As has become accustomed in recent years, Europeans and international basketball players were once again well represented at the 2009 NBA Draft.
No less than 11 Europeans were selected in the 60-player draft with Spain leading the way with three picks – Ricky Rubio, PG, No. 5 to Minnesota; Victor Claver, SF, No. 22 to Portland; Sergio Llull, PG, No. 34 to Houston.
France and Slovenia both had two picks with the other Europeans coming from Israel, Sweden, Netherlands and Ukraine.
There were also two other players from outside the United States taken as Cleveland took Congo’s Christian Eyenga with the final pick of the first round; and Portland snagged Australian point guard Patrick Mills from St. Mary’s (CA).
In addition, two players enter the draft with European experience. PG Brandon Jennings was picked No. 10 by Milwaukee after one season in Italy. And the Miami Heat landed with No. 42 overall playmaker Patrick Beverley, who spent this past season in Ukraine after going to Arkansas for two years.
Here a breakdown of the Euros/Internationals/American Euros – thanks to Chad Ford of espn
5 Minnesota (from Washington) Ricky Rubio 6-5 180 PG Spain The Wolves get their man at No. 5. Great pick for Minnesota. They are rebuilding and now they have the new face of the franchise in Rubio. He’s going to get to play right away and he’ll make some mistakes. But I think he’ll be really good in two to three years — good enough that the Kings may regret passing on him. UPDATE: OK, something is going on. Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn are both point guards. I don’t think they’ll play on the floor together. There is a trade, I think. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got to the Wolves to get Rubio or Flynn.
10 Milwaukee Brandon Jennings 6-2 165 PG Italy The Bucks really started to fall in love with Jennings over the past few days. He has as much upside as any point guard in the draft. He’s cat-quick and impossible to stay in front of, and if he fixes his shooting woes, he’ll be a big-time scorer. In three or four years, this could be a home run for the Bucks. A risk, but in this draft, a good one.
22 Portland (from Dallas) Victor Claver 6-11 217 SF Spain We had the Blazers pegged to take Claver with the 31st pick. I knew they really liked DeJuan Blair but they must have been scared off by his bad knees. Claver will stay overseas for maybe three years, but he’s got great potential. He’s athletic, skilled and one of the best up-and-coming talents in Spain. But I wonder if Portland will regret passing on Blair.
23 Sacramento (from Houston) Omri Casspi 6-9 211 SF Israel I travel to Israel and have seen him a number of times. He’s a very tough, scrappy, slashing player. He’s not a shooter yet and he’ll need to put on some pounds, but clearly the Kings are trying to add some toughness. Congratulations to all the basketball fans in Israel. They love the NBA and have been waiting for a first-round pick for years. The Kings are a great fit and Andres Nocioni should be the perfect mentor for him.
25 Oklahoma City (from San Antonio, traded to Dallas for rights to B.J. Mullens) Rodrigue Beaubois 6-2 182 PG France The Thunder are making this pick for the Mavs. Dallas wanted a point guard and fell in love with Beaubois’ upside. He’s very long, quick and explosive athletically. He doesn’t have a great feel for the game, but he should develop that overseas in the next few years.
30 Cleveland Christian Eyenga 6-6 210 SF Congo Wow, this is a bit of a surprise with Sam Young and DeJuan Blair still on the board. I think Danny Ferry has learned well from the Spurs’ model of drafting high-upside players from overseas. Eyenga is very athletic and has been compared to a young Mickael Pietrus. He’s a terrific defender but pretty raw offensively. He played for the same team as Ricky Rubio, but played on the second-division squad. He’s a down- the-road pick for the Cavs. We’ll check back in on him in a few years.
4 (34) Denver (from Oklahoma City, rights to S. Llull traded to Houston) Sergio Llull 6-3 175 PG Spain The Nuggets are sending this pick to the Rockets. Llull is a nice prospect coming out of Spain. He’s an athletic playmaker who is getting a lot of playing time right now. I’m sure the Rockets will leave him overseas for a few years.
9 (39) Detroit (from Toronto) Jonas Jerebko 6-9 220 SF Sweden Good Pistons player, a third combo forward. Jerebko is tough, runs the floor, has a great body and is really athletic. He needs more experience, but he’s a nice asset.
12 (42) LA Lakers (from Charlotte, traded rights to P. Beverley to Miami for future considerations) Patrick Beverley 6-1 172 PG Ukraine The Lakers are sending this pick to the Heat. Beverley was playing in Ukraine a few months ago. Now he’s in Miami? What a ride! He is super-athletic, can be a lockdown defender, and can play both the 1 and the 2. Nice pick for the Heat, who fell in love with him in his very first stateside workout.
17 (47) Minnesota (from Miami) Henk Norel 6-11 211 PF Netherlands Norel is the first player drafted that I didn’t have in my top 60. He’s an energy guy who isn’t especially skilled. I wasn’t wowed by him at the Reebok Eurocamp. But I defer to Pete Philo, the Wolves’ excellent international scout — he runs the camp and knows his stuff.
19 (49) Atlanta Sergiy Gladyr 6-5 190 SG Ukraine I saw Gladyr play in Italy at the Reebok Eurocamp this year, and I was really impressed. He’s a good athlete, a good scorer and a poised player. He’ll continue to develop in Europe, but someday this could be a solid pick for the Hawks.
20 (50) Utah Goran Suton 6-10 245 C Michigan State I liked Suton at Michigan State, but he’s sort of like Kosta Koufos and I’m not sure he’ll actually play for the Jazz for a while. Look for him to go play in Europe for a few years.
23 (53) San Antonio (from Houston) Nando De Colo 6-5 185 PG France Another really nice pick for the Spurs. He was the best player at the Reebok Eurocamp. He has a great feel for the game, and he shoots it. High basketball IQ. He’s not a great athlete, but I’m a fan.
25 (55) Portland (from Denver) Patrick Mills 6-1 175 PG St. Mary’s (CA) The Blazers saved Patty Mills from slipping out of the draft. If he could have jumped right after the Olympics, he would have gone much higher. He’s super quick and a great kid, but he’s small and a lot of teams don’t believe he’s a point guard. The Blazers don’t really have a roster spot for him, but he might be able to continue to improve overseas.
27 (57) Phoenix (from Orlando through Oklahoma City, traded to Cleveland) Emir Preldzic 6-9 220 SF Slovenia Preldzic is an interesting prospect. He has a great feel for the game, but his lack of shooting ability, combined with so-so athleticism, scared a few teams away. He’s a nice pick for Cleveland’s future.