Great players are not signed only by contenders. Here’s the new players for teams competing for top-5.
2018/19 season: 15-11, 6th place
Left: Ken Horton, Anthony Clemmons, J. J. O’Brien, Stephen Holt, Michael Jenkins, Jeffrey Grossel
Lack: bench, rebound (34,9 per game, 7th place), 3-pointers (35,8%, 8th place)
2018/19 season was the best in Astana’s history, while they still had their downsides. Most of all, team from Kazakhstan lacked roster depth. Astana used mainly seven players, and showed mediocre performance in rebounds and 3-pointers. Dušan Ristić (photo) can help with these. This center reminds of Jeffrey Grossel who left the club. Classic bigman, a bit sluggish, but highly confident in low post, rebounds, defense and he follows coach’s guidelines. Moreover, Dušan is quite a shooter with 40% 3-pointers for Arizona in NCAA season 2017/18 (6 of 15).
Jeremiah Hill must be a huge fan of Ray Allen and Steph Curry. His shooting ability paid off after some years in NCAA second league and semiprofessional ABA. Now, Hill signed with Astana and waits for opportune moment on the arc.
2018/19 season: 7th place, 14-12
Left: Tony Wroten, Chavaughn Lewis, Arnett Moultrie, Branko Mirković
Lack: building a new team
European basketball teams tend to live for one season only. And that’s the case of Kalev which got to the playoffs for the first time in the League. During the offseason, head coach Donaldas Kairys, three best players and starting point guard left Tallin.
The team from Estonia has just started rebuilding and their new head coach Robert Schtelmacher is to lead the project. League fans know role player Aigars Šķēle (photo) for his VEF performance in season 2014/15 (his brother Armands played for VEF and Kalev as well), but Martin Paasoja who played in the second Greek league’s team called “Psychiko” is diamond in the dirt known only by the most devoted fans of Baltic basketball.
At the time, team’s only American player Antino Jackson is not that famous as well. This guard has 4 seasons in NCAA, professional debut in Serie A2 with 13,5 pts, 3,5 rebounds and 5,0 assists per game. Jackson scores, acts as a floor general and shoots from beyond the arc a lot. Kalev hopes to see all of his talents.
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
2018/19 season: 8th place, 14-12
Left: Kendrick Perry, Christopher Czerapowicz, Maksim Grigoriev, Dmitri Uzinskiy, Sergey Toropov, Vladimir Dragičević
Lack: offense (80,9 points, 10th place), rebound (33,2, 13th place), 3-pointers (34,7%, 9th place)
After parting ways with Czerapowicz, Uzinskiy, and Dragičević, BC NN has added Darrell Williams and Alec Brown to the forward list. Williams’ fate is to become one of the most spectacular dunkers of the League. In Keravnos, Cyprus, Williams showed his beast-mode – almost a double-double per game (14,9 pts, 9,7 rebounds), league title and national cup (40 pts and 17 rebounds in total, final MVP). Brown is a tremendous athlete for Europe, but that’s not the end – with his experience in Spanish league, he proved himself as a 3-pointer shooter and a defenseman
Brandon Brown has travelled a lot – Australia, Brazil, Poland, Cyprus, and then, in 2018, he joined Balkan from Bulgaria and revealed his skills. Last season, Brown led Balkan to FIBA Europe Cup and helped the club to regain League title after 20 years. Guru of pick’n’roll, savage three, in the second FIBA cup and Bulgarian league he head 49,3% beyond the arc. What a substitution for Kendrick Perry.
Chavaughn Lewis (photo) was the key player to lead Kalev into playoffs. Athletic, energetic and a sniper who had 15,9 points per game (8th place in the League) with 33,7% 3-pointers and 5,1 assists. Tremendous Lewis is bound to shake BC NN offense.
2018/19 season: 9th place, 11-15
Left: Alex Young, Di Angelo Harrison
Lack: offense (82,8 pts, 8th place), assists (16,8 assists, 13th place), 3-pointers (33,5%, 12th place)
Coach Dražen Anzulović came to Enisey in offseason. The Siberian team has maintained almost the whole roster adding free agents. With their travelling difficulties and FIBA Europe Cup games, Enisey needs long bench. Davion Berry was signed to strengthen team’s offense. While not the floor general, he can create, play pick’n’rolls and help ball movement. However, Berry’s mission is points. The most efficient player and 1st all-Greek league team member shoots threes and drives through. Berry is in the position to revive Enisey’s offense.
Dustin Hogue can be called “Kyle Hines 2.0”, but that’s a matter of appearance. Hogue is more of an offensive player. He’s active in fast breaks, works hard in the paint and converts offensive rebounds in second chance points.
Tomislav Zubčić (photo) with experience in Avtodor and Nizhny Novgorod is a strong player who can add up to offensive plays. It’s hard to find athletic bigman with a strong three (40% in 16 games for NN), but Zubcic is the case. Enisey fans can expect a lot of points from the Croatian
2018/19: 11th place, 9-17
Left: Artem Zabelin, Trae Golden, Anthony Irelend, Perrin Buford, D. J. Newbill, Boris Savović
Lack: building a new team
Avtodor missed the playoffs, foreign players including key duo Golden-Bewford left the club. It only made sense to start the transfers with Devon Saddler. He’s small, but tough which suits Avtodor. He always drives through but can shoot as well. Last season, Eric Bledsoe of Belarus had 15,3 points (10th place) and 4,7 assists which is about to grow in Saratov. Another point guard Tobin Carberry was MVP in Iceland and Denmark, but now Evgeniy Pashutin chose him to warm hearts of Saratov fans. Tobin is all about the offense – fast breaks, shots, finishing among with a teamplay.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh (photo) is another forward for Avtodor. France’s bronze medalist of Eurobasket-2015 is tremendous in the paint. Great athlete (211 cm, 113 kg), agile, with good hands, he’s a almost a 100% scorer in the paint – dunk, dunk, dunk. Jaiteh contributes in breaks and considering fast-paced Saratov system can reach double-double per game.