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Rodions Kurucs – 6’8” Small Forward, Latvia, 19 Years Old
Rodions Kurucs is a small forward from Latvia, who is projected to be a late first-round pick. He would begin his career with Latvian team BC VEF Riga, turning pro in 2012. Currently a Barcelona 2 player, he enters the draft having played just one game in the EuroLeague for the Spanish side. The Latvian swingman scored two points, in a game which saw him play only three minutes. Despite entering this year’s draft, he will likely stay in Europe until at least 2019, maybe 2020.
Still just 19, he stands at 6’8”, giving him the measurements of your average NBA small forward. However, don’t let his height deceive you. Kurucs is what you call a “point forward”, capable of creating when asked to do so. He brings good athleticism to the table, along with above average court vision. A solid catch and shoot player, he uses his ability to shoot from mid-range to draw defenders in, before driving to the rim. One useful aspect of his game is his ability to use his size and vision to help get into situational one-on-ones. Isolation plays are commonly drawn, with the lengthy Latvian using his size to post up guards more often than not. A good athlete, a solid passer and a promising shooter, he really brings a lot to the table.
Like most European prospects, he is under-weight. Just 190 pounds, he needs to get stronger if he is to thrive at the NBA level. Now, you may think his weight is just one problem, that could be fixed easily. However, his lack of strength causes more than one problem on the court. Defensively he gets out-muscled and pushed around. This happens on a regular basis, with the Latvian forward often in need of defensive help. As with most “defensive liabilities” he struggles to contribute in the rebounding category. On the offensive end of the court the 19 year old looks smooth and confident. Unfortunately, the defensive side of the ball tells a different story. Lacking lateral quickness, he needs to be less tentative and make smarter decisions.
If he can clean up these aspects of his game, there is no reason why he can’t be a first-round pick on June 22nd.
Expected to be a late first-round pick, Kurucs will need time to adjust when he finally arrives in the NBA. Who ever draft’s the Latvian will be getting a very capable player, who like most prospects needs to polish up their game. His willingness to adjust and improve will determine his success at the next level. He will be stashed away for a couple of years, but expect to see Kurucs at some point in the future. The talent and skill is their, all he needs to do is focus.
NBA Player Comparison
Kurucs is a similar player to Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward. A capable shooter, with guard like tendencies. A willing passer, Kurucs has a long way to go before he’ll be Hayward, but the Latvian has the traits to be that good down the road. Another player who is comparable is forward Doug McDermott. If McDermott was a bit longer, he’d be the perfect comparison. However, it’s fair to say even at this point, that Kurucs is already the better athlete. This kid has a lot of hidden potential, and is capable of playing at the NBA level if given time to improve and clean up his game.
Expect Rodions Kurucs to land between 20-30 on draft night, and be sure to stay updated with our complete coverage of the 2017 NBA Draft!