Top 10 Euroleague Free Agent NBA Prospects

Vasilis SpanoulisThere has been so much discussion about the summer 2010 NBA free agent class, but hardly any mention at all about some of the Euroleague players that will be available. With all of that cap space that some of the NBA teams have, they would be very wise to not forget about some of the potential NBA impact players that are available in Europe.

These are 10 Euroleague players that will be free agents in the summer of 2010 that NBA teams should consider. These Euroleague players all have the ability to contribute in the NBA, provided they land in the right situation.

NBA teams should just look at how much the Milwaukee Bucks were helped by adding 3 Euroleague players to their rotation (Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino – Delfino came from the 2nd tier Eurocup). These are some of the free agents to be had in Europe that could offer similar help to other NBA teams. I will include comments about each player from some NBA scouts that I know and talk to.

Vassilis Spanoulis

Rank: #1
Vitals: 6-4 208
Position: PG/SG
NBA Comparison: Steve Nash
Status: unrestricted free agent

My Assessment: Kill Bill is as smart, tough, and competitive as any player in the world. He is a pure winner and a natural leader. He can lead a team as the primary option from either back court position on offense and he is an excellent defender.

He should not be judged on his lone NBA year with the Houston Rockets, as he obviously did not get a fair chance from Jeff Van Gundy. He is clearly a superior player to the likes of Rafer Alston, Luther Head, and John Lucas III, whom were ahead of him on Van Gundy’s depth chart, and pretty much every NBA scout you talk to will state as much. Potential NBA starting point guard or 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Spanoulis, “Spanoulis has no fear on the basketball court. He is as confident as any player there is. In my opinion he can start in any team in the NBA.”

Fran Vazquez

Rank: #2
Vitals: 6-11 240
Position: PF/C
NBA Comparison: Amare Stoudemire
Status: unrestricted free agent (he has a player option on his contract) – draft rights held by the Orlando Magic so another team would have to trade for his rights before signing him.

My Assessment: Fran Vazquez is an absolute freak of nature athletically. He is a legit 6-11 big with good length that is quick and mobile and he is a dunk machine. If you lob the ball anywhere within 2 feet of the rim he is throwing it down with tremendous authority.

He can also knock down open mid-range jumpers and he is a good shot blocker. Even by NBA standards he has elite physical tools with the combination of his size and athleticism. Potential NBA starting PF or starting C.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Vazquez, “If the Orlando Magic can ever manage to get Vazquez and Dwight Howard to play together they could be scary”.

Sofoklis Schortsanitis

Rank: #3
Vitals: 6-10 315
Position: C
NBA Comparison: a 6-10 version of Shaq
Status: unrestricted free agent – draft rights held by the Los Angeles Clippers so another team would have to trade for his rights before signing him.

My Assessment: Big Sofo is an absolute beast offensively on the low block. He is virtually unstoppable one on one in the low post. Even if you double team or triple team him he can still score and he is good at passing out of double teams.

He is surprisingly athletic and quick down the floor for a man of his size. Stamina problems with him are overblown as he can give a team a consistent 15-20 minutes. Potential NBA starting center and at worst case scenario elite level backup center.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Schortsanitis, “He is the most dominant low post player in Europe. If he had the right mindset and training regimen he could be an all star in the NBA.”

Tiago Splitter

Rank: #4
Vitals: 6-11 245
Position: PF/C
NBA Comparison: Al Horford with more skills
Status: unrestricted free agent (he has a player option on his contract) – draft rights held by the San Antonio Spurs so another team would have to trade for his rights before signing him.

My Assessment: Splitter is a legit 6-11 big man that is known for his team defense and his efficient offense. He is experienced and consistent and he could be used as a 4 or 5 on either end of the court in the NBA. He is a very steady player and is surely a target of a lot of NBA teams. Potential NBA starting PF or starting C.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Splitter, “Not being able to sign Splitter after the draft might have cost the Spurs a championship or two”.

