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.

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

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NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

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It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

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After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

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The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.