The Washington Wizards had a successful second half of the season minus Bradley Beal’s injuries which eventually shut him down for the season. A lot of Wizards fans are excited about this team’s future, especially the Wizards young backcourt of John Wall and Beal. That being said, Wiz fans are always worried that the front office will screw up what looks like a promising young team like they have numerous times over the past 34 years since the Wizards/Bullets were last contenders in the NBA.
Ever since Ernie Grunfeld was hired as the team’s General Manager the Wizards have flirted with multiple European prospects instead of sticking with the home grown American talent. I’ve always been an advocate for steering clear of European enigmas. For every Dirk Nowitzki, there is two Jan Vesley’s. I believe it is easier to hit on US talent that scouts and teams know better. There is more tape on American prospects and for the most part, and NCAA basketball provides stiffer competition. Wizards fans are very worried that Euro Ernie will rear his ugly head again just like he did with drafting Jan Vesley over Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried, and the Morris twins, just to name a few. The list could go on and on but I’ll stop there. You get the point.
Since we have a fear that the Wizards won just enough the second half of the year for Ernie to go fishing in the Euroland pond, we might as well look at the enigmas that are in the 2013 NBA Draft:
1. Rudy Gobert, C, France
The 21 year old 7’1″, 230 lb. raw center from France will certainly draw the attention of Euro Ernie. He has an impressive 7’9″ wingspan which he puts to good use. He shuts down the paint defensively against lesser competition but needs to do a lot of work on his 230 lb frame before he can log major minutes in the NBA. He is athletic and finishes well around the rim, but he’s extremely raw on the offensive end. Remind you of someone?
2. Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The 19 year old 6’1″, 180 lb. point guard from Germany is quickly rising up draft boards. Schroeder had proven to be a good leader. He has good ball-handling skills, a great first step, excellent speed in the open floor, and a knack for finding his open teammates and setting them up for easy buckets. He is good in transition and the half-court and has the speed to blow past defenders to create his own shots or to collapse the defense and find his open teammates.
3. Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
The 21 year old 6’7″, 205 lb small forward from Russia appeared in the Olympics for the Russian national team and is leading the country’s top basketball league, the PBL, in scoring. He is the most productive young prospect in all of European basketball in most people’s opinion. While attending the Nike Hoop Summit, Sergey showed that he was one of the most complete players in attendance. His father was a former coach and player. Karasev has a high basketball IQ, is a good passer, and has good court vision. Sergey also does well in catch and shoot situations and has great range in his jump shot as his 38% mark from beyond the arc supports just that.
4. Dario Saric, SF, Croatia.
The 19 year old 6’10”, 223 lb small forward from Croatian poses a lot of versatility for his size. The most impressive part of Saric’s game is his ball handling and court vision for a young man his size. He doesn’t blow by defenders, nor does he have elite athleticism but Saric is good at changing speeds when driving which keeps his defenders off balance. Dario is able to get into the lane and finish or find open teammates. Saric could stand to improve his perimeter shooting but he is a decent rebounder. He also has good hands and is able to read the ball off the rim which aids him in overcoming his athletic limitations while rebounding.
5. Giannis Adetokunbo, SF Greece
The 18 year old 6’9″, 196 lb SF from Greece reminds scouts of Nicolas Batum or Thabo Sefolosha. He has great size at 6-9, 196 pounds combined with a developed upper body and an overall terrific frame that should fill out considerably in time. Giannis has a 7’3″ wingspan, to go along with his enormous hands that make him look like he is palming a softball. He is a good passer, ball handler and finisher. Adetokunbo is also a smooth and fluent athlete who hasn’t come close to his full potential as a basketball player. He has a decent perimeter game that will only improve as he evolves as a player.
Wizards fans, be on Ernie Euro watch for these 5 players in the 2013 NBA draft. With Grunfeld’s key words of length, athleticism, and potential, I could see Ernie taking a chance on any of them at the end of the lottery, believing that he already has a playoff team if healthy with a good mix of veterans and young developmental players. He’s done so in the past, so I wouldn’t put it past him to take a shot on one of these Euros with long term potential. Let’s just pray that Ernie got enough flack from the 2011 draft and learned from his mistakes. But I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you!