PRO TEAM: KK Partizan
VITALS: 6'11", 220 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2013 by Memphis (Round 2, Pick 55)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Denver Nuggets
If I surveyed 100 people Family Feud style on famous Joffreys, 99 of them would reference the tyrannical boy king Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones. It would probably be 100 out of 100 in most instances but I am including Fran Fraschilla in my survey. The ESPN "overseas export" would most certainly say French international forward Joffrey Lauvergne. He would probably go on to tell you what Joffrey's favorite vegetable is and another half an hour of irrelevant information about him too but we'll leave that out. I'm here to tell you about his basketball career to this point, including his role for France's bronze medal team at the FIBA World Cup.
The French big man started off his career at 16 in a limited capacity with Centre Federale du Basketball in his native France. His first season saw him get into 14 games and average 6 points and 3 rebounds a game. He played just two games for the club in his second professional season but he would get the call to play in the highest level of French basketball as well as his country towards the end of that year. The calls would come from Elan Chalon and the U-16 National Team. He would put up 7 point & rebound per game averages in a sixth place finish at the U-16 Euros before reporting to Chalon.
Chalon was a regular in the middle of the LNB Pro A table. Lauvergne's arrival in 2009 wasn't met with much fanfare but his size and burgeoning ability drew the attention of those in charge at the French National Team. Lauvergne would only play just 20 games for the Mooses in 2009 but made the roster for France at the European Championships in Poland. He didn't feature for the fifth place finishers but making the team at 18 was a big accomplishment.
His next three years would put him on the map for foreign scouts. 2010-11 was a banner year for the near seven footer as he had his best scoring (11.0) and rebounding (6.9) totals at the time and won the French Cup domestically. As part of the U-20 National Team, he averaged 6.8 PPG en route to a bronze medal at the 2011 U-20 European Championships. Joffrey and Elan Chalon won the treble in France of the LNB Pro A playoffs title, the French Cup, and the Leaders Cup the next year. His stock was at an apex and Lauvergne and Elan mutually parted ways after just fourteen total games for the club (seven in LNB Pro A, seven in Euroleague) in 2012-13. He would sign a month long short term deal with Spanish side Valencia Basket in November of 2012 and play for them in both the Eurocup and Liga ACB competitions. After his glorified loan spell ended in Spain, he was back in the Euroleague mix with KK Partizan in Serbia. Well, sort of.
Partizan had been eliminated from the competition along with Lauvergne's former team, Elan, before his arrival in Serbia. Lauvergne did not let that retard his development. Playing major minutes in both Partizan's Serbian League and Adriatic League title drives, Lauvergne became known as quite the astute rebounder. He would average seven boards a game, along with shooting 70% from the floor, in the KLS as Partizan won the championship again. They would bow out in the semi-finals of the Adriatic League, losing to eventual runner-up Cedevita of Croatia. After the season, Joffrey was drafted by Memphis in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft.
Joffrey's stay in Blues City was short lived as the Grizz packaged him with forward Darrell Arthur and traded him to the Nuggets for center Kosta Koufos. Denver would let Lauvergne stay overseas until at least the expiration of his contract at the time with Partizan. His progression over his first full season in Belgrade would make the Nuggets feel better about losing a prospect like Koufos. He averaged at least 11 and 8 in every competition he played in and led the entire Euroleague in rebounding at 8.6 per. Over the course of the year, Joffrey became the first non-Serbian captain of Partizan ever. They would win the double that eluded them the year before with both the Serbian and Adriatic League crowns. Lauvergne made the All-ABA League First Team.
Before leaving on international duty with France for the FIBA World Cup this summer, Joffrey transfered to BC Khimki in Russia. It was hard for Lauvergne to leave the team and coach where he came into his own, but for a team in financial straits like Partizan, the $600,000 contract buy-out was too much to pass up. As I said in the previous DRR, Lauvergne will team up with Petteri Koponen for Russia's best regular season team from 2013-14. They will play in the newly formed VTB United League come this fall. In the meantime, Lauvergne showcased his talents in Spain. France shocked the international basketball community when they easily handled one of the tournament favorites, host nation Spain, in the quarterfinals. They were then shocked in the semis by Serbia but at no fault of the 6'11" Lauvergne. He led the team in rebounding at 5.3 a game and was third on the team in scoring a 9.2 a contest. He scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in France's win over Lithuania in the third place game.
With a new contract with a new team in a newly formed league, it may be a while before we see the rapidly improving Mulhouse native in the NBA. Until that day, keep your eyes out for his rebounding prowess and thunderous horror dunks at the European Championships in 2015. I'm sure the scene below will happen at least once or nine times.
Thanks for reading the twenty-first installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors! I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights. Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted. For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3. For less of me, face Scorpion in Mortal Kombat and attempt to use your computer as a shield.
Image Credits: Joffrey screaming (eurocupbasketball.com), Horror Dunk (kkpartizan.rs)