2011 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement Flashcards

Below are links to a project I have been working on for the last year or so to teach myself the 2011 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The last time I really studied for something like this was the California Bar Exam, so I tried a similar approach by going through the CBA itself and making flashcards of the relevant information.

The format is standard flashcard stuff.  Each card has a citation to the relevant CBA section(s) to facilitate an examination of the actual language if needed.  I did my best to boil down each section to only the relevant information and to translate from legalese into layman's terms much as possible.  Obviously that involves some changes from the source material, but that is why there is a citation to the language itself if anything is unclear.

So, here are links to flashcards on Articles I, II, VII-XII, XXIV, XXV, and XXVII of the CBA.  These are the Articles most relevant to player acquisitions and transactions, which is what most people are really interested in.   The site, Cram.com, also has a useful app that will allow downloading of these cards to smartphone or tablet for self-quizzing.

Article I--Definitions

Article II--Uniform Player Contract

Article VII--BRI, Salary Cap, Escrow, Luxury Tax, Trade Rules, Exceptions. Team Salary, Extensions

Articles VIII-XII--Rookie Scale, Length of Contracts, NBA Draft, Free Agency, Option Clauses

Article XXIV, XXV, XXVII--No-Trade Clauses and Set-Off For Waived Players

Here is a link to a slightly modified version of the CBA PDF itself, bookmarked by section for easier reference. For convenience, a (non-bookmarked) copy of the NBA Constitution and By-Laws is included as well.

2011 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bookmarked

NBA Constitution and By-Laws as of May 2014

Thanks to Larry Coon and Eric Pincus for helping me to clarify a few issues and discrepancies.  And Larry's seminal CBA FAQ was invaluable when struggling to decipher some of the trickier sections.  Also, this process was made a lot more enjoyable by the presence of Danny Leroux during all the weekend study sessions.

It should also be noted that if you don't have any familiarity whatsoever with the CBA, this may not be the place to start.  In that case, the CBA FAQ should be read so that you have a foundation.  The point of this is more to have a method to really memorize the nuances rather than be introduced to the general concepts.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback if anyone comes across errors.  Feel free to contact me on Twitter or at nduncan@basketballinsiders.com with any thoughts.  And you can catch all of my other work since June of 2013 at Basketball Insiders. Thanks for reading.

May 28, 2014 Update: A previous version of the cards stated that the BAE could not be used if the MLE had already been used.  That has been edited to the proper statement, which is that the BAE cannot be used if the MMLE (Taypayer Mid-Level Exception) has already been used.  See Article VII Section 6(d).

Bargain Free Agents and My First Chat

Most if not all of my writing will be over at Hoopsworld.com now, but I'll continue to post the links here as a way to keep all of it in one place, and to potentially increase Hoopsworld's traffic by 0.0001%.

My latest post examines potential bargain free agents in the mode of Nate Rob or Danny Green, and I also get into free agency and the draft in my first chat.

3 Steals Of the 2013 NBA Draft

Your writer is now the newest contributor at Hoopsworld.com.  Here is my first piece, which looks at Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, and Nerlens Noel as 3 steals from the draft as well as a few additional thoughts. 

Scouting Nikola Mirotic

The Adidas Eurocamp is annually a gold mine of information about European prospects and the European game in general. One of my goals was to talk with as many European scouts and NBA personnel as possible to learn more about Bulls draftee Nikola Mirotic. After a number of informative conversations, I then lucked into seeing him in person last Friday, as my post-Eurocamp vacation to Barcelona happily coincided with Game 3 of the Spanish ACB League Finals between Mirotic's Real Madrid squad and homestanding FC Barcelona.

One interesting discussion I had with various personnel at the camp was where Mirotic would go if he were in this draft. Mirotic, who was just named ACB league MVP, is a sweet shooting 6'10” 236 lbs stretch 4 whom the Bulls hope to bring over in 2014. Although Mirotic was drafted 23rd in 2011, the summer of 2014 is the operative date due to buyout issues from his European club Real Madrid. By that time, he will no longer be subject to his relatively piddling rookie salary slot since it will have been 3 years after he was drafted, so the Bulls can offer him enough to cover his buyout.

