Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, Nick Mancini will be profiling the top 20 players available. The Cleveland Cavaliers currently own pick Nos. 1, 19, 31 and 33. Follow Nick on Twitter @nickmance.
No. 18. Sergey Karasev – Europe 6’-7”, SF
2013 stats (Triumph Moscow) – 16 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.4 apg
For the first time in a few drafts, there could be as many as six international players selected in the first round. The first to enter our top-20 list is Sergey Karasev, the 19-year-old wing out of Russia.
In a couple mock drafts released over the past few days, Karasev has been linked to Cleveland with the Cavs' second first round pick. At No. 19 overall, he is certainly a very intriguing prospect.
Karasev is a smooth wing with a high basketball IQ. He led Russia’s top league in scoring this past season, showing great maturity in his game for only being 19. He has a knack for getting to the rim and an ability to finish with either hand. He never seems to be playing too fast and is always under control.
Below is some footage of Karasev at the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, courtesy of City League Hoops:
For his size, Karasev has excellent floor vision and can really pass. In a pinch, he might even be able to slide over and play NBA minutes at the point guard spot. He's been compared to Toni Kukoc (I know, totally random), with the ability to stretch defenses and still be able to get to the rack.
The downside to Karasev's game is not he's a great athlete. He is probably average at best, and in a league filled with the world's best athletes, that could be a problem. He will need to work on his strength and quickness, especially on the defensive end, if he is going to thrive on the NBA level. Right now, I’m not sure he would have much of a chance to stay in front of the league's premier perimeter players.
He is the type of player who could thrive, though, on a team with a star point guard like the Cavaliers have in Kyrie Irving. Karasev has the ability to hit open shots and could stretch out the defense in a role that would give Cleveland's offense some breathing room it didn't have last year.
With the luxury of having that second first rounder, the Cavaliers are in a great spot. Personally, I would love for them to package it somehow and climb back into the lottery; there is one prospect in particular who intrigues me. But if they stand pat and stay at 19, Karasev could very well be the best option for Cleveland.