Milos Teodosic

Rank: #5
Vitals: 6-5 210
Position: PG/SG
NBA Comparison: prime Sarunas Jasikevicius (I mean the prime Jasikevicius that twice schooled Team USA, not the older and past his prime Jasikevicius that played in the NBA later in his career)
Status: unrestricted free agent

My Assessment: There are a lot of good things to say about Teodosic. Basically, his court vision, passing skills, and outside shooting ability are off the charts. He is still developing and his defense is a bit questionable at times.

But there is no doubt whatsoever that he is a true European superstar in the making. Potential NBA starting shooting guard or 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Teodosic, “He reminds me a little bit of Maravich”.

Dimitris Diamantidis

Rank: #6
Vitals: 6-6 220
Position: PG/SG/SF
NBA Comparison: Shane Battier with point guard skills
Status: unrestricted free agent

My Assessment: 3D is a very unusual and unorthodox player. Nonetheless, he is very effective. He is probably the Euroleague’s most versatile player. He is an excellent team defender and can guard from the 1-4 positions.  His man to man defense style is physical and smart.

Offensively, he is skilled and is an all around player and an excellent guy to compliment good primary scorers. Potential NBA starting shooting guard or 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Diamantidis, “Diamantidis is a very competitive player and he knows how to help a team in a lot of ways. He is a guy that definitely should be playing in the NBA and belongs there”.

Linas Kleiza

Rank: #7
Vitals: 6-8 250
Position: PF/SF
NBA Comparison: An improved version of himself
Status: unrestricted free agent in Europe – he has a player option on his contract, restricted free agent in the NBA with his rights held by the Denver Nuggets

My Assessment: Kleiza is a very difficult match up for the opposing defense because he can spread the floor and pull power forwards out of the paint or he can overpower small forwards on the block.

He has a great NBA body and is quite strong. He has made important strides in improving his game since getting a bigger role with Olympiacos than what he had in the NBA. Potential NBA starting power forward, starting small forward, or 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Kleiza, “He can definitely be a starter in the NBA on the right team”.

Josh Childress

Rank: #8
Vitals: 6-8 210
Position: SG/SF
NBA Comparison: An improved version of himself
Status: unrestricted free agent in Europe – he has a player option on his contract, restricted free agent in the NBA with his rights held by the Atlanta Hawks

My Assessment: There is no denying that J-Chillin is a much better player now than he was when he played in the NBA. He has had to develop his offensive game a lot more in Europe and he has had to learn how to take more of a leadership role as well.

The strides he has made are very evident and it’s undeniable that he is better than he was before he left the NBA, where he was already an established player. Potential NBA starting small forward, starting shooting guard, or 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Childress, “Every NBA team would be glad to have Josh Childress on their roster”.

Zoran Planinic

Rank: #9
Vitals: 6-7 210
Position: PG/SG/SF
NBA Comparison: a much improved version of himself
Status: unrestricted free agent

My Assessment: Zoran Planinic is a very talented basketball player. He went to the NBA much too early and before he was ready and because of that he did not succeed. However, he can definitely be a good contributor at the NBA level these days. He is a much better player than back when he played in the NBA.

He has excellent size for a two guard and he is highly skilled offensively. He is a better player and talent than several shooting guards that start in the NBA now. Potential NBA starting SG or 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Planinic, “He has all the tools to succeed in the NBA, he just has to put it all together”.

Trajan Langdon

Rank: #10
Vitals: 6-4 210
Position: SG
NBA Comparison: much improved version of himself – think of a more experienced JJ Redick
Status: unrestricted free agent – he has a player option on his contract

My Assessment: Langdon is a very experienced player and he is a consummate professional. He is smart and is just a true winner. He plays good team defense and he is clutch. He does the little things to help a team win games.

He can spread the floor and he is a far better player now than he was back in the day when he played in the NBA. He has developed into a very solid defender and he knows pressure basketball at the highest level in Europe. He could definitely help a lot of NBA teams. Potential NBA 6th man.

NBA Scout Assessment: An NBA scout said this of Langdon, “There are a lot of NBA teams that could use a guy like him”.

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