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Could Sergey Karasev, a member of the Russian National Team, be headed to Atlanta?

Atlanta Hawks 2013 Draft Prospects: Sergey Karasev

Did Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry make a “promise” to a draft prospect? 

Rumors have surfaced that this may be the case.

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported two weeks ago that the Hawks are a team thought to be linked with Sergey Karasev. 

Karasev, a 19-year old small forward, returned home to his native Russia earlier this month and canceled all remaining workouts, per Ford.

A draft prospect often will not make such a decision unless he, and his agent, have been assured the player will be selected by an NBA team. In which case, working out for teams is no longer necessary since the prospect already knows the spot at which he will be taken.

If this rumor is true, than Karasev will be picked no lower than the Hawks at 17 or 18 in the NBA Draft.

Even though Karasev is only 19-years old, he has already completed his third professional season. He has been playing in the highly-touted VTB League (Russian). The VTB League’s most well known team is CSKA Moscow, coached by Ettore Messina, who was once considered a possibility to become head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. The league also features some former NBA and NCAA players that may be familiar to you: Nenad Krstic (former NBA player), Sonny Weems (played collegiality at Arkansas), Paul Davis (drafted by the Clippers, four-year starter at Michigan State), and Dionte Christmas (played collegiality at Temple).

Karasev’s team, Triumph (of Lyubertsy, Russia) finished the season 9-9, good for sixth-place in their group.  However, the team lost in their first round playoff series. Incidentally, Sergey’s father, Vasily Karasev, coached Triumph. Vasily is a former member of the Russian National Team and played professionally for CSKA Moscow. 

Sergey played in 20 league games this season for Triumph. Here are his season numbers:

  • 15.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 29.4 mpg, 48.0 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 87.9 FT%

Sergey’s free-throw shooting is quite impressive. He is known to be a better 3-point shooter than the 30.4 percentage he posted this season for Triumph. That percentage should be higher.

Sergey was also a member of last summer’s Russian National Team, although he only participated in a limited number of minutes because he was the youngest member of the team at 18-years old. The Russians ended up earning the Bronze Medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Sergey has been visible to American scouts since his season ended. He competed in April’s Nike Hoop Summit, which took place in Portland, Oregon, and had an excellent week of practice leading up to the game, wowing scouts with his shooting ability and basketball instincts.

Check below for his video highlights from both practice and the Summit game:

Sergey was competing against and playing with elite competition at this year’s Summit — Jabari Parker (Duke), Andrew Wiggons (Kansas), and Dennis Schroder (Germany) were just a few players at this year’s event who are expected to be future household NBA names.

While at the Nike’s Hoop Summit, Sergey gave this interview to Draft Express (more practice highlights included):

Sergey worked out for all NBA teams earlier this month in Las Vegas. This situation was hardly ideal for him, though. According to Chad Ford (Insider), Sergey had issues with his visa and did not arrive in Vegas until after midnight on the day of the event. He looked sluggish. Although, Sergey did put on a nice shooting display in warm-ups. The 3-on-3 competition was a different story. His point guard would not pass him the ball, so he didn’t get many shots, but he did make a couple nice passes.

Ford said that it is unlikely Sergey’s disappointing Vegas performance hurt his draft stock. In fact, it was right after competing in Vegas that Sergey announced he was returning to Russia and not taking part in anymore pre-draft workouts.

And so began the speculation that Sergey had a “promise” from some NBA team.

Scouts love Sergey’s shooting ability and basketball instincts, as mentioned earlier. He has a knack for making the right play, which is uncommon for someone his age. There are a lot of areas where Sergey must improve, though. Specifically, he struggles on defense. Sergey often has trouble keeping his man in front of him and will give up easy drives to the basket. He also is not strong enough, yet, to post-up on offense. Defensive players had little trouble moving him out of the lane and forcing him to take difficult, contested shots.

Check out Sergey Karasev’s scouting video:

The Good:

  • 1:20 — Knocks down the ever important corner 3.
  • 1:47 — Gets ball, dribbles, and knocks down a 3 from the top of the key.
  • 2:04 — Triumph makes a steal. Sergey does a nice job filling his lane. He receives the ball and nails another 3-point shot.
  • 2:22 — Awesome shot here by Sergey! He gets the ball with time running out on the clock, off from an inbounds pass. Sergey hits a high-arching 3-point shot, while falling into the bench. The ball seems to hang in the air forever!
  • 3:20 — Sergey shows off his basketball instincts, setting up a teammate for a basket. He receives the ball on the wing, drives in, and finds his teammate for a dunk. Sergey seemed to already know he what he wanted to do on this play.
  • 5:16 — I love the reaction from the Triumph fan after this play. Sergey drives baseline, gets to the basket, misses, but stays with it and tips the ball in for 2. Good effort!

The Bad:

  • 6:31 — An example of Sergey’s lack of quickness on defense. The video says that he “opens up too much”. The video is right. Sergey’s man blows past to the hoop.
  • 7:29 — Again, Sergey struggles to stay with his man. In this case, he just can’t do it.
  • 10:28 — Sergey tries to post-up here, but gets pushed out of the lane by his defender. He attempts to attack basket, but is just not strong enough. He ends up taking an awkward hook shot and misses.

Sergey is expected to be selected in the first round of June 27th’s draft. He is projected to go as high as No. 9 to the Minnesota Timberwolves and as low as No. 22 to the Brooklyn Nets. According to Chad Ford (Insider), the Dallas Mavericks (No. 13) are another team that could likely select Sergey.

So, if it’s true that Hawks GM Danny Ferry made a “promise” to pick Sergey, he will have to hold his breath when the Mavs’ selection comes up. But, it definitely sounds as if Danny Ferry would love to see Sergey Karasev in an Atlanta Hawks uniform someday.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks NBA Draft Sergey Karasev

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