Sean Marks is off on his annual European scouting trip. In fact, the Nets GM is actually halfway through his trip, which will take him to four countries in six days.
Here’s the schedule, from a well-placed league source...
March 10 - Croatia
Partizan at Cedevita
March 11- Italy
Orlandina at Pesaro
March 15 - Lithuania
Vitoria at Zalgiris
March 16 - Turkey
CSKA at Fenerbache
So let’s speculate: Who’s he looking at?
Some are obvious and one is enticing. Game by game, here we go:
Partizan vs. Cedevita featured two draft prospects: Vanja Marinkovic, a 6’7” Serbian shooting guard from Partizan, ranked No. 98 out of 100 top prospects by ESPN this week. The 21-year-old is seen as an inconsistent shooter, but when he’s hot, “he looks unstoppable,” according to NBADraft.net.
Dzanan Musa is a 6’9” forward, ranked No. 20 by ESPN this week. The 18 year old is often compared to Bojan Bogdanovic. A Bosnian, he is also seen as an emotional leader and can play a little bit of point guard. NBADraft.net calls him “one of the best scorers of his generation in Europe, if not the best.”
Orlandina at Pesaro has one obvious prospect: Arnoldas Kulboka, a 6’9” Lithuanian, ranked No. 66 by ESPN, but No. 57 by NBADraft.net. Another small forward and another player compared to a former Net, this time Bostijan Nachbar. NBADraft.net says he has a “great feel for the game,” but “is not quick enough to slide down as a shooting guard and not strong or big enough to play as a power forward at the next level.” He’s 20.
Eric Mika, Pesaro’s starting center, is a 23-year-old American who played for Miami’s Summer League team last year after going undrafted out of BYU. He’s averaging 14 points and 7.5 rebounds for Pesaro. According to NBADraft.net last year, “His ability to score in multiple ways makes him a hybrid big man that is now dominating the NBA.”
Vitoria at Zalgiris is perhaps the most interesting stop on the itinerary. Neither seem to have any top draft prospects, at least for 2018, but there are a number of free agents who might be the reason for Marks’ visit, starting with ... Toko Shengelia, who is 26 years old and having an MVP-type season in the Spanish League, Europe’s best. The 6’9” Shengelia is averaging 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and shooting 35 percent from three. He has said he’d like to return to the NBA. Shengelia was drafted by the Nets in 2012 and spent a year and a half in Brooklyn, before being traded to the Bulls. He went back to Europe in April 2014 after being released by the Bulls.
Another possibility: Vincent Poirier, Toko’s 6’11” back-up who played for the Nets Summer League team last year. He’s 24.
CSKA at Fenerbache are two veteran EuroLeague clubs, with a variety of free agents who the Nets have scouted in the past. On CSKA, there’s Will Clyburn, the 6’7” small forward from Iowa and on Fener, there are number of former Nets targets: Nicola Melli, the 6’9” power forward; Jan Vesely, the 6’11” center/power forward who spent time in Washington before returning to Europe; and Brad Wanamaker, the 6’5” shooting guard from Pitt.
Of course, this is by no means a complete or authoritative list. And Marks isn’t necessarily limiting his scouting to Brooklyn. He may also be looking at players for the Long Island Nets or training camp or Summer League.
Don’t expect the Nets to confirm interest in any of them, but Marks has said the team is looking at European players, particularly free agents, and at last count, Brooklyn has three European scouts: Gianluca Pascucci, director of Global Scouting; Danko Cvjeticanin, European scouting coordinator; and Jared Ralsky, an American who worked for several NBA teams before serving as an executive with Trento in the Italian league. Often, those scouts will look at players in advance of Marks’ visit, then watch the games with him.
Grateful as always for the help provided by GNYR, who is scouring foreign websites and Twitter feeds for anything and everything Nets-related.