Saski Baskonia (also known as Laboral Kutxa) announced Tuesday that Spurs 2011 draftee Adam Hanga signed a four year deal with the club. We've known this deal was coming for a couple of weeks now, but it's official. Hanga spent last season with Assigna Manressa in the Spanish ACB league. He now jumps to Baskonia where he'll compete in Euroleague games in addition to the ACB schedule. The competition will get tougher for Hanga, but his development in recent years shows he's ready to compete against Europe's best. His trajectory also shows he could be the Spurs next overseas gem.
Hanga struggled in his first season with Manressa in 2011-2012, averaging 7.8 points per game while shooting 46 percent from two-point range and just 26 percent from three in 21 minutes per game. His rebounding and assist numbers were also unspectacular. Fast forward to 2012-2013.
In a 32 game season, Hanga's numbers jumped up in almost every category. He finished averaging 11.7 points per game, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in nearly 26 minutes per game. His two-point shooting percentage stayed the same but his three-point shooting jumped nealry nine percentage points on 34 more shot attempts. His rebound and assist numbers also made a nice jump.
Hanga's full season numbers only tell half of the story. Not only did Hanga improve from season to season but he made huge improvements as the season went along. His final four months of the season, which covered 14 games, saw his numbers jumped as his minutes became more consistent. Over those last 14 games, Hanga averaged 14.5 points per game, drove his two-point shooting percentage up to 50 percent and his three point shooting, which remember was 34 percent on the season, jumped to 42 percent.
The increases don't stop with his shooting. Hanga's assist numbers averaged out at three per game. His rebounding numbers made a huge jump. In the first 18 games, Hanga averaged 3.7 rebounds. That number jumped all the way up to 5.5 per game over the final 14 games. That included one 10 rebound effort and two eight rebound games. To me that shows a 6'7" shooting guard beginning to understand how to leverage his body and athleticism against smaller defenders. His assist numbers also rose from 1.8 over the first 18 games to three over the final 14.
This season is going to be key in Hanga's development. If Hanga can come close to averaging 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists a game, we'll have a pretty good idea if he's close to ready for the NBA. By comparison, Manu Ginobili's 2000-2001 Euroleague (22 games) per game averages looked like this: 29 minutes, 15.2 points, 55.6 two-point shooting, 29.1 three-point shooting, 4.1 rebounds and two assists. There's no way to tell if Hanga could be nearly as effective as Ginobili in the NBA, but Hanga's numbers at 24 aren't too far off from Ginobili's at the same age.
It's unfair to expect any international prospect to be the next Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili, especially one taken with the second to last pick in the draft. International scouting has gotten so much better than it was was 10-12 years ago, sure fire prospects, or even guys with the dreaded upside label get taken in the top half of the first round. But of all the Spurs assets stashed overseas, Hanga looks like he has the size, athleticism and is developing the skill to become an impact player down the road. We don't know his buyout status yet, but two years into a four year deal feels like an appropriate time to start looking at him coming over. By that time he'll be 26 and have two seasons of Euroleague competition under his belt. Just like an Argentinean guard some years ago.
Statistics courtesy of Eurobasket.com.