In fact, more than one front officer insisted that Mirotic would be the clear #1 pick if he were in this draft. Of the approximately 7 NBA personnel I talked to, none would have had him outside the top 5. Another source put him in the 5-8 range.  While it is unlikely he will be a 20 point scorer in the NBA, the spacing he provides should prove invaluable to the Bulls' offense if he can hold his own defensively. Although I have yet to see enough of him to say, at least one scout I trust described him as an intelligent team defender who should be able to execute Tom Thibodeau's schemes with aplomb. Indeed, it was his overall feel for the game at age 22 that gleaned the most praise.

So I was champing at the bit to see Mirotic on Friday.  But shortly after the 10 p.m. start at the Palau Blaugrana, I was crestfallen to see him pick up two fouls in the first 5 minutes of the game, causing coach Pablo Laso to nail him to the bench for the rest of the first half. The story was much the same in the second half. Mirotic immediately picked up his third, begged Laso to keep him in, and then got his fourth a few possessions later. The chances of a good finish seemed remote when he reentered the game with 5:45 remaining after so much time on the bench. But the MVP improbably played like it down the stretch, exploding for 12 points and an assist to help put the game away. For the game he finished with 18 points in 17 minutes, although 4 of those were free throws off intentional fouls. Still, that production on only 9 shooting possessions is about as good as it gets.

Mirotic could doubtless help the Bulls right away on offense with the spacing he provides. He has been compared to Ryan Anderson mostly on the strength of his jump shot from the power forward position, and Mirotic has earned that comparison. He has a quick and high release and does not need to have his feet perfectly set even when shooting 3s. In warmups he showed easy range to well beyond the NBA 3 point line. The Spaniard nee Montenegran also displayed the ability to race the floor (which others have commented on as well) for one nice transition dunk off one foot.
He only posted up twice, both on the left block against CJ Wallace. Both times he backed down and made a nice right shoulder move that would have led to an easy short lefty hook, but he doesn't appear to have that shot. Instead, he had to bring the ball back into his defender with his right, resulting in his 4th foul (a good call) on one occasion and getting bailed out by a weak foul call on the other. Still he at least showed a willingness to back down into close range and seems to have quick feet on spin moves around the rim.

Most encouraging from an offensive standpoint was the dynamism Mirotic showed attacking closeouts. He made about 4 hard drives from this situation in his limited minutes. Particular impressive was one play during his scorching final stretch in which he faked a closing defender out of his shoes, drove, and then smoothly drained a pullup from the right elbow. It was a play not many power forwards can make. Mirotic also showed the ability to drive and kick like a Euro small forward, even when trapped under the backboard. He also throws extremely quick passes* and makes quick decisions when receiving the ball on the perimeter.
*The ability to throw fast passes accurately is an underrated skill; the speed of the ball in the air is critical to giving shooters an extra split second before defenders arrive. It is part of what makes LeBron James such an effective passer.
Despite this offensive explosion, I remain a bit sanguine about his NBA prospects. Unfortunately, Mirotic also looked the part of a Euro small forward on defense and the boards in this game. His help and pick and roll defense was pretty much nonexistent, despite what I'd heard about him being a good team defender. He also did not look great closing out on shooters. Even worse was his rebounding, as a Barcelona frontcourt lacking any NBA athletes inflicted several depressing stretches of volleyball on the offensive glass while Mirotic stood by helplessly. He pulled down only two rebounds in his 17 minutes, although his pace-adjusted per 40 numbers in the ACB and Euroleague were respectable at about 9 per 40 minutes combined and a little under 3 offensive boards per game. Perhaps I caught him on a bad night, but defensively he looked like Matt Bonner out there on Friday.

Mirotic's struggles in Game 3 seemed to stem from his biggest weakness right now: his physical profile. He has very tight hips that prevent him from getting into a deep defensive stance. He does not seem to take stretching seriously at this point, either unwilling or unable to execute the team's warmup of deep lunges to more than half depth. The 236 lbs he is listed at seems a little optimistic, as he lacks any muscle definition. Like a lot of European players he is not much of a 2 foot jumper. ACB league teams do not do much in the way of weight training though, and he could make huge strides once he gets into an NBA conditioning program. I also note that his lack of muscle does not necessarily mean a lack of toughness. Barcelona seemed to make a special effort to cheap shot him on screens, but he handled this just fine.

