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.

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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.

Michael Beasley: “I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor”

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Michael Beasley recently signed a one-year contract with the New York Knicks for the veteran minimum. Hopefully, this is just the start of an interesting year with the Knicks. I think you know what I mean.

Speaking to reporters this week, Beasley had lots to say about his potential new role with New York, his interplay with Carmelo Anthony, and his new weight loss.

Specifically, Beasley spoke of how long he had known Anthony and how much he had mimicked his game off of the star on the left side of the floor, saying, “If you watch my game, really watch my game, my jab series, all that, I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor.”

Since Kevin Durant has apparently set the offseason tone for athletes being frank with reporters, Beasley did say that he was not as great on help side defense as he could’ve been in recent years. However, he said that he wasn’t as bad as people made about to be, and it appears he is going to try to make that something to focus on this season.

Beasley has also lost about 20 pounds — it appears he has cut out sugar and red meats — but the most interesting thing he said to ESPN’s Ian Begley was about his offensive production.

Via ESPN:

“I’ve came in and out of this league. Every year my per-36 [minute average] has been top of the league. And still everybody looks at me as a bust. I just want an opportunity to play more than 15 minutes. And you know if I play more than 15 minutes I’m going to score more than 15 points. And if I can do that for 82 games, that’s an All-Star level. I don’t know. I’m just talking. I just want an opportunity to play basketball. I just want the respect I deserve. Not for what I can do in the future but what I’ve done in the past. And I just want a fair opportunity, a fair chance, a fair shot to play basketball.”

It’s not immediately clear what kind of fair shake Beasley wants here. True, he played less than 30 games in two of his last three seasons in the NBA. However, that was preceded by six seasons of at least 47 games a year. We do know who he is at this point in time, and there is a large swath of game tape and statistics that can be analyzed to prove it.

It is also interesting that Beasley brought up his per-36 numbers. It’s true that Beasley has been an okay scorer when looking at those numbers out of context. But per-36 numbers are not a direct correlary to how effective a player is on the floor. Indeed, even when he was playing starter-level minutes, Beasley’s best numerical seasons are spread all over the place when you take a look at his per-36 production.

Meanwhile, Beasley has had only one season out of nine where he had a positive value over a replacement player. That was his sophmore season with the Miami Heat at 0.2. Five of those seasons he’s taken a larger percentage of his shots from 16 feet to just inside the 3-point line than he has from 0-3 feet. He’s a career 39% shooter on those long jumpers, and 63.5% from that close-in range.

Would it be great if Michael Beasley somehow turned into a strong driving, hard rebounding, diving and passing pick and roll man? Yes. That is exactly what this Knicks team — and any team, frankly — could use.

For now, it appears it’s more likely we end up with the Beasley who says he is a carbon copy of Carmelo — long 2s and all.

Goran Dragic holds back tears after Drazen Petrovic’s mother gives Slovenian star his jersey

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It’s been a big week for Slovenian star Goran Dragic.

First, he led the Slovenian national team to the 2017 Eurobasket championship over Serbia, winning the gold medal.

Then, the Miami Heat point guard announced that he would be retiring from the Slovenian national team. Shortly thereafter, we learned that something special had taken place between Dragic and the mother of former NBA player Drazen Petrović.

Specifically, Biserka Petrović sent over her son’s New Jersey Nets kit as a gift for Dragic.

Via Sportando and SiolNET:

“It is one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received in my life” Dragic told Siol. “He was my idol. We all know what he did for Yugoslavia and the basketball world. It was a great honor for me to wear the jersey no.3” Dragic added.

Petrović, who played for the Nets and the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA, died in a car accident in Germany in June of 1993. He is considered a sports hero in the successor states that make up the former Yugoslavia, including Slovenia.

You can watch Dragic receiving the jersey and his reaction in the video above. The video does not have English subtitles, but you can clearly see the emotion in his eyes and it’s pretty powerful.

Kevin Durant admits after decision to leave OKC he felt “f—— up”

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Anyone who has made a major, life-changing decision has been there — you make the call, take the steps, commit yourself to the new plan, and then start to wonder “what did I just do?”

Hopefully, usually, the decision works out. It did for Kevin Durant when he chose to leave Oklahoma City for Golden State. However, not only did he have the normal doubts the rest of us had, he had a nation on basketball Twitter ridiculously slamming him for “taking the easy way” to a title.

Durant talked about it in a feature in San Francisco Magazine, along with his agent Rich Kleiman (a story mostly dedicated to KD’s tech investments, which in and of itself is interesting).

(Durant) and Kleiman were in China for a weeklong tour of the country sponsored by Nike Basketball, and the flak he was taking from people in Oklahoma City who had once professed deep affection for him was overwhelming. “To have so many people just say, ‘F— you,’ that really does it to you,” Durant tells me, still clearly anguished. “Because I truly had invested everything I had into the people I played for…. And for those people that I know and love and trust to turn their back on me after I was fully invested in them, it was just…more than I could take. I was upset….

“That was before I met anybody from the Warriors and dove into the culture. I was basically on my own,” Durant says. “It was like you were in between two teams.”….

“We were all messed up on jet lag,” Kleiman says, turning to me, “and I was up at 6 a.m. and he calls me and says, ‘Yo, are you up?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, what’s up?’ And he’s like [yelling], ‘Why the f— did you let me do this to my life?’ And I’m like, ‘Ohh s—, I’m coming over to your room.’”

“That hotel was rock bottom,” says Durant.

Durant’s haters will read into this whatever they want, and the world should look at them and shrug (unfortunately, Durant does not).

I’m impressed that he opened up about this. To me, this makes him more human and relatable because we’ve all had doubts after making a life-changing decision. You know LeBron James has, but he’s not going to let that show. Durant allowed himself to be vulnerable, to show this was not an easy decision for him. It was emotional.

Granted, it’s easier to do that when in a few weeks Durant will put on a championship ring. His decision worked out. Still, good on him for talking about it.

Tyronn Lue says Cavs will stick with LeBron, Love, Tristan Thompson as starters

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With the acquisition of Jae Crowder, a theory started to pop up among Cavaliers observers: Could they go small?

The idea is to start Kevin Love at center, LeBron James at the four, and Crowder at the three — that’s a mobile front line with a couple good defenders and the ability to switch a lot. It provides more options on offense and spaces the floor. Then the Cavs could bring Tristan Thompson off the bench.

That’s not going to happen, at least to start the season, according to Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, speaking to Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Right now we’re just trying to get all of our pieces together and right now Tristan’s our starter,” Lue told cleveland.com. “I’m just thinking we’re going to run a lot more stuff through Kevin, more at the elbows, like we’ve done the last year and a half. Just trying to figure out with our new pieces and our new players and just see what works best for us.”

Thompson brings value and defense to the starting lineup, Cleveland needs that.

I could see a lineup of Isaiah Thomas (once healthy), J.R. Smith or Kyle Korver at the two, Crowder, LeBron, and Love working in sort of the way Steve Kerr uses his “death lineup” — just put it on the court for 10-15 minutes a night as a change of pace teams can’t adapt to. Use it in key moments to pull away, and in crunch time as needed. Golden State starts Zaza Pachulia, and Thompson is certainly the better of those bigs.

Lue has a lot of rotation decisions to make this season, both before Thomas gets back on the court and after. How to work the trio of Jeff Green, Crowder, and Kover off the bench is just one of them. With Irving gone a lot of options become available, and that should mean a lot of experimentation the first part of the season. Lue is and should be willing to sacrifice some wins now to see what works down the line, because for the Cavaliers the season doesn’t really start until mid-April.