EuroView: Top 5 Aussie men in Europe for 2015

Deciding who Australia’s best male player in Europe this season was a two-horse race between Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul swingman Ryan Broekhoff and Herbalife Gran Canaria’s Brad Newley.

On the surface Ryan Broekhoff had a better season, boasting better numbers across the board, selected to the Turkish All-Star game and proving lethal from behind the arc this season in shooting a sizzling 41%. However, Newley just nudges Broekhoff as the best performed Australian player in Europe because he stepped up when his team needed him, guiding his team to the Eurocup final and the Spanish ACB playoffs.

Newley stepped up in playoffs, with a 20-point outing against Real Madrid and performing consistently in the Eurocup, scoring in double-digits in 16 out of 21 games and shooting an even more impressive 48.7% from the three-point range. Broekhoff’s Besiktas was eliminated in the group stages of the Eurocup, while in the final two games of the Turkish domestic season Besiktas was pushing for a playoff berth. In those final two games, Broekhoff scored a combined 11 points, leaving Besiktas out of the playoffs.

Whilst Broekhoff had a slightly better season based on the numbers and accolades, basketball is not just about numbers. Newley turned up when it counted and in a much stronger league. Given these factors, Newley nudged Broekhoff as the number one Australian player in Europe this past season.

While the top two remain unchanged from mid-season rankings, there has been some movement across the remaining top 5.

1 | Brad NEWLEY | Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain)

Brad Newley backed up his first year with a fine performance for Herbalife Gran Canaria in year two of his contract. Newley averaged 10.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 25 minutes per game. The Boomer was efficient from the field, shooting 48.1% and 33.1% from three-point range. However it appears that this is an area Newley could improve significantly as he showed off his shooting stroke in the Eurocup, sinking 30 three-pointers on an impressive 42% shooting.

Newley’s brilliant year was more about the moments and delivering when it was needed the most. He stepped up in the big moments, the Eurocup and in the playoffs of the second best national league in the world. That is what made Newley’s year great, battling back from a minor injury mid-season to play a pivotal role in earning the playoff spot and then performing in the playoffs.

2 | Ryan BROEKHOFF | Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul (Turkey)

Turkish Basketball League (TBL) All-Star Ryan Broekhoff had a phenomenal year at a time when Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul were a team in turmoil. In 30 TBL games Broekhoff averaged 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 30 minutes per game. What made Broekhoff especially valuable was his efficiency, making the 8th most three-pointers in the competition with 64 on an exceptional 41.6% clip.

Broekhoff had the range from deep and the length inside to grab rebounds and finish. At the age of 24, Broekhoff is poised to make another leap next season, having just signed a long-term deal. He performed well in the face of adversity, with a new coach mid-season following a seven-match losing streak. Having a career year when the team is constantly changing and uncertain bodes well for Broekhoff and his ability to take another step next season.

3 | David ANDERSEN | ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne (France)

David Andersen managed to put together another solid season despite being restricted by injuries. Andersen played 36 games in the French Pro A League and Eurocup, averaging 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists in just 20.8 minutes a contest. Starting just 17 games, Andersen was a valuable burst of offense off the bench for a team lacking scoring punch following the loss of former MVP Edwin Jackson.

At times the ASVEL bench unit struggled with the absence of Andersen and his return gave them a much-needed boost. Andersen was reliable from the floor, shooting 43.9% from the field and a scintillating 40% from behind the arc. ASVEL finished in 5th spot on the league table with a 19/15 record and a strong 11/6 record at home. ASVEL were knocked out 2-1 in a tense series with Le Mans, something that was certainly a missed opportunity.

All in all it was another solid year for Andersen, overcoming setbacks and playing quality team basketball. Andersen will be looking to earn a greater role in the rotation next year and maximise his production.

4 | Nathan JAWAI | MoraBanc Andorra (Spain)

Nathan Jawai started off the season in a slump over in Turkey with Euroleague side Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul, averaging just 8 minutes and 3.3 points per game. ‘Outback Shaq’ earned the number four rank with his positive and exciting play for MoraBanc Andorra in the ACB, following his mid-season transfer to his new Spanish outfit.

Jawai was reinvigorated in Spain, earning a starting role and performing in the way he would have expected to. Across 21 games, Jawai averaged 8.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 free throw attempts in just 16 minutes on court per game. Jawai took a while to gel with his new team, eventually the form of both Jawai and Andorra improved dramatically.

In his last 8 games, Jawai posted averages of 13 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and was visibly more active at both ends and finished off the season in great form. With the move to Spain, Jawai’s shooting also dramatically improved as the big man shot 55.5% from the field and 65% from the charity stripe. Jawai seemed settled in Andorra and has the potential to be a force in the powerful ACB if he can increase his role and continues to have a presence in the paint. However for now he remains out of contract and a free agent.

5 | Chris GOULDING | CAI Zaragoza (Spain)

Chris Goulding had a nice debut season in Europe, starting 23 of 49 games and getting very hot on occasions. However what held Goulding back and prevented him from being higher on this list, was in fact his shooting.

Goulding connected on just 36.8% from the field, although he did shoot a respectable 34% from three-point range but was not in the same efficiency bracket as fellow Boomer Broekhoff. In 49 games, Goulding averaged 9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 23 minutes an outing. As a result, Goulding found himself in and out of the starting line-up, dominating for stretches and then going missing for entire games. For example, Goulding’s domestic season-high of 20 points was wedged between two matches in which he was held scoreless.

Goulding essentially was found to be a one-trick pony - a flat-out scorer. If Goulding didn’t score, he didn’t really have an impact on the match. He has demonstrated he has the ability to be a game winner with a season-high of 25 points in the Eurocup and in 13 games delivered 15 points or more. Goulding laid the groundwork for a solid career in Europe, although he has since been linked with a move back to the NBL with Melbourne United.

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