Monday was almost as rough for fans of European basketball as it was for fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Sergio ‘Chacho’ Rodriguez making the jump to the NBA, following Malcolm Delaney and Tomas Satoransky, three of the most electrifying talents in Europe’s back courts are heading to the bigger show. Emmet Ryan looks at what we can expect from each of them in their new homes
Sergio Rodriguez – Mr Adaptable
Adaptable should not be confused for utility, this isn’t a euphemism for a spare part or a guy who is really good at waving a towel. Chacho’s move the the Philadelphia 76ers makes a heap of sense for both parties. For the former Real Madrid man, it’s a life-changing amount of money ($8 million) at a length (1 year) that gives him flexibility to look at what he does next in the summer of 2017. For the Sixers, they are getting a radically different player to the one that played in Portland and Sacramento and not just because of the beard.
Defensively, he’s not going to offer much, but that’s really where the concerns for what Philly needs from him ends. Chacho, oh and you really need to get used to calling him that, has been forced to try every kind of role in Europe during his time with Real Madrid. He can be a clear leader on the court, a top or second option scoring threat, or a pure creator. He is as comfortable in two as three guard sets and his three is reliable. Possibly the most important aspect for Philly is his comfort coming off the bench. Chacho logged starters minutes at Real but his role often, well actually almost universally under Pablo Laso’s tenure, saw him come in off the bench and have to essentially change the tempo late in the first frame. Chacho’s ideally suited to the role of second unit leader in the NBA which, if he ends up staying more than a season, looks to be his natural spot at this level.
Tomas Satoransky – A big switch
Satoransky’s move to the Washington Wizards came at a great price, $9 million over 3 years, and he has been on the radar of Wizards fans with regularity in recent times as they look to find the right blend so as to actually not waste John Wall. What he is going to provide is a little bit different. Satoransky, Giannis Antetokounmpo aside (becasue Giannis is his own category altogether), is the first of the new generation of extra tall Euro point guards (listed at 6’7″) to make the jump. Satoransky’s game in terms of what he role he plays is midway between Bradley Beal’s and John Wall’s. For rather different reasons to Chacho, Satoransky had to get used to being both a straight up attacker and a player who was expected to make more for others.
In either role, the Czech looks at his most comfortable when he gets to use his physicality. While his body doesn’t scream athletic freak, Satoransky loves to get in the paint and throw himself around on both ends. That motor is going to spare him from some criticism in the early time with Washington but don’t confuse him for a grit and grind player. Satoransky gets physical because that’s where he can get flashy, his acceleration is great for his size and that deceptive quickness. Mentally he’s used to being both THE guy and the other guy while in a hyper focused media spotlight. Barcelona may not have the most raucous fanbase in basketball but the city’s media corps and the attention it pays to the basketball club is huge and his experience handling the extensive focus will help him out. Value wise, this is a great low-risk deal for the Wizards with a heap of upside.
Malcolm Delaney – The space maker
Wait isn’t he American? Yes, Malcolm Delaney is most definitely American but he comes to the NBA having spent five years in Europe proving he belongs in the bigger show. The Atlanta Hawks have signed the former Virginia Tech Hokie on a two-year guaranteed deal and any search on Twitter for his handle (@foe23) will show you just how happy fans and observers in Europe are that he’s finally getting his shot in the NBA.
For Hawks fans, Delaney is a good change of pace to Dennis Schroeder at point guard and a competitor who will look to dislodge the German as Atlanta’s starter. On the floor Delaney is a skilled passer, a vastly improved defender, and has the spot up game to force opponents to respect his shot. Everywhere he went from Élan-Chalon (where he won the French championship, a first for the club), to Budvielnik Kiev, (where he won the Ukrainian championship), to Bayern Munich (where he won the German Bundesliga championship, a first for the club), to Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (where he guided the club to its first ever appearance in the Euroleague Final Four), Delaney has used his shooting threat to create space for everyone else around him. It was most obvious at Loko where the game plan was hyper-direct and brutally effective but it’s the type of aspect to his game that those playing with Delaney are going to love. Even when his shooting is relatively low volume, the mere threat increases coverage and that leads to opportunities elsewhere on the floor. You might have noticed from the parentheses that he also tends to make the team he is with more likely to win more wherever he goes.
Europe’s back courts took a big hit with the success of NBA teams in luring some of the most explosive players here across the Atlantic but the opportunities for all three are fascinating. While Chacho is ineligible, it will be fun to see Satorasnky and Delaney potentially make the Rising Stars game. In both cases, they will have hoped to show they have arrived by then.