Going For (Draft) Gold
Patrick Mills could be tearing up the League soon.
The Olympic Games are the playground for the young and gifted. Gymnasts normally aren’t old enough to drive a car. Swimmers need to be ID’ed to get into PG-13 movies. Once you’re old enough to legally drink you are pretty much over the hill in the world of the Olympics. One event where this isn’t the case is the Olympic basketball championships, where the rosters are saturated with veteran, professional players. For NBA draft fans (and NBA scouts) this is unfortunate, as the pool of potential NBA draft picks participating in the event are quite limited. However, there are five guys on rosters in Beijing who are on NBA GMs’ radar.
Ricky Rubio, Spain
The cream of the crop of the almost half dozen pro prospects in Beijing is far and away Ricky Rubio. This is a rare opportunity for North American basketball fans to see potentially the top (and definitely the most exciting) prospect in the 2009 draft go up against the world’s best. The true testament to the 17-year-old’s skill level, even more so than the gazillion YouTube highlight clips of him, is the fact that even with Spain’s veteran, star-studded backcourt (Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Juan-Carlos Navarro), Rubio seems to have played himself into a position to get meaningful minutes in the Olympics.
Joe Ingles & Patrick Mills, Australia
After Rubio, the most familiar name on this list is Australia’s Patrick Mills. Mills, who’ll be a sophomore at Saint Mary’s this fall, was expected to be the Boomers’ point guard of the future, but apparently the future is now. While he won’t start in Beijing, he will be counted on to provide quality minutes off the bench. As for his draft stock, despite lacking NBA size and explosiveness, he is still projected to get snatched up whatever year he enters the draft.
Mills isn’t the only draft prospect on the Boomers’ Olympic team. Joe Ingles, a 6’8” slashing, left-handed wing player, is projected to go in the second round of next June’s draft. Ingles, who plays pro ball back home in Australia’s National Basketball League, probably won’t see many minutes in China with older, more experienced wing players ahead of him in Australia’s rotation.
Jianghua Chen, China
He’s been called the Chinese Allen Iverson, and from watching video clips of Jianghua Chen’s game it is quite obvious he has studied the American Allen Iverson’s moves. His slashes to the hoop, flashy passes and three-point bombs are pure AI. Unfortunately he can be inconsistent and out of control at times, causing him to currently be a borderline NBA prospect. He probably won’t be playing a large role for the home side in Beijing.
Tim Ohlbrecht, Germany
Projected as a second round pick in 2010, Tim Ohlbrecht is a 6’11” post player who plies his trade professionally for Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany. The highly touted 19-year-old doesn’t play big minutes for Bamberg and probably won’t play a lot in Beijing either, with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman manning the paint ahead of him.