NBA Hopefuls Daryl Morey Likely Scouted in Istanbul

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey attended the EuroLeague Round 26 game between Fenerbahce Beko and Barcelona in Istanbul, Turkey—two squads with talent in abundance and several players potentially appealing to NBA clubs.

Apart from a incredibly early ejection for Barcelona coach Svetislav Pesic and a Fenerbahce comeback from 13 points down en route to the win, Morey, together with Rockets Director of Global Scouting Marko Radovanovic, saw a number of players that might find themselves playing in the NBA during the years to come, whether that happens with the Rockers, or not…

Nicolo Melli (Fenerbahce)

Italian forward Nicolo Melli is under a three-year contract he signed with Fenerbahce in 2017, so if an NBA team wants him, they can pay a moderate sum (NBA-speaking) to acquire him. NBA clubs have been tracing the steps of this 28-year-old forward, with the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks as two teams previously reported as interested.

At first glance, Melli is your standard stretch four archetype, and this might be his primary capacity in the NBA.

He has shot 43.4 percent on more than 2.5 attempts per game the last four seasons in EuroLeague and can be devastating as a spot-up sniper. He’s one of those highly skilled forwards that carries a deep feel for the game and can thus bring a diverse influence to it.

Melli is exceptionally adept at delivering assists and is rather crafty with the ball in his hands. He can facilitate either as a creator from the low post or at the high post after a short roll.

Indeed, he has a career-high 10 assists in EuroLeague—an exceedingly rare number for a non-guard in Europe.

While, not athletic at first glance, he deceptively can put it on the floor when the situation requires and has greatly improved his lateral speed to defend against smaller opponents.

Melli registered one of his top EuroLeague performances so far in the biggest game of his career.

He had 28 points and six rebounds in the 2018 EuroLeague Final, though it wasn’t enough to help Fenerbahce defend its title vs. Luka Doncic’s Real Madrid. Still, it was Melli’s first showing in a EuroLeague Final and proved he can deliver in matches of the utmost importance.

Chris Singleton (Barcelona)

There’s no place more like home than the 3-point line for Chris Singleton. And there can also never be enough triple getters in the Houston Rockets. This is a player that could blend in and deliver for Mike D’Antoni’s system.

NBA fans remember Singleton on the Washington Wizards as a tweener forward a few years ago. In EuroLeague, he’s been playing some of his best basketball as a 5. Singleton has been a mismatch machine when running there, beating opposing bigs on drives and inside the paint thanks to his athleticism. He also is capable of containing fast guards on the switch.

But it’s his lethality from beyond the arc that has set him apart from any other player at his position. Singleton prides himself on a 42.3 percent clip on 3.4 attempts per game since the 2016-2017 season in EuroLeague, taking shots off the dribble and/or above opponents. He’s been particularly dangerous after the pick n’ pop, and this constant threat has caused all sorts of disarray in opposing defenses.

Singleton won’t be a 5 in a potential NBA return but could function as a more than reliable stretch big that also packs the physical tools to undertake all sorts of defensive tasks. His contract with Barcelona includes an NBA out, so he is available to any team that might have an interest.

Marko Guduric (Fenerbahce)

Contrary to teammate Nicolo Melli, Marko Guduric’s contract doesn’t include an NBA out until 2020. Considering the rate of his development, he might be quite an attractive option by then.

When Guduric signed with Fenerbahce in 2017, he was considered a pureblood offensive talent, though still quite the raw material.  After one year of Zeljko Obradovic’s tutelage (widely considered as the best coach in European basketball history—just ask Gregg Popovich), the Serbian guard has refined his game to fit the demanding standards of his coach and ever-ambitious club.

At 24 years of age, Guduric contributes 9.0 points plus 2.3 assists to the top-placed team in EuroLeague while averaging 21:16 minutes. The most striking aspect of his game is his efficiency since he’s the fourth-best scorer and third-best passer on his team despite being ranked eighth in usage percentage among players of the steady rotation.

He wastes no possessions, and his near-phenomenal 62.9 percent on 2-pointers and 50.0 percent on triples shooting for his position certainly testify to that.

Guduric is already scouted heavily by NBA teams that want to grab him when he becomes available in 2020.

Kostas Sloukas (Fenerbahce)

Three-time EuroLeague champion Kostas Sloukas hasn’t really been filed under the “NBA hopefuls” categories in the past.

He’s neither very tall (6 ft. 2.5 in.) nor what you might define as “athletic.” And while cerebral pick n’ roll guards like him are treasured like the rarest gems in Europe, it’s questionable how his game would translate to the NBA.

On Friday, however, Sloukas had one of the very best performances in his career under Morey’s gaze. The Greek combo guard was the top player on the court, scoring 22 points (12 in the fourth quarter), with 5-of-5 triples and 11 assists. He might’ve left an impression on the Rockets’ GM.

(Especially that firestorm from beyond the arc. Morey probably went nuts!)

Why not, taking into account Sloukas’ modus operandi? Blink and you might miss him draining a jumper or dropping a dime. He thinks, executes and completes the play with ultra-fast speed, mostly thanks to how well he reads every sequence. Equally the eyes of a scorer and a facilitator.

While not a “sharpshooter”, Sloukas can gun and will rapidly hit the jumper when he finds the slightest room. He has a career number of 46.7 percent on 3-point attempts of all sorts, and many off-dribble shots. Although he’s still far from explosive, he’s quick-footed enough on his first step to gain a fair amount of momentum. He can create spaces for himself by misdirecting and/or out dribbling opponents.

And when the slashing atack might not go as planned, his trademark step-back jumper will always be there as a near-money option.

Sloukas’ playmaking, especially in regards to lack of errors, is sublime: Last season, he was the fourth-top passer in EuroLeague (5.37 assists per game) while sixth in assist/turnover ratio (264.79 %)

Sloukas signed a 2-plus-1 extension deal with Fenerbahce in 2017, but there’s an opt-out for this summer.