By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the greatest European talents went too early to the NBA and their career, once predicted as illustrious, turned out to be a cautionary tale (that’s you, Darko Milicic). However the current generation of European talent has learned its lesson and at the age of 24 or 25 seems ready to conquer the American league.
Three players are leaving the old continent after proving their worth at top European competitions. Undrafted combo guard Alexey Shved from CSKA Moscow is now a member of Minnesota Timberwolves. Once compared to Penny Hardaway, Shved was the star point guard of junior Russian national team and was considered a lock for the NBA draft. You can read here what happened and why he was never drafted, but after its break out season with CSKA Moscow, he seemed ready for the jump to the NBA. He was also used as a shooting guard, next to Milos Teodosic, a Serbian prodigy of the same age. As you can see from Shved’s numbers he certainly can pass, but his shooting touch was what made all the difference.
Joel Freeland is a curious case. A rare breed, a player born in England, started playing basketball at age 16, he was drafted at number 30 back at 2006 by Portland, when he was considered just a project and learned the sport in Spain, first at Gran Canaria and next at Unicaja Malaga. His stats from last season in a mediocre Unicaja team are not exactly mind boggling, but after three straight Euroleague season he seems ready to take his game to the next level. Contrary to many other European bigs, he is a banger and a very good rebounder with decent mid range jump shot. He is ready to sign his contract with Portland after a deal that include a 1,5 million euros buy out to Malaga.
Finally, Nando De Colo is the ideal back court mate for Tony Parker as he has already proved in the French National Team. That’s why he is leaving Spanish club Valencia for the Spurs. De Colo is an exceptional outside shooter, he finished the season at Eurocup with 37.8% three point shooting percentage and he also has the body and the size that is needed for the position in the NBA. He is a classic Spurs steal, being drafted with the 53rd pick at 2009, when he was playing for French club Cholet.