After a 2011 draft class that saw four international players go in the top seven, Tornike Shengelia was one of the few foreign athletes to come out of this year's player pool.
The 20-year-old athletic fiend comes into the NBA standing at 6'9" and weighing in at 220 pounds. His overall mechanics are incredibly raw, but his greatest strength lies within his motor, as he's an intangibles guy who never takes his foot off the gas.
So, while his stat lines scream mediocre, his work ethic has earned him a chance to make a name for himself at the professional level.
What Shengelia Brings to the Team
Shengelia is a rebounding machine. He's great at fighting for position down low, and his impressive wingspan provides him with an edge over players taller than himself.
Though his mechanics on both ends of the floor are in need of some major honing, his footwork is his saving grace. He moves fluidly in the low post on the defensive end and has an array of spin moves in his offensive arsenal that he's extremely adept at implementing when being defended by those smaller than he.
That said, one of Shengelia's greatest strengths is also his weakness. His footwork is often fancy and effective, but he has trouble stopping and establishing proper position in time to develop a consistent jumper.
Despite being an above-average ball-handler and exceptional playmaker, he often rushes his jump shots, thereby offering a wildly inconsistent result.
What Experts Are Saying
One of the many questions surrounding Shengelia is his ability to demonstrate worth outside of his athleticism. As Chad Ford of ESPN.com dutifully offers, there's nothing Shengelia does that truly allows him to distinguish himself from the rest of the in-bound rookies.
[He's a] Long, active forward who plays hard and has solid athleticism for a European prospect. He's a very good rebounder, but isn't a great offensive player at the moment. He averaged a very solid 8.3 ppg in the Euroleague this year.
His penchant for rebounding and overall aggression are valued commodities coming out of the Euroleague, but if he's unable to make a more substantiated impact, his transition into the NBA will be anything but seamless or fruitful.
Shengelia is unlikely to receive much meaningful playing time in his first full NBA season, but he should be able to solidify a reputation as a workhorse. It doesn't matter how often he plays—when he's on the floor, he's locked in and focused on doing his job.
However, if Shengelia actually wants to have a job to do, he's going to have to give his team reasons to play him. Developing a consistent jumper will go a long way toward allowing him to make a more immediate impact, but improving his defensive awareness and shot-blocking abilities are also imperative moving forward as well.
Currently, Shengelia's potential at the NBA level hinges on his ability to expand upon his noticeably limited, somewhat underwhelming two-way arsenal.
The 6'9, 220-pound Georgian may not be well-known, but he's one of the best kept secrets in the draft and the Nets have scored big.
For a big man he's an excellent ball-handler who finishes well at the rim. His presence in the key and around the rim are a testament to his tenacity. Although his jump shot is rather pedestrian, he's a mobile big man that will make an impact on both ends of the court.