While so much attention is paid to the upcoming Olympics and warm-up games, a number of European players have quietly gone about their business in the NBA Summer Leagues in Vegas and Orlando. BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, takes a look at an extended roster’s worth of European ballers’ performances in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer games.
Alexis Ajinca, San Antonia Spurs (2.8 ppg, 50% FG, 2.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
Ajinca is in a similar position to Ryan Richards: Both played summer league for the Spurs and turned in eerily similar numbers. However, Alexis did manage to hit at least 50% of his shots while also being a slight factor on defence (0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks) in his very low 10 minutes per game. Ajinca’s hopes for an NBA spot, like Richards’, look like a long shot and I expect him to return to France for the coming season. Although a tall and talented big man always seem to earn a roster spot, Alexis just has not developed the way teams hoped he would when he was selected 20th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Matthew Bryan Amaning, New Orleans Hornets (2.2 ppg, 27% FG, 2.2 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.2 spg, 1.0 bpg in five Las Vegas games)
MBA turned out to be a defensive beast at the Summer League, finishing among the league leaders in blocks despite playing in just 10 minutes per game. However, Amaning’s 3.0 personal fouls showed his inexperience especially against players of this caliber. For Matthew, this has been a learning experience after being cut by the Team Britain squad just a matter of days before play started. Unfortunately for Amaning, I don’t see his 2.2 points per game winning him a spot on the New Orleans roster, but they have space to fill, and a player similar to ex-Hornet Pops Mensa-Bonsu may be the kind of energetic, hustling type of player they are after. Also as another learning curve, Bryan-Amaning may face a Great Britain callback following an injury to Dan Clarke which may keep him out of the London Games. For Matthew, it may be a chance to gain some much needed experience.
Olek Czyz, Chicago Bulls (4.6 ppg, 35% FG, 2.6 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.2 bpg in five Las Vegas games)
Marks of 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds pretty impressive when looking at the 6’7” (2.01m), 22-year-old SF from Poland; that fact that he got those stats in as little as 12 minutes per game makes Czyz an even more intriguing prospect. His 35% shooting wasn’t great and his 2.6 personal fouls in those minutes could also be a worry for some, but we have seen that many other players more experienced than Czyz were getting twice the number of fouls. The Nevada product formally of Duke may not have been able to solidify a spot on an NBA team, but I do expect to see him on a European roster come the start of the 2012-13 season.
Zabian Dowdell, Minnesota Timberwolves (6.3 ppg, 38% FG, 2.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.5 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
Dowdell’s numbers are very similar to those of Zoran Dragic, other than turnovers, Zabian managed to commit 2.2 per game. Like Dragic, Dowdell struggled with shooting, going just 38% from the field, 29% on threes and 63% from the charity stripe. For a slightly older player to average that number of turnovers while shooting that poorly, I am confident Dowdell will not be getting a spot on an NBA roster this summer with all likelihood pointing towards a European signing.
Zoran Dragic, Houston Rockets (6.3 ppg, 24% FG, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.3 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
While his brother Goran was busy signing a pretty nice contract with the Phoenix Suns, Zoran was busy trying to impress a team enough to warrant a spot on a roster. Although his numbers weren’t catastrophic, his shooting percentage was: Zoran managed to hit just 24% from the field and a mere 14% on threes en route to 6.3 points per game. Other than this, no numbers really jump out to me other than his 0.2 turnovers per game which shows a high basketball IQ for a relatively young player. Unfortunately, while watching the games, he didn’t impress me enough to deserve a roster space next season although an NBA scout is much more qualified to see things than me, so you never know what might happen. With the Rockets signing Jeremy Lin, it certainly doesn’t look like Dragic will be calling Houston home any time soon – he may be best served by searching for a roster spot in Europe at least for another year.
Evan Fournier, Denver Nuggets (14.8 ppg, 41% FG, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
Fournier was one of my favourite players to watch in the Summer League: He bought hustle and effort to a team which prides itself on hard work and that already has one of the league’s hardest working big men in Kenneth Faried. Evan averaged a solid 14.8 points per game on 41% shooting, his sound defence gave him 1.2 steals per, and his court vision allowed him to add a few assists as well. Over the camp his 18-points, two-rebound, four-assist game versus the Bobcats was definitely his best showing. On the negative side, his 2.8 turnovers and 38% three-point shooting are areas which will improve with time and his 5.8 fouls per game will also come with experience. Evan may become a solid 2 guard off the bench for the Nuggets for years to come.
Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz (10.4 ppg, 50% FG, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg in five Orlando games)
Kanter had a solid first four games, leading his team to a 3-1 record; across those games he was solid, a beast on the boards and scoring at will to average 3.5 offensive rebounds and 12.25 points per game. However, it was his fifth and final games versus the Detroit Pistons and Andre Drummond where he really fell off, collecting a mere five rebounds and three points on 1-of-7 from the field for an efficiency rating of -13. Drummond on the other hand finished with five rebounds and four steals for a +18 efficiency.
Donatas Motiejunas, Houston Rockets (16.3 ppg, 62% FG, 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
The only European to make the All-Summer League roster, Motiejunas showed everyone why he was an NBA Draft pick last year when he came in hot to Las Vegas by posting 20 points and 12 rebounds in his first-ever game in a Rockets jersey. If it wasn’t for his one-point, four-rebounding outing against Jan Vesely and the Wizards, Donatas would have averaged an even more impressive 21.3 points per game. Another nice benefit from the summer league for the Rockets has been the solid relationship which has developed between Motiejunas, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones and Royce White, the key young players which will make up the squad’s roster next season.
