Analyzing Rodions Kurucs in an LEB Gold Basketball Game

January 23, 2017

By Alan Lu

I decided to take a brief detour to watch an LEB Gold basketball game online, as this presented me the opportunity to see potential first round pick Rodions Kurucs play in a December 10th match between FC Barcelona II and Quesos Cerrato de Palencia.  Kurucs is rated by many draft analysts as one of the top international prospects for the upcoming draft despite not having played much at the highest levels professionally.  With thanks to YouTube via FC Barcelona, I took the time to critically assess Kurucs to break down his overall game.  Here is how he fared and rates as a prospect for the 2017 NBA Draft.

6-8 Latvian swingman Rodions Kurucs is an offensively skilled basketball player that can score in a variety of ways.  He has an adequate first step to the hoop, as he was able to score on a runner on a drive in traffic.  Kurucs also possesses decent low post scoring skills, as he was able to score on a drop step, jump hook move, though he did get blocked on a quick turnaround leaner on a separate occasion.

Plus, he may also be a decent shooter from the floor.  He has a quick release and good size for a player out on the wing, as he can shoot over the top of numerous defenders.  Kurucs was able to make an open three in the corner off of a kick out, but he missed on a couple of pull-up threes other times.  Moving forward, Kurucs shows considerable potential to excel as a shooter in the NBA, but he will need to be more consistent in knocking down jumpers.

Kurucs also showcased adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will look to make the extra pass quite frequently, and he possesses good court vision as he will find open the man often and take advantage of defenders when they are out of position to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  However, he also can be inaccurate with his passing at times, as he may attempt passes in traffic that could end up being intercepted on occasion.

He did not collect a rebound in this game, but he did seem to show a willingness to crash the glass every once in a while.   Defensively, Kurucs may have been average at best.  For the positives, he is an adequate help defender, as he will jump passes and knock balls away from opposing ball handlers to help his team collect steals, and Kurucs also can block shots.

However, he had his struggles as a position defender, as he may not move his feet very well laterally.  He can tend to commit fouls on drives, as he may be prone to hand checking or tripping his opponents on occasion.  Other times, Kurucs can be out of position on his rotations, which can lead him to allow scores to shooters and scorers off the dribble.

In general, Rodions Kurucs may be an intriguing prospect, as he may possess considerable promise to develop into a solid role player in the NBA.  He is a versatile scorer that can pass and handle the basketball, and he has a fairly good set of athletic tools.  However, he will need to be a more consistent shooter, and he must improve his position defense.  Right now, he could end up being a late first to second round pick if he decides to enter the 2017 draft.

Other Notes:

6-11 center Wesley Sena did not play much, but he had a fairly decent game in limited minutes.  Offensively, he showed the ability to stretch the floor, as he was able to make a long, two-point shot.  Also, he was able to score on a jump hook in the post to show his ability to score inside the arc.

However, Sena ran into some turnover trouble, as he was called for a couple of traveling violations due to spotty footwork at times offensively.  On defense, he did not appear to be consistently active on the glass, and he struggled positionally, as he  had trouble defending opponents off the dribble as well as out on the three-point line.  Right now, Sena may be quite a project, but he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

6-11 center Atoumane Diagne had a fairly good game in a loss for FC Barcelona II.  He is a strong, mobile big man that excels as a finisher and rebounder around the basket, as he can score on put backs and rolls to the rim, and he can throw down powerful dunks with authority.  Diagne also is an adequate low post scorer that was able to throw down a thunderous dunk off of a drop step move, as he was able to draw an extra free throw afterwards to help his team.

Plus, he also excelled as a rebounder and shot blocker.  He was quite active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor, and he showed a very good motor in making plays throughout this game.  Diagne has very good length and timing to block shots inside the paint, and he can also ably defend the post.

He also is an unselfish basketball player that will look for the open man to set up some scoring chances for his team.  However, he can be prone to committing turnovers at times, as he can make hasty decisions at times.  Also, Diagne had trouble contesting mid-range jumpers as he tended to sag off his man, and he also had some trouble defending opponents off the dribble.

Diagne put forth an adequate showing in a 2nd League divison professional league game in Spain, and he may have the potential to excel as a defensive specialist in the NBA.  He does not have a whole lot of draft buzz at the moment, but he could be a player to watch in 2018.

6-6 point guard Stefan Peno also played fairly well for FC Barcelona II.  He is a big, pass-first playmaker that will consistently look to find his teammates, and he is an unselfish player that can make an assortment of passes to set up plenty of scores for his teammates.  He has good court vision and patience when he has the ball in his hands, though he can be inaccurate with his passing at times.

He did show a decent ability to make threes from beyond the arc.  He was able to dribble all the way up the court, before dribbling back to make a pull-up three.  He did miss on several other threes, but Peno could be an intriguing player if he can develop a reliable jump shot offensively.

He also displayed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  Peno does not look for his own shot often, but he is a crafty player that has a good set of ball handling moves, as he is a shifty guard that was able to score on a floater off of a stutter step move.

He also generally rebounded and defended well.  Peno would haul in several defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the pace to set up scoring chances for his team.  Also, Peno showed a good ability to jump passes to get steals and deflections.  However, he does not possess elite lateral quickness, as sometimes he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to allow scores around the basket.

In general, Stefan Peno is a smart, skilled combo guard that can effectively run the point for his team.  On the downside, he may not look for his shot very often, and he may only be an average athlete for a player at his position.  He might not have a whole lot of upside as a player for the NBA, but he could potentially excel as a role player in the association or overseas in the future.

6-8 combination forward Alejandro Mazaira also had a fairly good game for FC Barcelona II.  He showed the ability to excel as a scorer around the basket, and he also has a developing outside shot.  Mazaira was able to finish a broken play around the hoop to score, and he was able to score off of a cut and draw an additional free throw.   Plus, he also can make a three off the catch, though he was not consistent at knocking those down in this game.

Also, he will look to find the open man, and he will use his length to contest jumpers to force misses.  However, Mazaira can have lapses, as an opponent can get a step on him, which can cause him to commit fouls or allow scores as a result.  Right now, Mazaira does not have a whole lot of draft buzz, but he could be a player to watch down the road.

To sum it all up, Rodions Kurucs could potentially be an intriguing prospect for the NBA.  He is a versatile scorer that can pass and handle the basketball, and he may have the athletic tools to be an adequate defender in the league.

However, he may not a consistently reliable shooter right now, and he can tend to have his struggles as a position defender.  Right now, he may be a bit of a project for the NBA, but he could be a player worth picking somewhere in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

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