While I understand the genesis of the Ryan Anderson comparisons, Mirotic reminds me more of a less athletic version of the Orlando Magic era Rashard Lewis. Anderson is a true 4, while Mirotic seemed more of a combo forward at this point because he is not the rebounder Anderson is. And Mirotic would seem to offer better passing than either comparison. Whether he is truly a difference-maker for the Bulls will depend on whether he can defend and rebound like a real NBA power forward.

Score One For Entering the Draft Early.

Another offshoot of the discussion of his draft position was whether Mirotic made the right decision in declaring for the 2011 draft over being a top 5 pick in the 2013 or 2014 draft. While some did not agree, I maintain that entering the draft was the right decision even knowing that a buyout would preclude him from coming over until 2014.*
*I am of the opinion that a player should always stay in the draft if he is going to be a first-rounder, although this applies more to college players than Europeans. The draft is littered with prospects who would have been in the first round but sank by staying in school. Then consider the extra year of pro basketball and the fact that he can start the clock on a more lucrative second contract right away. There is also a solid argument that players develop better in the NBA without the distraction of school and access to pro training staffs and coaching. Moreover, going later in the draft can sometimes help because it means going to a better organization. Finally, would you rather have a guaranteed $2 million (the minimum for a 2-year first-round contract) or a 50% chance of $4 million? It seems like when you have nothing, getting a guarantee of 7 figures (with a higher upside due to starting the clock on the second contract earlier) is superior to rolling the dice on getting hurt or regressing compared to the chance of improving one's draft position.
At first blush, Mirotic cost himself as much a $3.5 million per year (the approximate difference in salary slot between the #1 pick and the 23rd) by coming out in 2011. But on closer examination, entering as early as he did was key due to his ability to avoid the rookie scale when he finally does arrive. Depending on their salary cap situation, the Bulls can now offer Mirotic a contract far larger than that due to the 23rd pick depending on their salary cap situation.* They could offer to sign him into any salary cap space they may have (if under the cap), the mid-level exception of approximately $5 million per year (over the cap but under the apron after signing Mirotic), or the “mini mid-level exception” of approximately $3 million per year (over the apron). The Bulls would want to sign Mirotic to a three-year deal to ensure that they had his Bird rights at the expiration of the contract so they could exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.
*With Luol Deng's contract expiring and Carlos Boozer a possible amnesty candidate, the Bulls could be well under the cap in 2014, or into the luxury tax and over the “apron” (which restricts salary cap exceptions and sign and trades) by keeping Boozer and resigning Deng. The apron sits approximately $4 million above the luxury tax line.
More European Notes
  • Another fascinating discussion was whether it is better to draft and “Eurostash” a prospect or bring him over immediately. One scout I talked to said it is always better to bring him over immediately when the team plans to use him in its rotation. If not, they are usually better kept in Europe to develop with more playing time, the exception being where the prospect really needs to get in an NBA condition program and work on his body.
  • Being at the Palau Blaugrana for my first high-level European basketball game was a fascinating experience. I purchased a 5th row ticket right at center court for 81 Euros (~$100) online 2 days before the game. The arena is tiny at only 7,500 seats, and boasted no luxury boxes or apparent amenities. (A new arena is scheduled to open soon.) It started out even smaller, but had a heavily overhanging upper deck installed along the baselines. This put the club's famous Dracs 1991 supporters almost right on top of the opposition, and they made their presence felt by singing, chanting, and banging drums while standing the whole game. The first row stood almost on the railing of the balcony and constantly seemed on the verge of being pushed off by the surging tide of the fans further back.*
