Although one can argue that it’s becoming more and more a guard oriented game, it’s not a secret that big guys are still valuable. Players like John Brown (Brindisi), Goran Huskic (Burgos) and Mark Tollefsen (Ashdod) are enjoying career years in their mid-20’s and all three of them have an intriguing skillset. We look at their main strenght(s) and point out where they need to improve:
John Brown (’92) – Happy Casa Brindisi
The midrange is dead? Not if you’re asking John Brown, 27-year old power forward/center playing for Brindisi this year. Brown has scored 20 or more points in his last four games while mostly doing his damage in the midrange area. The athletic lefty led his team to a remarkable second place in the Italian Cup and turned heads with his steady output on offense. Brown played in the Italian A2 the last two years and should be a hot commodity on the market come summer time where teams are dying for shooting, energy and athleticism, especially at his position.
Surprisingly Brown has only taken three three pointers so far this season and hasn’t made any of them. Looking at his stats, he’s 0 of 22 in his last three seasons from deep, which tells you quite a bit about where he’s comfortable and where not. Although he struggles from downtown, Brown definitely knows how to get a bucket when he’s a little bit closer to the rim. He’s not only limited to open catch and shoot attempts, but also able to swish it over the top of his defender after a hard dribble and looks more and more confident with each game/week going by.
Besides his (midrange) shooting, Brown is known as a highflyer who’s already owner of a quite decent highlight tape full of emphatic and powerful finishes at the rim. He can go out in transition too, changing ends faster than most of his opponents. He has the speed and the agility to be a factor on both ends and possesses the talent to set the tone early with his energy.
Having said all that, he struggles a little bit on the boards against taller centers, which – in all fairness – isn’t overly surprising considering his height and his weight. His pick and roll defense is solid (not elite) and coaches can use him in a variety of ways having in mind that he’s capable of so much more than your average drop back big. On switches he can hold his own, but he’s not a Kyle Hines type of player who erases everything. While the likelihood of him transforming into a monster on the boards against heavier dudes is small, you can count on him to at least try his best on every possession and leave it all on the floor, a quality that should and will be appreciated.
Goran Huskic (’92) – San Pablo Burgos
Goran Huskic might be the exact opposite of Brown if we’re just comparing shooting, athleticism and height. Huskic is a 2,10m tall center and surely not the guy you want to see shoot the ball ten times a game from anywhere close to the three point line. Huskic’s main strength is by far his passing. He’s dishing out 3.8 assists in less than 25 minutes this year and has to be in the conversation as the best passing center in Europe. Huskic finds cutters from the post, fools opponents with passes they don’t see coming and plays within the flow of the offense.
Although he wants to be awarded for his style of play and his effort in transition (which comes and goes), Huskic doesn’t need to score a bunch of points in order to be dominant offensively. Everytime he’s on the floor Burgos looks like a really good offensive team and the results speak for themselves. Huskic needs to improve his pick and roll defense, his shot blocking and his overall motor, but be damn sure that his passing outweighs some of his shortcomings in other areas of his game.
Mark Tollefsen (’92) – Maccabi Ashdod
Another guy, who continues to impress this season is Mark Tollefsen, top scorer in the Israelian League with 20.6 points per game. Tollefsen, a lanky and agile forward, plays for Maccabi Ashdod under Brad Greenberg and had some remarkable scoring outbursts this year. Against Maccabi Tel Aviv he managed to score 31 points and against Nes Ziona he dropped 30 on 12 of 19 shooting.
Tollefsen can pull up from anywhere and his ability to shoot is his calling card. He’s not scaring anyone in the post, but his beautiful stroke can give you nightmares when he catches fire. He’s a deadly spot up shooter, scoring over 1.2 points per possession in those situations. Due to certain body limitations his career path might not be going the way Zach LeDay’s going, who made the jump from the Israelian League to the Euroleague, but Tollefsen can score on almost every level in Europe. Dudes will go right through him attacking the rim and he’s not a great defender, but if you sign him that shouldn’t be his main task/focus. Tollefsen will let it fly and although scoring 20+ a game on high efficency will in all likelihood not earn him a spot on a Euroleague team this summer, Tollefsen should be getting some nice offers if he can keep it up.