Adidas Eurocamp Day One

The consensus has been that this year's draft featured the least exciting crop of international players in some time.  Among those automatically eligible and those who have declared, the consensus is that there is only one potential first-round pick.  That player, 1992-born Frenchman Evan Fournier, didn't play today, although scuttlebutt is he'll play tomorrow.  With the dearth of draft-eligible prospects this year, the hope was that one of the younger players would emerge to whet scouts' appetites for the future.  Sadly though, nobody who played in the competitive games today jumped out as a surefire NBA prospect.

Jonas Bergstedt:  Bergstedt was considered one of the more intriguing prospects at the camp due to his relative lack of exposure playing for Torrelodones in the Spanish Fourth Division, the fact that he picked up basketball at a relatively late age, and his listed height of 6'11".*

*Not that anyone has said this, but I would bet many people expected him to be pretty athletic because he's of mixed race.

Jonas Bergstedt was considered a potential sleeper coming into the Adidas Eurocamp.

However, today made clear that the Dane is not an NBA prospect.  While one might wonder how such a snap judgment could be reached after only a day of action, his physical limitations made it obvious that he would have difficulty succeeding as an inside player in the NBA.   While he was listed on the camp roster at 6'11", I would be very surprised if he measured out that tall in the official testing done today.  Bergstedt exhibited above-average activity and quick feet, which would have made him an excellent pick and roll defender were he actually his listed height.

His leaping ability is what really holds him back from being a prospect.  It was only above-average for this setting, equating to average at best at the NBA level.  His explosion finishing inside and contesting shots was not particularly noteworthy, and he got pushed around a bit by some of the larger bigs.  Bergstedt might be able to survive in the NBA at his size and athleticism if he had the skills to play as a stretch 4, but that does not appear to be in the offing anytime soon.  His jumper didn't go in very often in the drills and warmups, and he looked uncomfortable shooting it in the game.  The one time he tried to put the ball on the floor he showed a decent first step, but couldn't put together two left-handed dribbles before losing the ball, regaining control, and bricking a jump hook by 4 feet.  His final line for the first game: 23 Minutes (with a running clock), 2/6 FG, 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and a -3 in a game his team won by 9 points.

Bergstedt looked better in his second game against the Russian U-20 team, but that performance comes with a huge asterisk.  As a soon to be 21 year old, he was miles ahead of the physically undeveloped Russian bigs in quickness, leaping ability, and even strength (not an advantage for him against the other camp bigs).  Even so, his performance against the Russians was more "good" and "active" rather than dominating.  He does not have the sort of outstanding length or athleticism of previous Eurocamp sleepers like Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, or even busts like Mouhamed Saer Sene.

I'll have more notes on some other, younger prospects like Nikola Ivanovic, Metacan Birsen (the camp's youngest player born in 1995), Artem Klimenko (a 7'0" Russian born in 1994) later in the week when I've gotten a little more of a sample-size on their skill-set.

News and Notes:

  • The camp started with a speech by Timberwolves assistant Bill Bayno, in which he implored players to move the ball and play unselfishly.  The first thing he told the players was that nobody was keeping stats, and the talent evaluators were looking for guys who could play within the team concept.  The first thing waiting for me outside the gym when the first game was over:  A stat sheet.
  • That said, almost all the players took Bayno's advice to move the ball and stay within their skill set.  At times the players were too unselfish, although it was hard to know whether it was the players listening to him or the general European basketball ethos.  It would have been nice to see guys try to go one on one at times to see whether they could do it or not.  And even off the staple pick and roll, guys had an advantage as they drove but instead tried to kick the ball to shooters who weren't especially open.
  • Those who have only heard the old "soft" stereotypes about European basketball would have been shocked by the games at the camp.  The defense was extremely intense (Bayno remarked in one of his speeches that the defense was ahead of the offense) and the games very physical.  The refs called very little, even on the ball.  Meanwhile, the teams in the first two games combined to shoot 9/40 on 3s, while almost none of the 4s and 5s stepped outside for 3s or looked like particularly skilled shooters.
  • Nobody stood out as an above-average NBA athlete for their height, with one notable exception.  Watching France's Abdoulaye Loum in the layup line, it was clear the forward (listed at 6'11" but probably more like 6'9") had "nuclear" jumping ability.  Unfortunately, he was also a notable exception when it came to following Bayno's advice to stay within his skill set.  Loum took approximately 10 jumpers warming up and missed them all.  Buoyed by this performance, all of his shots in the game were contested jumpers from 20 feet or further.  Even his one make was an abomination, as it was the product of four barely controlled dribbled as he first tried to penetrate, lost control, regained, and shot a 3.   Loum's shot selection was so bad that he had a group of prominent NBA personnel laughing over it at lunch.    He was limited to only 4 shots because his teammates soon learned never to give him the ball.  It was a shame because if he focused on shot blocking, rebounding, and dunking everything in sight he might have impressed some people.
  • I caught the second half of Evan Fournier's individual workout, conducted by Knicks assistant Kenny Atkinson.  The part I saw consisted mostly of shooting on the move coming off screens and off the dribble.  At this Fournier appeared average at best, hitting around 50% on long 2s and 3s.  Fournier certainly has the smoothness of an NBA prospect though, and he displayed average NBA jumping ability when finishing off one foot.  It's been reported elsewhere that Fournier hit 5 straight 3s from well beyond the NBA line at the end.  He did look great shooting these, and made about 8 out of 10 overall.  But it must be said that these were set shots, with multiple attempts in a row from the same location.  On the move or off the dribble, his accuracy deteriorated.
  • Fournier also looked pretty gassed by the end of the workout.  While the intensity may have been higher in the beginning, the part I saw was not conducted at what seemed like a particularly fast tempo by NBA standards.
  • Fournier was lightly guarded in various drills by Atkinson, and used a trash can as his screener.  Way more effective than the Yi Jianlian chair.
  • A welcome addition to NBA media rooms: Enormous wheel of parmesan cheese at the buffet.  Being in Italy does have its perks.
Stay tuned tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.


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