*I saw one father constantly holding on to his son to keep him from falling.
  • While the fan clubs were completely insane, the rest of the arena barely stood at all except for a few individuals who yelled at the refs.* The arena was spectacularly loud at times, notably during the Real Madrid introductions when the earsplitting whistles drowned out the PA announcer completely. During the game, the fans seemed to get most agitated whenever an opposing player complained to the officials. While Dracs' constant singing showed impressive dedication, I didn't find it particularly effective cheering because it was basically omnipresent, even as FCB was clearly out of it down the stretch. While this crowd was consistently louder (perhaps because of the far smaller building), it did seem like the energy at Oracle Arena during the Denver series I attended did a little more to buoy the home team.
*With 44 fouls in the 40 minute game, at least 70% of which seemed to be called off the ball, they had plenty of opportunities. Next time you want to complain about NBA refs, watch a European or college game.
  • A number of events during the game served as yet another reminder of how different the European game is. Most striking was the fact that Marcelino Huertas, probably the best pure point guard outside of the NBA right now, played only 6 minutes for FCB and none in the 2nd half.* Sarunas Jasikevicius played only 10 minutes despite a throwback first half that had him in double figures as he led a Barcelona comeback in the second quarter. Instead, coach Xavi Pascual played the unremarkable Victor Sada throughout crunchtime. All of these bizarre playing time decisions seemed the Catalan version of de rigueur to the FCB season ticket holder sitting next to me.
*Team USA fans will remember him carving up the defense for the Brazilian national team during an exhibition last summer.
  • I would pay hundreds of dollars to see a 7 game series of HORSE between FC Barcelona stalwart Juan Carlos Navarro and Stephen Curry. These two feature the best assortments of floaters, runners, one-leggers, and pure shooting in the world. At one point in the doldrums of the second half, Navarro sprinted around screens for 20 seconds of the shot clock before finally receiving the ball and driving to the top of the key, where he successfully launched a left-handed one-legged floater that rattled in as the shot clock expired. Although he doesn't look it, Navarro is in absolutely killer shape. He is a good reminder that cardio shape and low body fat are by no means one and the same.
  • Spanish national team member Felipe Reyes absolutely killed Barcelona by simply outtoughing them. FCB really has little in the way of frontcourt strength at the moment with Erazem Lorbek a shell of his former self,* and Reyes took advantage. Despite never even thinking about going left or shooting anything other than a righty layup or jump hook, Reyes had 20 points on 12 shooting possessions with 4 offensive rebounds.
*Lorbek suffered a concussion in Game 2 but returned for Game 3. I did not hear anything about him having to pass the league's concussion tests to play.
  • Reyes, Lorbek, Ante Tomic, and other post players repeatedly backed down their man for 5 foot jump hooks with absolutely no help. Relying on this, coach Laso inserted Tremmell Darden (who I had never heard of) for a few possessions at the end of each half solely for the purpose of backing down the undersized Brad Oleson for 5 foot turnaround jumpers. It worked beautifully few times, but it was really odd to see that Darden's only playing time come in the last minutes of each half. It was clear that the edict from both coaches was not to double team the post under any circumstances, which led to some easy buckets. It was surprising to see in Europe, where helping is easier due to the lack of a defensive 3 second rule.

