also had some interesting things to say on getting his start in the league with the New York Knicks and playing for Mike D’Antoni.

Check out his full comments on these topics right here.

*****

This was Bill Bayno’s first year as the camp’s coaching director, and he seemed to truly enjoy the experience. I caught up with him near the camp’s close, and while he admitted the NBA-ready talent pool isn’t as deep in Europe as it has been in recent years, he said it was an absolute pleasure to work with the European players. He applauded their work ethic and overall grasp of the game, and gave credit to the European coaches for imparting such a wealth of knowledge to the players at an early age.

“I think it went well,” he said. “I think the talent is down this year in Europe, but I thought we had some really good young kids. Maybe the point guard play wasn’t as good this year; we only had Satoransky and Fournier for a day. All in all, I thought the wings were really good, and the European kids, they’re just fun to coach. They’re highly coachable, they play hard, and I think Europe has gotten stronger and stronger in the NBA over the years because the players are so coachable.

“But also, I think you’ve got to give the European coaches a lot of credit. These kids play hard, they understand defensive concepts, they make it tough for you to even enter the ball, they all know how to deny. Their weak side principles are very good, so it was fun. It was a good camp.”

*****

All of the participants at Eurocamp were treated to a special players edition of the latest basketball shoe from adidas, the Crazy Light 2. The black/bright orange/white colorway features the adidas EUROCAMP logo on the tongue and sockliner, and looked sharp on the court.

Check out the gallery below for some images.

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Stay tuned to the adidas Basketball Facebook page for exclusive content and follow the conversation on Twitter at @adidasHoops with #lightdoneright.

Rumor: NBA executives think Rockets have shot at signing LeBron James

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LeBron James is now rumored to be headed to about 29 NBA teams this summer when he can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. Earlier this week, we heard rumblings that LeBron could be interested in sharing a Los Angeles Lakers roster with Dallas Mavericks center-at-large Nerlens Noel.

Now we’re hearing that NBA executives think the Houston Rockets have a chance of nabbing The King in the summer of 2018.

All aboard the Banana Boat.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, both the Rockets themselves and rival execs think Houston is a real landing spot for James thanks in part to how well they are playing this season. James Harden is having another MVP-caliber year, and Chris Paul has played beautifully in his return.

Via USA Today:

While James has made it clear that he won’t deliberate his uncertain future until the Cavs’ season is complete, there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they’ll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance. And once you really look at it, when you get past all the noise about the Lakers and even the compelling case for the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers, it makes all sorts of sense.

The only team we haven’t heard connecting rumors about is the Cleveland Cavaliers themselves. LeBron — whose family lives in LA — recently bought a new house there and all signs point to James heading to the Western Conference. Well, unless he goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, of course.

Then again it felt like a certainty that LeBron would head to the New York Knicks nearly a decade ago, an idea that seems hilarious in retrospect. The NBA is weird, and if LeBron dips from Cleveland expect it to get even weirder.

Sixers’ Robert Covington to miss at least one game after crashing into stands

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NBA fans love hustle from their players, but sometimes things go awry.

That’s what happened on Saturday night after Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington dove into the stands to try to save a loose ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The play came in the fourth quarter with under two minutes left and the Sixers down by just one point. Covington leapt into the far sideline just near the Cavaliers bench. He appeared to turn his ankle and land awkwardly on his back. The Cleveland floor has a small lip after the first row of seats that may have played a part in the injury.

Cleveland would go on to score on the play, and Covington had to be helped off the floor. The Cavaliers went on to win, 105-98.

Meanwhile, the 76ers will play Sunday in New Orleans against the Pelicans. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Covington will miss the game with a lower back contusion.

Via NBCSN Philadelphia:

X-rays and a CT scan came back negative. Covington is with the team in New Orleans and is doubtful for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota.

Covington tumbled out of bounds and over courtside seats while he tried to save a possession during a Sixers comeback attempt. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop between the court and the area where Covington landed. Many of his teammates were unaware of Covington’s injury at first because it was out of their vision.

“It’s scary to see your teammate like that,” guard JJ Redick said. “They said he fell on his back. I wanted to make sure he’s walking and not in too much pain. But I just wish the best for him and hope he’s OK.”

Back injuries can be a complete hassle to recover from, especially when you’re deep in the middle of the season. Let’s hope the Sixers get Covington back soon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dunked all over Rudy Gobert (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks a lot. The Milwaukee Bucks forward is big, strong, and aggressive when it comes to attacking the rim.

But he doesn’t typically dunk this hard or this emphatically over perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates like Rudy Gobert.

That’s what made this one special.

As time was winding down in Milwaukee’s eventual 117-100 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, Antetokounmpo put the exclamation point at the end of the sentence for the Bucks.

Gobert took the brunt of it. Via Twitter:

Goodness.

Gordon Hayward on playing this season: “It’s definitely in the back of my mind”

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Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been going through some grueling physical therapy to aid his recovery from a horrible leg injury he suffered during his first game with the team back in October. Hayward wound up breaking his ankle, likely putting him out for the season.

Meanwhile, whether Hayward plays or not during the 2017-18 campaign is still up for debate. Hayward is making progress in his recovery — he recently was able to take his walking boot off and go for a smaller ankle brace.

For his part, Hayward has said that he is still thinking about the possibility of returning this season to the Celtics, who have earned themselves the top spot in the Eastern Conference in his absence.

Speaking to Adam Himmelsbach over at the Boston Globe, Hayward detailed not only his recovery routine but his thinking when it came to planning his return.

Via The Boston Globe:

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward said. “I’m definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me. And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan. So I’m making sure that if I come back, I’m 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg. I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that’s not something I’m stressing about. I’m stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better.”

That’s smart thinking on Hayward’s part. Too often it seems like guys are jonesing to come back, and when they do it’s cause for concern that they’re damaging their long-term playing health.

Hayward is making some real progress — the Globe story details him doing tasks like picking up marbles with his toes and shooting baskets from a chair as part of his PT — but whether he’ll be ready this season is doubtful.

It doesn’t sound like Hayward wants to rush things, but you never know. His agent did say that his return this year is unlikely, but another report has said that his earliest return would be March. Just in time to make a run for an Eastern Conference Finals showdown against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers?

We’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE: Shortly after this story and the Boston Globe one was published on Sunday morning, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the team isn’t planning for Hayward to come back. The plot thickens!