Breaking away from the typical weekly NBA Draft prospect profiles (should have one up later this week), I decided to pull an interview that I did with Euroleague Adventures writer Sam Meyerkopf from mid-May, to explore the continued saga going on with Ante Tomic and the Jazz. Besides that, the Jazz hold two mid-2nd round picks, which is an area of this draft that’s filled with great European prospects. You can find Sam on Twitter (@HoopLikeDrazen) or read him on Euroleagueadventures.com
What kind of player is Tibor Pleiss and what could he add to an NBA team?
Pleiss is huge, 7’2″ and moves pretty well considering his size. Was a really good pick and roll big for Baskonia last year in the ACB and Euroleague. Sets a hard screen and dives to the rim. Having a tougher time with less minutes in Barcelona’s system where really he is needed for defense. I guess to bring Pleiss in off the bench for Gobert would mean you have a 7’2″ duo at center and that’s appealing.
Pleiss plays behind Ante Tomic, the Jazz’s other rights held big, in Barcelona and is far behind Tomic in terms of overall game. Pleiss is really just a rim run guy while Tomic is an offensive savant. Pleiss is more of an NBA question mark while Tomic is a guarantee.
How has Raul Neto played since the Jazz drafted him in 2013? Has he made any kind of progress since then?
For sure, Neto has made solid progress. I also personally have always been a massive fan of his game. Any young player getting big minutes in a league like the ACB is bound to improve to a degree and Neto has been getting over 20 minutes a game for three seasons now. Pretty impressive for someone who is only 22. Neto has been in charge of two different offenses, last year in San Sebastian and this year in Murcia, where the team is right on the Playoff line with three weeks left in the regular season.1 Neto is a super creative player and passer, and when he’s rolling the offense looks beautiful. He still struggles with consistency and that can lead to turnovers or iffy shots. His long range shooting his dipped this season but he’s left San Sebastian for the first time in three years and has more responsibility in Murcia with running the offense. Not saying that equates all directly to the worse shooting but there are some transition issues and Neto just hasn’t been the same shooter in Murcia. Neto is getting close to being the player he will, he just needs to iron out the moments of inconsistency and outside shooting, but the foundation of skills is there. I would say he could be an NBA backup PG at some point, just know you’re bringing him over more for offense than defense.
What went wrong with Utah and Ante Tomic?
Could write a whole article on this but to keep it simple: 1. Tomic lives in Barcelona (an awesome city), plays in the best league in Europe on one of the best teams, and makes way more than the NBA minimum (and it used to be way, way more before the Euro went down in value recently). 2. A different GM drafted Tomic so this new Jazz front office regime hasn’t necessarily been tracking his whole career and weren’t the original ones who thought he had a chance at the NBA.
At this point, Tomic is the best center in Europe and easily one of the best players. He’s an offensive freak, a master of the mid-roll, who can hit any shot in the paint, dish, and just move to wherever he wants. His biggest improvement has been defensively where he used to be soft liability and now has become quite active and learned how to use his length. He’s easily an NBA rotation player and would be worth giving a few million to a year, just a question of if this Jazz team is the right fit.
UPDATE: There are rumors now that he might leave Barcelona this summer and maybe go to the NBA or CSKA Moscow, the club in Europe with the most money. It’s really all rumors though and tough to say what is really true. Tomic is easily a NBA rotation player, if not a starter, but he is a uniquely skilled player and the fit needsto be right. Think whatever the opposite of Gobert and Favors are as players. My guess is if Utah didn’t own his rights and he was a free agent he’d already be in the league. If he really wants to come over, maybe he could also be a trade chip if Utah doesn’t see the fit.
The Jazz have two second round picks (42nd and 54th); are there any promising European prospects that the team could look at with those picks?
Yup, the second round is filled with Europeans. A lot will probably go early second because they are quite established players like Willy Hernangomez, Cedi Osman, Mam Jaiteh… So it depends if you want an established guy like Hernangomez or Osman who have certain ceilings (but I love both players) or you want to take a risk on a potential player like Timothe Luwawu or Nedim Buza.
Also myself and Mike Schmitz from DraftExpress did a podcast on all the Europeans in the Draft and dove deep into the second rounders if you really want to know about all of them: http://euroleagueadventures.