On the eve of Lokomotiv Kuban's EuroCup quarterfinals series against Gran Canaria, Australian star Ryan Broekhoff hurt his thumb an injury that is set to sideline him for up to 6 weeks, and thus miss the entire EuroCup playoff campaign.
The 2o16 Rio Olympian suffered his right thumb injury -- on his shooting hand no less -- in an uncharacteristic 93-65 blowout loss to UNICS Kazan in the VTB United League on the weekend. The timing of the injury is most unfortunate, as Lokomotiv heads into the EuroCup quarterfinals with an unbeaten record and tabbed as one of the favourites to win the 2018 title.
Broekhoff, Lokomotiv's leading scorer, is averaging 12.3 points on some scintillating shooting numbers (66.7% 2FG, 50.6% 3FG, 88.6 FT) while also delivering 5.5 rebounds in 16 games. His untimely absence is a massive blow. As one of the most efficient and effective wings in the competition, his team-leading PIR of 16.2, which ranks him 15th overall in this EuroCup. He’s also ranked 1st for true shooting percentage (76.7%), 3rd in three-point shooting percentage (50.6%), 4th in three-point field goals made and 8th in three-point field goal attempts and 17th for rebounding. It is fair to say that Lokomotiv will miss the Australian sharpshooter's on court presence.
Having won the 2018 VTB United League All-Star Three-Point competition, he has also repeatedly shown throughout his career that he can hit big shots when they are needed the most. At 6'7 with an ability to hit from NBA three-point territory, play good defense and rebounds, those attributes continue to be highly prized in the modern NBA: defensive versatility and three-point shooting. After enjoying a brilliant European campaign, Broekhoff has been attracting increasing interest from NBA front office staff, and coupled with his current contract set to expire at season end, a move to the NBA during the off-season was becoming a realistic option.
While the hand injury is a set-back, his NBA aspirations are unlikely to be impacted, unlike Lokomotiv's EuroCup playoff run.