Euroleague scouting report.
As the Euroleague season comes to an end, the time felt right to create an international scouting report ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft and offseason. They are divided by position and it will include some former NBA players, draft picks who have yet to get a chance in the NBA, and the most exciting-yet-overlooked Euroleague prospect.
Unlike the NBA, European basketball has not shifted to small ball yet, and old fashion bigs still play a big part in the teams’ success. Just ask reigning Euroleague MVP and former lottery pick Jan Vesely (6th by the Wizards in 2011). In the NBA, the 7-footer was playing out of position at small forward, and his lack of shooting was exposed. After getting back to the Euroleague he added some weight and moved to center full time. He has been member of the All Euroleague 1st team three times in the past four seasons. He averaged 12.3 points 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals this season while shooting 66% from two and 78% on free throws. His impact on defense was crucial to Fener, who got the 1st seed in the playoffs before eventually losing in the semifinal of the Final Four due to injuries to Luigi Datome and Joffrey Lauvergne, plus great game by the 2 players we will discuss later.
The young player from the Republic of Georgia moved to the Euroleague halfway through the season, continuing his dominance in the Adriatic League and showing his talent against the best players in Europe, ultimately earning the Euroleague Rising Star award. (Notably: the previous winner was current NBA ROY favorite Luka Doncic.) Bitadza suited up for 13 games, averaging 12.1 points 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 24 mins per game. His shooting split 60/31/71 is a good starting point, and he is definitely is intriguing option for the Spurs as his draft stock varies, depending who you ask. (Various Bleacher Report mock drafts have him going anywhere from to Celtics at 14th and the Spurs at 19th, while The Ringer doesn’t put him in the first round at all.) He was even more impressive in the Adriatic League, where he split the season between two teams, averaging 14 points 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 60% from the field and 41% from three. He is great in the open court and brings a lot of energy as the video below will show.
The third and last player for center is one the Spurs already own the draft rights to: 2015 1st round pick Nikola Milutinov. He finally assumed the starting position at Olympiacos, and it paid off as he was the best player on a team. Milutinov averaged 11.7 points on only 6 shots per game added 7.9 rebounds and received 2 player of the round awards. Rumor is that he is negotiating a move to Russian powerhouse CSKA.
One of the best scorers in Euroleague over the last 3 seasons has averaged 12.6 points over 104 games. While his shooting (48/33/71) leaves much to be desired for a player in his prime (Clyburn is already 29 years old), his ability to take over the games and score in bunches has increased his reputation season after season. He capped off this season winning Final Four MVP, averaging 20 ppg for the now reigning Euroleage champions CSKA Moscow. He would be a decent bench addition providing the necessary spark plug, but the money he gets in Moscow may prove too much to turn down.
The former 2nd overall pick from 2011 has bounced around the NBA without ever living up to his potential, but it appears he finally matured overseas in his first season with Bayern Munich. He has developed a respectable three-point shot and averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 boards on almost 4 three-point attempts per game. He is still energetic as he was in his early days and could prove a decent addition to the bench as he is probably looking for a way back in.
Nigel Williams Goss
The former Gonzaga point guard was drafted 55th overall by Utah Jazz in 2017 and moved to Europe to sign his first professional contract. Last season he averaged 17 points and 6.7 assists, which granted him access to the Euroleague where he played alongside Milutinov this season. In his debut season he averaged 9.2 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 37% from three. While obtaining him may be tricky as the Jazz have the rights, the fact they didn’t bring him on a two-way contract may indicate they do not have plans for him.
Drafted 18th by the Hawks in 2013, the journeyman has traveled back and forth between the NBA and Europe over the years before having a good 2018-19 season with Anadolu Efes, capped with a trip to the Euroleague Final Four. He was exceptional in the playoffs, where he scored 30 and 29 respectively in the Final Four, ending one step short of the title and Final Four MVP (which went to aforementioned Clyburn). He is still unpredictable but has shown up in every big game this season and has proven before that keeping him as a backup is worth the money. He is rumored to be in negotiations with another Euroleague powerhouse, Barcelona, whom he torched averaging 19 points in a best of five series.
Of all the players listed above, Bitadze probably deserves the most attention. His potential is the highest, with a good NBA comparison being Julius Randle. He is a much better player at the moment than Sekou Doumbouya, a French prospect who is almost a guaranteed to end up in the lottery. Bitadze would be quite a steel if he fell to the Spurs.
This year’s Euroleague prospects for the Spurs
Source: Pounding The Rock