|29 June 2012|
EUROPEANS IN THE NBA
| Evan Fournier celebrating France's bronze medal at the U20 European Championship last July. The versatile guard was selected 20th overall by Denver |
Several Europeans were selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, with the Denver Nuggets making France's Evan Fournier the highest pick at 20th overall.
The shooting guard played for the French at last year's U20 European Championship in Spain, averaging 16.9 points to help his team capture bronze.
Fournier then had a fantastic club season with Poitiers in the French Pro A.
Despite his young age, the versatile guard played for 26 minutes per game and averaged 14 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest.
Denver executive Masai Ujiri, when asked if Fournier would play for the Nuggets in 2012-13, told the Denver Post: "We're going to talk about that. We wanted that option.
"We have the option of both. We'll see about our roster - we're pretty full.
"Another thing attractive there was we wanted that flexibility there and to get a young player at age 19."
NINE EUROPEANS IN THE SECOND ROUND
While Fournier was the only European taken in the first round, there were several taken in the second including Sweden's Jeffery Taylor (Charlotte Bobcats) and the Czech Republic's Tomas Satoransky (Washington Wizards), the same team his compatriot Jan Vesely plays for.
|European fans have known for a while that Kostas Papanikolaou is one of the most exciting players at his age - on Thusday the New York Knicks took notice|
Instead of playing professionally in Europe, Taylor enrolled at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and had a terrific career.
Now 23, he becomes the second Swede to have NBA connections.
His countryman, Jonas Jerebko, is a forward with the Detroit Pistons.
The Bobcats shot an NBA-worst 29.5% from long range last season and were keen to not only trade recently for Ben Gordon but to also add Taylor, whose strength is his perimeter shooting.
Taylor averaged 16.1 points and shot 48% from the field and 42% from the three-point line as a senior at Vandy.
Satoransky, a 2.01 guard, averaged 4.9 points in 16 minutes per game last season for Banca Civica Sevilla in Spain's top flight, helping them reach the Liga Endesa play-offs.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a club statement: "Tomas is a very good prospect who is athletic and runs the floor well."
Kostas Papanikolaou's star has been on the rise for several years and it continues to go up.
The Greece national team forward was selected 48th overall by the New York Knicks.
A European champion with Greece at U18 and U20 level, Papanikolaou followed his debut with the senior team at last year's EuroBasket with a sensational season at Olympiacos.
He helped the Reds capture the Turkish Airlines Euroleague title and the Greek league championship this season.
"He plays hard and he's highly skilled," Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said.
"He needs to improve his shooting, but we watched him improve over the course of this year."
|The Clippers chose Mr. Rebound, Turkey's Furkan Aldemir, with the 53rd pick|
The Knicks are high on the young Greek.
"He's an investment, and we think he's going to get better," Grunwald said.
"We see him as a guy that's going to work and have the toughness to be able to succeed in the N.B.A."
Turkey had three youngsters taken late in the second round.
Banvit center Izzet Turkyilmaz (Denver), Galatasaray power forward Furkan Aldemir (LA Clippers) and Pinar Karsiyaka's Ilkan Karaman (New Jersey) were chosen 50th, 53rd and 57th, respectively.
Aldemir, a rebounding machine, broke the U20 European Championship record for most rebounds in a single game in last year's edition.
The Turkish forward averaged 15.9 boards per game in Bilbao, one of the highest marks in the history of Youth European Championships.
Golden State chose Ognjen Kuzmic, a center with Clinicas Rincon in Spain's second division, with the 52nd pick.
Kuzmic hails from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Philadelphia picked Georgia international Tornike Shengelia 54th and then sent him to the New Jersey Nets in a trade.
Shengelia led Georgia to the U20 European Championship Division B crown last year, earning MVP honours, and then played for his senior team at the EuroBasket in Lithuania.
Toronto took Croatia's Tomislav Zubcic, a 2.12m power forward/center, with the 56th pick.
Zubcic played for his country at the U20 European Championship Division A in 2010 and averaged 6.3 points 4.0 rebounds per game as Croatia finished fourth.