ACB Vets who could make an impact in the NBA

As far back as Toni Kukoc and Arvydas Sabonis, established European stars have gone to the NBA and had successful careers on winning teams. This past offseason two guys with that kind of potential, Luis Scola and Juan Carlos Navarro, left the ACB in an attempt to follow the path of Kukoc, Sabonis, Jorge Garbajosa, Anthony Parker, and others. Of course, there have also been several players with similar aspirations who, for various reasons, failed to live up to their potential in the NBA. For example, two of Europe’s more talented guards, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Vassilis Spanoulis, ditched their spots on  NBA rosters for better opportunities here in Europe.

Here’s a look at some guys who will play in the ACB this coming season that have the ability to make an impact in the NBA right now. Of course, they’ll have to find the right situations to avoid the fates of Jasikevicius and Spanoulis.

No NBA experience

Felipe Reyes – 27 – 6-8 – PF – Real Madrid

Why he can make it:

Over the summer Jorge Garbajosa commented that he felt Felipe Reyes could be a successful NBA player. There’s plenty of evidence to back that up: Reyes won last season’s ACB Playoff MVP while leading Real Madrid to the title, and is also a member of Spain’s … national team. However, we’ve seen some very successful European stars fail in their NBA attempts. What about Reyes’ game makes him likely to succeed in the world’s best professional basketball league?

At only 6 foot 8, it’s easy to see why Reyes hasn’t gotten much attention from the NBA. However, he’s an effective scorer who combines a good mid-range jumper with some crafty moves in the post. He managed to score 20.2 points per 40 minutes (compared to Luis Scola’s 22.86) on 57% shooting and a TS% of 59.6%. Reyes is very strong on the glass: last season he pulled down 10.27 boards per 40 minutes.

Reyes is not a good passer (6.42 ast-rate), nor free throw shooter (62.33 FT%). While he’s a pretty efficient scorer, he’s not extremely efficient: his PSA was only 1.19 (compared to Scola’s of 1.27). In the end, he’s not as talented as Scola or Garbajosa, but he’s still a solid bigman.

Where he might fit:

Reyes, whose name translates to “Kings,” is truly the King of the ACB right now. He’s the most popular player on the reigning ACB champion, playing for his hometown team in the nation’s capital, the site of this season’s Euroleague Final Four that Real has a good chance of winning. So, he’s going to have to get an offer he really likes to join the NBA as a mere peasant.

If he made the jump to the NBA level Reyes could be a solid back-up PF. Unfortunately he’s not particularly versatile and would likely be overmatched at either C or SF. Versatility is a desirable characteristic for bench players; however, Reyes could bring the kind of instant offense and rebounding to the frontcourt that most NBA teams lack off the bench.

Other candidates:

Louis Bullock – 31 – 6-1 – SG – Real Madrid

Bullock is Spain’s Allen Iverson, a quick 6-1 SG who lights up the score board. Bullock is also a good shooter: 67.96 TS% last season. He’s already 31, but could provide instant offense off the bench for a strong defensive team that could occasionally use a shot of offense like Detroit or Chicago, or a young team in need of some backcourt depth and scoring off the bench like Atlanta.

Jordi Trias – 26 – 6-9 – PF – FC Barcelona

Trias is a long athletic PF who was already an efficient scorer () and strong passer (), but through 4 games this season he’s really stepped up in Juan Carlos Navarro’s absence and asserted himself offensively.

Michel Morandais – 6-6 – G/F – FC Barcelona

Morandias’ athletic ability made him a 2nd round prospect out of Colorado, but his lack of a perimeter game and overall rawness kept him off the NBA radar. He’s shot the lights out for Barca, but again we’re looking at a small sample size. 

Marko Tomas – 22 – 6-8 – G/F – Alta Gestión Fuenlabrada

Tomas has a good build and athleticism, and was a 2nd round prospect in last spring’s draft. He has a solid all-around game, though no one part of his game currently sticks out, but was hesitant in limited minutes for Real Madrid. This season he has a chance to establish himself for Alta Gestión Fuenlabrada. Through 4 games he’s led the team in scoring (14.5 ppg on 52% shooting) and tied for second in rpg (3.8).

Former NBA players

Curtis Borchardt – 7-0 – C – CB Granada

Why he can make it:

Borchardt was the 18th pick in the 2002 NBA draft, but his career never …ed because of injuries and a lack of development.  In the 2004-2005 season Borchardt was finally healthy, and he played 12.8 mpg over 67 games for the Jazz. Borchardt certainly had the potential to be a back-up caliber center in the NBA, unfortuantely he lacked scoring ability (9.3 points/40) and was a turnover machine (17.1 TO-rate). What Borchardt did have going for him was good rebounding (16.2 reb-rate)and passing abilities (16.1 ast-rate). He’s also pretty mobile for a 7 footer and has always had good timing blocking shots.

Fast forward two seasons and Borchardt was one of the ACB’s top scorer and rebounders for CB Granada: 15.23 ppg and 10.54 rpg in 32.23 mpg. His playmaking abilities declined (5.11 ast-rate), likely due to his move from a supporting to a feautred role in the offense. TOs were still a problem (15.59 TO-rate), but didn’t stick out compared to his teammates. While Borchard is unlikely to maintain his 18.9 pts/40 min if he returns to the NBA, his improved skills and confidence are a very incouraging sign and he’d probably demolish the .430 FG% he posted in 2004-2005.

Where he might fit:

With many NBA teams playing 6-8 centers, there’s a lot of room for a  skilled 7 footer on NBA benches. Borchardt could be a good complementary piece, having added some scoring ability to go with strong rebounding and passing ability.

Other candidates:

Marcus Haislip – 26 – 6-10 – PF – Unicaja

Haislip was a lottery pick in 2002 because of his size and athleticism, but his lack of consistancy and refusal to play down low and hit the glass made his NBA career short-lived. Haislip has been asserting himself offensively for Unicaja, but his rebounding continues to be subpar even by European standards. It’s dubious whether Haislip could suceed in a return to the NBA, but if his improved 3 pt shooting carries over to the deeper NBA 3 he might be able to catch on with a fast paced team.

Jackson Vroman – 6-10 – F/C – Akasvaya Girona

Vroman is a dirty-work kind of bigman. In two NBA seasons he was an average rebounder (13.9 reb-rate), but a terribly inefficient scorer ( ). Vroman may have more success in the NBA as a veteran with a more well-rounded game.

P.J. Ramos – 7- -C – Alta Gestión Fuenlabrada

Ramos was a 2nd rounder in 2002, picked right after Vroman actually, who the Wizards stuck with for a couple seasons because of his potential. Ramos’ rawness has been as evident in Spain as it was in Washington, but with his size and athleticism he could easily make a quality NBA back-up center with a couple years of seasoning.

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