Yotam Helperin
Courtesy of The Washington Wizards
Photo: AP
Seattle Supersonics
Photo: AP

Israeli player faces Seattle Sonics challenge

After being picked as number 53 in the NBA draft Seattle Sonics gives Maccabi basketball player Yotam Halperin a chance to prove himself. 'We are satisfied with our choice,' Sonics' General Manager Rick Sund

On the eve of the NBA draft Yotam Helperin said he plans to start his NBA career. The Israeli guard was perhaps a bit disappointed to be picked in the 53rd place in the second round of the Draft, but he seems very determined to do all he can and fulfill his dream to play next season for the Seattle Supersonics.


Yotam's hopes may have been hampered a bit by Sonics' estimation that he may need another season playing in Europe (For Maccabi) to which he is obligated contractually for another season.


David Pendergraft, the Sonics' director of player personnel, said that "the guy is 6' 5" and he is a combo guard with an unbelievable basketball IQ. He's somebody who will probably stay in Europe for a year, maybe two. We would not have taken him if we did not think he had a chance to be an NBA player."


Halperin in action (Photo: Ales Fevzer)


Sonics General Manager Rick Sund added: "We will give Yotam a chance to prove himself and compete for a roster spot. We'll invite him for our summer camp and get to know him better. We're already happy with what we know about him at this point, but when he'll come to Seattle, it will be a good opportunity for us the have a better feel about him.


"We are very satisfied with Yotam's pick. We didn't expect him to be available for us so late in the second round, but once we had a chance to get him, we didn't hesitate and picked him. I can't really say why other teams didn't pick him earlier; I just know that we really liked what we saw when he came here for a workout. We also watched some tapes of him, and had some scouts over in Europe that had good reports on him. After taking care of our center and forward position (Mouhamed Saer Sene and Denham Brown), we had a chance to take care of our point guard position and we thought that Yotam was a good prospect at that point."


Could he eventually become an NBA caliber player?


"Sure he could play here, he's a very talented player. He needs to work on his speed a little bit, but he certainly showed us that he can really handle the ball, he's a smart player and his shooting is pretty good as well".


When do you predict he will be ready for the NBA?


"I can't really tell right now. I don't really know him enough to have this evaluation. I also need to check his contract situation (with Maccabi) I know that he's ready to join us and very happy. We talked to him on the phone and he told us he's very excited to get picked by us.


"We expect Yotam to also be a leading player on our team, so he has to prove he could be that kind of a player in Maccabi, or any other team. We also have some good players on our team like Ray Allen, Luc Ridnour and Rashard Lewis. Either way, we are going to watch him closely this year and it doesn't really matter to us what will happen with Maccabi. We have our own expectation of Yotam".


Sund also referred to drafting Europeans and going for future projects like Sene: "It's not our policy. We just pick the best players available that fit our team. The critics...we don't really listen to them, we are comfortable with what we are doing on the team. Others can write what ever they want." 


And still, you had a disappointing season? 


"We also were very disappointed with the team performance last season, after a very promising one in 2004-05. That's why we did some changes. We released some of our free agents and added Chris Wilcox and Earl Watson and with them we improved late in the season. We believe that the changes we made will help us to get back to business, maybe even into the playoffs. Who knows? Maybe with Yotam on the rosters."


פרסום ראשון: 07.05.06, 11:02
 new comment
This will delete your current comment