The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship

The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship
Jul 27, 2016, 08:21 pm
This is a list of the top ten performers from the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship held in Helsinki, Finland from July 16th through the 24th. The rankings are based on the statistic EWA (estimated wins added). Although EWA does not definitively determine who the best individual players were, it does give you a sense of how productive and valuable they were to their respective teams. EWA is built off the same formula as PER, but it differs in the fact that it takes into account minutes played.

This article goes into further detail regarding EWA and how it relates to other advanced statistics.

Top Ten
#1 Lauri Markkanen, Finland
#2 Diego Flaccadori, Italy
#3 Elie Okobo, France
#4 Matej Svoboda, Czech Republic
#5 Klavs Cavars, Latvia
#6 Amine Noua, France
#7 Simon Birgander. Sweden
#8 Omer Yurtseven, Turkey
#9 Denzel Andersson, Sweden
#10 Daniel Koperberg, Israel

#1) Lauri Markkanen, 7'0, Power Forward, 19.1 years old, Finland

EWA: 2.8
PER: 41.6
TS%: 62.7%
24.9 PTS, 8.6 REB, 1.0 AST, 2.3 STL, 1.3 BLK, 13-33 3P%, 45-54 FT%, 50.4 FG%

Highly touted international prospect, and University of Arizona commit Lauri Markkanen once again thrived individually on the FIBA scene. His team finished a disappointing 15th out of 16 teams in a tournament taking place in their home country, which saw them relegated to the B Division next year, but Markkanen continued to impress, leading the tournament in scoring, as well as posting the third highest PER in the tournament's history, behind the likes of Tony Parker and Nikola Mirotic.

Now standing 7-feet tall, and still only 19 years old, Markkanen already has serious stretch-4 capabilities, looking at ease shooting the ball from deep, coming off screens, out of pick and pop situations, and off the dribble. Markkanen is very mobile for a 7-footer, and has a quick first step that he uses to attack closeouts on the perimeter. He has some straight line drive ball handling abilities, and although he has just average length, he uses his size efficiently to create space and finish over smaller defenders who have a hard time contesting his release.

On the defensive end of the floor Markkanen competes, and shows nice mobility on perimeter switches, not looking out of place, moving his feet and trying to stay in front of quicker forwards and even guards. He'll need to continue to add strength so he can handle physicality in the paint at the college and higher professional levels. At just 19 years old, Markkanen already has four years of pro and FIBA experience under his belt, and he will make the jump to the Pac-12 next season where he is slated to have a key role for Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats.

#2) Diego Flaccadori, 6'5, Combo Guard, 20.3 years old, Italy

EWA: 1.7
PER: 27.2
TS%: 58.5%
16.7 PTS, 5.1 REB, 4.0 AST, 2.4 STL, 10-22 3P%, 15-18 FT%, 50.0 FG%

Diego Flaccadori, the 6'5 playmaking guard, led the fifth place Italian team in almost every major statistical category, including, points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Flaccadori is a crafty lefty, who spent time at both guard positions for Italy during the U20's. He is at his best with the ball in his hands, either making plays out of the pick and roll or pushing the pace and setting teammates up in transition. Flaccadori does an excellent job keeping defenses off balance with his shifty ball-handling abilities and creative vision.

While fairly streaky throughout his career, Flaccadori shot it with confidence in Helsinki, knocking down 10 of his 22 3-point attempts, and looking comfortable in one and two dribble pull-up situations. He uses his ball handling ability and length well to get into the paint, and though he is not the most explosive athlete, he is a creative finisher, who showed he can finish in traffic, especially going to his left.

Perhaps Flaccadori's biggest flaw at the moment is his lack of strength, which is most evident on the defensive end of the floor. At 6'5, 172 pounds, Flaccadori has the length to be a factor defensively as evidenced by his 2.4 steals per game, but he will have to get stronger if he gets to the NBA level. He already has professional exposure playing for Italian playoff team Trento in first division Italy, as well as 22 games of Eurocup experience. Flaccadori very well may be a name we see when the 2018 NBA Draft comes around.

#3) Elie Okobo, 6'2, Combo Guard, 18.7 years old, France

EWA: 1.6
PER: 25.8
TS%: 59.2%
18.9 PTS, 3.9 REB, 1.6 AST, 1.9 STL, 18-42 3P%, 20-24 FT%, 46.5 FG%

Elie Okobo played well for a French team that finished a disappointing 13th at the U20s, barely staving off relegation by defeating Finland late. At 6'2, Okobo is somewhat stuck between guard positions, as he is much more of a scorer than a distributor, but is definitely undersized for the shooting guard position, and does not possess tremendous explosiveness to compensate.