Adidas Eurocamp Wrap-Up: Robinson, Adetokunbo, and Balvin

Another Adidas Eurocamp is in the books. Despite the relative dearth of prospects compared to last year, this year's event was no less fun to cover. The camp as a whole has been ably covered by others whose opinions I greatly respect, so this post will be limited to players on whom my opinion differs from the mainstream or whom I have not seen covered as much elsewhere.

Alex Robinson

Like most of the USA Team that appeared at the camp, Alex Robinson was fairly lightly regarded coming in.* ESPN ranks Robinson as the #16 prospect in Texas, which seems fairly low given his performance here.

*The USA Team did not include anywhere close to the best players in the class of 2014 because many are not done with school and many are not affiliated with Adidas AAU teams. The hope is that Eurocamp organizers will be able to provide a superior team of USA prospects in the future.

The lefty, listed at 6'2” (probably an inch or two shorter than that in reality) and 170 lbs, was probably the best dribbler of anyone at the camp outside of the otherwise overmatched Aquille Carr. He showed above-average athleticism for even an American point guard with a few dunks in transition and proved able to finish at the rim with acrobatic layups over bigger players.

But nearly the entire American team stood out for their athleticism and creative finishing ability, particularly in this setting against European players. What makes Robinson worth writing about is his ability to operate in the pick and roll. He made the right pass almost every time despite playing against experienced national teams that varied their pick and roll coverage. On a cobbled-together US team that only had one practice and a coach constantly screaming at them, Robinson's pick and roll offense was the only consistent option in the half court. He was the camp's second best pick and roll player after Brazilian Raul Neto, which was impressive indeed for a 1995-player. His performance was especially remarkable considering the lack of experienced roll men on the US team. Robinson also showed the ability to penetrate and find open shooters even after jumping to shoot or seemingly being trapped behind the backboard.*

*Coaches often state that players should “never jump to pass.” The real rule should be “never jump to pass if you aren't good at it.” Robinson is good at it.

Robinson's jumper is a work in progress. He gets good lift but has an inconsistent and low release leading to some bad misses on pullups even when he made the right decision to do so. He also seems to lack even consistent college 3 point range at this point. Finally, he fouled like crazy on defense as part of the US pressing scheme. Despite these weaknesses, his outstanding passing ability is difficult to teach. That is what makes him a prospect to watch.

Giannis Adetokunbo

Yes, him again. Adetokunbo has probably had more digital ink spilled on him than any “unknown” prospect in history at this point, but I do need to augment my initial assessment of him after seeing him again yesterday night and hearing that teams drafting in the 20s suspect he will be gone by then. Against an Italian team that featured plenty of older players (including 2012 Eurocamp alum Ricardo Moraschini), Adetokunbo had a better performance than on Saturday against a far worse Croatian team. Three things changed for Giannis on Monday: He showed excellent touch around the rim, a quicker and more accurate jump shot, and more incisive passing than his last game. He posted up against shorter but stronger players and flashed a beautiful old school one foot hook shot that was completely unblockable. On the shooting front, I might have to change my assessment of him being a worse-shooting Tayshaun Prince, as he showed the potential for better standstill shooting and passing than Prince. The fact that he shoots as well as he does from the international three point line at age 18 gives one hope that he could become a high-30s 3 point shooter in the NBA. Finally, he made a few nice value-added passes, including one on a hammer set (where a player drives baseline and throws a pass to the opposite corner for a 3).

Another plus for Adetokubo is that he plays really hard. He played all but 2 minutes until fouling out in the 4th quarter and did not appear to tire, so he is certainly in shape. He also showed excellent activity on loose ball rebounds out of his area, although his athletic limitations prevented him from having a huge impact on the boards overall.

Ultimately, it is those physical limitations that limit his ceiling. He showed when pressured up by the Italian wings that bringing the ball up against tough defense will be difficult for him given his lack of quickness. He can't really go by anybody in the half court. He also was blown by a few times on straight-line drives by the slow Italian wings, even when he was in perfect position to start the play. He shows difficulty getting into a solid stance on defense, perhaps because his lack of quad and glute strength does not allow him to do so. Instead, he bends at the waist to get low instead of squatting into a classic defensive crouch.

Finally, he had a few great opportunities on the break or offensive rebounds to turn balls over and dunk, but he just lacked the ability to get that high. Similarly, he struggled to secure defensive rebounds even when he was able to get his hands on them. Seeing his frame, it is almost shocking how poor a leaper he is. Perhaps this can be improved by getting in the weight room, because he has a similar body to many very athletic players. But right now, he still lacks the lateral quickness and leaping ability to be a star in the league. Given the fact that he will not be ready to play in the NBA next year and the fact that his ceiling is solid starter, taking him before number 20 would be overenthusiastic in my view.

Ondrej Balvin

Opinions differ widely on Balvin. On balance, he was probably the second best big man prospect in the camp behind Lucas Nogueira, but it is hard to get too excited about him as anything more than a scoring backup center in the Aaron Gray mode. Balvin is huge, at 7'2” in shoes, a 9'4” standing reach, and 261 lbs frame. He does have a shorter 7'0” wingspan, and was very unathletic with only a 23” standing and one-step vertical.*

*I have always wondered about the reliability of vertical testing, and this result adds to my suspicion. It seems nearly impossible that he could be no better at jumping with one step than standing still. And I also wonder how consistent players' leaps are is, i.e. how much does a vertical vary from time to time or day to day.

Aside from his size, Balvin's best attribute is his high skill level on postups. He flashed a near automatic left and right hand hook when he was able to get within about 6 feet. And while he shot only 12/25 on mid-range jumpers in the shooting drill, his form looked good and his misses were mostly close. He should be able to become a reliable option from 15 feet in time.

