Notebook: EuroCup Opening Day Review

Finally Euro Ball is fully invested into the streaming era and we have EuroCup in our Euroleague.TV packages now.  And this enabled a day of sitting around, watching as much EuroCup as possible and writing notes.  Was able to watch Lokomitov Kuban vs. Limoges, Trento vs. Asvel, Lietuvos Rytas vs. Bilbao, and the 2nd half of Unics Kazan vs. Andorra.  Here are some thoughts and observations from those games.

Flaccadori Growing Up

Diego Flaccadori is now entering his 4th season in Trento and looking to take on a much bigger role.  Still just 21, Flaccadori looks a bit more composed and confident.  His game is very creative and spontaneous which also makes him a bit wild.  But the process of deciding when to take risks and when to not has seemed to speed up.  Flaccadori still had some breath-taking plays, a switch hand layup, quick grab n go plays, and wrap around the basket passes.  He was more composed on the ball, as well as handling pressure and contact better.  There’s still going to be mistakes and unnecessary shots but he’s trying to grow from bursts of productivity to becoming a more reliable and counted upon player.  He finished with 11-7-4.

Chane Behanan’s Perimeter Game

Behanan is an undersized big man who mainly played the 5 for Trento.  He has an incredibly stocky and thick body.  Taking the place of a player with a similar build from last year, Dustin Hogue. But Behanan’s game is different than Hogue’s.  What was interesting was how much time he spent on the perimeter vs. Asvel.

Trento has the luxury of playing basically positionless basketball in Coach Buscaglia’s system.  It’s set up where almost all players can post up, grab n go and play outside.  So this gives Behanan the opportunity to roam around.  Where he’s at his best though is finishing around the basket.  With Dominique Sutton, the duo form probably the best power dunking tandem in Europe.  He put down multiple alley-oops in transition.  And he had a super cut where he charged in and by the time he got a pass mid cut no one wanted to get in front of the tank flying at the rim.  And he had his share of post-ups as well.  Mainly a finisher and shot taker, Behanan did flash some vision, even trying out a behind the back pass in the post to a cutter (successful pass but a missed shot).  Still, if the ball touches his hands he’s likely to shoot it.

Behanan was often on the perimeter whether in a 5-out formation or if a wing wanted to post. He hit one 3 and one pull-up 2pt jumper. Forced some other shots but showed this is maybe, maybe a potential weapon. He’s still figuring out the Euro game and has to keep the ball moving but the flashes of scoring talent are real. Here’s how his lifetime 3-point shooting stacks up:

Louisville: 91 Games | 7/48 | 14.6%
D-League: 48 Games |1/7 | 14.3%
’15-16 BSN: 47 Games | 26/87 | 29.9%
’15-16 LNBP: 23 Games | 2/25 | 8%
’16-17 BSN: 20 Games | 2/21 | 9.5%

Is that ’15-16 season in Puerto Rico an outlier or a preview of things possibly to come when he gets real outside shooting reps?  We’ll have to wait and see. In EuroCup he’s 1/1.

Shavon Shields: Guard

The Trento system brings flexibility and with that, we got to see Shields play a lot of guard vs. Asvel. Point guard Jorge Gutierrez is out and with him back that could move Shields back up the lineup but in Trento they think Shields is capable of playing more guard.  Even if he was mainly a ‘3/4’ in the past.  Shields isn’t a natural primary ball-handler.  He’s more of the jack of all trades, high IQ, active off the ball type player.  But Shavon is so versatile he made it work at guard offensively, unfortunately he was in foul trouble for a lot of the game.

Shavon is already one of the better American cutters in Europe and that shined through late in the 4th quarter.  He scored 7 straight points for Trento, growing their lead to 12 with under 3 minutes left.  First he cut off a Filloy offensive rebound for an easy layup, hit a spot-up 3, and then after a back screen he faked like he was popping out and quick cut right back to the rim for a layup.  These types of plays win games.

Slasme is Back

Look out below, Stephane Lasme is back.  Formerly one of the best defenders and most exciting bigs in Europe, Lasme took a hiatus last year after being suspended by the Turkish Federation for a positive drug test.  So Lasme hung around the D-League for 19 games and then there were questions about how much gas the 34 (soon to be 35) year old had left in the tank.

The answer was immediate once Lasme stepped on the flour for Unics.  He still has the incredible slashing, jumping, combined with a ton of length package.  And he’s rounding into the form he had as the defensive anchor of Galatasaray’s EuroCup winning team.  One play in particular felt so natural when Quino Colom drove baseline mid 4th quarter and Lasme just rips  a cut down the middle of the paint, catches, and hammers it home vs a variety of Andorra defenders. He had 4 blocks (and also had 5 blocks over the weekend in the VTB).  Lasme was very effective in 20 minutes and that type of role would seem to suit him at this stage.

Loko vs Limoges: Ragland Pull-Ups

It was a hard fought game. Very defensive focused. Sasa Obradovic already has his team playing his classic pressure style.  Denying strong side passes, pestering on the ball, and mixing in some full court press.  But Loko is still in the early stages of their offensive development and their best options for a quality shot was Joe Ragland shooting or other players trying to create something off an offensive rebound.

Ragland has a versatile game, he’s powerful but quick, can score but also moves the ball, is a super attacker and a good shooter.  But with space clogged up and nowhere to really go, his game against Limoges revolved around hitting tough pull-ups.  More mid-range than 3 but he was still very effective. And if Joe can slide-step instead of turn the corner on some of those pull-ups, turning long 2’s into 3’s, he becomes even more effective.  The pull-up 3 is the one of the most dangerous skills in basketball and mastering that can make you elite.

Bilbao Rookies: Hammink and Kempton

Bilbao has always been open to signing rookies but usually it’s for specific role player spots.  This year they grabbed two of role rookies with Shane Hammink and Tim Kempton.  Both are mid major NCAA players and had solid EuroCup premiers.

Hammink was in the starting and closing lineup as a 2/3 next to Tabu and Todorovic.  He barely had the ball in his hands in the half-court but was very effective off the ball. Went 4/4 from the FT line and snagged 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.  Also showed competency to bring the ball up when Rytas was full court pressing to get back in the game.  It’s not easy to jump from mid-major ball to the ACB/EuroCup but Hammink was serviceable. He plays with super activity, is focused, and has a strong body for a guard that can take the on the pressure of pro defenders.  Just don’t expect many buckets.

Kempton was used as the second unit big.  He really tried to show off a floor stretching game at PIT but was more of an inside force for Bilbao.  In 10 minutes he had 4 offensive rebounds, went 4/5 from the FT line and scored 10 points.  He’s so damn wide once he planted himself in the right spot, Rytas couldn’t sneak around him for rebounds.  And Kempton does have good touch.  But he also racked up 4 fouls in those 10 minutes and if he wants to stay on the court longer his defense is going to have to improve.