Credit: AP-Scanpix
Credit AP-Scanpix

With the Italian Serie A set to start on Saturday, we decided to produce a Top 10 of the most 'underrated' or 'less popular' profiles. As a result, such players like Nicolo Melli or Dinos Mitoglou did not make the list. But we promise you it's an exciting list nevertheless.

Malcolm Miller

Malcolm  Miller
Position: SF
Age: 28
Height: 201 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Birth place: Maryland, United States of America

As always, it has to be noted that this is a personal selection based on pre-season performances and other subjective aspects, so no offense to whoever didn't make the list. 

1) Jalen Harris (SG, Vanoli Cremona)

In my humble opinion, Jalen Harris is probably the most exciting player to watch in the upcoming Serie A season. A Nevada alumn, Harris was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 59th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He didn't play much with the Raptors, spending most of his time in the G League. But when played, he showed flashes, including a 31-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks, his hometown team, on May 14. 

The expectation was that Harris could become a rotation player for the Raptors, but on July 1, the league suspended him for violating the terms of the anti-drug program. Harris will be able to apply for reinstatement next summer. In the meantime, he'll play in Italy for Vanoli Cremona. 

The addition of Harris for the Italian team is huge. His potential as a scorer is impressive. He shot the ball incredibly well during his stint with the Raptors, almost 47.5% from 3-point, and he's effective both as a spot-up shooter and when he creates from the dribble. He can attack the defense with quick slashes to the basket and has a solid frame. Despite mainly being a scorer, Harris has decent passing skills and can find his teammates when he draws attention. He's also a willing rebounder for a guy of his size (196 cm). 

If Harris keeps his composure off the court, there's no doubt that he can be a game-changer in Cremona. "He has the potential to become the top scorer of the league. The amount of talent that he has offensively, it's not something that you see very often," a Euroleague scout told Basketnews.

2) Matteo Spagnolo (PG, Vanoli Cremona, on loan from Real Madrid)

Another Vanoli Cremona player at the top of the list. Spagnolo is one of the top talents of Italian basketball. He grew up in Brindisi, then he moved to Stella Azzurra Rome, where he made his professional debut in the Italian third division at the age of 14. After his time in Rome, he moved to Real Madrid, becoming the first Italian player to play for the Blancos in their youth department. 

His growth has been consistent, and this summer, he agreed to a new multi-year contract with Real before moving to Cremona on loan to find more minutes and continue his development. He already made his debut with the senior Italian NT in March. This pre-season, he had a 23-point performance against Sassari in the group phase of the Italian Supercup.

Spagnolo has always been an incredible offensive talent, able to score in many different ways. He still needs to improve his game management, and experience with Cremona will only help. Real Madrid will keep an eye on him. At only 18-years-old, Spagnolo is already one of the most intriguing prospects in Europe, and he's now ready for the first real challenge of his young career. 

3) Cameron Reynolds (SF, Aquila Basket Trento)

With 24 NBA games under his belt, Reynolds will play his first season in European basketball. Reynolds will probably be one of the most attractive foreign players to watch in the Italian Serie A this season, a capable wing with a fluid shooting motion and respectable defensive versatility.  

It's easy to project Reynolds as the model 3&D player. Trento still has work to do, but the team has a history of getting the best out of their foreign players, including the current star of Olimpia Milan Shavon Shields. Reynolds looks like the perfect fit for that kind of environment.

4) Gabriele Procida (SF, Fortitudo Bologna)

At only 19-years-old, Procida already has a lot of eyes on him. NBA scouts followed his play a lot during last season, and the current expectation is the second-round selection at the 2022 NBA Draft. 

Last year, he played his first full season in Serie A with Pallacanestro Cantu, showing the necessary skillset and attitude, rarely found at such a young age. Despite his efforts, the team was relegated to the second division, but several teams started to call and offered him the possibility of staying in the top division. Procida decided to sign with Fortitudo Bologna, where he is expected to receive minutes and continuity for his development. 

Last season Procida averaged 6.4 points per game while shooting an impressive 38% from 3-point. He is also no slouch on defense after showing flashes of elite lateral mobility and good instincts. Fortitudo looked like a mess during the Italian Supercup. There are also some rumblings regarding the potential departure of coach Jasmin Repesa. But the potential of Procida might be able to cast some light on the shadows surrounding the team in the past few weeks.

