1988, SF, 6-8, France; 11.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.6 spg
Hes probably the most physically gifted player seen in Novi Sad. His combination of size for his position, smooth athleticism and NBA frame was unmatched. Hes slowly getting stronger, already showing an extremely intriguing body, and whenever he decides to put serious work in that department, he will quickly gain all the strength he will need for the next level.
Regardless of his relatively low scoring average, Batum was an extremely important piece on the offensive end, often the catalyst for his team --breaking defenses off the dribble to feed an open teammate. A very solid ball handler, enjoying an excellent first step and long strides, his opponents can barely keep him under control, so Nicolas forces continuous defensive rotations. At some point, his teammates might have been better off him attacking himself themselves, but its indisputable that he made things happen for France, showing a great basketball IQ in the process. Still struggling a little bit from long-range distances, his shooting production was inconsistent, but he shows excellent ability to create his own shot, as he can effortlessly pull up off the dribble to release a jumper over his defender with very low chances of being contested.
Leading France in assists and steals, second in rebounds, Batum was all over the court. His defensive display was really good. His combination of length and lateral quickness is a nightmare for most opponents. He could virtually match-up with any guy from the point guard position to the power forward spot. Hes also an excellent team defender, very active using his long arms in the passing lines, and a terrific rebounder, always alert to clean the glass and willing to use his athleticism.
Back to his mentality, he might not be able to become a real go-to player at the top level, but he could easily emerge into a superb team player that every coach would love to have on his team.
1989, PF, 6-9, USA; 12.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Right now Beasley is nothing but a four. He plays mostly in the paint, where he shows a great ability to find spaces and sneak through opponents. Left-handed, his go-to move is the turnaround jumper from the mid to low post. He can create a lot of separation from his match-up in the blink of an eye, as he delivers a pretty long step while being able elevate extremely well to shoot the ball. Although he's pretty consistent netting the ball in this fashion, he wasn't very accurate in the decisive games. He's also a solid mid-range shooter, although losing some accuracy as he goes further from the basket.
Anyway, the most impressive stuff usually comes when Beasley attacks the basket to finish around the rim. Although he can eventually put the ball on the floor to take advantage of his quickness with a couple of dribbles, he's not much of a ball-handler, and usually prefers to play off the ball looking for continuation moves from the elbow towards the basket. Once he receives the ball, he shows extremely solid footwork (for example, he's able to deliver quick reverse moves). He can hang in the air forever with terrific balance, and displays a staggering ability to finish his acrobatic layups with both hands, using counters to alter his shot and switching the ball from one hand to the other. More of a finisher than anything else, still he showed some nice effort in the rebounding department and also shared the ball reasonably well.
Beasley probably wasn't the most devoted and focused player on defense, but still he did a pretty decent job there. His tools are excellent, with great lateral quickness and the reactivity to answer any opponent's move. Only his relatively average size at the power forward position could hurt eventually him. On a different note, there might be some concerns about his character and attitude. He was rather integrated in this squad, but his body language is just awful, and he couldn't stay cool enough in the decisive games to be more useful for his team. Perhaps a small degree of maturity wouldn't hurt him.
1988, SF/PF, 6-10, Spain; 17.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.4 apg
Still, theres plenty to feel intrigued about regarding Clavers game. Most of his best attributes have been showcased in this championship. Obviously beginning with his superb physical/athletic profile. You dont see such a skilled guy standing 6-10 and enjoying that kind of quickness and leaping ability every day. However, its still an athletic issue that (perhaps momentarily) keeps him away from the perimeter, as his defensive lateral quickness struggles against real wings. Skill-wise, hes all the way a perimeter player.
