Watching the Euro final four matchup last night with Olympiacos and Panathinaikos I decided to really just focus on our 2nd rounder Yotam Halperin rather than try and do an actual game report. I don’t really care that much about the two teams or the outcome, I just wanted to see our player play and try to visualize what he brings to the plate as a potential Thunder baller.
With that, I basically allowed my eyes to follow Halperin throughout the game, and to chart all of his possessions and watch him on defense. What I immediately noticed is that even though he is their best statistical jump shooter, he is a very unselfish player. He is not somebody who is looking to jack up deep balls every time the rock is in his hands. Even though he spent nearly the entire bulk of his minutes out at the perimeter, he was completely comfortable looking for teammates and passing off the ball for a better shot for a team mate.
Halperin started at what I assume would be the 2 guard spot, along with Jannero Pargo and Josh Childress on the wings. Halperin was part of what seemed to be a 3 or 4 guard rotation, with Pargo just getting little more than 3 minutes of playing time. Halperin got 21 minutes of playing time and was 1/5 from the field, 2/2 from the line, 1 rebound, 2 assists and no turns or blocks. His possessions used were as follows:
- He came off a curl beyond the three point arc, got a screen from a big and shot a jumper (3fga)-miss.
- He got a defensive rebound and started a fast break. Past the half court line he gave up the ball to Josh Childress for an easy layup in transition-Assist.
- He received a short pass out beyond the three point line and passed it to a big above the free throw line. The big handed the ball back to Halperin who drove the lane and put up a left handed floater in traffic. 2 points.
- He recovered the ball on a partially blocked pass and broken play out on the right wing. He drove the lane and put up a floater and was fouled, but didn’t get the call. Miss.
- With 6.7 seconds left in the first half he got the ball about a step behind the three point line, he used a little screen to step back and to his left and shot a three about 4 full feet behind the 3 point line, which hit the back iron. Miss
- Got the ball out at the three point line and was immediately double teamed. He handled the double team and passed out to a team mate..
- He again received the ball beyond the three point line. He used a little head fake and a weak screen to drive to the hole. At the last second he passed off to Childress for an easy dunk-drive and dish. Assist.
- He got the ball on the right wing and drove the lane and was fouled. He made both free throws.
That’s it. The Euro game is very disciplined. There is great ball movement, lots of screen and rolls, and a generally balanced approach to the game using all five guys. It’s a lot different than the NBA where you see a steady diet of clearouts for one player to take his defender one on one like we’ve seen so much of especially in this Boston/Chicago series with Ben Gordon and Paul Pierce/Ray Allen going right at each other with 4 other guys standing around watching from each team.
My impression of Yotam, even though his jumper didn’t connect, is that he is a bonafide prospect. I think his first step is average at best, and the same with his general athleticism as compared to the NBA players, but he seems to be a guy with a lot of smarts, lots of experience (he’s been playing pro ball for several years) and somebody who can make the most of his skill set. He can certainly be a decent slasher, and his shooting percentages are off the charts. Again, he spent the whole night out at the perimeter, which is the way the team uses him.
His on the ball defense looked fairly decent. He was aggressive and he kept his feet moving. I didn’t see much in the way of help defense. He got ran through several screens, and he fought over them for the most part. Defense will probably not be his calling card, but I think he can be acceptable.
Yotam brought the ball up the court and acted as the facilitator 4 times by my count. He had no trouble in that regard.
From what I understand, the reason he has never come over to get his feet wet in the NBA game is financial. He has a nice contract with Olympiacos, and to give that up to come see about making the Thunder without a guaranteed contract would make little sense.
I could really picture him as part of the bench mob for the Thunder, playing with Thabo, Weaver and or Livingston and a couple of bigs. He could add some offense to the defensive nature that Thabo and Weaver possess, and share the ball handling duties with Weaver and Livingston. I don’t really see Yotam as a NBA starter, but I can see him being a nice role player. I hope Presti has kept his eye on him. No hoping required. According to Draftexpress, OKC executive Rob Hennigan was in the house.