2011-2012 stats (with Charleroi, Belgium): 9 GMS, 20.7 MPG, 45.2% FG, 68.2% FT, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 TO, 0.3 STL, 0.1 BLK, 8.3 PPG
On draft day, the Nets bought Tornike “Toko” Shengelia, this year’s 54th draft pick, from Philadelphia for a few of Mikhail Prokhorov’s millions. Since Shengelia is an international rookie picked late in the second round, he is somewhat of an unknown player. 20 years old, Shengelia is a 6’10” forward from Tbisli, Georgia (the country). He has been playing for the Georgian national team.
Offseason report: Drafted by 76ers, traded to Nets, seems destined to play upcoming season in Europe, shines in Orlando Summer League, makes Nets roster.
Shengelia seemed destined to play this upcoming season in Europe, but his agent convinced GM Billy King to let Shengelia play in the Orlando Summer League, where he shined. After the Summer League concluded, the Nets were left with multiple open roster spots and only the ability to offer minimum contracts. They decided to take a small risk and sign Shengelia to a two year minimum contract.
Shengelia expressed a strong desire to move to Brooklyn and play for the Nets this season, even though the Nets had other plans. At a post-draft press conference, Billy King mentioned that he was planning to let Shengelia develop overseas. Shortly after, Shengelia’s agent made it known to Billy King and the press that Shengelia wanted to participate in the Orlando Summer League and give American basketball a shot. Shengelia was then included in the Nets’ summer league roster. Per game in Orlando, Shengelia averaged 10.2 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 52.9% in 21 minutes. Afterwards, the Nets offered Shengelia a spot on their opening day roster and Toko accepted.
Predictions for 2012-2013: Shengelia will struggle to find playing time and make an impact. After languishing on the Nets bench for too long, Toko will temporarily be sent to the D-League, where he will perform very well.
It is hard to see that a 20 year old Euro who was drafted late in the second round would make any real impact in his rookie year. That being said, next season will be a very important one for Toko in terms of adjusting to the NBA game. I predict that he will be frustrated with his lack of relevance next season. Ultimately, I predict he will spend some time in the D-League during the middle of the season, just like Jordan Williams did last season. Judging from his performance in the Orlando Summer League, he could probably impress D-League coaches.