If you look at the rosters of the EuroLeague teams, you can find out that, in addition to the NBA veterans, there’s a solid number of players coming from mid-level teams who had standout seasons in the EuroBasketball leagues and got the chance to secure a EuroLeague career. An example is Will Clyburn, who came from mid-level teams in the German and Israeli leagues and now is a crucial player for CSKA Moscow.
All around Europe, there are lots ‘sleepers’ who are developing and hustling in the national leagues and deserve to get some looks from EuroLeague teams. Here we take a look at some of these guys.
MATT THOMAS – Obradoiro (Spain)
The former Iowa State shooting guard is having a hell of a season in his first year as a pro in Spain. He was a three-point shooting machine in college, he proved it in the NBA Summer League with the Los Angeles Lakers and has been showing it in Europe as well. He is currently fourth in the Spanish Liga ACB (probably the most competitive domestic league in Europe) in scoring with 15.7 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 47% from three. His future in Europe is more than bright, and it looks like he will fit perfectly as a spot-up three-point shooter in the EuroLeague like Real Madrid veteran Jaycee Carroll. By the way, he’s already getting some looks from the EuroLeague as David Pick reported that FC Barcelona was interested in signing him to a long-term deal.
ARTEM PUSTOVYI – Obradoiro (Spain)
Hands down one of the best shot-blockers in Europe, Artem Pustovyi has made a step up since he played an excellent EuroBasket 2017 with the Ukrainian NT. Standing at 7-foot-2, Pustovyi has improved his mobility which makes him quicker around the basket and more efficient in pick-and-roll situations and when he runs the floor. The 25-year-old center is averaging 11.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 26 minutes per game this season.
AMEDEO DELLA VALLE – Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Italy)
Since he graduated from Ohio State University in 2013, the Italian guard has become a key player for Reggio Emilia, and now he’s having a career season, especially in the EuroCup (the second-best International league in Europe) where he’s the scoring leader with 18.6 points in 31 minutes per game. The 24-year-old guard maybe lacks some physicality and athleticism, but his very determined attitude make up for it as he can always find a way to get to the basket and draw fouls against bigger defenders. Della Valle is now playing a pivotal role for his team as they approach the EuroCup playoff series against Zenit St. Petersburg.
LAMAR PATTERSON – FIAT Turin (Italy)
After a 40-game experience with the Atlanta Hawks, the former NBA second-round pick returned to Europe, this time in Italy with Fiat Turin. Patterson has been doing it all for Turin, emerging as one of the best players in the Italian Serie A with 16.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals in less than 30 minutes per game. He is a EuroLeague-ready player. Patterson is a dangerous two-way player who can use his 6-foot-5, 225-pound NBA-caliber frame to attack the basket with strength and defend multiple positions. He’s also been finding his rhythm from beyond the arc as he shot an outstanding 49 percent from three over 10 games in January. Patterson has had interest from a few top clubs in Europe and even a couple of NBA teams, a source told Def Pen Hoops.
LOUIS LABEYRIE – Strasbourg (France)
The New York Knicks draft-and-stash is having a standout season with Strasbourg in the French ProA league. The 6-foot-10 big man continues to develop as a player who can use his length on the defensive end and who’s able to stretch the floor and shoot from beyond the arc. Labeyrie is averaging 15.2 points and 8.4 rebounds on a phenomenal 60 percent shooting from the three-point line in France. He is another one who’s already attracting some attention from EuroLeague teams: the French website L’Equipe reported that Panathinaikos was interested in signing him before the Greek club decided to bring in Adreian Payne who was just coming off a terminated NBA two-way contract with the Orlando Magic.
GABE YORK – Medi Bayreuth (Germany)
The former Arizona guard had a brief, pretty disappointing stint in Italy last year with Vanoli Cremona before he decided to return to the US and play in the then-called NBA D-League. He put up substantial numbers with the Erie Bayhawks over 44 games and this season he has returned to Europe. But this time is different from his first experience overseas: York is now the go-to-guy for his team, Medi Bayreuth. He is 6th in scoring in the Basketball Champions League (the third-best International league in Europe) with 17.4 points in less than 30 minutes per game and is shooting 44 percent from the three-point line.
