Things are looking pretty bleak for the upcoming NBA season and the talk about players heading overseas to play during the lockout is becoming all the rage in the offseason. Stars are the real show-stealers, with Deron Williams signing an agreement, Amar’e Stoudemire saying he might be interested, Kevin Durant wanting to keep his game fresh, speculation Kobe may go back to where he grew up and of course many others.
While they could choose to rest instead by riding out the storm, they want to play and continue working on their games. To be honest, they don’t really need to though, given their success in the league.
On the flip side, there are a number of players in the league currently who, while they don’t necessarily need to play overseas, could very well benefit from doing so. The game over there is a little more orchestrated, hard-nosed and skill-oriented from what you see in the freer-flowing, star-powered and athletically driven NBA game.
This would give the proposed players of this list a good training ground to help forge some skills and overall play in preparation of the league’s return. Former Stanford star Casey Jacobsen wrote a nice summary of how the NBA play differs from the European style and I think it's an excellent reference point for people who haven’t gotten a good opportunity to see the international game much.
There are number of NCAA players who show promise and skill on a team's roster, but just haven’t reached it or had the opportunity to show their skills yet. With the break from the NBA apparent, these are players who could benefit from the European structure and style to work on their games and benefit from the break. Obviously this is a very open-ended article and there are couple teams who could send a few guys, but these are the players who I could see being the biggest beneficiaries of a potential Euro-exchange.
The guidelines to make the list were:
- Must still be relatively young (26 years or younger)
- No bona fide NBA stars
- No incoming rookies
- No international players (meaning no prior participation in U.S. high school or NCAA play)
That said, SwishScout.com presents “One Player From Each Team Who Could Benefit Playing Overseas.”
From a business perspective, it's tough to pass up being the No. 2 overall pick in a draft, but it clearly wasn’t the best for his game and basketball maturation. Largely considered a disappointment and really nothing more than a solid role-playing SF, Williams would benefit from some time overseas where he could be "the man" on a team.
Bradley was sparsely used his rookie season, but he has some serious talent and athleticism in his play. You plug the "one and done" into a European system to garner some more experience and refine his skills, and he will see considerably more time for the Celtics by the time the league tips off.
He played his part well for the Bobcats in his sophomore season, but Henderson is still a player who relies a lot on his athleticism to get by. His jumper and shooting range are coming along, but no harm in having a shorter three-point arc to help extend it and boost your confidence.
Brewer does a great job playing his part as a playmaker on both ends of the floor for the Bulls, but leaves a lot to be desired with the ball in his hands offensively. Let him play on a team where he can be one of the better players on the floor and help incubate his confidence to give his ball skills and shooting a nudge.
Love him or hate him, Sessions is one of the better producing backup point guards in the league statistically, but he can get a little too carried away in rushing shots and scoring. He’s a talent, but he could use some work in the decision-making department and running a team's offense, a tremendous asset that the European style can help teach.
Hard to knock a guy who just won a ring, but Brewer has had his career set back by injuries and some inconsistent play. He’s a solid player who has shown promise in the league, but he could use the added experience and minutes after riding the bench most of the season on a championship team.
Koufos has the NBA talent and physicality but hasn’t quite learned how to play within the team game, can be selfish and there’s a reason he’s been passed around Northwest division over his three seasons. He came up in high school and the NCAA game by getting by largely on potential but has yet to refine his game in his nine NBA starts and limited minutes over that time.
Europe seems like a nice alternative to refine his game and makes him a more rotationally applicable player moving forward.
He made big money a couple years back by playing inspired and showing some flashes of his game, but has yet to live up to those lofty paychecks and expectations in the Motor City.
He has been underwhelming in his past two seasons and only has 27 career starts in Detroit, so why not let him get away for awhile, work on his game and come back a more confident player who hopefully is a little more re-dedicated to the game and has his fire lit?
I thought Law would be a much better pro than he has been so far, but don’t think that he’s ever really been in a situation or had a team that really instilled him with much confidence. He’s a playmaking guard who is naturally more of a scorer, but in a European offense, you make him become more of a passer and distributor to get others involved, which he has already shown some signs of doing.
He’s better than he has been given credit for so far in the NBA but he needs to learn how to run the offense and execute within the team scheme.
Two seasons in the league might be premature to call a player a bust, but all indications are that’s what he is becoming quickly. He needs to do more than just eat up space in the paint and turn away the occasional shot, which is where Europe may force him outside him comfort zone as a player without repercussions.
Let him develop some post moves, make him be more physical and allow him to build up his confidence to help him realize it wasn’t just his size that made him the No. 2 pick in 2009.
Paul flashed some nice potential as a rookie, but his inexperience showed in his play and with some of the shots he attempted. He’s a nice talent, but it never hurts to keep a guy active, developing and learning in a land where fundamentals and team play are emphasized.
The Clippers point guard of the future stepped in, performed well and put up some promising stats after spending his lone college year as a shooting guard. He still needs some time at the position, learning how to run the offense and cutting down on his turnovers, and Europe is perfect for him to become less reliant on athleticism.
A talented but troubled player, Caracter is a big body who can throw his weight around and "bang" in the paint. He didn’t see much time behind a much more talented front line, but Caracter shows signs of having a legit shot of being a good pro but needs somewhere to get minutes reliably and refine his play.
His lone season in Memphis probably wasn’t what he had in mind after becoming a "one and done," but he’s far too talented and promising a player to let his game go on standby from legit competition.
