A Guide to Spanish Basketball for NBA Fans: Week 25 Preview

In this edition: Moussa Diagne, Tomas Satoransky, Walter Tavares and more

Walter Tavares is leading the ACB in rebounds (8.38) and blocked shots (1.88) per game this season | Photo courtesy of Euroleague.net

Disclaimer: I’m running a low-budget, low-tech operation. Clips I pull directly from game film may be grainy. If you have any useful advice, I’d appreciate an email: austingreen@loscrossovers.com. Thanks. 

Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro (10-14) at Montakit Fuenlabrada (6-18)

Tip-off: Saturday, March 21 at 19:30 CET (2:30 p.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Obradoiro won 75-63

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Moussa Diagne (Fuenlabrada), Rolands Smits (Fuenlabrada)

Moussa Diagne has been quiet since an inadvertent elbow sent him to the hospital six weeks ago.

Since that incident, Diagne has totaled 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in five games. Despite the dip in production, he remains one of the most intriguing NBA prospects in Spain.

He’s still third in the ACB in blocks per 28 minutes (1.7), trailing only Sitapha Savané and Walter Tavares. He still has Brandan Wright-style potential as a diver/dunker off the pick-and-roll.

The most underrated aspect of his game is his vision. He’s not exactly Marc Gasol, but these are good passes from an inexperienced young center.

A smart GM will draft Diagne in the 2nd-round.

MoraBanc Andorra (7-17) at FIATC Joventut (15-9)

Tip-off: Saturday, March 21 at 20:30 CET (3:30 p.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Andorra won 84-81

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Alberto Abalde (Joventut), Álex Suárez (Joventut)

It looked like Álex Suárez busted out of his horrible shooting slump two weeks ago with a 3-for-4 performance beyond the arc against Real Madrid. Then last week he missed all three of his long-range shots.

While Suárez struggled against Baskonia, Alberto Abalde put up 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three. Keep an eye on the 19-year-old, who is No. 12 on DraftExpress.com’s International ’95 rankings.

Laboral Kutxa Baskonia (13-11) at Gipuzkoa Basket (9-15)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 12:00 CET (7 a.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Baskonia won 79-62

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Dani Díez (Gipuzkoa), Colton Iverson (Baskonia, Boston Celtics), Davis Bertans (Baskonia, San Antonio Spurs), Ilimane Diop (Baskonia)

Davis Bertans is, justifiably, in permanent heat-check mode.

Only two players have taken more threes than Bertans this season (146), and he’s hitting at a 41.8 percent rate. Last week, he made 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, including this beautiful pull-up.

Bertans finished with 16 points in Baskonia’s win over Joventut.

Look for him to come out gunning again vs Gipuzkoa. He hit 4-of-7 threes against them in their first meeting.

Dani Díez, who missed that first game, should be a major factor this week. The 21-year-old SF (ranked No. 2 in his international class by DraftExpress) is averaging 15.6 points and 5.1 rebounds over his last five games.

Bilbao Basket (17-7) at CAI Zaragoza (13-11)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 12:15 CET (7:15 a.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Zaragoza won 82-71

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Marko Todorovic (Bilbao, Houston Rockets)

I’ve raved before about Todorovic’s rebounding (7.3 per game) and efficiency (65 percent shooting on 2s).

Now it’s time for his passing and dribbling. These plays may not blow you away, but they are special skills for a 22-year-old, 6’11” center.

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who was in attendance for Bilbao’s win on Sunday, knows just how good his 2013 2nd-round pick is.

Usually included in the Bilbao section of these previews is Dejan Todorovic.

However, Dejan was a complete jackass two weeks ago and got a well-deserved four-game suspension for starting a brawl against Baskonia.

Movistar Estudiantes (10-14) at Baloncesto Sevilla (6-18)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 12:30 CET (7:30 a.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Sevilla won 82-65

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Kristaps Porzingis (Sevilla), Willy Hernangomez (Sevilla), Nikola Radicevic (Sevilla), Jaime Fernández (Estudiantes)

I was at the first meeting between Sevilla and Estudiantes this season. Hernangomez and Porzingis changed that game in the third quarter, combining for 14 points.

Hernangomez had an offensive rebound and putback dunk on the first possession of the quarter, then Porzingis took over, prompting these two tweets in a one-minute span:

Sevilla will need another strong performance from Porzingis against an Estudiantes club that has beaten three of the top five teams in the league.

On the Estu side, Jaime Fernández probably isn’t a legitimate NBA prospect, but I love his game, so I’m going to keep including him in these previews.

Last week, the 6’1″ point guard sealed an upset victory for Estu with this block on Zaragoza’s Marcus Landry.

