One of the more maligned prospects in this year's draft, Petro is clearly a victim of his own potential and subsequent failure to achieve it as quickly as many have demanded out of him. For how long he's been on the radar, and with the way some people talk about how he hasn't developed, one would think that he's pushing 30 already. At the end of the day, though, he is still 19 years old (younger than Gerald Green
), still 7 feet tall and still extremely athletic for his size, even if he's been around the block once or twice.
In terms of physical attributes, they just don't make them like him in the States anymore, and that's what makes him super intriguing to me personally. He has great size and an outstanding body for a 19 year old, a body that is ready to come in and get minutes right off the bat as long as Petro prepares himself the way most NBA players do for the season. His frame is excellent and is ready to put on about as much muscle as he'll need in the NBA. His wingspan is very good as well, and he already knows how to use it quite well to intimidate around the basket. Athletically, he moves awfully well for a 7 footer; fluidly and with good coordination. He has somewhat of a laid-back demeanor to him, but when he wants to, he can certainly get up off the floor, on both ends around the basket. He's not Amare Stoudemire
or anything like that, but he'll definitely be considered one of the more athletic 7 footers in the league almost right off the bat. I especially like his quickness moving around the court; he's mobile moving both east to west and north to south.
In terms of skills, nothing he does is too polished just yet, but he is doing pretty well considering his age, and he certainly has a big upside to continue to improve. Defensively is where he'll earn his minutes in the league initially, and I am sure he will relish the fact that NBA refs will actually let him play for a change. Physical big men and Europe just don't seem to go well together for some reason (ask Tim Duncan
about that). The kid wants to bang, but the refs call ticky-tack fouls on him like they are going out of style, and that really takes away from what he's able to contribute on the court at this point. That style of play will definitely go over much better in the NBA, and I am sure his coach will appreciate it.
Petro is a good shot-blocker and has plenty of room to continue to improve here, thanks to his size, wingspan and vertical leap. He needs to improve his timing and court awareness a bit, as well as using his body better to stay out of foul trouble (it's not all the refs' fault, he could be smarter sometimes), but all the tools are there. Man to man, he uses his hands a little too much, which is where a lot of his fouls actually come from, but I think he will get better here because he can move his feet pretty well as he possesses very nice lateral quickness.
Offensively, he has a nice half hook shot which is his go-to move right now. It's pretty hard to block as he performs it swiftly and fluidly off the dribble, sometimes off a quick spin move, but with a very soft touch. He had that move last time I watched him about a year ago, although it wasn't as polished.
He appears to have expanded his game a bit and improved his footwork in the post since the last time I saw him as well. He still hasn't fully learned to use his physical tools around the basket, but I like the fact that his hands look good and he showed that he can make shots around the basket with either hand. He makes his fair share of mistakes still, but I don't know any other big men in the draft besides maybe Andrew Bogut
who don't. What I do like is that he doesn't seem to be shy about trying, unlike the more tentative big men offensively in this draft like Splitter or Channing Frye
for example. He's not afraid to make mistakes, which is probably why his very conservative coach won't trust him too much despite the fact that he's a lot better than any of the other big men they have on that team. He's on a pretty short leash from what I saw.
In terms of weaknesses, he has his fair share, as does every other player in this draft. His feel for the game is not off the charts, as he doesn't always play very smart or within himself, which comes to play in the foul trouble he often finds himself in. Rebounding seems to be his biggest flaw right now. He just doesn't have very good fundamentals when it comes to boxing out his man and establishing position, although he has all the physical tools needed to excel here. Part of that will come with better coaching, but he also lacks a certain degree of fire to his game, not always looking like he is giving 100% and fading from time to time in terms of his intensity on the court.
His offense is a bit raw still as well, especially when you take him outside of the paint (although he is 7 feet tall, so how much would you want him to do that?). His footwork could certainly use some polish and he could afford to add some more moves to his arsenal by diversifying his game outside of that half hook shot, which seems to be a nice weapon, but can get a bit predictable I imagine. He showed off some nifty ball-handling skills, taking his man off the dribble straight to the hoop in one game I watched, but I'm not sure how much of a fluke that was, because I only saw him do it once.
All in all, I don't think he's a can't miss prospect in this draft, but he is certainly unique enough to start getting looks starting around where the Knicks are drafting and all the way down to the teens at the very latest. There have certainly been much less skilled players his size taken in the lottery, and they aren't always as athletic as he is (see: Rafael Araujo
, Andris Biedrins
, Robert Swift
, Melvin Ely
). For what the NBA is going to need him to do, he should be just fine as long as he lands in the right situation. How good he'll end up will have a lot to do with how hard he works and just how good he decides that he wants to be, because he clearly has all the tools to become a very solid NBA player.