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.
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.
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.
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.