With less than a month remaining until the Euroleague Final Four in Milan, RealGM presents a list of ten young (21-year-old or younger) Euroleague players that had the most success in 13-14 season.
FC Barcelona’s Alejandro Abrines is the only young Euroleague player, who got already drafted, while some of the other players are projected to hear their name in future NBA Drafts.
- All records and stats through Game 14 of Top-16.
Alejandro Abrines (FC Barcelona, Spain) - 2013 Round 2 Pick 2
Best performance: 19 points and 3 rebounds in 25 minutes against Partizan.
Averaged 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds in 17 minutes.
For Alejandro Abrines, who was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 32nd pick in the previous NBA draft, it was the third Euroleague season of his career and the most successful one. One of the most promising young Spanish talents became an important part of winning FC Barcelona team, who spent more than 400 minutes on the court this Euroleague season. Abrines, who collected 28 performance index rating (PIR) points in a single last season game, did not come any close to this result in 13-14. However, the 20-year-old swingman was more consistent and scored more than 12 points five times already this season.
Arturas Gudaitis (Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuania) - 2015 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 14 points (4/4 FG) and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes against Lokomotiv Kuban.
Averaged 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds in 10 minutes.
Arturas Gudaitis spent most of the season doing rehab after having knee surgery last May and played in only seven Euroleague games. Nevertheless, that was enough for Gudaitis to be noticed. Gudaitis demonstrated two out of three best performances among all ten ranked players. In only eight game as a professional basketball player, Gudaitis made it to the Zalgiris starting five against Lokomotiv Kuban and scored 14 points and grabbed six boards. In that game, Gudaitis surprised Euroleague fans by collecting 22 PIR points, while two weeks later the big man also finished a game with 21 PIR points.
Daniel Diez (Real Madrid, Spain) - 2015 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 8 points and 3 assists in 18 minutes against Lokomotiv Kuban.
Averaged 2.3 points, 0.9 rebounds in 9 minutes.
Real Madrid is currently the most dominant team in Europe, but at the same the Spaniards find time to develop players who might lead the team in the future. Daniel Diez, a product of Real Madrid youth program, had a chance to be a member of one of the most powerful Euroleague teams ever and gain experience from the best. As it has been the case this season, Real usually built an early lead and that allowed head coach Pablo Laso give more opportunities for Diez, who spent 165 minutes on the court this season. Diez has already proved he might be a future player of Real, for instance leading European U-20 Championship in scoring with 18.7 points per game. No doubt, next season with some of the players leaving Madrid Diez should become a more important figure in Madrid.
Domantas Sabonis (Unicaja Malaga, Spain) - 2018 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 7 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes against Panathinaikos.
Averaged 2.7 points, 2 rebounds in 9 minutes.
Domantas Sabonis, a son of legendary basketball player Arvydas Sabonis, was only 17 years and 168 days old when he scored his first points in Euroleague tournament. Despite his young age, Sabonis played in 19 games this Euroleague season and got a unique chance to spend 176 minutes on the court. However, Sabonis is not planning to stay in Europe for any longer as his dad confirmed his son’s plans to move to the States and join Gonzaga in 14-15. Recently head coach of Lithuanian national Jonas Kazlauskas revealed his affection for Sabonis’ game, which means that in next few years Lithuania might have another Sabonis in its squad.
Ioannis Papapetrou (Olympiakos Piraeus, Greece) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 13 points (5/5 FG) and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes against Laboral Kutxa.
Averaged 4.9 points, 1.5 rebounds in 11 minutes.
After having a solid career with the Texas Longhorns, where he averaged 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds, Ioannis Papapetrou decided to sign a five-year deal with current Euroleague champion Olympiakos. As expected, Papapetrou didn't get many chances to show his abilities and skill set in Euroleague, but Papapetrou was able to make his name heard in week 11 game against Laboral Kutxa, when the forward scored 13 points without missing a single shot.
Kenan Sipahi (Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, Turkey) - 2017 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 10 points, 2 assists and 2 steals in 21 minutes against Partizan.
Averaged 2.7 points, 1,1 assists in 13 minutes.
At the beginning of the season, it seemed that Fenerbahce Ulker was too loaded and too deep to give any significant playing time for 18-year-old talent Kenan Sipahi. But not everything went according to the plan for Fenerbahce Ulker and that provided the 6-foot-6 point guard plenty of chances to taste Euroleague basketball. Sipahi, one of the youngest Euroleague players in 13-14, averaged more than 16 minutes a game in regular season and more impressively, started in eight of his 15 games played.
Luka Mitrovic (Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, Serbia) - 2015 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 8 points and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes against Laboral Kutxa.
Averaged 3.6 points, 4 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Despite appearing in only seven Euroleague games this season, his efficiency in almost 100 minutes proved his worthiness to be among Top 10 young players of this season. Before suffering a knee injury, Mitrovic had become a starting forward for the Crvena Zvezda. Mitrovic collected more than 11 PIR points in three of his last four Euroleague games and considering his young age, turned the ball over only twice in more than 50 minutes of action in that time.
Mam Jaiteh (JSF Nanterre, France) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 14 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes against Budivelnik.
Averaged 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds in 13 minutes.
After a solid performance in the European U-20 Championship, where Mouhammadou Jaiteh averaged 12 points and 7.8 rebounds, the French big man received a chance to demonstrate his talent in the top European league. Despite JSF Nanterre’s Euroleague season was quite short, more or less Jaiteh appeared in all ten regular season games as he also was the only player from this ranking that managed to finish a game with a double-double. In week 8 match against Budivelnik Jaiteh scored 14 points and collected 11 boards, finishing the game with 22 PIR points.
Nikola Milutinov (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 10 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes against Zalgiris.
Averaged 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Partizan Belgrade as usual was the youngest Euroleague team in the tournament, which reserved its starting center spot for 19-year-old Nikola Milutinov. The Serbian big man, who is projected as an early second round pick in 2015 NBA Draft, too often got into foul trouble and usually was overshadowed by his teammate Joffrey Lauvergne. However, considering Milutinov will begin his third Euroleague season being only 19-year-old, he still got plenty of time to strengthen his weak frame and learn how to avoid getting into foul trouble.
Tomas Dimsa (Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuania) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible
Best performance: 12 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes against Partizan.
Averaged 3.7 points, 1.6 rebounds in 15 minutes.
Tomas Dimsa grabbed Euroleague fans attention when former Zalgiris coach put 19-year-old athletic guard in the starting lineup in season opener against Real Madrid. Dimsa had to guard Rudy Fernandez, who scored 11 points, while the youngster collected six points in almost 24 minutes. However, in other 14 games Dimsa never played as much as in the first one and never took more than seven shot attempts. If next season Dimsa receives more playing time and if he learns how to better use his athletic abilities, Zalgiris’ talent might double his statistical figures in 14-15.
Honorable Mentions: Mihajilo Andric, Boris Dallo, Partizan; Devon Van Oostrum, Ilimane Diop, Laboral Kutxa; Paul Zipser, Bayern; Mario Hezonja, FC Barcelona; Cedi Osman, Anadolu Efes.