FC Barcelona (17-7) at Valencia Basket (13-11)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 12:30 CET (7:30 a.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Barcelona won 76-57

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Mario Hezonja (Barcelona), Tibor Pleiss (Barcelona, Utah Jazz), Tomas Satoransky (Barcelona, Washington Wizards), DeShaun Thomas (Barcelona, San Antonio Spurs), Ante Tomic (Barcelona, Utah Jazz), Guillem Vives (Valencia), Bojan Dubljevic (Valencia, Minnesota Timberwolves)

Tomas Satoransky is turning into a monster.

The 23-year-old Czech point guard has received more responsibility in recent weeks and he’s making the most of his opportunities.

In his last five Euroleague games, Satoransky has scored in double figures four times and he’s averaging 5.2 assists (to just 1 turnover) per game. He’s shooting 70.5 percent on 2s (12-of-17) and making 93.7 percent of his free throws (15-of-16).

He’s not lighting it up behind the arc in Euroleague (33.3 percent during that five-game stretch), but he’s been much better in ACB play. He has knocked down 10-of-14 threes (71.4 percent) in his last 10 games, including the Copa del Rey.

Defensively, Barcelona thrives with Satoransky on the floor.

In 24 regular-season ACB games, Barcelona has a defensive rating (opponents’ points per 100 possessions) of 97.73 when Satoransky plays.

Without Satoransky, Barca’s defensive rating rises to 104.27.

With his height (6’5″), long arms and explosive athleticism, Satoransky can play both guard positions.

He would be the perfect third-guard behind John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington, and it’s salivating to think of what those guys could do together on a fast break.

Wizards fans should be praying for Satoransky to make the NBA leap this summer.

La Bruixa d’Or Manresa (6-18) at Herbalife Gran Canaria (12-12)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 13:00 CET (8 a.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Gran Canaria won 81-73

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Walter Tavares (Gran Canaria, Atlanta Hawks), Oriol Paulí (Gran Canaria), Marius Grigonis (Manresa), Marc Garcia (Manresa)

With his height and wingspan, Walter Tavares has the physical tools of an elite NBA rim protector. He just needs to master some of the nuances.

His progress is encouraging.

He leads the ACB in blocks per game (1.88) and last week against Bilbao, he showed his improved timing and patience on the defensive end.

Marko Todorovic is one of the craftiest post players in Europe. But Tavares resists the urge to bite on Marko’s head fake, following him as he loops around the rim and rising at the perfect time to swat the shot away.

A couple possessions later, Tavares switches onto point guard Quino Colom. He stays low (or as low as a 7’3″ guy can get) and shadows Colom as he tries to create separation.

Tavares also leads the ACB in rebounding (8.38 per game).

In this clip, he does a great job of recognizing his defender (Todorovic) is leaving to help on the drive. Tavares crashes the offensive glass, and immediately goes up strong, banking in a nice lefty hook.

On this play, he shoves Latavious Williams — who is not a small man — under the rim. He grabs the offensive rebound and draws the foul.

Tavares would also fit well in most NBA offenses, which are dominated by pick-and-rolls. He sets wide screens, dives aggressively to the rim, and generally has good enough body control to finish with authority.

Of course, Tavares is 7’3″ and 22-years-old. He’s still getting used to lugging his frame through typical basketball movements. There will be moments when he seems uncoordinated, like the missed layup and missed alley-oop dunk below.

Overall, Tavares is far ahead of where his was last summer when Atlanta drafted him in the second round. He should be a major asset for the Hawks whenever they decide to bring him over.

Unicaja Málaga (20-4) at Iberostar Tenerife (11-13)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 13:30 CET (8:30 a.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Málaga won 84-68

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Mo Soluade (Málaga), Mindaugas Kuzminskas (Málaga)

All it took was one Euroleague performance for me to get hopelessly sucked into Mo Soluade fandom.

The 19-year-old London-native got some playing time against CSKA Moscow on Thursday and he did pretty damn well. Soluade (6’5″) played both guard spots and held his own against CSKA, which may be the best team in Europe right now.

(This is the part of the article where I embed my tweets from the game because I’m getting tired of writing.)

Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who David Pick mentioned was drawing NBA interest in January, had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists against CSKA.

In the 18-point loss, he let out some frustration with a vicious dunk in the final seconds.

Real Madrid (20-4) at UCAM Murcia (11-13)

Tip-off: Sunday, March 22 at 18:00 CET (1 p.m. ET)

Last Meeting: Real won 90-65

Why NBA Fans Should Care: Sergio Llull (Real, Houston Rockets), Raul Neto (Murcia, Utah Jazz)

This game features some of the most exciting guards in Europe.

With Sergio Llull, Sergio Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez and Raul Neto all on the court at the same time, this game should create one of the most entertaining highlight reels of the season.

Check back Sunday evening for an update. Cheers.

Austin Green runs LosCrossovers.com from Madrid, Spain with the occasional help of his friends and colleagues.

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2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. A Guide to Spanish Basketball for NBA Fans: Week 27 Preview | LosCrossovers.com
  2. A Guide to Spanish Basketball for NBA Fans: Week 30 Preview | LosCrossovers.com

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