Every year, a number of NBA teams turn to the same veteran retreads when it comes time to add a free agent. However, there are plenty of NBA-caliber players overseas who could help an NBA franchise if given the opportunity.
Skilled guards like left-handed Keith Langford, the reigning No. 1 Euroleague scorer, could’ve pursued NBA offers, including from the Philadelphia 76ers, but opted to sign a lucrative $3.8 million pact with Russian club Kazan instead.
Veteran star point guard Bo McCalebb, undrafted out of New Orleans in 2008, has won multiple MVP awards and championships in Serbia, Italy and Turkey. However, though he’s been in recent contact with multiple NBA teams, McCalebb signed a one-month deal with German powerhouse Bayern Munich, and it appears his NBA window is closing.
Serbian phenom point guard Milos Teodosic is a lock in terms of NBA talent, but his long-term, high-dollar contract with CSKA Moscow will keep him in Europe.
So, who is the next Patrick Beverley, who was playing in Russia just prior to joining the Houston Rockets? Or Brian Roberts, who won three German League titles before making the jump to then New Orleans Hornets, and is now with the Charlotte Hornets?
Here are some overseas players who could follow their paths:
This 25-year-old Baltimore native combo-guard is a European Championship ring collector. Delaney, undrafted out of Virginia Tech in 2011, is the only player in Europe to win back-to-back-to-back Championships in three different countries.
In 2012, he guided Chalon to the French title, averaging 15 points, 3.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per showcase through his rookie season overseas. The following season Budivelnyk Kiev road Delaney to the Ukraine Superleague chip, as he was named Player of the Year. Delaney’s coming-out-season was the previous one with German muscle Bayern Munich, who ultimately won the German Bundesliga Championship, as Delaney, once again, took home another Player of the Year award.
He made a splash throughout his Euroleague season debut, registering 12 points per game, and ranked sixth among the top passers in Europe with 4.3 dimes per outing – behind ultra-skilled passers in Carlos Arroyo, Dimitris Diamantidis and Sergio Rodriguez.
Last April, Delaney – who was having a monster season – was close to making the jump to the NBA as the Houston Rockets reached out to strike a deal. However, Munich was battling for the gold in the German League, and vetoed the idea in a heartbeat.
During the offseason, Delaney signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract sheet in Russia with Lokomotiv Kuban. According to sources with knowledge of the contract agreement, Delaney has an escape clause he can trigger as late as July 22, 2015. From what I’m hearing, he’s mulling over opting-out.
Believe it or not, this kid is currently the No. 1 scorer in the world.
Errick, best known as older brother of Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, is extremely overlooked. He’s even more underestimated. But, all that’s about to change.
After dropping 34 points in a preseason match up against highly projected NBA draftee Emmanuel Mudiay, who was held to just seven points before fouling out, even NBA officials are paying close attention.
McCollum, 26, is averaging 42.8 points per game in China and recently had an out-of-body performance, setting a worldwide season-record of 63 points. Last week, McCollum recorded his first career triple-double with 58 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a 127-122 deficit against former Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Akognon and the Foshan Lions.
Here’s a list of the damage McCollum’s has done thus far in China: 63 points against Justin Dentmon and ex-Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi, 49 points over Von Wafer and Jeremy Tyler, 48 points vs former CBA forward Al Harrington, 47 points on Pooh Jeter, 45 points (11 boards and eight dimes) versus Delonte West and Michael Beasley and 44 points (22-for-27 from the free throw line) against Metta World Peace.
McCollum played high school ball with his younger brother C.J. and current Grizzlies center Kosta Koufos. He went undrafted out of Goshan College of the NAIA, and his first gig overseas was such a bust he almost retired.
The 6-foot-2 Canton native bounced back and won scoring titles in the Israeli minors, the top Greek League and in the EuroCup (Europe’s second-tier competition) with an average of 20.2 points per outing, earning the league’s Import Player of the Year.
Before the Greek playoffs, I’m told, six-time European champs Panathinaikos, requested to buy-out McCollum, but his team refused.
Over the summer, the buzz around McCollum generated into an NBA Summer League invite from the Denver Nuggets, followed by a series of auditions for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets. He ended up signing a $700,000 deal with the CBA’s Zhejiang Banks.
Once the season in China is up, McCollum is a virtual lock to enter either the NBA or Euroleague.
Last season’s Euro Cinderella was 27-year-old Boston College alumnus Tyrese Rice. Coached by current Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, Rice struggled as a backup point guard for Israeli power-club Maccabi Tel Aviv. But the end result, however, paid off. I mean literally, with a monster $5.4 million deal in Russia.