Despite his just decent physical tools, Okobo scored prolifically in Finland, finishing third overall in points per game at 18.9, despite playing up a year on the competition. Okobo scored it in a variety of ways, using his burst and change of speed to get into the paint, while also exceling on the perimeter where he converted an impressive 18 of 42 from behind the arc. Okobo can take and make tough shots, but he often settles for contested dribble jumpers that he can't yet hit at an efficient rate. He has the ability to get by his defender in one on one situations, but can struggle finishing against length, especially going to his right, and will throw up some tough shots when he should kick it out once the defense has collapsed on him. He shows flashes of point guard skills, making the occasional nice play out of the pick and roll, or pass on the move, but he looked more focused on scoring the ball than setting up his teammates.

Okobo no doubt has the ability to score the ball, but given his size he'll have to develop more at the point guard position. He has some pro experience, at the French Pro A level, but mainly in the Espoirs league, and that is where he will be next season with Pau-Lacq-Orthez.

#4) Matej Svoboda, 6'7, Power Forward, 19.8 years old, Czech Republic

EWA: 1.6
PER: 27.4
TS%: 62.7%
19.0 PTS, 7.3 REB, 1.9 AST, .6 STL, 21-42 3P%, 20-25 FT%, 48.4 FG%

After underwhelming performances in the 2015 U20's and the 2014 U18's, Matej Svoboda burst on to the scene for a Czech team that finished seventh overall. What stood out about Svoboda in Helsinki was his knockdown shooting ability, leading the tournament in 3-pointers made, while doing it at an impressive 50% clip, the second best percentage in the tournaments history for anyone who attempted more than 40 3-pointers. As efficient as he was from behind the arc, Svoboda found other ways to score the ball, looking under control on dribble drives to the rim, using his 205-pound frame to clear space and finish around the rim, even showing off some nice spin moves.

Svoboda possesses just average athleticism, but has has a high basketball IQ, and a solid skill set for a player who can flip back and forth between either forward position. He rebounded the ball well, leading the Czech team in rebounding at 7.3 per game, but got lost in the shuffle defensively, not possessing a major threat as a shot blocker or on ball defender. Svoboda has had a solid professional career thus far bouncing back and forth between the 1st and 2nd division Czech leagues, with a brief three game stint in the Eurocup. The future is bright for the 19-year old Czech forward if he can continue to shoot the ball the way he did in Helsinki.

#5) Klavs Cavars, 6'9, Center, 20.4 years old, Latvia

EWA: 1.5
PER: 29.3
TS%: 62.3%
13.4 PTS, 8.3 REB, 1.3 BLK, 4.6 OREB, 61.7 FG%

Klavs Cavars of Latvia put together a solid seven game performance at the U20 European Championship, the best international performance of his career. Cavars had limited success in his previous FIBA competition playing in the U16s and U18s, but that was not the case this time around. Cavars dominated on the boards, leading the tournament in offensive rebounds per game at 4.6. Despite being just a 6'9 center, Cavars is strong and skilled for a big man, and he plays within himself, finishing an efficient amount of his opportunities around the rim. The Latvian team gave Cavars plenty of touches to operate out of the post, using his solid frame and quick footwork to work his way to the rim. Cavars is not the most explosive athlete but he showed nice touch on finishes around the basket, and found the majority of his offense on cuts to the rim and hard rolls out of ball screens. Cavars has some limitations on the defensive end due his size and average athletic ability, but he is strong in the post and showed some promise as a rim protector. Cavars spent last season playing for Triobet in top division Latvia. Cavars has somewhat limited potential, but projects as a solid European center down the line.

#6) Amine Noua, 6'8, Power Forward, 19.4 years old, France

EWA: 1.4
PER: 29.0
TS%: 56.3%
15.8 PTS, 8.2 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.2 BLK, 4.3 OREB, 53.9 FG%

Amine Noua followed up his impressive showing at the U17 World Championship in 2014 with another strong performance at the U20 European Championship. At 6'8, 220 Noua is a strong and stocky power forward, who knows how to use his size to his advantage. Noua finished second in the tournament in offensive rebounds at 4.3 per game. Although he is not the most explosive athlete, he is a quick jumper who crashes the offensive glass hard looking for tip ins and easy put backs. Depsite his stocky frame, Noua is quick and mobile, has good body control, and showed the ability to score out of the post with a variety of impressive moves. He has a good feel for the game, and knows where to be off the ball and when to duck in for dump off passes. He'll need to show some development in terms of a perimeter game to compliment his effective interior play. Noua competes on the defensive end of the floor, and although he is somewhat undersized, he showed some impact as a rim protector. He gained some brief experience last year at the French Pro A level but the majority of his career thus far has been at the junior level, but he may see an increased role next season.

