Friday, June 03, 2005

Draft Preview Pt. 2: The Tall Foreigners

Call it the Darko effect, if you must. Or the Tskitishvili effect, which I almost spelled right on the first try. But I’d like to think that at this point, fantasy players have learned their lesson when it comes to the tall foreigners. Just about every one of them has disappointed. Even Yao Ming hasn’t been as good as we had hoped – admit it, you expected him to at least be scoring 20 points or grabbing 10 rebounds by his 3rd year in the league. Some have been straight up busts, while others – Anderson Varejao, Nene Hilario, Andres Biedrins – have shown flashes and might be ready to break out in the next few years. Other than Yao, though, none of them have stepped in and really been a fantasy starter from day 1. Nonetheless, there are three guys who are supposed to be first round picks, so you should at least be aware of them. Here they are:

Tiago Splitter

Of the three foreign bigs we’re looking at today, Splitter is by far my favorite. He’s certainly not going to come in and contribute right away, but I think that given time he’s got PJ Brown-esque potential. One thing he can certainly do well is rebound. He’s seven feet tall, has a good feel for blocking out, and should be good for 6-7 rebounds a game if he gets 20 minutes of court time. One of the reasons I like Splitter is that the Brazilian who came into the league last year, Anderson Varejao, quickly became an FBB favorite with his scrappy play – and Splitter is apparently in the same mold, and much more highly regarded.

Best Case Scenario: Charlotte’s 2nd pick. Assuming they hold on to it (which is no sure thing), Charlotte would be a great spot for Tiago to go. He would get plenty of time at the 4, and could be as high as the third option on offense immediately.

Worst Case Scenario: Golden State. This is where foreign players go to under perform. While Michael Pietrus has shown flashes, Andres Biedrins, Zarko Cabarkapa, and the aforementioned Tskitishvili are all already on this roster. There’s just no room – but logic won’t stop the Warriors from drafting him.

Johan Petro

One thing that concerns me when reading about any draft prospect is when the majority of the talk is about his physical attributes, and this is something that I’ve come across plenty when reading about Petro. He’s got great size, he moves up and down the court really well, great. But then the truth comes out – his fundamentals aren’t very good. He doesn’t block out well. He doesn’t always have a great idea of what’s happening on the floor. He’s "raw". He doesn’t have great intensity. He doesn’t have my seal of approval.

Best Case Scenario: Minnesota. Playing next to KG would be a huge benefit for this kid, and it’s not like Mark Madsen is going to keep him off the court.

Worst Case Scenario: LA Clippers. He’ll be sitting behind Chris Kaman, and they’ve got tons of guys who are shoot-first, so all the low-post shots will go to Elton Brand.

Fran Vazquez

Vazquez is a guy that, if I were an NBA GM, I wouldn’t draft until the end of the first round, but for some reason he’s getting some talk for the late lottery. Nonetheless, I’m not getting fooled, and neither should you. He’s 22 years old and still has a LOT of work to do on his offensive game. He’s supposedly a good shot-blocker, but also is pretty weak and gets banged around a lot inside. Offensively he apparently is working a lot on his outside shot because, obviously, he doesn’t like getting banged around on the inside. He hasn’t really dominated on any level.

Best/Worst Case Scenario: He’s not going to get much PT wherever he lands, so it’s kind of a moot point.

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