Chances are unless you've had your finger on the pulse of Filipino basketball, you haven't heard about the best kept secret in hoops: Kiefer Ravena. The two-time MVP is already a national celebrity at the age of 22. After conquering the premier league of the Philippines, Ravena is rumored to be interested at making a run at the NBA through the D-League.
Ravena is a 6’0” combo guard who has spent the past five seasons with Ateneo de Manila University of the UAAP in the Philippines. Averaging 16.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals in 30.4 minutes of action over the past five seasons, Ravena has been MVP of the league twice.
When working out in Oakland, Ravena caught the eye of All-Star Damian Lillard. The pair briefly worked out before Lillard took on the Golden State Warriors in the second round of last year’s playoffs and seemed to get along. When touring the Philippines to promote his shoe, Lillard had this to say about Ravena’s game:
“I walked into the gym and I noticed him and a couple of other guys, and he worked really hard,” Lillard told Marco Benitez in an interview on The Score. “He can shoot. He can really shoot the ball. I think, any time you’re looking to be a pro, you gotta have one skill that will allow you to stick, or that a team can always count on, something you can always count on.”
While he passes the eye test well, a deeper look at his numbers tell a different story. In five seasons with Ateneo Blue Eagles, Ravena never shot higher than 28.4 percent from distance and averaged 39 percent from the floor during his career. A lot of his shots came in double coverage or late in the shot clock, but he needs to improve his shot selection.
His role was to be the primary focus on offense for a team that finished with a .500 record, and still won MVP. He has good shooting mechanics, excellent vision, and a certain electricity to his game. On a team with improved talent around him, he could see a gigantic improvement in those averages.
If Ravena wants to realize an NBA dream, he could realistically do so via the D-League. With a few tweaks to his game and continued hard work, he could become a well-rounded pick up for a team to develop. If he is going to become a viable option, he needs to focus on honing skills necessary to become an efficient point guard.
Standing at 6’0” and only weighing 180 pounds, Ravena will be limited in who he can guard and go up against at the next level. Right now, he does a little bit of everything at an alright level. He needs to specialize his game and do a couple things really, really well.
In the D-League, Ravena can tighten up his handles and cut back on turnovers. He was never much of a facilitator, but his vision is above average. His 3.9 assists to 2.3 turnovers is a positive ratio, but teams that are looking for players in the D-League want guys that will make teammates better and help run an offense. His shooting will need to improve too. Being that inefficient won't get him far on the court. Adding a reliable three point shot will make him that much more valuable to teams.
The D-League draft is October 30th. Ravena could be made available and enter the draft or, given that Ravena has attended a national tryout, he could sign a deal with the league if teams have seen enough to want him. If he does, he will instantly become on of the most followed players in the league.
In addition to his popularity on the court, Ravena has exploded off the court in the Philippians. When he isn't crossing people up, he is shooting his sitcom No Harm, No Foul with teammates, having cameras follow him around for his reality TV show, Phenoms, or being named one of the sexiest men in the Philippians, twice.
Life has been pretty kind to Kiefer Ravena so far. A superstar in every sense of the word in his own country, he has a chance to realize a dream that no native Filipino has before. If he can tighten up his game and prove himself in the D-League, he can make history.