Tonight is the annual NBA Draft, and this year is particularly interesting for us Italians because Paolo Banchero will surely be chosen in the top 5, maybe top 3, but there is also great hype for Gabriele Procida and Matteo Spagnolo.
The Italian-born long player played an excellent season at Duke, unfortunately not culminating in an NCAA tournament victory, while the other two were relegated with Fortitudo Bologna and Vanoli Cremona.
Honestly, this gives one pause. We are not talking about two Draft Lottery players however, neither are they two guys who struggle to play basketball. Yet, in order to showcase themselves, they had to end up in two of the worst teams in the league. By the way, Procida comes from as many as two relegations in a row because even the previous year with a Cantù jersey he finished last in the Serie A, although he was one of the most positive among the Brianzoli.
Do you want to know something incredible? Despite bad club results, NBA scouts kept coming to see them play in Italy. And with a very good chance they will be chosen by some franchises. We will hardly see them in the NBA next year however they will certainly be monitored for years until they prove themselves ready to make the jump. That is, if that happens.
But then why hasn’t a club like Virtus Bologna or Olimpia Milano made a SERIOUS bet on them? Why did they have to end up in the quagmire of Fortitudo Bologna — a team juggling disputes and economic-bureaucratic problems — and at Vanoli Cremona, which was known to be playing not to relegate? But at least a Germani Brescia, we are not asking so much, a Reyer Venezia. A team that would have made the playoffs with certainty.
Procida and Spagnolo are not the only ones
The ugliest aspect is that these are not sporadic cases. Think of Sasha Grant and Davide Casarin, both of whom ended up in A2 – then won – in Verona. In order to find space in our country, they had to go down the ladder. The former went directly Germany-Verona, the latter tried in Treviso, with very little luck. And Leonardo Okeke? Best under-21 in the A2 Series, where will he play next year? Still in the A2 Series in Casale Monferrato or will a Tortona bet on him and consider him as a rotation player?
The truth is that top teams do not want to afford to risk a Procida or a Spaniard and so they prefer to do so from lower-ranked teams because they pay them little and they have everything to prove. Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to prove if you change one coach a week or one teammate a day, by the way, all true stories for Procida, whether in Cantù or Bologna. You have to have confidence in these guys and most of all you have to let them play, which then the results come anyway.
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