International vs. America Debate (Part 4 of 4)
Here is Part 4 of 4 of Gavin’s look at International players in the NBA. Enjoy!
ASSESSING SOME OF THE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS IN TONIGHT’S DRAFT
The inspiration for these posts began with the news that the Bulls might draft Omri Casspi with one of their first round picks. My concern stemmed from the success rate in signing international players in a timely fashion and finding players that will be able to provide some impact in their initial contract without bolting back overseas. Since I found the percentages of success to be relatively small, I wasn’t very optimistic that Omri Casspi would pan out for the Bulls without researching more.
In reviewing some of the common draft sites, it appears that Casspi was projected as a potential late first round pick as early as 2007 based primarily on potential. For the next two years, Casspi received no guarantees of first round picks and took his name out of the draft. This approach seems to support my theory from my last post: that if a player is not excelling greatly or garnering much playing time (he was only playing 11 minutes per game for Maccabi Tel Aviv before moving on to Maccabi Electra this past season, where he was playing over 17 minutes a game), then an NBA team would be smart to hold off on drafting that player. Since Casspi is once again slotted to go later in the 1st Round, it is not as if any of the teams are missing out on the opportunity to draft him this year because they passed on guaranteeing him their draft pick in previous years.
Such patience was rewarded in Casspi’s last year where his increased playing time also saw increases in some of his 40 minute averages to levels that suggest he might find some success in the NBA. While my stance has softened towards Casspi, I still wonder whether an NBA team couldn’t find a similar collegiate player in the second round and still achieve the same result of saving money while also getting more immediate results (especially if Casspi or his NBA elects to have him play in Israel for another year). For comparison’s sake, I looked at Dajuan Summers’ adjusted per 40 minute averages in his last year at Georgetown to compare against Casspi since both players are slotted at the SF/PF positions and both measure in at 6’8”, and between 220 and 240 lbs.
Here’s a chart with statistics courtesy of Draft Express:
|Omri Casspi (Maccabi Tel Aviv 08)||15.5||54.5||61.5||28.6||60||2.2||5||2||1||0.9||1.9||5.3|
|Omri Casspi (Maccabi Electra 09)||19.6||50.5||51.8||45||77.1||2.4||4.6||1||1.8||0.4||2.5||5.3|
|Dajuan Summers (Georgetown)||19||47.4||55.2||38.5||71.3||1.6||4.1||1.7||1.6||0.9||3.6||3.6|
So while there might be a slightly higher reward in drafting Casspi, I’m not sure if it is so guaranteed to warrant the risk of taking him with your First Round pick. Although, in a draft as weak as this one, it might be the perfect time to take him and not feel as guilty about reaching for such a player.
Rodrigue Beaubois is a new name to pop up in some mock drafts out there, also going with one of the last picks in the First Round. While my stance has softened on Omri Casspi, I’m not sold on Beaubois. In fact, I’d say he is in the same position Casspi was in a year ago where he could use another year before a team should draft him. The reports have shown that he hasn’t played significant minutes for either his club teams or his national team. Slated to be a point guard, he pales in comparison to other PG’s in this draft, and not merely those first few names in the draft either.
Here’s an excerpt from DraftExpress analyzing Beaubois play:
“Beaubois is yet to prove to be a solid distributor and a good competitor. Actually he shows little emotion, sometimes even looking a bit passive. And of course, he’s a completely unproven player if we talk about high-level competition in Europe. Indeed he barely has any experience in the National Team with his own peers.”
These are exactly the reasons I argued should weigh against drafting an international player. An extra year or two would allow Beaubois to build on these experiences, and if he fails to make that jump, at least your team hasn’t wasted a pick on him.
In looking for another player in this draft to compare Beaubois to, I first looked at who I think might be the lowest ranked of the top PG’s expected to go earlier in the draft, Jrue Holiday. Holiday’s numbers were higher, while still being a few years younger. Instead, I compared Beaubois to Holiday’s more experienced teammate, Darren Collison.
Here are their adjusted per 40 minute averages for the past season:
|2008-2009 season||Pts||FG %||2P%||3P%||FT%||OffR||DefR||Asts||Stls||Blks||TOs||PFs|
|Rodrigue Beaubois (Cholet)||17.7||47.3||63.3||31.7||58.3||0.7||3.8||4.1||2||0.8||3.4||5.1|
|Darren Collison (UCLA)||18.5||50.9||55.8||39.4||89.7||0.6||2.5||6.1||2.1||0.2||3.2||1.9|
Both are of similar height (6’1”-6’2” and are only separated in age by six months), and Collison has been compared favorably to Chris Duhon. Collison is slated to be drafted in the second round and fill some team’s slot as a backup point guard. Wouldn’t you want someone who has proven himself in a competitive league and has no question marks about his desire to win or his ability to lead a team? Once again not sold that a pick of Beaubois is the equivalent of that NBA team, saying “We’ll pass, and save the money for our free agents now or in 2010.”
I won’t spend too much time assessing Hasheem Thabeet since he is much less of an unknown. I only discuss him to offer a contrast to those international players being drafted from overseas rather than going the NCAA route. It is irrefutable that Thabeet improved his draft stock tremendously by attending the University of Connecticut. Incredibly raw when he came to the U.S., Thabeet enters the NBA with expectations to be good to above average defensively. The only question marks center around what his offensive ceiling is. Nearly every analyst I’ve seen has him reluctantly going 2nd or 3rd in the draft, but then harps on his offensive liabilities. I still think he can have a long career, excelling on the defensive end and getting his baskets with relatively few plays run directly for him. Needless to say it will be some time before Thabeet develops a 15 to 18 foot jumper.