MALCOLM GRIFFIN – Zenit St. Petersburg (VTB League)
Griffin began the current season in Greece with Kolossos Rhodes, a mid-level team that has produced several intriguing sleepers over the last few years. An example is Mike James, the former Lamar point guard who had a brief stint in the NBA early in the season and has now signed a deal to return to EuroLeague club Panathinaikos. Griffin emerged as a terrific find for Kolossos as he averaged 15.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, five assists and 1.5 steals per game. The 6-foot-4 guard left the Greek team in late January to make a step forward and sign with Zenit St. Petersburg, a Russian team that competes in the VTB League and the EuroCup. He had a pretty good start with Zenit as he scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and dished out eight assists coming off the bench in his EuroCup debut against Lietuvos Rytas. We’ll see if the 26-year-old will keep grinding enough so he can make it to the EuroLeague. He has already made a name for himself: before signing with Zenit, Griffin had received some interest from the Spanish teams of the EuroLeague, a source told Def Pen Hoops.
McKENZIE MOORE – Lavrio (Greece)
This 25-year-old player has become a star come out of nowhere who can do it all for a mid-low level team like Lavrio. At 6-foot-6, he runs the plays for his team, making him a point guard in a wing body, he can move the ball, score and give a hand in the paint by grabbing rebounds thanks to his length. As a result, his stats are typical of an all-around player: 16.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.7 steals in less than 28 minutes per game. What does he need? He has to be more consistent with his shooting, especially from 3-point range. If he improves on that, then he will be an intriguing find for a EuroLeague team.
GLEN RICE JR. – Hapoel Holon (Israel)
The former Washington Wizards wing is currently the scoring leader in the Israeli Winner League, and it’s not even close. Rice has led Hapoel Holon to a second-best 12-4 record in the league, averaging 25.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 51% shooting from the field and 37% from three in 31.7 minutes per game. He also had a season-high 43 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Maccabi Ashdod. With an NBA-body, he has the chance to do it all even at the EuroLeague level: he can score the ball and shoot it, his athletic tools make him a dangerous weapon in transition and he can defend multiple positions due to his length and frame. That said, he needs to improve from a mental perspective. His story includes several episodes that caused him some troubles, and also on the court he needs to be more consistent and smarter: 4.7 turnovers per game with a season-high eight are too many.
“Amazing talent,” a Winner League scout told Def Pen Hoops. “From a physical perspective, he can do absolutely whatever he wants on the court. Whenever he wants. The question with him is mental. He decides when he wants to play well and when he wants to just make a mess.”
JARROD JONES – Pinar Karsiyaka (Turkey)
He keeps grinding and grinding. Jarrod Jones has always been able to make an impact wherever he has played. He stood out last season in the Italian league with Pesaro, got the chance to play for a good-level Turkish team in Pinar Karsiyaka and he continues to impress, earning the right to be included in this list of players who deserve to get attention from the EuroLeague. The 27-year-old big man out of Ball State is 3th in the Basketball Champions League in scoring with 19.7 points per game. Not only does he make an impact in the paint with his strength and athleticism, but he has also been developing his game on the perimeter, shooting a pretty good 40% from three on 3.3 attempts per game. EuroLeague teams are keeping their eye on him. By the way, that Hungarian passport will make things even more interesting for his future …
PATRICK MILLER – Gaziantep (Turkey)
Patrick Miller has returned to Europe after he played two years in the NBA G League with the Texas Legends and the Sioux Falls Skyforce. This 2-year experience in the then-called NBA D-League seems to have really paid off for him as he’s been doing a very good job this season in Europe. Miller began the season in Serbia with Partizan Belgrade, a club with a huge tradition that competes in the Adriatic League and the EuroCup. He posted solid stats in both competitions, averaging about 16 points, three rebounds and four assists per game. He parted ways with Partizan in January and joined Turkish team Gaziantep. In the Turkish league, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound point guard is basically proving the numbers he posted in Serbia. What he needs to reach the highest level in Europe is a more consistent shot from the perimeter but from a physical perspective, he is so intriguing.
“He is strong and can get to the basket with speed and strength,” an NBA G League scout told Def Pen Hoops about the former Texas and Sioux Falls guard. “[He has] very good quickness and stops on a dime on his pull-ups. Very good motor. He plays hard on both ends of the floor. He is good.”
CADY LALANNE – Besiktas (Turkey)
Before joining Besiktas, the San Antonio Spurs draftee began the current season in Italy where he would become a key player in Brindisi’s starting five. He was hands down one of the most effective big men in the Italian Serie A: he averaged 15.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. What has impressed me the most about Lalanne is his versatility. He is very long, mobile, has great athleticism, a good touch around the basket, and he’s also developing as a possible stretch-five, knocking down some shots from beyond the arc off the pick and pops. His abilities have been noticed and he was signed by Besiktas, giving him the opportunity to participate for the first time in a European cup, which is another step forward for him.