EuroReport: Catching Up With Spurs Draftees Overseas

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Remember the names Adam Hanga, Erazem Lorbek, Davis Bertans and Livio Jean-Charles? The Spurs either drafted them or acquired their rights on draft night. Those guys then disappear into this netherworld and you almost forget they exist. Luckily, we’re here to rescue these players from that purgatory and keep you informed on what these guys are up to. Here’s a very early look at San Antonio’s top prospects playing ball overseas.

Adam Hanga – Drafted: 2011, Round 2, Pick 59; Current Team: Saski Baskonia

Hanga’s breakout season actually happened last year with Manressa, another Spanish ACB team. With Manressa, he averaged 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, but that’s only part of the story. Over the last half of the season, Hanga upped his numbers across the board, averaging 14.5 points a game and put up a handful of 20-point games.

At that point he landed a new four-year deal with Baskonia. Hanga then had offseason surgery on his leg and missed the first handful of games this season. He’s healthy now and has seen action in three games, one Spanish ACB contest and two Euroleague games (Remember, Europe is weird). He barely played in the Euroleague games and didn’t do much. In the ACB game, he got 23 minutes, scored 10 points and pulled down a couple of boards. Our friends at Project Spurs had some video highlights that are fun. Here’s what you need to know about Hanga: He’s lightning quick in the open court and loves going to the basket. He’s become a much better defender in recent years. His shot has also developed over the years to the point that he was a 50 percent shooter during the last half of last season and also shot 40 percent from 3.

Again, he’s in the first year of a four-year deal, so we’re probably not going to see him anytime soon, but keep an eye out for his name. In a couple years he could become a really important signing for the Spurs.

Erazem Lorbek – Acquired in the George Hill trade, 2011; Current team: FC Barcelona

You probably remember Lorbek as the guy that almost signed with the Spurs in the summer of 2012 and ended up re-signing with Barcelona for three more years. He’ll be 30 by then, so it’s conceivable we could see him then, but don’t hold your breath.

As far as his play this year, Lorbek’s season has been similar to Hanga’s in that he’s played a lot in one game and nearly none in the other. In the one game he did play significant minutes, Lorbek scored 17 points and grabbed three rebounds in 16 minutes. That’s efficiency right there. They guy can still stroke it from deep and has a decent back-to-the-basket game. Also, he plays for a team with a winning culture. If he wants to come over in 2015, something tells me the Spurs will give him a real hard look again. (He could come over next summer, depending on his buyout situation.)

Davis Bertans – Drafted 2011, Round 2, Pick 42 by Indiana, traded to San Antonio in George Hill trade; Current team: Partizan

Bertans is an interesting case. He was developing into one of Europe’s best young prospects before he tore his ACL at the end of last year. The guy can shoot. Think a 6’10” Kyle Korver. Do not think the next Dirk, you’re just setting yourself up for a letdown. Bertans continues to recover from injury and should be back on the court early in 2014.

What’s interesting about him is he’s spent parts of the last two summers in San Antonio working out with the Spurs staff. This past summer was an extended stay for rehab. That kind of attention is interesting. He was in Las Vegas watching the Spurs Summer League team with the front office and coaching staff. At the very least, that shows the Spurs want Bertans in their program, perhaps sooner than later. His contract is also up after the 2015 season, so it’ll be interesting to see how far this injury has set his progress back.

Livio Jean-Charles – Drafted 2013, Round 1, Pick 28; Current team: Asvel

The most recent draft stash comes courtesy of Tony Parker’s partially owned team in France. Livio was playing really well in the FIBA U-20 for Team France before he also injured his knee, sidelining him for six months. That was July, so conceivably we’ll see him back on the court in late January or early February. He has a similar playing style to Kawhi Leonard’s rookie year, but he’s a couple inches taller and plays closer to the basket. A 6’9″, Livio physically is the model of the hybrid forward that is en vogue around the league. He’s still really raw though, so again, probably two years away from seeing him stateside minimum.

It’s a little ridiculous to look at the Spurs’ future while they’re in the midst of another 50-60 win season, but this is an exercise to show that this team continues to develop its future, even if it’s not being done right in front of you.