By: Sam Meyerkopf / @euro_adventures
Name recognition isn’t getting you on this list; production is. We had some splendid surprises this week from our 22-and-unders, but also a few performances that left something to be desired. Three candidates fell out from last week’s rankings and now three new possible rising stars are fresh for critiquing.
Hate to see you go: Furkan Aldemir, Nikola Mirotic, Davis Bertans
Welcome to the party: Milan Macvan, Dragan Milosavljevic, Dino Muric
1. Milan Macvan, PF/C, Partizan Belgrade
Points: 14.3 Rebounds: 6.3 Assists: 2.7
Last Week: Unranked
If you want production from your prospects, look no farther than Milan Macvan. He has teamed up with Nikola Pekovic to form one of the Euroleague’s most devastating post tandems. Macvan is strong in almost every aspect of the game and is lethal from almost anywhere in half court sets. He is powerful from toe to top of the head and has a good understanding of the game for his age. While his strength is backing people down and using his creative footwork to score, Macvan can be seen lacing up deep jumpers, and has a nifty eye for any open shooter out of a double team. If I was being really nit-picky I would tell him to crash the defensive boards a little bit harder, and then unleash a diet version of Kevin Love’s outlet pass to Partizan guards on the break.
Almost forgot he had 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals as Partizan got a huge win (their first of the season) versus Spirou. He might be perched up here for a while.
2. Tornike Shengelia, F, Belgacom Spirou
Points: 11.7 Rebounds: 6.7 Assists: 1.3
Last Week: 1
He was second in scoring on a team that almost knocked out Partizan in Pionir Arena. Not too shabby. Shengelia was all over the floor and played a very important role, as Spirou only went eight men deep against Partizan. He got into a little bit of foul trouble, but going up against much larger foes in Milan Macvan and Nikola Pekovic is no picnic. He held his own at times, but Spirou didn’t have the inside depth to stop those two. It was quite interesting to see Shengelia go head to head with Macvan during the game; Shengelia’s quicker but Macvan is a more complete player right now. I wish Tornike the best of luck next week against Milano, where he will have the task of sticking with Danilo Gallinari or Antonis Fotsis.
3. Dragan Milosavljevic, G, Partizan Belgrade
Points: 12.7 Rebounds: 2.7 Assists: 1.3
Last Week: Unranked
Dare we have not one, but two players on the Rising Star Ranker this week from Partizan? Yes, yes we darn well do. Partizan is just that good at developing young talent, and much better at actually giving them minutes. Milosavljevic has been very consistent scoring wise in every game and might be the team’s best kick option out of the post. He can be reckless with his turnovers, shot selection and fouls, but right now he’s allowed to play out of control as long as that Energizer bunny keeps hoppin’. Dragan came through with 14 clutch points this week as Partizan grabbed their first Euroleague win and a meeting with Real Madrid at home next week should ensure even more free flowing offense.
4. Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, Asseco Prokom
Points: 12.0 Rebounds: 4.5 Assists: 2.0
Last Week: 4
My favorite moment from watching games last week: Davis vs. Donatas. A
featherweight battle between two of Europe’s brightest young talents. I would give Motiejunas the slight edge on points because he seemed to be able to do so much more on offense, although Davis’s team, Union Olimpija, did get the win.
This is a game Prokom really would have liked to have, and no matter how close they got, it was never close enough. A loss on the road to Union Olimpija isn’t the worst thing, but an 0-3 record is a tough hole to climb out of. Motiejunas impressed more tonight as he was diving on the floor for loose balls, tussling a bit in the paint, and seemed to be someone all of his teammates felt comfortable with. The next step for him is being more aggressive in finding his own shot and attacking the offensive glass. He gets very few rebounds when his team has the ball, because things like following your shot and keeping possessions alive aren’t what Motiejunas is passionate about. Between his length and leaping ability, most bigs shouldn’t be able to get up to where Donatas can for rebounds. I want a put-back slam out of you next week, Motiejunas or at least two O-boards, and you might find yourself higher in the rankings. For now you’re our first repeat performance. I hope you like the number four.
5. Dino Muric, F, Union Olimpija
Points: 4.0 Rebounds: 3.7 Steals: 0.7
Last Week: Unranked
All those “coach, put me in” speeches from Dino to Saso Filipovski after practice finally paid off this week. Starting the season 0-2 Union Olimpija decided they wanted to get a little tougher, a little more physical, and stop trying to score with people but actually out-rough them. They did that successfully in their 70-62 victory over Asseco Prokom at home and Muric was a gigantic part of that playing 32 minutes and putting up eight points plus six boards. It was relatively mistake-free basketball from the native Slovenian, who hadn’t played more than nine minutes in either of the first two contests. He used a very tough, under control brand of basketball for such a young guy. He would go at it with people defensively on the wings and needed the ball very little on offense to be effective. Keep going after tough rebounds Dino and you’ll see your name on the Rising Star Ranker a whole lot more.