Will do a series of these Making The Jump articles with the focus on players moving up in level. And with an extra focus on rookie, D-League, or NBA players making their first foray into Europe. The first edition focused on the Euroleague and now it’s time to dive into the new Eurocup Players.
Robert Carter Jr: Enel Brindisi to Lietuvous Rytas
One of the premier offensive big men on the European market this summer, Carter was scooped up later than expected. He’s a 4.5, leaning more towards a 5 who possesses a variety of scoring moves. He can be a devastating face-up or post-up player. Considering his big body, Carter is fairly agile with his dribbling and attacking ability. He still has a distinct amount of power in his game too. And there is some stretch shooting ability. But when talking to coaches this summer about Carter, the main takeaway was that his defense really needs to improve for them to sign him. So Rytas could have a steal of a big, especially considering their particular off-season issues but the defensive side of the ball will have to improve for Carter to reach Europe’s top clubs.
Will Cummings: AEK Athens to Darussafaka
Have been a Cummings fan back to his days at Temple. That speed was always damn interesting and played fearless, a relentless attacker. And Cummings has stayed running, he’s one of the better driving, slashing guards in Europe. Cummings can and has been used as a point or combo guard but really he makes plays on the ball. Has a great defensive profile, he’s quick and long (6’7.5″ wingspan). Can create pressure on the ball and he’s aggressive, not afraid to go for steals or rack up fouls. One thing that held him back late in college was his awful outside shooting (including a PIT 2015 performance where he couldn’t hit an outside shot). But Cummings has made great strides, going from 22.9% from 3 his senior season at Temple to 37.7% in the D-League and to 34% with Aris. And that 34% last season looks to be legit.
Guards like Cummings aren’t in great supply and as his Euro development continues with reading the game he’ll be among the top import guards around.
Lamar Patterson: Reno Bighorns/Atlanta Hawks to Fiat Torino
Torino is basically rebuilding their whole roster this summer with the addition of coach Luca Banchi and their wildcard spot to the Eurocup. Patterson is by far their biggest move so far. It’s actually quite surprising he wasn’t snatched up by a Euroleague team. Have always been interested in Patterson’s game, he’s a point forward type who reads the game well, plays with physicality and has a variety of offensive abilities. He’s unique, as a younger player he was more of a 2/3 but with his wide frame he’s looking more now like a 3/4. He’s a passer, rebounder, draws a ton of fouls, finishes thru contact and has a good handle. But he takes chances, makes risky plays and because of his particular body type he gets himself into some awkward movement.
Patterson’s body is a major factor in his effectiveness, during his rookie season with Tofas the Atlanta Hawks told him if he got in much better shape he can be an NBA player. And he dropped weight and made the Hawks for the full 2015-16 season and they called him up again last season for a couple 10-day contracts.
Wings are like gold nowadays. And Patterson is not a typical fit but he’s very effective in his own way. With summer moves like Rakim Sanders to Barcelona, Deshaun Thomas to Maccabi, and Ricky Ledo to Efes, Patterson easily stacks up these players and likely is better.
Jorge Gutierrez: Trabzonpor to Dolomiti Energia Trento
The first of two Trento profiles. With Euro Ball a lot of success and failure comes down to fit. Sometimes great talent, based on level, can overcome fit. But since that’s tough to find, fitting a player to your culture, coach, and club is very important. Trento has built a solid system ever since they made it up to Serie A three years ago. They play close to position-less basketball with versatile players who interchange positions. And they’ve done a great job of developing that system where it’s clear the type of players who fit and they go out and get them. A staple of the team last year was their tough lead guard Aaron Craft, who helped lead the team to the Finals. Now Gutierrez steps into that role.
It took Gutierrez a while to come to Europe. He started four straight D-League seasons with the Canton Charge and every season he got called up by the end to an NBA time and 3/4 times he was on a playoff roster. So every time it was just enough to keep him around. Gutierrez went to Trabzonpor in November and had basically a full Euro season. And the key with Gutierrez is, he fits what Trento wants. He’s a physical, defensive first point guard who is at his best creating for other offensively. With a rock solid frame for a PG, Gutierrez is hard to rattle. He’s got solid vision, can finish inside, and is a good rebounder for his position.
Gutierrez is the type of intangible heavy lead guard Trento looks for, similar to Craft. And both are successful even with a large lack of outside shooting and overall scoring. Gutierrez also has some decent international experience as the Mexican national team’s starting PG.
