If you asked the average NBA fan or writer who Rodions Kurucs was, chances are you’d be met with a confused look. I am no different, as this article was birthed out of doing research to reply to a comment on a Reddit post (hope this suffices, BKtoDuval). Its no secret that the Brooklyn Nets have expended an incredible amount of effort scouting Europe this season, trying to find a diamond in the rough before another franchise can scoop it up.
After doing their homework on the 6-foot-9 three-point shooting, dunk-it-in-your-face small forward out of Latvia, Sean Marks and company are reportedly “sold” on drafting Rodions Kurucs. With two picks in the first round, Brooklyn has a great shot at landing him, but according to Basketball Insiders, Kurucs is quickly gaining steam with teams around the league and could be off the board as early as No. 15 to Portland.
Context Truly Is Key
Towards the end of this season, Trevor Magnotti of The Step Back wrote about how important it is to apply context to Rodions Kurucs’ situation. Unlike most of his peers, who took sparse playing time with their senior teams over real playing time with one of the junior teams, Kurucs played 24 games for FC Barcelona 2 and only one game for the senior team. This was partially due to the fact that the 19-year-old was coming off a meniscus injury, but what it did was allow himself the opportunity to grow and showcase the player he could be.
Playing for the junior team instead of the senior team allowed him to experiment and play a little out of position, as well as do things that weren’t normally asked of him or expected of someone his size. He is a long, athletic wing that has incredible upside as both a shooter and slasher. His numbers are impressive — when adjusted per 40, he’s averaging 17.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks, and 3.3 turnovers per game while shooting 31.9 percent from deep and 55.7 percent on everything from inside the arc.
People will point to his inability to hit in-game three-pointers with consistency as a knock against him, especially when compared to popular domestic prospects. Austin Green of Los Crossovers debunked that argument after taking a deeper look at some of these prospects:
“Kurucs’ 3-point percentage (32.5%) is a little disappointing, but he has pretty good form and it’s a small sample size (27/83).
In comparison, this year Kansas’ Josh Jackson made 34/90 threes (37.7%), Duke’s Jayson Tatum made 40/117 (34.1%) and Jonathan Isaac made 31/89 (34.8%). The FIBA 3-point line is also farther away than the NCAA line.
With some more practice, Kurucs should develop into a good NBA 3-point shooter.
Curiously, according to Synergy, he is 11-of-22 in guarded catch-and-shoot situations and 2-of-16 in unguarded situations. I’m thinking this stat is somewhat skewed by end-of-quarter heaves, but I’m not positive.”
It is a safe bet that Rodions Kurucs will develop a consistent three-point shot at the NBA level, especially after watching the footage that came out of his pro-day on Saturday.
6-9 Latvian forward and Barcelona product Rodions Kurucs shooting it well from beyond the arc at Catalyst Sports Pro Day. pic.twitter.com/j7J2XZs2k0
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 3, 2017