In looking to compare Thabeet to someone, I thought it would be unfair to compare him to some of the recent centers drafted straight out of Africa. Thabeet has shown the ability to perform in the ever-tough Big East Conference and is not being drafted nearly as much for some unknown potential or his physical attributes alone. Sticking with the Big East Conference, I chose to look at Roy Hibbert’s statistics from his last year at Georgetown and his first year with the Indiana Pacers. Admittedly, Hibbert had a little bit more of a jump shot coming out of Georgetown, but I think that may have hampered his offensive development in the NBA, relying too much on the outside shot and not enough on developing post moves to go up against the giants of the NBA. Thabeet has no outside shot to fall back on so he will be forced to bang bodies in the post in order to get his points and I think his FG% and Offensive Rebounding rates will demonstrate this in the following season. Hibbert’s numbers are not great and he certainly didn’t play as many minutes as he did in college, but Thabeet will look to have more minutes on the court with whatever team drafts him (looks like the Grizzlies or Thunder at this point).
Also, in the categories that he is expected to produce in, Thabeet outperformed Hibbert by some wide margins, while also limiting his fouls which will also aid him in gaining more playing time (both rebounding rates and blocks).
Here are the comparisons of Thabeet and Hibbert’s adjusted per 40 minute averages:
|Hasheem Thabeet (Uconn) ’08-‘09||16.4||64||64||62.7||4.5||8.5||0.6||0.7||5.1||2.3||3|
|Roy Hibbert (Georgetown) ’07-‘08||21.7||60.9||60.5||64.6||3.6||6.7||3||0.9||3.6||2.7||4.4|
|Roy Hibbert (Pacers) ’08-‘09||18.5||47||47.4||66.7||4.3||4.8||1.8||0.7||2.8||2||8|
I have to admit that I certainly would love to see Ricky Rubio do well in the NBA. If he grows a moustache and wears short shorts it would be like having Pete Maravich back in the NBA again. I like much of the rest of the NBA fan base, first was truly exposed to Ricky Rubio only last year during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. During that competition, Rubio stepped up in place of the Spanish National Team’s injured starting point guard and wowed the crowd with his leadership at the point. Also, viewing recent videos where Rubio has answered the questions of a potential costly buyout from his Spanish Team by saying he’s willing to play essentially for free in order to get a chance to play in the NBA, it’s hard not to root for him.
Yet all of the comparisons to Steve Nash, Pete Maravich, and Magic Johnson seem to be a little premature. You see it was not too long ago (3 years ago) that we were talking about another Spanish point guard who analysts forecasted could, at his best, be the next Steve Nash. They raved about his passing ability, his creative playmaking, his ability to create offense for teammates, a great skill set including superb ball handling, and his decision making on the fast break. (Is this sounding familiar?) Furthermore he led his Junior National Team to the Gold at the Junior World Championships, garnering the MVP award at the competition. Shortly after being drafted in the 2006 draft, this player also played on the stacked Spanish Senior Men’s squad that won Gold at the World Championships.
Any idea who this player is? Yeah, Sergio Rodriguez. The player that fought for playing time with Steve Blake and Jerryd Bayless this past season. Even with his fellow countrymen, Rudy Fernandez joining him this year, Rodriguez struggled to improve on his numbers to supplant Steve Blake as the starting point guard for the Portland Trailblazers.
Here’s a comparison of Rubio and Rodriguez’s numbers from their ACB and Euro competitions (again, these are adjusted per 40 minute averages):
|Ricky Rubio – ACB (08-09) (23.0 min)||17.1||39.1||37.4||42.3||80.4||1.2||3.2||10.4||3.7||0.2||5.1||4|
|Ricky Rubio – Euro (07-08) (20.9 )||13.5||53.1||60.7||36||77.1||1.2||4.8||8||4.2||0.1||4.5||4.7|
|Sergio Rodriguez – ACB (05-06) (23.0)||15.1||44||49.7||28.2||66.2||1||3||8||2.1||0.1||5.1||3.9|
|Sergio Rodriguez – Euro (05-06) (20.0)||9.4||28.1||37.5||16||68.2||1.1||3.7||6.8||2.8||0.2||5.7||4.3|
|Sergio Rodriguez – 08/09 3rd yr (15.2)||12.3||39.2||42.8||32.5||79.2||1.5||3||9.9||1.9||0.1||4.1||4.6|
Based on these numbers, I do believe that Rubio will do well, but may take awhile to really adjust to the NBA’s 82-game schedule. Rodriguez obviously benefits from having Rudy Fernandez on his team, so one might think that Memphis would be a good spot for Rubio to land with Marc Gasol manning the paint. Yet, as astute observers have noted, Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro might not be so high on Memphis management and may deter Rubio from agreeing to play for the Grizzlies. Please don’t think that I’m predicting a bust for Rubio but I don’t believe that he is guaranteed to have an MVP-effect like Steve Nash any more than some of the other PG’s at the head of this draft.
Thanks for reading these posts, and hope you can enjoy the draft tonight. I remember two years ago, sitting in a cafeteria in the middle of the campgrounds in the Yosemite Valley waiting to hear the Bulls call Joakim Noah’s name and seeing him in his sweet seersucker suit. Let’s hope the Bulls can draft someone with an equivalent fashion sense and flair. Peace, I’m out.