With the D-League expanding, foreign leagues gaining international popularity and breakout NBA performances from players like Hassan Whiteside and Boban Marjonovich, it’s a really good time for basketball fans.
There’s a lot of talent in the world today, and it can be hard to keep track of it all. That’s why we’ve done our best to scour the basketball world and find some compelling options to keep on your radar.
Whether with a D-League team expansion team or an NBA roster in search a new identity, these players deserve a shot!
#1 – ALAN WILLIAMS
Williams currently leads the CBA in rebounding, averaging 15.4 per game. Add to daily stat line averages of 21.3 points, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks and you’ve got a player who is really ready to break out.
He has a “team oriented
” style of play and he’s been playing at a consistently high level for a long time now. During the Las Vegas Summer League, Williams was #1 in rebounding and #5 in points scored. In his Sophomore-Senior year a UC Santa Barbara, his stats were roughly the same (give or take a field goal and a block here or there).
The biggest problem for Williams is weak defense – specifically on the perimeter. Scouts say this is partially due to the style his team played during college, so it’s entirely possible that this area of his game could be improved by working with the right trainers.
#2 – MIRO BILAN
If you weed through Eurologue stats, you’ll see Bilan’s name appear in the top 10 for points, rebounds and fouls drawn. He’s 26 years old and has a lot of agility for a guy who weighs 250-275 pounds (depending on who your source).
One of the big problems with Miro Bilan is this: He’s tied for second place as the most blocked player in the Euroleague. Miro gets blocked almost three times more than he manages to block other players, which is a huge problem for a guy in his position.
If you compare him to the taller and slightly older Marjanovich, Miro has developed a better offense within a shorter period of time. While Boban’s height has always made him a more natural shot-blocker, until this past season, he was behind Miro in almost all other stats.
During workouts back in 2011, Miro showed that he had good footwork and the ability to finish with both hands; since then, he’s improved a lot, especially his ability to distribute the ball. If he can learn to be a little tougher in the paint, Miro could develop into a really good pick and roll player.
#3 – GUO AILUN
It can’t be easy running an offense if you don’t speak the language, but Guo Ailun has looked great playing alongside Lester Hudson in the CBA.
GA is fast, acrobatic and young. He was a streaky shooter when he was younger, but he’s improved a lot and his incredibly body control more than makes up for it. Though he’s currently being billed as the “future
” of Asian basketball, it’d be great to see how that quickness translates alongside more athletic pieces.
#4 – CHRIS WALKER
Chris racked up six blocks during his D-League debut. He’s 6’10”, 21 years old and he’s been shooting 62% so far this season.
Walker lacks polish, but his athleticism makes up for it. His stat lines aren’t going to blow you away, but they’re very solid. He’s currently 11th in blocks, 12th in rebounds and he can get to the hoop with ease.
While he had a terrible FG% in Summer League, he’s improved dramatically while playing for the Rio Grande Vipers. He’s extremely raw, but with the right development, he might be able to play at an NBA level.
Billy Donovan, Walker’s coach on the Gators, said he was “really coachable” but lacked an elite work ethic. Although he has yet to live up to expectations – in college or anywhere elsewhere – Walker is young and there’s still time.
#5 – JORDAN CRAWFORD
This should be a very familiar name. Like fellow guard Elliot Williams, Crawford had a number of brief stints in the NBA and several appearances at the top of the D-League stats, but his successes have been playing in China.
Crawford has dominated in the CBA over the last two seasons, most recently putting up a 72 point game.
Sure, he’s a chucker with no shame, but he can be very exciting to watch. With the right people around him, he could make a nice little career for himself; but he won’t be in his prime for much longer.
#6 – ELI HOLMAN
Holman is in his mid-20s, he’s 6’9″ and he has a 7’4″ wingspan. While playing overseas, he’s looked consistently good on the court, but he has a reputation for being aggressive off the court.
It’s questionable whether Holman is capable of contributing the way Whiteside does for the Heat, but he has potential. A big question is whether he’d be comfortable playing in a reduced role until he proved himself in the NBA. He’s done well with Panathinaikos Athens and it’d be interesting to see what he can accomplish on American soil.
#7 – JON BROCKMAN
Brockman spent a three seasons in the NBA, playing with the Kings and the Bucks before heading to Europe. At the age of 28, he’s not getting a lot of attention any more, but that doesn’t mean he should be ignored.
Playing in Europe, Brockman has had to learn to guard bigs who stretch the floor, and that’s a skill that’s going to come up more and more in the modern NBA. Fans loved him in France
and coaches constantly compliment his work ethic. When you combine all of that with his rugged style of play, you get a guy who deserves another shot.
#8 – MAIK ZIRBES
The 6’10”, 250 pound German has a very high true-shooting percentage. Since 2012, he’s has doubled his points per game while improving his shooting percentage.
He sets hard screens and has a soft touch, but lacks a diverse skill set and has very limited range. While his offense has improved over the past few years, every other facet of his game has stay roughly the same. Still – if you want a solid role player at the center, Zirbes might be your man.
#9 – KWAME ALEXANDER
Kwame Alexander went undrafted in 2013 and since then he’s found a place playing overseas. During his last two seasons in Greece, he has shown remarkable improvements. In the last season his usage has gone way up; he’s also brought his field goal percentage to .532 while increasing his number of attempts and added an additional four rebounds per game.
Alexander’s moves have been nominated for “Dunk of the Year” several times and he’s been compared to a less polished Kenneth Faried.
He wow’ed the crowds at Drew League, but it’s difficult to assess how any of this would translate to the NBA.
#10 – DOUG ANDERSON
Dunkin’ Doug Anderson went undrafted in 2013 and has made a living playing street ball since then. Whether with Court Kingz or the Harlem Globetrotters, Anderson’s highlights always stand out – unfortunately, he doesn’t draw much interest from any major teams.
He had good numbers during college, displaying solid defense, but it’s always been his athleticism that made him famous. Even if his fundamentals are weak, at the very least, he’ll give your team a dunk of the week.
[Photo via ucsbgauchos.com]