Henry needs some reps and run on the court in live game situations, and Europe will likely offer him plenty to get involved if he is willing to give it a shot.
Playing for the Heat at the point guard position, all that’s expected from you is to distribute the ball to the respective stars and make open shots. Mike Bibby, the older guard of the two, didn’t really do a great job of that as a predominant shooter, and Chalmers has a lot of room for opportunity in his game as he has shied away from the role in recent years.
If you put him in the European game, ask him to execute and build on his understanding of how to run an offense as a true point, then he just might have a long-term future on this roster.
CDR had some outstanding performances last season for the Bucks, but at this point probably isn’t the guy you want holding down a starting spot for your team. He still isn’t much of a perimeter shooting threat nor does much other than score, but he’s a talent who could thrive on a team that emphasizes team play and execution over isolations.
Despite battling injuries and trying to stay healthy, Randolph is an immensely talented player who has come in the trendy template of skilled, athletic big men. You place greater emphasis on skill-oriented play and get him some more reps in games, he returns to top form in the states in no time.
For the past few years, Outlaw has been on the fringe of being a breakout, impact guy for a team but just hasn’t reached it. He has a perimeter-oriented game with potential to boot, but has never been comfortable off the dribble and lagged a little on the defensive end despite his length and athleticism.
He would be a very good fit in a Euro system running off ball screens and knocking down shots, but it would also be nice to see a player of his gifts attempt more than a couple free throws per game when you already have a better version of him with Anthony Morrow.
He was a late bloomer and a one-year wonder at UW who hasn’t quite discovered how to translate that success yet to the NBA, but the European game could help him find it. He has to accept his role as a supporter and not a star, and grasping that responsibility is a challenge for most in their first few seasons.
A series of injuries set back his career a fair deal and he had limited tenure at the NCAA level, so experience is still an issue at this point for Walker. He wants to be a scorer and has the gifts to be one, but there are other ways to play and make an impact as well that he may have to hone in on.
Overall, though, he just needs time and playing overseas can offer plenty.
With memories of Robert Swift starting to linger around the franchise in Mullens' game, the immensely talented and physically gifted Mullens has been a non-factor in the league so far. There’s no question he’s a project who has tools, but he needs direction on fundamentals, team play and the experience to help him meet his potential, which he will unlikely receive on the NBA level at this point.
Europe may actually be the better option for his game at this point so he can be assured a greater role, better opportunity to develop his post play and have a chance at becoming a factor in the game, not just a super-talented prep star that did nothing in his playing career.
Clark is very big and cut for a big man, but alongside Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass, he looks and plays pedestrian. His feel for the game isn’t quite there yet and Clark’s jumper is an issue, but he has nice upside for a 23-year-old forward.
The European style is a perfect model to refine his game to get him further along and make him more "NBA-ready" than he currently looks.
The Florida product has the NBA big-man build and budding post game to be a factor but has been shelved in favor of a more complete Elton Brand, promising Thaddeus Young and center apparent Spencer Hawes.
Speights may be a victim or circumstance, but there is no shame in wanting to continue refining your back-to-basket and face-up game in a country that can sufficiently allow for it.
He’s a great hustle player coming off your bench who provides a spark with his hard-nosed defense, rebounding and athleticism. However, he lacks a lot of offensive polish in the paint and on the perimeter, clearly needing some work to become at least respectable on that end of the floor.
Some Blazer fans wonder if they were "Pritch slapped" by outgoing GM Kevin Pritchard knowing of his impending termination on draft day with this pick after Babbitt seldom appeared during his rookie season. I know it’s the NBDL, but you don’t put up 20 points, seven rebounds and shoot 37.5 percent from the deep three against borderline NBA talent without being a legitimate player.
He’s barely 22 years old and on a team that is pretty well off at his position at the moment, so finding playing time is the issue right now and he just needs additional experience.
He plays like a scoring mercenary, and that’s really all he’s done at this point in his NBA career so far. Green left Syracuse prematurely, can play selfishly on the court and hasn’t shot the ball well for someone who relies on their jumper. He is a talented player who can fill it up, but his confidence and playing time are lacking in Sacramento.
I love Blair’s game, think he was an absolute steal in the 2009 draft and was confident he would make San Antonio look comparatively genius to the NBA for drafting him in the second despite "knee issues." He’s a flat-out "banger" who has a nice post game, rebounding ability and physical build to make his presence felt in the paint.
The Spurs have to be very happy with Blair, and the only thing more you could ask from him would be a little more range, added defensive intensity and experience.
Wright has really struggled to transition to the small forward position in the NBA after playing in the paint for Jayhawks his two seasons in Lawrence, giving teams a little bit of precaution regarding "tweener" forwards. He has talent, but not really the ideal skill set or basketball IQ to play on the perimeter as many hoped he might, and is clearly undersized and underweight to man the post.
He probably benefits as much as anyone in European play because of his versatility over there and gives him the opportunity to figure out his game and refine his skills.
Favors is a stud in the making and all you can ask from him is added experience, as minutes can be hard to come by with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur and now Enes Kanter aboard. He can definitely stand to refine his post play with his back to the basket and face-up jumper from the perimeter, but Favors is young and on track to be a force in the league.
One of the more exciting players in the league and one of my favorite young talents, McGee has the tools and build to be a dynamic post presence in the NBA with his combination of freak size, length, athleticism, instincts and motor.
He needs continued work with post play and to continue gaining experience, which overseas play can offer, but is absolutely showing signs of a player that can be the franchise building block at center the Wizards need.