At some point, we could see the complete package. Shooting, ball-handling, passing, shot-blocking, rebounding, activity on the court, basketball IQ... His perimeter stroke looked extremely intriguing at times. If he manages to gain consistency with his off-the-dribble long-range attempts, he would become next-to unstoppable. The way he puts the ball on the floor to get his match-up off-balance and go up for a shot--using his length and nice elevation-- makes those jumpers extremely difficult to contest at any level. He was also productive with turnaround jumpers from the mid-post, usually from near the baseline. For a guy with his ability to light his opponent up off the dribble, it would be extremely useful to work on his skills finishing around the basket. He struggles using his left hands in layups, and its not like he can make magic with his right. He could probably use a bit of body control while in the air and better footwork in the slashing department.
Defensively, he suffers from his lack of clear position, as besides his struggles facing perimeter opponents, hes not strong and physical enough to deal with some inside players. Well see how things turn out for him, but expect Claver to play the power forward position full time next season in Pamesa Valencia.
1988, SF, 6-5, USA; 8.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Even if his 6-5 size should point towards a shooting guard (he might be closer to 6-6, though), he's not your typical creative ball-handling perimeter player, but more of a guy who tries to take advantage of the opportunities created within the game flow. Not a great shot-creator, he can still consistently put the ball on the floor to attack his match-ups looking for his elegant lay-ups, effective even against opposition. Actually, his combination of athleticism and balance in the air provides some very esthetic moves. Lighty also emerged as a very solid shooter, particularly in spot-up fashion, sometimes coming off a cutter that he nicely transforms in a jumper move. He can remain decently effective out to the three point line, although his mechanics are slower here and he was not particularly prolific. Solid in the rebounding area, he was particularly active on the offensive glass, getting scoring production off put-backs. He also delivered on defense, being part of the excellent perimeter line of the US Team, where he could use his solid lateral quickness and strength.
Anyway, Lighty doesn't look like a big-time talent, but more of a nice role player that gets the job done on a regular basis. His ability to develop his guard skills will likely determine his future NBA draft stock.
1988, SF/PF, 6-10, Serbia; 6.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg
1988, SF/PF, 6-7, Nigeria; 17.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg
1988, PF, 6-9, France; 4.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg
1988, PF, 6-10, Brazil; 7.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.8 topg
The single most impressive part about Rafaels game is the superb quickness he displays attacking his rival off the dribble. He enjoys a terrific first step, and although his ball-handling skills are pretty average, he can light up his opponent with that first impulse and his nice strides. Still, he often doesnt know how to take advantage of this ability. He can dunk the ball or leave a layup without opposition, but he struggles whenever a defensive rotation comes in time. Hes neither a gifted passer or shows a great basketball IQ to come up with a creative solution. He certainly needs to work on gaining productivity in his slashing efforts. Rafaels offensive game is completed by his shooting ability. Not a specialist, he can knock down some spot-up jumpers out to the three-point line, although his mechanics don't look particularly fluid.
1988, PF, 6-11, Puerto Rico; 13.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg
JIN SOO KIM
1989, PF, 6-8, Korea; 14.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg
Jin Soo is a very skinny forward with decent athleticism and a very solid array of skills. He is an excellent long-range shooter, particularly in catch-and-shoot fashion, eventually capable of netting off-the-dribble attempts. Also, he can nicely put the ball on the floor with both hands, even if not enjoying great ball-handling skills, at least attacking the basket with nice quickness and determination. His physical limitations probably scare him away from the low post. He amassed a large amount of rebounds thanks to his positioning and timing, but also given the lack of size of his teammates. On defense, he is pretty active, helping his teammates with his nice shot-blocking ability (showing again nice timing), although his lateral quickness might be questionable for a perimeter player.
Actually, his position on the court is the biggest challenge he faces. It is not clear at all that he will be able to play the small forward position. His skills seem more suited for the PF spot, just as his athleticism, but physically he is extremely weak and it remains to be seen how much stronger he will get. Size chimes in also as he stands somewhere between 6-8 and 6-9, and will not make up for other shortcomings with his length.
Kim is yet another American high school product, this time from South Kent, although being part of the 2009 class he still has two more years left before he decides on what college he wants to attend.