The biggest problem for Balvin was his inability to get in position for those hooks despite his weight. On a few occasions, Balvin was matched up against a wing on a switch and was disappointingly unable to back down into shooting range. Other times, Balvin received the ball in prime position on the block but was unwilling or unable to shoot immediately because he was pushed off balance. He really needs to improve his leg and core strength, because if he isn't going to be able to score in the post he will be useless in the NBA.

Balvin also largely stayed in the lane on pick and roll defense and showed below-average lateral quickness to challenge shots. However, when he was able to get into help position he was difficult to score over.

Some have said that Balvin has the potential to be a starting center in the league, but I don't think his post scoring has enough of a ceiling to overcome his other limitations. I see his NBA potential as more “big body” than starting center. Balvin is under contract to Sevilla for another 2 years and is not draft-eligible this year. As a 1992-born player, he will be automatically eligible in 2014. But at the moment, the NBA is not particularly on his radar. He should probably get drafted in the second round next year if he shows average development, and that's about where I think he would go in this year's draft as well were he eligible.

Devin Robinson earned praise for his play on Day 2, but I was not particularly impressed by him as a potential NBA prospect overall. While he exhibited a smooth game and a nice jumpshot even out to the international 3 point line, he seemed to be a relatively average athlete by the standards of the US team and did not seem to play quite as hard as a lot of his teammates. He is also painfully skinny even for a high school senior. Unless he can improve his quickness, strength, and intensity, it is hard to imagine him having an impact as a professional prospect.

Once again the Eurocamp was a wonderful professional experience, and I can't say enough about the camp organizers for putting on a seamless event under difficult conditions while trying to please scouts, agents, players, and the media all at once. I look forward to making this an annual event.

Bebe and Giannis--Adidas Eurocamp Day 1

The 2013 Eurocamp began with a whimper, as hopes for a prospect-laden camp were quickly dashed upon arrival at La Ghirada. Within minutes, we learned that Rudy Gobert was laid up with food poisoning, Australian 1995-born Dante Exum would be sitting out with a foot injury, and Livio Jean-Charles was not on the roster despite earlier reports the he would play.*

*I have heard nothing to suggest that Gobert's illness was not legitimate, as he tweeted that he was in the hospital in Atlanta. However, were I the agent for Gobert or Jean-Charles I would not have played them at the Eurocamp. Gobert made about as good an impression as he possibly could have last year, while the same could be said of Jean-Charles at the Nike Hoop Summit in April. Neither really had much to gain by playing here in my view. Exum was in attendance all day and clearly would have played if healthy, especially considering he is not yet eligible for the draft.

Bebe

Those cancellations left us with only one elite prospect, 1992 Brazilian Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira. But even he was difficult to evaluate due to the relative absence of quality 2nd-round and Euroleague level prospects compared to last year. That said, Bebe played quite well in the short practice sessions and one game he played. His length and leaping ability are quite stunning in person, particularly on shot blocks. He not only has a pterodactyl wingspan,* but quick leaping ability to reach a shot in the air before it reaches its apex. On a number of his shot blocks, he appeared to be off balance as his mark drove to the basket but was nevertheless able to quickly jump and swat the ball away.

*With Kelly Olynyk winning the “T-Rex” award at the combine, all wingspans must now be compared to dinosaurs.

Bebe also showed off his potential as a pick and roll finisher, slamming down two straight side pick and roll alleyoops from countryman Raul Neto before the other team caught on. He also had two solid finishes inside without dunking, reputedly a weakness of his. These weren't pretty, but they went in. His hands were also said to be poor, but he only bobbled one pass that I saw.

As for weaknesses, Bebe is still painfully thin despite having added a modicum of upper body muscle. He certainly lacks the requisite leg strength to bang effectively in the post, and he may struggle to develop it due to his extremely thin legs. On offense, this will not be an issue, as he pretty much will never be dribbling or shooting outside of 5 feet in the NBA.

Slightly more concerning for his future as an energy big man was that fact that he only appeared to be in average shape. When he was able to get into position he was able to have a great effect, but he did not get out in transition or hit the offensive glass quite as much as one would like for a player of his skillset. This was so despite the fact he only played half of the 40 minute game. To truly maximize his talents he will need to get into phenomenal cardiovascular shape, and he did not appear to be there quite yet.

