2006 Draft Profile: Yotam Halperin

Really. Listen to trainer David Thorpe describe his newest client in a TrueHoop MP3. Ditto this TrueHoop MP3 with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, too. This kid is exciting.

Here's some video of him in a game against Andrea Bargnani. Nothing mind-blowing in terms of highlights, but plenty of heady, sensible plays from a ball-handler with size who keeps winning championships.

He has been called the "Lebron James of Israel" and could become the first Israeli to be picked in the first round.

Joseph D. Robbins of the Jerusalem Post has heard from Chad Ford that Halperin--who only recently arrived in the States after winning a title in Slovenia--has wowed teams with his nine days of workouts:

According to Ford, Halperin, who has worked out for Washington, Phoenix, Indiana, Detroit, Portland and Seattle, has excelled in his workouts "against higherranked players."

Throughout his workouts, Halperin continually surprised teams who had not previously been familiar with him, while showing that he is in fact NBA-ready.

Apparently, the NBA is as ready for Halperin as he is for them.

According to Ford, "Israelis are NBA fanatics," and Halperin being drafted could "provide a boon in the form of a new market to the team that drafts him."

Now to the good stuff. Erin Podolsky has been making google earn its reputation and this is what she has found:

Check out the Yotam Halperin Wikipedia entry.

According to 24sec.net, Halperin has released from completing his term of service in the Israeli Defense Forces.

More on that, from Halperin's lips to HoopsHype's ears:

"I read you had to be released from the Army in order to sign with Olimpija. Is that true?

YH: Yes, you know, in Israel you have to be in the Army three years. I did two years and after that I wanted to go out and play in Europe. Of course, nobody is allowed to do it (leave the Army) but I got a special permission and they released me for this year. I already made two, I have one year left, but it's OK."

The Jerusalem Post reported in September 2005 that this was a deferral, and Halperin was -- at that time -- scheduled to complete his remaining 4.5 months after the Euroleague season. Also worth noting that his contract with Olimpija Ljubljana was for one year, so presumably he does not have a buyout. Guess he can spend at least part of the usual buyout year delay peeling potatoes in the IDF.

In today's umpteenth CFMD (Chad Ford Mock Draft -- at this point in the draft guessing game, it deserves its own acronym), Ford knocked YoHalp out of the first round and into the laps of the Atlanta Hawks at No. 33:

"Halperin would become Israel's first NBA player. The Hawks need a steady point guard, and Halperin's stellar play in the Euroleague indicates he could come in and play some minutes immediately. Think a better-shooting Beno Udrih."

(Let's say Danny Schayes exercised the Law of Return, moved to the homeland and took on Israeli citizenship -- wouldn't he then be grandfathered in as Israel's first NBA player? Inquiring minds want to know.)

Halperin would not actually be the first Israeli drafted -- that honor goes to Doron Sheffer, who was taken in the second round by the Clippers in TK. Read about that and more (including other Milk and Honey native son Lior Eliyahu) in this article from Haaretz last week.

For what it's worth, Chad Ford apparently first dropped Halperin's name back in December on his blog, when the Udrih comparison was but a twinkle in his eye -- instead he compared him to Jon Barry. You do the math.