B.J. Mullens, Charlotte Bobcats (15.4 ppg, 39% FG, 5.8 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg in five Las Vegas games)
I struggle to consider B.J. a European; he can now officially play for Team Britain but after the way he left the host nation hanging was pretty insulting, particularly with the team needing him now more than ever with potential injuries to Joel Freeland and Dan Clarke. Despite this, Mullens has been solid in summer league play, though his rebounding numbers are disappointing for someone his Brook Lopez-like size. His scoring at 15-plus points per game appears decent, but this came on just 39% success from the field. Mullens also attempted way too many threes – At a career 24% shooter from deep why in the world would you attempt 23 three-pointers across five games? And B.J. only managed to hit 26% a tiny 2% improvement up from his career average. Mullens should be fine next season in Charlotte and with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, this team will improve from the NBA’s worst record – but if Mullens starts jacking up five threes per game, expect the Bobcats to be just as terrible as before.
Artsiom Parakhouski, New York Knicks (8.0 ppg, 58% FG, 6.0 rpg, 0.2 apg, 1.6 bpg in five Las Vegas games)
If he manages to get himself a roster spot for next season in New York, then Parakhouski could be a solid defender; getting the chance to learn from Tyson Chandler will only help to speed up this process. Artsiom’s 1.6 blocks per game may be the most solid number on his Summer League stat line, especially considering he only committed 1.6 fouls per game – very favourable in comparison with guys like Bismack Biyombo (who averaged 1.8 blocks and 4.2 fouls per game), Chris Singleton (1.6 blocks, 6.0 fouls) and Meyers Leonard (1.5 blocks, 4.0 fouls). On the offensive end, Parakhouski’s 1.0 turnover per game was solid for a big man, especially in summer league where mistakes are expected; shooting-wise, his marks of 8.0 ppg on 58% shooting are good especially when New York doesn’t really need scorers with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire on board already – and note that Parakhouski was good for 3.0 offensive boards per game. And all this in just 18 minutes of court time per.
Ryan Richards, San Antonio Spurs (3.3 ppg, 36% FG, 2.8 rpg in four Las Vegas games)
You may wonder why everyone else has apg, bpg and spg statistics listed while Ryan doesn’t … the main reason is because he didn’t get any! Richards did however get 1.2 turnovers and 2.2 fouls – I didn’t really want to include these on his stat line, as I’m trying to keep away from the negatives, but it’s so hard when he just keeps giving me so many … like 37% shooting from the field, 60% from the stripe and 0% from three (yes, he did attempt one). Since Richards was selected in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft, he has ditched Team Britain in favour of Jamaica despite having played for England and then Great Britain since the young age of 15 when he averaged nearly 10 points and six rebounds at the 2006 FIBA U16 Division B championships. Most recently, Richards switched professional clubs from Swiss side Lugano Tigers to Sokhumi in Georgia. Honestly I hope the Spurs, a team known for loyalty and commitment, don’t pick him up because Richards obviously shows no commitment himself.
Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards (4.4 ppg, 38% FG, 1.2 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.6 spg in five Las Vegas games)
Satoransky joined his Czech teammate Jan Vesley on the Wizards’ Summer League squad this year after being selected in the second round of the NBA Draft a couple of months back. In the league, Satoransky, a 6’7” (2.01m) SG with solid athletic ability and point guard skills displayed the poor shooting that dropped him down on draft boards but also showed that he can play the game at a decent level. For Tomas, the biggest upsides are size and age; at just 20 years old, he can continue to develop in Europe for at least the next two years until he joins Jan in the US capitol.
Tornike Shengelia, Brooklyn Nets (10.2 ppg, 53% FG, 3.6 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg in five Orlando games)
Shengilia has been solid this summer for the Nets, who move to Brooklyn and are in need of roster spaces to be filled by relatively cheap players: The addition of Deron Williams’ and Brooke Lopez’s extensions plus Joe Johnson have wrecked their salary cap. Tornike has been solid scoring but for a 6’9” (2.06m) power forward, his rebounding numbers are disappointing, especially when rebounding is what the Nets crave, saddled as they are with Brooke Lopez, one of the NBA’s worst rebounding seven-footers. With some more time and experience, Shengelia will be able to grab at least seven boards per game.
Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards (7.4 ppg, 50% FG, 5.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.6 bpg in five Las Vegas games)
Vesely continues to be a solid all-around forward willing to do it all for his team; he scored a little less than I expected in the Summer League and his 7.4 points in nearly 24 minutes per game is a little disappointing. By contrast, his rebounding, including 2.2 offensive boards per game, and assist numbers are pleasing and, considering he only committed 1.8 turnovers, this seems not to be a worry. Vesely did give up a whopping 5.4 personal fouls per game and shot an abysmal 37% from the free throw line, however. If he wants to start appearing in the starting lineup for the Wiz next season, those two areas will need some drastic improvement.
Sam Chadwick is the co-head coach of the Solent Kestrels U14 basketball team, along with dividing the remainder of his time among an assistant quantity surveyor job, university studies and sportswriting. Chadwick is now a contributor at BBLfans.com, and you can follow him on Twitter at @chadwick9.