Thursday, June 29, 2006

NBA Taps Two Israelis for First Time

Two Israeli born players were selected in tonights 2006 NBA Draft. Lior Eliyahu, a 6'9" 225 pound forward from Hapoel Galil Elyon/Golan in Israel's premier basketball league was drafted 44th by the Orlando Magic and Yotam Halperin, a 6'5" 210 pound guard was taken 53rd by the Seattle Sonics.

The two follow in the footsteps of Doron Sheffer, the only other Israeli ever selected. Sheffer was selected 36th in the 1996 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers but elected to return to Israel rather than attempt to develop an NBA career.

According the the unofficial NBA Draft prospectus published by ESPN
Eliyahu has natural scoring instincts, meaning he can score in a
variety of situations and from a variety of places on the floor. He
can pull up off the dribble and hit the mid-range shot, he can drain a
3-pointer, or he can take the ball to the basket. He has above average
but not sensational athletic ability.

Eliyahu averaged a team-high 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists
in 25 games in his third season with Hapoel Galil Elyon/Golan of the
Israeli Premier League. Named to the EuroCup All-Star Game for the
second straight season after scoring 19.2 points in six games. Earned
All-Tournament honors after scoring 18.0 points and grabbing 6.3
rebounds at 2005 under-20 European Championships. Member of Israel's
silver medal-winning squad at under-20 European Championships in 2004.

From the NBA Draft Camp Scouting Report:

Widely regarded as the first Israeli-born player to potentially make
it to the NBA, Eliahu still has a lot of work ahead of him to make the
jump to the league. He is a raw player with tremendous skills and
athletic ability, but there are several obstacles in his path. While
Eliahu has shown a variety of offensive abilities, the competition he
faces is sub-par. Nevertheless, scouts always seem interested in a
player that is 6-foot-9 and can hit an NBA-range 3-point shot, take
the ball off the dribble and doesn't play atrocious defense. Eliahu
opened some eyes at the European under-20 Championships in Russia this
past summer, averaging 18.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Eliahu
has the foundation in place to become a productive NBA player. He
needs a few more years' seasoning overseas to refine his game. Also
delaying his potential NBA future is a two-year required military
stint with the Israeli army. Though he may be a few years away from
his NBA debut, Eliahu is firmly on the draft radar for this year and
several years to follow.

For more visit Lior's draft page on

Yotam Halperin, a 6'5" 210 pound guard became only the third Israeli
born player to be selected by the NBA in its annual draft, the second
this year. Yotam was selected 53rd by the Seattle Sonic in tonights
2006 NBA Draft.

From His Unofficial Scouting Report on

Strengths: Halperin has terrific size for an NBA point guard.
Offensively, Halperin is intriguing since he's the type of player that
can score from anywhere on the floor, being both a terrific shooter
and slasher as well as possessing a solid mid-range game. As a point
guard, his ball-handling skills, court vision and basketball instincts
all lead to believe that he has what it takes to continue to play the
position in the NBA as well.

Weaknesses: The first thing you notice is that Halperin is not as
athletic as your average NBA guard, being highly fluid and
coordinated, but not all that explosive. His first step in particular
is not all that impressive, often needing a screen, some nifty
ball-handling skills or other crafty tricks to be able to get by his
man already at the European level.

Outlook: Halperin is considered a very strong second-round prospect
with a chance of moving into the late first round with good workouts.

From his Sports Illustrated pre-draft profile:

ANALYSIS: It's been a breakthrough season for Halperin, who until this
season was just another good player on one of the deepest teams in
Europe, Maccabi Tel Aviv. This season the Israeli native took his game
to Slovenia, where he played for Union Olimpija Ljubljana, also a top
European team, but a place where Halperin would be an unquestioned
starter and allowed to grow. By the middle of the season, it was
apparent that Halperin was one of the best young guards in Europe.
Although he is the size of a typical shooting guard, Halperin is at
his best with the ball in his hands, making decisions and also making
big shots when his team needs them. He has all the leadership
qualities for the position and is cool in the game's biggest moments.
He can shoot the three-pointer and also make plays for himself and his
teammates by beating his man off the dribble. He sizes up game
situations well and always seems to be on the same page with his
coaching staff. In Europe, Halperin is a better athlete than most
players he will face, but even in the NBA he will have enough
athleticism to get by. Unlike many European guards, Halperin is a
better than average defender.

To view Yotam's official 2006 NBA Draft page please visit at:


Posted by Dr. Mike Cohen