The most intriguing Euroleague Newcomers (III)

Basketball website Double-Double is going to try to present you the most intriguing Euroleague newcomers for 2018/2019 season. This list will be consisted of 15 names with short scouting reports and it will be published in three sections in following days.

  1. Kendrick Ray (SG, 188 cm, 1994, Maccabi Tel Aviv)

Kendrick Ray started his European experience in Czech Powerhouse CEZ Nymburk and after only one season competing in Europe he has secured a contract with one of the most prominent Euroleague clubs Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Ray has displayed quality game both in offense and defense, while he recorded 15.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg in 16 games in BCL competition.

Kendrick has shown qualities in pick and roll game, where he used his lanky built and scoring capabilities to produce constant threat for opposition defenses. He was very aggressive, liked open floor, but he was too wild at times and bit inconsistent. Ray is great scorer off dribble, has good understanding of game and he is already capable for simple passing, no matter he is pure scorer at first glance. He can penetrate both sides, but his timing and decision making is still at average marks.

Ray has quick release with bit irregular mechanics, which makes him a danger from every position on the floor. He is good 3pt shooter, quite secure from mid range, while bit struggling in scoring from traffic or around the rim under contact. We can say that he was such due his not strong enough body and lack of top basketball experience.

Kendrick Ray is danger out of ISO situations as well. He makes room with shake and bake moves and he uses step back shot quite a lot. Ray likes to stay unpredictable and he can fire a shot from every position in a part of second.

At the other side of the court, Ray is steady defender both in pick and roll and spot up situations. He has quickness and willingness to fight hard and adapt to every possible rotation, but his lack of experience and knowledge is causing him troubles: he reacts far too much on feints and he is foul prone. Kendrick has visible problem in p & r D as well, while he pins in screens far too easily for top European level.

His on ball defense is good, he is rarely beaten up at 1st step while he keeps concentration with arms in the air all the time.

Finally, Kendrick will be interesting addition for Maccabi TA, but he will need more time to adapt on the heighest levels and to polish his game furthermore.

  1. Christian Burns (PF/C, 203 cm, 1985, Olimpia Milano)

No matter Christian is true European veteran, this will be the first season on highest levels. Burns has developed through the very different situations and leagues, while he has found his steady home in Italy since 2016.

Burns is kind of atypical mix of qualities for European big man, while he plays the most of old school basketball you have recently seen. Christian is strong low post power forward (mostly) with great feeling for game and positioning and variety of moves at low post. He is nimble and slick, with fast legs and great opportunity recognition. His game is not the most beautiful one you have ever seen, but his job is efficiently done at the end of the day. He simply bullies weaker guys around the rim, scoring with ease.

At the same time, Burns is great player in transition. He runs the floor well (even with ball in his hands!), he is fast and strong penetrator as well. Burns like scoring under contact in every possible situation.

Burns is not your typical shooting 4 which is the most common situation in European basketball these days. His shooting mechanics is ugly, while using too many different shooting fakes – even when everybody knows that his next move is penetration, not shooting. Chris uses some floaters as well, but “wooden” ones mostly.

Finally, Chris is great cutter. He needs just a little empty space to cut and score, using his good game understanding and anticipation.

On the defensive side of the court, Burns has some problems. His positioning and rotations are not that clear ones, while he stays far too deep or on no mans land. At the same time, he has bad habit of coming bit late in rotations, but his mentality of strong defender is always present.

Defending the low post, Burns is your opponent from hell. He is strong and hard nosed, waiting back to basket game with perfectly positioned body.

  1. Artem Pustovyi (C, 218 cm, 1992, Barcelona)

Giant from Ukraine is coming to Barcelona to fill the last gap in the Blaugrana paint. Artem is bringing experience from Obradoiro and developed body, ready to compete at the highest level in Europe.

Artem has strong post up game with many dunks and hook shots. He is really strong when he is close to the basket, but not so nimble and with basic center technique. Low post game is not the only area where this tall center can be used. Pustovyi is good pick and roll player as well, while he spins really fast and in good directions. He looks bit bearish in this situations, but his efficiency is not affected very much. Artem, of course, needs more room to be quite usable.

What is very interesting is the fact that Pustovyi is good cutter as well. This part of game left in his book since the time he was tall skinny kid trying to fight with much stronger guys. He runs quite solid for this size and he really likes to dunk out of creative cuts.

In defense Artem is great low post defender with enough strength and power to protect area close to the rim. Normally, he struggles a bit in pick and roll game, while he is quite late in recovery. In general he looks bit grumpy, but he always tries his best on the court.

  1. Gabriel Deck (SF/PF, 199 cm, 1995, Real Madrid)

There is a big question mark besides Gabriel Deck name in RM roster for this season, but as a champion of South America he has to be listed anyway.

Gabriel Deck has wide variety of ways to score the ball and his game is atypical from the European standpoint for sure. He is like an predator in transition game with strong and reluctant running and penetration. He likes to play under contact, uses both hands and he is improved shooter, which made life harder for the guardians in Argentinian league and all over South America.

At the same time, his gameplay is bit wild. That has to change in this summer, before the highest European experience. Gabriel shooting mechanics is bit weird, still very rigid, but his numbers are improved both from mid range and 3 pt line.

Deck is capable attacker from low post as well, but he always looks for pass first in these situations. He has good connection with other big men in team and he feeds them regularly. Deck has basic back to basket technique, but good timing helps him a lot.

In San Lorenzo, Gabriel was the first offensive option and he had many opportunities for ISO situations. He is constant contact seeker, penetrates both sides and he has many moves in his pocket for gaining advantage over stronger or faster guardians.

On the other side of the court Deck has mix of abilities which keeps his name under above average defenders. He is still reacting on faints too much, but he is more than capable of staying in front of attackers most of times.

Deck is hard fighter, goes over screens all the time and he is hard nosed at low post. He is bit late in rotations, which will be the main factor affecting his minutes in the first Euroleague season.

  1. Aaron Craft (PG, 188 cm, 1991, Buducnost)

Aaron Craft is noble name in terms of the best defenders in European leagues in past few seasons. Still, this will be his first journey at the highest stage in Europe.

Craft is very aggressive pick and roll player both in offense and defense. This type of play is his trademark. He attacks first line of defense very often, set plays with ease, uses mid range a lot, but also struggles due lack of size with harder angles and passes. In defense, his pick and roll game is textbook of right approach in many situations. Aaron tends to stay over screens all the time, using his great anticipation and strong lower body to fulfill demands of defending pick and roll. He is great on ball defender, stays “alive” most of time and rarely surrender.

Craft is active defender in spot up situations as well, he rotates well, but he has some physical disadvantages in these situations (lack of height).

As a conclusion, Craft will be immensely important part of coach Aleksandar Dzikic puzzle in Buducnost Voli Podgorica debut in modern type of Euroleague. He will be really usable with guards like Nemanja Gordic and Nikola Ivanovic.

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