Another slight disappointment was his lateral quickness. While he still has above-average lateral quickness for 6'11 big man, it did not appear absolutely exceptional. He plays very upright and did not show a great ability to get into a stance and move his feet on pick and roll defense a la Joakim Noah. Finally, his technique on defensive rebounds was pretty bad, like a lot of thinner players.

In discussions with others at the camp, the question came up of whether Bebe or the similarly-aged Rudy Gobert is the better prospect, with mixed results. I maintain Gobert is the superior prospect due to his massive size and superior potential for post play and interior finishing and what I deemed superior shot-blocking, but many preferred Bebe's greater athleticism. Certainly Gobert was far more dominant here last year than Bebe was this year.

Predictably, Bebe's agent shut him down for the rest of the camp following his performance.

Giannis Adetokunbo

Few other prospects stood out on day 1. But as fate would have it, 18 year-old Greek man of mystery Giannis Adetokunbo was playing his first game* as an international in an Under-20 game against Croatia a mere 40 kilometers away in Jesolo. I got to see him for the first time along with numerous NBA scouts who forwent the evening game at the Eurocamp. The competition against Croatia was a slight step up from his station in the Greek 2nd Division, but not a huge one.

*He only recently acquired a Greek passport due to the fact that his parents are immigrants to Greece.

The most impressive thing about Adetokunbo is his length. He is a very thin 6'9” with a reported 7'2” wingspan. Europeans have a habit of raising their arms above their head to take “credit” for a foul, and I joked that each time he did so in this game he moved up a spot in the draft. Giannis effectively played point guard for his team, but this was solely for the purpose of bringing the ball up and initiating the offense. He almost never ran pick and rolls or was featured in a true decision-making role. His leaping ability is average by NBA standards, and his quickness and explosion did not jump out even in this setting.  Despite his long arms he is not a shot-blocker.  And the one time he was able to beat anyone to the basket he used what I refer to as a “length move,” where he created separation by extending out off a very nice Eurostep between defenders.*  I do not anticipate he we will be able to regularly get past an NBA defender one on one unless he significantly improves his quickness.

*Incidentally, the referees in this game called no fewer than 12 travels, 10 of which were the FIBA “failing to put the ball down quickly enough” variety. Not a single one of these travels was obvious to your American writer as it occurred.

That said, his body language was very good on the court and he played hard while playing well over 30 minutes. He also showed nice form on his set shot 3 pointer. He went 1 for 3 from the 22 foot international line, but looked pretty comfortable shooting on spotups. However, his set shot will prevent him from shooting well or quickly off the dribble from midrange, and he also has a low release. This foiled him on his one postup attempt against a shorter, even thinner defender who should have been overmatched, as his right shoulder turnaround jumper was easily contested and fell short.

Adetokunbo was certainly the best player on the floor in this game, but he didn't jump off the court the way you would hope for an NBA prospect at this level of competition. I would posit that there would be no way he could be ready for NBA minutes next year, although the fact that he is basically as young as one could possibly be and still enter this year's draft mitigates that slightly.

I would say that Giannis' perceived upside primarily stems from three factors: his length, his ability to dribble the ball upcourt at 6'9”, and his obscure background having only recently burst onto the scene from the Greek 2nd Division. But with a lack of elite quickness, explosion, scoring ability, or incisive passing, it is hard to see what truly outstanding skills he might develop in the league. For a player deemed to be a pure upside pick, I just don't think he has all that much of it. To these eyes, his ceiling is more acceptable starter than star, with a risky floor much below that. Ultimately, I would liken that uncertain upside to a worse-shooting, better dribbling Tayshaun Prince. I will be back to see him again at least once more, but right now I think he is worth a shot in the late first-round, but not before.

Heat vs. Pacers Posts on Games 4 and 5

I've been posting over at ESPN TrueHoop Network Indiana Pacers 8 Points 9 Seconds throughout the conference finals.  My last two posts examined the Pacers' dominant offensive rebounding in Game 4 and the Heat's improved defense and rebounding in Game 5.