Some players thriving overseas, others floundering
Thanksgiving marks Day 146 of the NBA lockout, giving NBA fans one less thing to give thanks for this holiday. However, professional basketball is being played overseas, and many players from the locked-out league are taking part in the opportunity to play competitive games against international competition.
But thus far the results have been mixed. While some players appear to be thriving in their new environments, others are wilting. Here is an early look at who is performing at or above expectations and who is dropping the ball.
Top Overseas Performers
Wilson Chandler, Zhejiang Guangsha (China): The Chinese basketball season has just started, but Chandler has gotten off to a hot start. In his debut, he scored 43 points, grabbed 22 rebounds, dished four assists, and came away with three steals in 50 minutes of action. He followed that up with 28 points and 12 rebounds. What that means going forward for the ex-Nugget remains to be seen, but it sure is an encouraging sign.
Deron Williams, Besiktas (Turkey): Williams got off to a rough start in Turkey, but he appears to have found his comfort zone. In his most recent game — a EuroChallenge game against BG Gottingen of Germany — the Nets guard scored 50 points on 17-of-23 shooting from the field. Through six games with Besiktas, Williams is averaging 20.5 points, 6.8 assists (more than any other NBA player playing overseas), and three rebounds.
Lester Hudson, Qingdao Double Star (China): The team signed Hudson to replace Jarron Collins, and boy did that move pay off. In his first game, Hudson scored 33 points, grabbed five rebounds, handed out four assists, and came away with four steals in the victory. Then Hudson had 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in his second game to top himself. If he keeps this up, he will find himself on teams’ radar once the NBA resumes play.
Alexis Ajinca, Hyeres-Toulon (France): Ajinca has never been an impact player in the NBA, having played just 71 total games over three seasons and owning career averages of 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds. However, in his first game with his new French team, Ajinca scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and blocked two shots in 33 minutes. Maybe those numbers were just a fluke, or maybe he is responding to a larger role.
Dan Gadzuric, Jiangsu (China): Yet another player from the Chinese Basketball Association makes the list. Gadzuric scored 17 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and had three assists in his debut. The impressive numbers put up by Gadzuric and his fellow NBAers in China could be a result of weaker competition, but it is impressive nonetheless.
Gani Lawal, Zastal (Poland): There has not been much word out of Poland during the NBA exodus, and not many people know who Lawal is, considering he played just one game in his rookie season with the Phoenix Suns before tearing his right ACL. All of that has probably contributed to his lack of notoriety, but his numbers have been too good to ignore. He’s averaging 16.4 points on 64.1 percent shooting and pulling in 11.8 rebounds over his first eight games. Considering he is coming off major knee surgery, that is impressive indeed.
Ty Lawson, Zalgiris (Lithuania): After Williams, Lawson was probably the most ballyhooed point guard headed to Europe, but he has found the journey much less hospitable than Williams. Lawson is averaging just eight points and 1.6 assists in 20.8 minutes over his first five games.
J.R. Smith, Zhejiang Chouzhou (China): Smith, the enigmatic sixth man for the Denver Nuggets, had 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists in his Chinese debut. However, he also suffered an injury in the fourth quarter, which sparked a controversy that almost led to Smith having his Chinese contract voided when he refused to follow team orders regarding his injury. Smith is just the latest player to find out that playing overseas is not like playing in the NBA.
Jordan Farmar, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel): Yet another point guard struggling to adapt overseas. Farmar does not average more than 14 points or five assists in any of the three leagues Maccabi participates in; however, his best numbers have, surprisingly, been earned against the stiffest competition — the Euroleague. He is averaging 13.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.2 assists through five Euroleague games, including a 27-point game against Real Madrid. Yet he has also had games of zero and six points in the Israel Basketball League, six points in the Adriatic Basketball League, and six- and five-point games in Euroleague. Some more consistency from Farmar would be appreciated by Maccabi for sure.
Joey Dorsey, Caja Laboral Vitoria (Spain): In four games with the team in the Spanish ACB League, Dorsey has averaged 1.8 points and four rebounds per game. It’s not like anyone was going to mistake Dorsey for Pau Gasol in Spain, but the team probably expected better numbers than that from an NBA import.
By: Eric Lorenz
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