5) Mike Daum (F/C, Bertram Derthona Tortona)

Mike Daum, aka the Dauminator has landed in Italy, and nothing will ever be the same. Jokes aside, when Tortona announced the signing of Daum, I was really excited to see in Italy a player who I had followed a lot during his NCAA career. At South Dakota State, Daum crushed records and became the 10th NCAA Division I player to pass a 3000 career-point mark. 

A constant double threat for his rebounding and inside/outside shooting, Daum is a player who can give a lot to Tortona and coach Ramondino. The American forward/center spent the past two seasons in Spain with Obradoiro, averaging more than 9 points per game in both seasons and keeping impressive percentages from outside. A player like Daum is a luxury move for a team that just got promoted into the top division. There's no doubt that the destiny of Tortona will be strongly connected to Daum's performance. 

6) Martynas Echodas (F/C, Reyer Venezia)

After four straight seasons with Rytas, Lithuanian big man Martynas Echodas is ready for his first season outside of his native country. In Venezia, he'll find a strong environment, a team that has kept most of its core around for multiple seasons, something rarely seen in Europe.

Echodas won the Eurocup Rising Star award in the 2018-19 season and has been a key factor for Rytas over the past few seasons. He averaged 11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in the Lithuanian league, reaching the final against Zalgiris Kaunas. An athletic and offensively gifted player, Echodas knows how to use his body well and can finish strong around the basket. The Lithuanian big is only 24-years-old, and this might be his chance to finally fulfill his potential.

7) Malcolm Miller (SF, Vanoli Cremona)

Former NBA champion Malcolm Miller was probably one of the most surprising moves of the summer in Italy. This will be his second experience in Europe, as Miller tasted European basketball in the 2016-17 season when he played for ALBA Berlin. The year in Germany translated into a two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors, where he won the NBA title in 2019. 

Miller spent most of last season in the G League with the Salt Lake City Stars, averaging 8.1 points per game while shooting 37.5% from 3-point range. The outside shooting is one of his best skills, but his defensive versatility is also something to watch. His length allows him to cover and defend multiple positions, and he might even be a small-ball center. With another former Raptor, Jalen Harris, he might form one of the most intriguing duos of the Italian Serie A.

8) Christian Mekowulu (C, Dinamo Sassari)

Starting with his first season in Italy with Orzinuovi, Mekowulu basically owned the second division, averaging 16.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per game and becoming the league's best rebounder. The jump to Serie A didn't create any issues for Mekowulu, who quickly became one of the best bigs. In the regular season with Treviso, he averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. But in the playoffs series against Virtus Bologna, he exploded for 17 points and 7.3 rebounds. 

In the summer, Mekowulu joined Dinamo Sassari to replace the departure of Miro Bilan. His athleticism and verticality make him trouble for every player who wants to attack the rim against him. He has a solid frame and good lateral quickness. Offensively, he's hard to contain when he's around the basket and runs the floor exceptionally well in transition. This season could be his audition for the EuroLeague clubs.

9) Giordano Bortolani (G, Nutribullet Basket Treviso, on loan from Olimpia Milan)

In 2020, Italian guard Giordano Bortolani signed a five-year contract extension with AX Armani Exchange Milan. That's how much Milan believes in the future of this young guard with a lot of scoring abilities. He then moved to Brescia on loan, having his ups and downs in what was a challenging season.

This season Bortolani will play on loan with Treviso, probably a better environment for a young player. He'll have more freedom to create and operate from the dribble, one of his main qualities. Treviso made their way to the Basketball Champions League, so Bortolani will also have the opportunity to play in international competition. He has already made his debut with the Italian NT, and he's part of that next wave of Italian players that might represent the country in the Paris Olympic Games.

10) Tyus Battle (Combo guard, Dinamo Sassari)

A Syracuse alumn, Tyus Battle, is expected to become a key member for Dinamo Sassari. He is a very versatile combo guard who can attack from the pick & roll, use his athleticism in transition, and be an aggressive team defender. Battle spent last season with Enisey in Russia, averaging 12.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 46% from 3-point. With the departure of Spissu and the arrival of Clemmons, Battle will probably be used a lot as a secondary playmaker, operating often away from the ball. 

Sassari last season was the fastest team in the league, and Battle's qualities in transition will fit perfectly. Coach Cavina has already expressed his appreciation for the player. Now it's time for Battle to confirm what he has already shown in the VTB United League.

Other notable mentions: Josh Perkins (PG, Happy Casa Brindisi), Corey Sanders (PG, Allianz Trieste), Naz Mitrou-Long (PG, Germani Brescia), Brandon Ashley (F, Fortitudo Bologna).

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