June 25, 2011
Fran Vazquez is the best centre in Europe, and yet he played only 16 minutes per game. The 16 minutes per game has no bearing on the fact that he's the best centre in Europe; he is not robbed of that title just because he plays less than half the game, nor is he undeserving of it. Vazquez could certainly play more, a lot more. But he doesn't, because it's not the European way. The European way, for whatever reason, is to play as many guys as possible in a 40 minute game, changing your rotation and your starting lineup every damn night. Even Juan Carlos Navarro - the closest thing the ACB has to a superstar - only churns out 25mpg. It is very silly, yet it is the unwritten rule.
March 24, 2011
The starting backcourt consistently consists of Ricky Rubio and Juan Carlos Navarro. Navarro has lost nothing; his assault of jumpshots and floaters still reigns supreme, and is still good for 14.8 points per game in only 26 minutes per contest, on 46% shooting. Rubio, though, seems to be suffering from stagnated growth. The improvements shown last season in his feet-set jumpshooting have completely disappeared, and for the season he is shooting 19 of 92 from three point range across Euroleague and ACB play. He is, amazingly, still only 20 years of age, the most experienced 20 year old in the basketball world, the only 20 year old point guard to have been a key component on both a Eurobasket and Euroleague champion in the past 18 months. And he's still very good. The transition, the passing vision, the defense on point guards, and the pick-and-roll assault, are in as full of a force as always. But he's more Brevin Knight than Steve Nash at this point, and will be until such time that he can consistently make open shots. It looked as though his jumper was getting there, but he's regressed at what was already his biggest weakness, and it's a concern. Once he's fixed that leaky dam, he can begin working on creating his own shot and shooting off the dribble.
Whatever scoring slack Rubio drops, however, Lakovic promptly picks up. Despite the relatively poor percentages he's shot this year, Lakovic is one of the tournament's best shooters, somewhat streaky at times but able to change a game when he's on. Lakovic is also a capable ball handler and pick-and-roll playmaker, although he's less than half of the defender Rubio is. When paired alongside Navarro, an equally threatening yet more consistent shooter, Barcelona's backcourt can be bloody hard to stop.
April 11, 2010
- Juan Carlos Navarro
Navarro is N'Dong's team mate at Barcelona. He was at Barcelona from 1997 to 2007, has been at Barcelona from 2008 until the present day, and is under contract to Barcelona for at least three more years. The only time La Bomba wasn't at Barcelona was when he spent the 2007-08 season with the Memphis Grizzlies in a move which didn't work out well for either party. Navarro played for a financial loss, was not a whole lot more than a specialist shooter at the NBA level, and returned home to Spain a matter of hours after the end of the Grizzlies's final game. The protracted contract negotiations behind bringing him over meant it did not start well, a 26 win season meant it did not end well, and the bit in the middle didn't go too great either. Not least of all when Pau Gasol - Navarro's friend, national team teammate, and part of the lure of him even going - was traded at midseason. All in all, not a great success.
(The Grizzlies were able to get back the protected pick that they had traded to get Navarro's rights when they traded Javaris Crittenton to the Wizards at the 2009 trade deadline. In the end, then, they did OK. The trade essentially became half a season of Javaris Crittenton for one season of Juan Carlos Navarro. And I'll take the latter on that without fear of contradiction.)
Navarro is averaging 15.4 points and 3.3 assists in ACB play this year, as well as 13.9/3.3 in the Euroleague.