Last week we devoted our attention to the Spanish Kings Cup, but it wasnt the only Cup competition going around in Europe. Actually the biggest news draft-wise was happening in Italy, where Danilo Gallinari delivered an impressive exhibition in the Coppa semifinals, extended with another terrific showing in the Italian Lega this past weekend, which has left us no choice but to select him as Player of the Week.
Armani Jeans Milano faced VidiVici Bologna in the Coppa semifinals. It was a very disputed game where Gallinari took over the offensive load of his team in what has arguably been his best performance as a professional. With 27 points (9/12 from the field), 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals, he led his team into an overtime that unfortunately was resolved in favor of the Bologna squad. Not even Benettons incredible run in securing the Cup could eclipse his awesome performance, a hot issue these days in Italy.
Obviously, this weekends game in the Italian League wont stop the buzz around him. Danilo scored 21 points and grabbed 3 rebounds to lead Milano to the victory against Whirpool Varese, which leaves his team comfortably placed in third position. With 10.5 points per game, hes the second best scorer on his team, only behind Joseph Blair.
Being only 18 years old, this is all flat-out impressive, and it only confirms our impression that hes currently the best under-20 player in Europe right now.
His incisive game might come as a surprise for anybody watching Gallinari for the first time, as the very first impression he usually leaves is a bit disappointing in terms of athleticism. But as we have stated often here in DraftExpress.com, its a deceiving impression, because and as soon as he gets into game situations, he showcases nice quickness and some hops. Hes surely not a top-notch athlete, but a very fluid one who is smart enough to maximize his athletic gifts. So at the end of the day, hes going to beat his match-ups off the dribble on a regular basis, while on the other end of the floor he proves to be a very reliable defender with nice lateral mobility.
A solid shooter, even with the ability to create his own shot, a nice passer everything is in place in Gallinaris game. The fact that hes such a big perimeter player, so talented and intelligent, leads us to think that he will be able to adjust to any level of basketball hes thrown in, even in a very athletic league as the NBA.
Taking a Long Look at
Dimitriy Khvostov, one of the few pleasant surprises in this years Euroleague when it comes to youngsters. The Russian point guard is the only 1989 European player seeing playing time in top international competition, and he hasnt looked bad at all. At least, he has certainly delivered a greater effort on court than what he usually displays in his junior performances.
Of course, Khvostov isnt always free of mistakes, eventually forcing his actions too much, particularly in motion while penetrating, as his window of slashing opportunity sometimes closes sooner than he expects and he runs out of options in the drive. Still, legendary coach Dusan Ivkovic is patient with him and doesnt pull him off the court after every mistake. On the contrary, if Khvostov enters the game, chances are he will remain on court for a fairly extended period of time, even with the game on the line, which only helps build his confidence. This last week, he received his chance with the game tied in the beginning of the fourth quarter, and never left the floor until the game finished, helping to clinch an extremely important victory for Dynamo Moscow against Aris TT Bank in Thessaloniki, in the opener of the Top-16 round.
Khvostov is perhaps not a player who is oozing with potential, particularly because his athleticism doesnt look that great (although hes still physically underdeveloped and will be able to improve it), but he looks like a very nice point guard in the making, especially if he keeps displaying the same attitude he has been showing in this seasons Euroleague.
State of the Prospect: Whos Hot
Marco Belinelli continues to be red hot in the Italian League, and what is surely more important for him, Climamio Bologna has finally snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory against Upea Capo DOrlando. Marco went for 22 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Its the second time this season in the Italian League that he manages to net more than half of his three pointers (5/9). In the last eight games of the domestic competition, he has always reached the 17-point mark, averaging 20.6 points in that span, while shooting an excellent 46.2% in three-pointers. Theres a clear and direct relation between his perimeter accuracy and his scoring production, because thats the foundation of his game at this point.
Zoran Erceg, after being a key part in FMPs triumph in the Serbian Cup, completed an excellent eighth-final round for his team in the ULEB Cup, with 23 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the second game (and victory) facing Gran Canaria Grupo Dunas. Erceg averaged over 20 points in this round against the Spanish team, and now Mario Austin and Hapoel Jerusalem await FMP in the quarterfinals.
Damjan Rudez scored a season high 26 points, adding also 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in a loss against Zadar. Its one of the best games for Rudez in a campaign filled with up and downs, as he hasnt been able to find some consistency all season long. The situation of his team Split doesnt help either: with only two wins, they are tied with Geoplin Slovan for last position in the Adriatic League.
Uros Tripkovic seems to be in the process of recovering some scoring power in this disappointing season for him. He still averages fewer points than last year, but has at least scored in double digits in the last three games in the Adriatic League. This weekend he had a season-high 28 points, with 3 rebounds and 2 steals, leading Partizan to the victory over Zagreb, while leaving the team just one victory shy of the Balkan leadership.
State of the Prospect: Whos Not
Luksa Andric hasnt been able to transcend from a pure complementary role to something else. To see him executing any sort of move with the ball is becoming a rare luxury, while he rarely shoots the ball, so his scoring numbers are suffering from it. He hasnt been able to score in double digits since December 3rd, considering both the Euroleague and Adriatic League (meaning 16 consecutive games). Hes a fairly big guy, very mobile and who provides nice intensity, but hes not being able to translate these tools into useful enough prodction for his team.
Goran Dragic has been injured for a weeks now. He didnt play this weekend in the ACB League or in the previous game for Polaris World Murcia. He has a fracture in his finger, and will remain sidelined for a couple of months. In upcoming roundups, well try to take a look back at his current season in Murcia.