#7) Simon Birgander, 6'9, Power Forward, 18.7 years old, Sweden

EWA: 1.4
PER: 31.9
TS%: 61.8%
7.9 PTS, 6.9 REB, 1.0 STL, 1.1 BLK, 3.0 OREB, 62.1 FG%

Simon Birgander is a bit of an outlier on this list, as his numbers don't match up to the other players listed, but he was incredibly effective in his brief time on the floor. Birgander only played 19 minutes per game but posted impressive per-40 averages of 16.5 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks.

Birgander is young at only 18 years old, but he showed some promise on at the U20s, looking comfortable making moves out of the post, and dominating the glass while he was on the floor. He is mobile for a big man, and looked fluid rim running in transition, and paying out of the pick and roll. He still has a great deal of room for skill development, but he did some things on the offensive end of the floor that impressed. He has a bit of a slight frame, but that is fitting for an 18 year-old who will surely add some strength has his career continues. He looked overmatched at times on the defensive end of the floor given his lack of strength, but he is long and does a good job keeping his hands high to block shots and impact others that he can't get his hands on.

Birgander played in second division Spain last season and had limited success. He will return again this season to play for Clavijo Logrono where he will look to build on his strong FIBA performance.

#8) Omer Yurtseven, 7'0, Center, 18.1 years old, Turkey

EWA: 1.4
PER: 32.4
TS%: 61.3%
10.4 PTS, 5.6 REB, 1.1 AST, .7 STL, 1.4 BLK, 3.1 OREB, 59.2 FG%

18-year-old Turkish Center Omer Yurtseven was one of the more highly touted international prospects coming into the tournament, and he did not disappoint. Yurtseven had a strong showing at the the U18 European Championship last year, and although he only played 18 minutes per game at the U20s, playing up by nearly two years, he posted per-40 averages of 23 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks.

He has a unique blend of skills for an 18 year-old 7 footer, who can score with his back to the basket using either hand. He has a go to jump hook in the post that he likes to get to, and he possesses nimble footwork for a player of his size which he showcased in pick and roll situations.

Yurtseven is also an excellent rebounder, and although he is not the greatest athlete, he has very solid hands and instincts. He has a really good feel for the game and knows where to position himself off the ball for easy cuts and dump offs. Yurtseven competes on the defensive end of the floor and is a shot blocking presence, but like most of the bigs on this list he will need to fill out his frame and get stronger so he is no overmatched at the next level. He has already spent two seasons with Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker, and despite some controversy surrounding his amatuer status, he will head to N.C. State next season to play under Mark Gottfried, where he has not yet been cleared to compete by the NCAA.

#9) Denzel Andersson, 6'8, Power Forward, 19.8 years old, Sweden

EWA: 1.4
PER: 29.6
TS%: 62.3%
7.4 PTS, 8.3 REB, 1.0 STL, 2.1 BLK, 3.6 OREB, 58.3 FG%

Andersson is another guy on this list whose numbers don't jump off the page, but that is partially due to his limited playing time. Denzel Andersson's per-40 numbers are impressive however, leading the tournament in rebounds and blocks per 40 at 15.9 and 4.1 respectively. On the offensive end of the floor, Andersson's game is somewhat limited. He was able to score the ball effectively in screen and roll situations and on the offensive glass, but struggled creating his own offense. Where Andersson found an impact on the game was on the boards and protecting the paint. At 6'8 he doesn't have great size, but he is strong, physical, and a quick jumper who uses his strength and timing to control the paint. He was the anchor for a Swedish team that often struggled defending the dribble drive. Andersson has some experience playing in the Swedish professional leagues, and has some professional upside given his defensive and rebounding capabilities.

#10) Daniel Koperberg, 6'9, Center, 18.6 years old, Israel

EWA: 1.2
PER: 23.9
TS%: 58.5%
15.1 PTS, 6.0 REB, 1.6 AST, 1.0 BLK, 54.5 FG%

Despite a 12th place overall finish, Koperberg shined for the Israeli squad, leading the team in points and rebounds. In his second FIBA experience, at just 18 years old, Koperberg looked comfortable on the big stage as the focal point for the Israeli team. At 6'9, Koperberg is undersized for the center position, but he plays with energy and with a great motor that makes up for his lack of size. Koperberg excelled in ball screen situations, finding most of his offense out of pick and rolls. He is just average athletically in the half court, but he has solid fundamentals, setting strong screens, and rolling to the rim hard with his hands high, not bringing the ball down. He has good body control, and nice touch around the rim which allows him to finish in traffic despite any standout athletic ability. Koperberg was a factor on the glass as well, as he is a quick jumper with good hands, who does a solid job coming down with rebounds in traffic or going right up for put backs. He had limited opportunities with post up situations throughout the tournament, so it's hard to say where his game is at in that aspect. Despite average physical tools, Koperberg works on the defensive end, showing the willingness to get in a stance and go after shot blocking opportunities at the rim. He has mostly played at the junior level at this point for Maccabi Haifa, but may get a shot to play for the team in top division Israel next season.

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