Since ongoing season, Nevezis Kedainiai aspires to become another European prospects hotbed. The participation in LKL was threatened until very late summer but agreement with new investor was found, licence kept and board managed to gather interesting crop of talent headlined by lengthy guard Georgios Kalaitzakis and his twin brother Panagiotis.
Greek prospects rarely leave their countries tempted by long term deals with domestic powerhouses but it seems like there is never enough minutes for them (excluding now after hilarious relegation of Olympiacos) and careers of twins are definitely blossoming after taking their talents to eastern Europe. The Lithuanian league is definitely not an easy competition for youngsters. Amount of hand checking allowed, overall physical requirements, starless orientation + top notch fundamentals of all players make it hard to stand out or even just to survive on the court big minutes. There is also other side of the coin and once you fit in and prove your worth here that early it will be easier for you down the road.
Last week I had a chance to attend Nevezis game at Utena vs Juventus. It wasn’t best showing of Greek rising star but he sat out previous round and wasn’t practising for a while because of problems with an ankle. Here are my observations from that trip and after going through more footage on tape:
Kalaitzakis stands at terrific 6’7 (possibly even barefoot) for a point guard. His positional size combined with adept ball handling, keeping head up + court vision allow him to stay unbothered by a pressure and play over defenders. Also another notable asset is ambidextrous passing + finishing ability.
His game seems to be in general mostly about using his size cleverly. He is solid rebounder for a backcourt spot, jumper is hard to block for others on his position, uses length of his strides in a diligent manner to get towards the rim where he can get the job done after spreading his long arms and using hangtime. He didn’t try to post up opponents yet in LKL but we saw him playing with his back to the basket at U20 so it may come on this level as well when he fully fills out. Besides he is mastering drawing fouls especially vs unnecessary reaching.
*Maybe not the quickest guy around to get rid of the ball in half court but far from selfishness
*Big enough for SG and knows how to find a role off the ball. Can be labeled as a comboguard
*Big potential as PnR executor as far as creating either for himself and others. Good hesitation move, not that explosive but can kill the hedge by stepping behind defender. Makes nice reads including advanced crosspasses
*Fluid guy in transition, knows when he can push the tempo. Can go coast to coast
*Well proportioned. Not an early bloomer like many Greek kids. Should end up with nice physical profile. Doesn’t shy away from contact
*Active, calls for the ball. Wants to have it and create offense
*Seems to be focused and composed on the court. Quite self aware player, looks coachable
NOT A FINISHED PRODUCT
Everything is still learning experience for Greek guard. Kalaitzakis already played more pro minutes than entire last year which is simply ridiculous considering he suited up for Nevezis only 6 times. He could very well do what he is doing now the past season and everyone knows how valuable is every draft eligibility season as you only got four of them…
*He sits at Top 10 in the biggest TO% in PnR (by the way together with his brother) which is his go to play and his current 1.0 A/To Ratio is not the grade he would like to have after last match
*Needs further mastering of things in general. Even handles can be tighter. Career shooting splits are not overly good too. Both skills need to come together so he can be better shot creator but upside is there
*Playing hard is one thing but really fouls a lot. Makes charges, uses off hand too strongly at times.
*Could have a bit more explosion in his first step. Would help in isolations
Typically for an overisized player for position keeps the distance and relies on length defensively. He can be really disruptive for passing lanes which he understands and keeps his hands constantly active. Fills the bill in Europe but how about NBA space and pace era? Overall lateral mobility and quickness are unspectacular which may cause troubles vs shifty & speedy backcourt opponents at times and doesn’t compensate with strength or athleticism vs wings who possess likewise (if not better) measurements in the best league in the world. Guarding three positions could be huge for his career definitely. Anyway rather someone that displays slightly plus overall tools and can figure out ways to be good enough with further seasoning than impactful specialist type on that end.
If you look at 2001 born likely to be drafted early entrants like Amar Sylla, Malcolm Cazalon or Killian Hayes who have a great situation to raise their stock then it makes you wonder why Kalaitzakis had to wait two years for a right place to blossom. It’s still not too late though and I believe he has some stash value but most likely only as late second round pick. While instincts and natural abilities are there Kalaitzakis still has to learn a lot but possess nice blend of length, fluidity, playmaking, feel for the game + considerable scoring abilities which is highly intriguing foundation for NBA executives if 3pt shooting and defense are passable.