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Rodions Kurucs – 6’10” Small Forward, Latvia, 20 Years Old
Rodions Kurucs enters the NBA Draft for the second time in two years and is expected to be a late first-round pick. Entering in 2017, Kurucs declared against FC Barcelona’s wishes but was later forced to withdraw. His withdrawal was primarily due to NBA teams being unwilling to pay his rather large 4 million euro release fee. Heading back to Spain for another year, Kurucs struggled to stay healthy and his relationship with FC Barcelona is now in tatters. The Latvian refused to sign a new deal, as he aimed to become a full-time NBA player. It’s fair to say Kurucs is ready to move on from the European game, a game he’s played since he was just 14 years old.
Kurucs joined FC Barcelona in 2015 and in his final season (hopefully) the 20-year-old averaged 1.6 points, 0.7 rebounds, and 0.2 assists. Now, these may not look like NBA prospect numbers. However, Kurucs has struggled mightily with injuries and as a result, his per game stats appear poor. His relationship with FC Barcelona has also taken its toll, as the combo forward was benched, with committed players seeing more time.
A well-rounded player, Kurucs is a player capable of playing multiple positions. Mobile and athletic, Kurucs also tries to create for those around him, with his above average passing ability. Polished offensively, he’s a player who can score in many ways. A capable shooter, Kurucs is also a good athlete. Whether he’s driving or shooting, Kurucs can be a difficult player to defend.
The 20-year-old is still growing. Measured at 6’8” last year, the Latvian now stands at 6’10” in shoes. Kurucs can jump with the best of them, with the talented forward often rising up above his opposition. However, Europe is not the NBA. Kurucs has a good starting skill set, but he needs to improve in a variety of areas.
Weighing in at around 190 pounds, Kurucs will need to add weight to avoid being pushed around in the NBA. Entering the draft with no standout area of his game, Kurucs must improve. He needs something to make him anything else but average, which is exactly what he is right now. Teams often draft on potential alone, but unless he develops into something more than an average prospect, it’s hard to see his time in the NBA being fruitful.
It’s fair to say his time with FC Barcelona was underwhelming. This will certainly affect his draft stock, as teams have plenty of red flags to evaluate. Injuries, a tarnished relationship with his club and then being sent down to Barcelona’s B Team. These are all things that could have been avoided if Barcelona let him leave last season, so Kurucs isn’t responsible for most of these issues. However, teams could see these problems as negatives against Kurucs.
Kurucs has the makings of a good bench guy. Capable of contributing when asked, but not a starting quality player. With no outstanding qualities, teams will see him as a project pick. His ability to play multiple positions should make him an attractive prospect. If he puts on weight and bulks up, he should be able to take full advantage of his athleticism. There is some potential waiting to be unlocked here, but first Kurucs needs to escape Barcelona and then stay healthy. Despite his issues, someone will give Kurucs an opportunity to finally play at the highest level.
NBA Player Comparison
The best NBA comparison for Kurucs is Los Angeles Clippers forward Sam Dekker. An athletic player, who will look to develop his shot as his career progresses. Dekker remains athletic but has slowly looked to take less three’s. Kurucs is a similar player, which is why he has bench player written all over him. Expect Kurucs to develop a more reliable shot than Dekker, but it’s easy to see them both playing the same role in the coming years.
Look for Rodions Kurucs to go late in the first round or early in the second round on draft night, and be sure to stay updated with our complete coverage of the 2018 NBA Draft!
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