Rice was crowned the 2014 Israeli League Final Four and Euroleague Final Four Most Valuable Player. He led Maccabi to its first European Championship in almost a decade following a game-high 26 points, including a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line in the Finals against Spanish favorites Real Madrid.
Undrafted in 2009, Rice is a relentless bulldog with a great feel for the game. The 6-foot-1 human dynamite recorded 45 points and 11 assists during a two-game Finals series in Israel vs Maccabi Haifa. During the 2011-12 season, Rice was teammates at Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania with center Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors.
Before taking his talents to Spain, to the best league outside the NBA, Goulding was the top shooting guard on the Australian continent.
In March, the Tasmanian-born assassin caught fire, shooting a career-high 50 points during a 92-82 win over their domestic rival the Sydney Kings. It was the NBL’s best individual scoring performance of the modern era. Goulding capped the season as the No. 1 scorer, netting 22.8 points per game.
Prior to that, at just 22 years of age, Goulding was named MVP of the NBL All-Star Game, leading all scorers with 24 points.
This offseason, Goulding signed a single-season deal with ACB club Zaragoza and has had a smooth transition to Europe. He’s averaging 9.1 points per showcase in 22 minutes in Europe’s toughest, defensive-minded league in Spain. In EuroCup play, Goulding leads his team in scoring with 15.1 points per contest in 26 minutes, including 45.2 percent from deep. His stroke is deadly from the free throw line, shooting 29-for-30 this season.
Goulding tested NBA waters during the latest Summer League with a strong showing for the Dallas Mavericks, registering 8.3 points on 50 percentage shooting from 3-point land.
Over the years the NBA has opened its doors to Australia’s finest as Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes were joined in recent offseason by Cameron Bairstow, Joe Ingles and pick No. 5 in the 2014 NBA draft in Dante Exum.
Goulding has emerged as the next Aussie to make an NBA splash.
ALBA Berlin’s all-around guard isn’t known for his shooting, but Redding is a real sleeper when it comes to the NBA.
Undrafted in 2010 out of the University of Villanova, Redding, as an overseas rookie, immediately claimed ownership of the cup and league title in the low-level Cyprus League. He then jumped to the up-and-coming German League and was nominated to the Bundesliga All-Star Game.
Redding was later acquired by ALBA, earned the German League Import of the Year award and now competes in Europe’s highest level in the Euroleague, where he’s averaging 11.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
Redding’s club shocked the basketball world with a 94-93 preseason W over reigning NBA champs, the San Antonio Spurs. Redding was golden in the clutch with key 3-pointer to cut ALBA’s deficit to 93-92 win under five seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Redding stole a Tim Duncan inbound pass that led to a game-winning prayer for the Germans. Redding had 12 points on 66 percent shooting from the perimeter, and recorded a game-high of five assists and four steals.
The 6-foot-3 floor Israeli floor general for Maccabi Tel Aviv is one the best old-school players in the game. Ohayon, a 27-year-old, four-year Euroleague veteran, is a quick left-handed, pass-first point guard who knows how to run an offense.
Before turning pro at 16.5, playing backup point guard for Hapoel Galil Elyon, Ohayon set an all-time Israel record with a quadruple-double of 34 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and 10 steal during an 81-57 high-school victory.
Ohayon’s shooting has always been a liability, but he’s greatly improved and is a tab under 40 percent from distance this season. Ohayon, a longtime backcourt partner on the Israeli national team with former Dallas Mavericks guard Gal Mekel, is an elite on-ball defender.
Just last week Ohayon put up a career-high eight steals in a 79-73 road victory over French club Limoges.
The former Wisconsin point guard and pre-Draft Portsmouth Invitational Tournament invitee, is the biggest steal of the Israeli League this season.
Had he not been held back by injuries, the 6-foot-2 native of Minnesota was bound for the higher ranks in overseas competition. Still, Taylor is leading a low-budget Hapoel Holon club to the playoffs, as the No. 5 seed with a 5-3 record.
Taylor, who played a year and a half in the Italian SeriaA for Rome, averaging double-digits in scoring before hurting his hip, was ranked first earlier this season in Israel in efficiency, and second in points.
Taylor, a strong-built playmaker with quick hands (ranked sixth in steals with 2.3 per game) and a solid stroke, didn’t show out for the Milwaukee Bucks at the recent NBA Summer League, but did in fact turn down a pair of NBA Western Conference camp invites to jump start his career in Israel. Meaning, he’s still on the radar of NBA teams.
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