Orlando Summer League 2012: Brooklyn Nets' Tornike Shengelia Is for Real

Ben RosenthalContributor IIJuly 11, 2012

via nba.com
via nba.com

Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 54th pick in the 2012 NBA draft and subsequently traded to the Brooklyn Nets, Tornike Shengelia is a very unique player.

At 6'9'', 225 pounds, Shengelia can shoot from deep (though it is not his strength) and can put the ball on the floor like a slashing guard. He is 20 years old and is from the Republic of Georgia. Unlike fellow countryman Zaza Pachulia, Shengelia is not just a screen setter.

Having watched him play in the Orlando Summer League, this guy has some legit talent. He has very solid ball-handling for someone his size and has a surprisingly quick first step.

It is difficult to come up with an NBA doppelganger, but he appears to have some LeBron James-esque qualities to him. Obviously, a very poor man's LeBron—at least at this stage of his career.

From the limited Orlando Summer League action I saw (against the 76ers), Shengelia was aggressive in getting to the rim and more than held his own athletically. He finished that game against the 76ers with 17 points and six rebounds in a 79-71 defeat.

Colin Stephenson of the Star-Ledger was able to obtain some telling quotes from Nets head coach Avery Johnson:

“I think the initial thought was to draft and keep him overseas, but things could change, depending on our roster,” Johnson said. ”We’ll have five games to look at him in Orlando, but he’s playing like a man that doesn’t want to go back over there.”

Shengelia has been impressing both Johnson and his teammates in practice. The coach told Tim Bontemps of the New York Post that he is a unique prospect because of his versatility to play the 3 or the 4.

Point guard Taurean Green—who, oddly enough, is a Georgian citizen—also had some high praise for Shengelia. He said Shengelia is a hard worker and will get better each year.

Perhaps the most telling quotes are courtesy of Shengelia himself:

“For right now, my goal is to stay here this year,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’d be disappointed [if I don’t]. I know that if this year’s not the year, I’m gonna do everything to come next year. But I’d really love to stay here this year.”

Shengelia may be a bit raw, but the talent is there. The Nets could be an interesting team this year, and Shengelia could be a viable option at the 3 or the 4.

Who knows? With his athleticism and ball-handling ability, he could earn himself a place on what could be a very strong Nets squad next year.