EuroView: Top 5 Aussie men in Europe season preview
The Australian contingent in Europe changed significantly in the offseason, with Nathan Jawai and Chris Goulding returning home. Though, Brock Motum and Ben Madgen's signings in Lithuania and Belgium respectively will be a plus for Aussie basketball, along with the addition of college standouts Dan Trist and Mitch McCarron.
1 | Brock Motum | BC Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)
Brock Motum took yet another step forward in his basketball career, delivering several eye-catching performances for the Utah Jazz NBA Summer League team after which he signed with Lithuanian powerhouse BC Zalgiris Kaunas. Motum chose to play with the reigning Lithuanian Cup and League champions instead of a partially guaranteed contract offer from the Utah Jazz.
The power forward is the most in-form Australian player in Europe, not only shining in NBA Summer League. He played quality basketball against the Lithuanian national team for the Boomers in two friendlies, and all of this coming on the back of an All-NBL First team season.
The former Adelaide 36er was a dominant force in the NBL with 17.5 points and 7.1 rebounds on 51.2% from the field and 46.9% from three-point range. Motum will look to make his mark as a dominant stretch-4 in the starting line-up both domestically and in Euroleague for Zalgiris Kaunas. Motum stated Euroleague basketball was the reason for his decision to sign in Lithuania as he looks to springboard into the NBA next season. The form of Motum, combined with his proven ability and upside, is why Motum is likely to be Australia’s best player in Europe this season.
2 | Ryan BROEKHOFF | Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia)
Ryan Broekhoff will be hot on the heels of Motum as Australia’s best player in Europe this upcoming season, also impressing in the NBA Summer League with the Denver Nuggets. Despite signing a 2-year contract extension with Turkish Eurocup side Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul, the Turkish All-Star exercised his Euroleague buy-out clause and will join Russian side Lokomotiv Kuban. The promise of Euroleague basketball was too good to pass up for Broekhoff, who at the age of 25, is right in his prime and ready to take another step in his career.
“I come to ‘Loko’, to help the team achieve great success in the VTB United League and Euroleague,”
The versatile forward starred for Besiktas in a troubled season, and was named to the All-Star team after averaging 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 30 minutes per game. What made Broekhoff so valuable was his efficiency, making the 8th most three-pointers in the competition with 64 on an exceptional 41.6% clip. It is unclear how difficult the transition between teams will be, but Broekhoff’s ability to work on and off the ball will leave him in good stead.
3 | Brad NEWLEY | Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain)
Brad Newley was Australia’s best player in Europe last year, stepping up when it counted in the world’s second best league. Though he hasn’t put a foot wrong, he slides to number three after Motum’s move to Lokomotiv Kuban and the prospective growth of Broekhoff.
Brad Newley - Courtesy Herbalife Gran Canaria
The 30-year old was an integral part of a remarkable Herbalife Gran Canaria's Eurocup run that saw them come runners-up. Newley averaged 10.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 25 minutes per game across the season, shooting an impressive 48.1% from the field, an amazing clip for a guard. Even more so when it is considered that Newley shot so poorly from deep (by his standards), converting just 33.1%, although he showed he has the range in the Eurocup (42% 3PT).
Newley delivered in the valuable moments such as the ACB playoffs and Eurocup. This is one of his greatest skills and one that endears him to the local Gran Canaria fans. A repeat effort from Newley in 2015-16 would be an outstanding performance, but as a competitor, Newley will hope his team can progress further and improve in both the ACB and abroad.
4 | David ANDERSEN | ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne (France)
After a difficult season hampered by injury, David Andersen showed signs of his old form, to finish off the year strong for ASVEL-Lyon Villeurbanne and helping the Boomers qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 35-year old still has plenty to give, despite being in and out of rotation for ASVEL throughout the year. In 32 games Andersen averaged 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 19.8 minutes. Andersen adds great firepower off the bench and is more than capable of starting. Three-point shooting has been a strength of Andersen’s over his career, yet the 2014-15 season was his worst on record, shooting 34.9%.
However, there is a good chance Andersen can return to his old form, shooting over 40% from deep in five of the last seven seasons and in last season’s Eurocup Andersen shot 44% from three-point range in 8 games. Andersen outlined his skill set with the Boomers as he put up 18 points against world number two Lithuania and 17 points in the crucial game one against the Tall Blacks. As is the case with most Aussies on the list, Andersen’s versatility as a scorer and passer while starting or coming off the bench, is what gives him yet another opportunity to perform well for ASVEL.
David Andersen - Courtesy ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne
5 | Ben Madgen | VOO Wolves Verviers-Pepinster (Belgium)
30-year old Ben Madgen will make his debut in Europe this season after leaving the Sydney Kings to join VOO Wolves Verviers-Pepinster in Belgium.
In his final season as a King, Madgen led the league in free-throw percentage (86.5%) while averaging 15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2 assists. The former All-NBL First Team member is looking to prove himself in Europe and his shooting stroke (38.1% 3PT), combined with his ability to draw fouls at the rim will give him every opportunity.
It is an all-important year for Madgen, as a good year has the potential to earn himself a long and potentially lucrative final contract to end his playing days in Europe.
Ones to watch: Dan Trist, Mitch McCarron and Daniel Dillon
College standouts Mitch McCarron and Dan Trist were in the conversation for the final spot on the rankings, but their unproven ability against veterans is what gave Madgen the edge. National NCAA Division II player of the year McCarron worked out for several NBA teams but ended up signing with Spanish LEB Gold side Palencia. Averaging 20.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in his final season. McCarron shot 42% from long-range and displayed the skills that will ensure the former Metro State star is one to watch in the coming years.
Mitch McCarron - Courtesy Metro State University of Denver
After graduating from Lafayette (NCAA), Dan Trist will join McCarron in the Spanish LEB Gold competition after signing with Oviedo. Trist was the 2014/15 NCAA Division I Australian Player of the Year and one of two unanimous selections to the Patriot League All-Conference First Team. The 6’8 senior forward enjoyed a career-year, delivering a league best 17.3 points per game at a 57.6% clip from the field.
Veteran Daniel Dillon has made his way to PGE Turow Zgorzelec in Poland this past offseason, and looks to be in a strong position following a good year for CSM Oradea in Romania. Dillon learned how to work within the offense throughout the season and finished the year playing quality basketball, as an offensive leader and creator. He will be looking to elevate his game further at his new club in 2015/16.
The full list of Australian men and women playing in the 2015/16 European season can be found HERE.