|28 June 2013|
|Olexiy Len, at five, was the first European to be selected in the 2013 NBA Draft|
It began with Canada's Anthony Bennett and 59 picks later, the 2013 NBA Draft was coming to a close with the announcement that Latvia's Janis Timma had been picked up by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Timma (video) rounded out a prosperous night for Europeans with his selection taking the number of Europeans selected on Draft Night to 12.
Whilst it is realistically unlikely that Timma will see any court time for Memphis – at least in the immediate future – the 22-year-old Kraslava native's wikipedia page has now doubled in length, and, on account of being the last pick, becomes a valuable piece of future trivia knowledge that hardcore basketball fans will pride themselves on knowing.
Following the withdrawal of Dario Saric, who instead of entering the draft is teasing NBA General Managers for at least one more season by carving up for Croatia at the FIBA U19 World Championship, European hopes for a high pick in the draft fell to Olexiy (Alex) Len and Giannis Antetokounmpo, both relatively unknown quantities to followers of the orange ball in Europe for completely different reasons.
Len, an athletic center who played for Ukraine at the U18 European Championship in 2010 before taking his talents to the U.S. where they were fine-tuned into an impressive highlights reel, was the first of the Europeans of the rank, getting picked up 5th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns made no secret of their wishes to pick the two-season veteran of the NCAA Maryland Terrapins, and had the Suns had more luck in the Draft Lottery, Len could have been the number one overall pick.
Widely unknown in Europe for completely different reasons Antetokounmpo was picked up 15th by the Milwaukee Bucks. Born in Greece to Nigerian parents, the 2.06m point guard only acquired a Greek passport in May this year, meaning he is yet to play in any FIBA Europe youth tournaments. He is however expected to play in Tallinn at the Sportland U20 European Championship next month.
Dennis Schröder was the next European playmaker to be picked up, with the German going at 17 to the Atlanta Hawks. Schröder had an excellent season domestically in Germany and may yet join the German senior national squad for EuroBasket in September.
Rounding out Europeans to be picked up in the top-20, and subsequently likely to make NBA appearances in the near future, was Russian sharp-shooter Sergey Karasev, who was signed by the LA Lakers but traded straight to the Cleveland Cavaliers in one of the many behind closed door deals that are synonymous with Draft Day.
|With an Olympic bronze medal already to his name, Sergey Karasev is arguably the most established of the 12 Europeans selected on Draft Night|
Of this list of players, Karasev (video) is the one to thus far have made the biggest impact at senior level, picking up a bronze medal in London last year as a member of the Russian team.
France had the biggest representation from European countries on draft night, with three Frenchmen taking a significant step to making their dreams realised in the United States.
Selected by the Denver Nuggets at 22, before being shipped off to Utah Jazz, center Rudy Gobert was quickly followed by fellow countryman Livio Jean-Charles who went one spot later to the San Antonio Spurs, where he could potentially join other Frenchmen Boris Diaw, Nando de Colo and Tony Parker. Joffrey Lauvergne completed the French party with his NBA rights being claimed by the Memphis Grizzlies at 55th.
Montenegro's status as one of the world's prime producers of basketball big men was reinforced when Marko Todorovic was sent to the Portland Trail Blazers from the Boston Celtics with the 45th pick; whilst Bojan Dubljevic, in the penultimate selection of the night, could wind up joining fellow Montenegrin Nikola Pekevic at the Minnesota Timberwolves, after being sent there from Oklohoma City.
Completing the European contingent in the draft are Serbian point guard Nemanja Nedovic who was selected at 30 by the Phoenix Suns via Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, the LA Lakers and Golden State Warriors; whilst Spaniard Alejandro (Alex) Abrines' night was no less confusing, with the shooting guard beginning with the Charlotte Bobcats at 32nd pick before going to Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, and finally back to Oklahoma City.