Since the European basketball season is finally underway, it’s time to talk about a couple of players, who are either under- or overperforming so far or simply stand out because of their unconventional playing style or their difficult task to adapt to a new role.
DeAndre Lansdowne – Basketball Löwen Braunschweig
First in line is DeAndre Lansdowne, 29-year old shooting guard playing for the Basketball Löwen Braunschweig. The bulky american averaged 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists last year in the BBL and was one of the key players under coach Frank Menz, leading his team to a respectable twelfth place in the German league. While last seasons rise to a really solid place in the standings was quite a surprise, this years ambitions are much higher after an offseason where NBA guard Dennis Schröder was announced as a new sponsor and guys like Scott Eatherthon and the already mentioned DeAndre Lansdowne extended their contracts with the team.
But so far, Braunschweig had trouble reaching their potential, losing the first two games in the league (although important to note: vs Oldenburg and vs Bonn – not really must-win games) and barely surviving at home against MBC in the German cup. While point guard Joe Rahon isn’t giving the team much, if something at all, and talented rookie Brayon Blake still needs time to figure out his new role, DeAndre Lansdowne wasn’t able to deliver quite as expected. Although he had 20 points in the home opener and 15 points against Bonn, Lansdowne wasn’t really effective – especially in pick and roll situations as a ballhandler.
It speaks for him, that he found other ways to score and contribute (good in transition, versatile on D), but in order to reach his full potential, he has to get better as a pull-up jump shooter and as a passer. While he’s actually really solid with his feet set, Lansdowne isn’t good at knocking down jumpers with a defender close to him. You can expect some of those 50/50 balls at the rim to go in at some point, but there are visible weaknesses right now in his game he has to work on when he comes back from a minor ankle injury suffered in the game against MBC.
Jarrod Jones – AS Monaco
Jarrod Jones had a good amount of high-level offers from high-level teams in Europe on the table this offseason and it was quite a surprise it took so long for him to find a new team after a stellar season with Pinar Karsiyaka. After all, the experienced 28-year old signed with French powerhouse AS Monaco, where he will be able to play in the local ProA and in the Eurocup. It’s hard for a player of his caliber to not succeed in whatever situation he’s thrown into overseas, but in fact playing for Monaco is quite an adjustment for Jones.
In past years he was used mostly as a small-ball ‘5’ and often functioned as the main guy on offense, but this year is really different in that regard. Coach Saso Filipovski trusts Elmedin Kikanovic (deservedly so) and Ian Hummer to battle in the paint, while Jones has to get comfortable with playing at the ‘4’-spot. That in itself is just not the best-case szenario for a player like Jones, who likes to face up or simply be involved in pick and roll/pop situations with as much spacing as possible. While playing next to Hummer, who isn’t suited to stretch the floor, Jones has to wait in the corners more often than not for a catch and shoot threes and can’t use his true strenghts to get buckets otherwise. He will knock down those long range bombs with more time under his belt in Monaco, but it’s hard to imagine we will see the ‘real’ Jarrod Jones anytime soon if coach Filipovski doesn’t change his rotation. Right now, he’s still searching for his spots on offense – trying to post up with no space – and it will be fascinating to see, if he gets comfortable with his new role or not.
Elijah Bryant – Hapoel Eilat
Rookies are always interesting to follow and so is Elijah Bryant. The former Brigham standout left college after his junior season to pursue his dream of playing professional basketball. In his last season he averaged over 18 points per game and impressed with his exceptional shooting. After playing Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers, Bryant decided to sign with Hapoel Eilat in Israel, starting his professional life there. Due to his lack of elite atleticism, Bryant didn’t really come up in NBA (draft) conversations, so this move isn’t really surprising for anyone.
Whats more surprising is his off-ball behaviour on the court. Bryant is constantly moving around and has a strong tendency to leave his spot at the three point line in order to receive a pass under the rim. Often times he’s completely ignoring the concept of good spacing, taking away open driving lanes for teammates and/or open spot-up shots for himself. He has to find a better mix between cutting and spacing the floor, because right now he’s playing like a wing without a jumper, which couldn’t be further from the truth.