Chane Behanan: Reno Bighorns/Salt Lake City Stars to Dolomiti Energia Trento
Behanan is a wild card pick. I’m sure many of you remember his Louisville days and he hasn’t quite found his pro footing yet. In the D-League last year I remember being at a live game and talking to a D-League assistant coach about how Behanan has to have the thickest legs we’ve seen. For a center he has a short, compact body and it creates a damn powerful player. He’s not so much a leaper but a physical presence who tries to yes, overpower you. And similar to the hard-working Doug Hogue last season, Behanan’s frame and abilities match up but will he have the same endless energy and grit Hogue displayed (especially what Hogue showed in the playoffs). Trento has dealt well with talent who needed some nurturing in the past and it will be very interesting to see if they can work their magic on Behanan.
Toure Murry: Yesilgiresun to Ratiopharm Ulm
Another guy who took forever to hop the pond. Same as Gutierrez, Murry played four seasons in the states, one on a full year contract with the Knicks and three others on five different D-League teams. Murry has the physical profile of a wing but is more comfortable playing as a big point guard. He’s got great length and height for the position. He doesn’t have super burst but plays at a smooth pace that’s tough to mess with. Like Gutierrez too he’s a non-shooter really, a lead guard who gets by on passing, driving, and defense.
Murry had a very brief stop in Europe last year, just six games with Yesilgiresun, so really this will be his first real Euro adventure. What’s huge for him is that Ulm has had massive success the past few years, especially developing talent like his.
TJ Cline: University of Richmond to Galatasary Odeabank Istanbul
Another Istanbul team who made a very surprising move on a young player. Cline had a huge senior season at Richmond where he was the Atlantic 10 player of the year. He’s an offensively versatile forward who played just about every role in college. His special ability is how he reads the game, Richmond’s offense went thru Cline as a point forward and he controlled the game from all levels, perimeter, mid-range, and post. He’s a fantastic passer. Can shoot it from deep. Grab and go player. But he won’t be able to be a do-everything offensive player for Gala, he needs to find a role and be a more solid spot-up threat.
His problem will be dealing with all of the athleticism and physicality at the Eurocup level. Cline is a minus wing-span player who will have issues defensively matching up with other forwards. The speed of these players and the game is just different and will be a huge adjustment.
Luke Fischer: Marquette University to Herbalife Gran Canaria
Fischer is a bit of a classic or old school big man as they say. He’s a post presence, both as a passer and scorer. And defensively he’s got very good inside, has shot blocking ability, and can be an anchor in the back line of a defense. But for Fischer that will all be very difficult to do in the ACB and Eurocup, it’s going to be quite the jump. He’s quite foul prone and doesn’t have an offensive game outside the paint.
Fischer obtained the Armenian passport this summer and that’s the reason he’s got the spot on a playoff ACB team. Passport bigs are not easy to find and Fischer has the necessary inside potential for Gran Canaria to take a chance on him. And with Ondrej Balvin and Anzejs Pasecniks already manning the middle, Fischer can be brought along slowly and adds depth for a long season ahead.
Przemek Karnowski: Gonzaga University to Morabanc Andorra
Everyone knows Karnowski. Gonzaga, Polish national team, and now finally back in Europe full-time. For being one of the largest basketball players on the planet, Karnowski has always had a rare offensive game as a post player who was more comfortable passing than finishing inside himself. Have always watched Karnowski and wanted him to be more aggressive. Luckily we got a flash of that after his trade at the Orlando Summer League to the Magic. When you’re that god damn big, go enforce your will on some 6’8″ leaper trying to be a center. And Karnowski has that in him, he just needs to bring it out more often.
Defensively he’s obviously a mountain but have seen guards at the college level do a pretty good strapping their hiking boots on and summiting at the rim. Andorra has a recent track record of doing well with giant guys, Giorgi Shermadini just had a 1st team ACB season. Can Karnowski run more pick and roll and cover at least some space on defense? He’s smart and he can develop. His unfortunate back issues and size make injuries a concern after sitting out all of the 2015-16 season. But this is a signing that fits Andorra.
Garrett Nevels: Forca Lleida to Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia
During the season Simon brought up Nevels as a cool bucket-getter guard in LEB Gold and once the summer hit Nevels became a little bit of a hot cheap guard option. He will certainly fill it up. The second year guard who the year before was in EBA, finished 4th in LEB in scoring including a 39 point explosion in the last game of the regular season to try to get his team to the playoffs. Nevels is slender with a slippery handle and will pull-up from just about anywhere. Reggio is not in the same place it was the last few seasons and had to mine for cheaper signings this summer. Nevels is a reasonably priced microwave scorer who can provide offensive energy and playmaking off the bench.