One of the things we like to do here is monitor the ever-changing nationalities of players. Acquiring various passports can be highly useful for a professional basketball player, as they can be used to bypass various regulations regarding numbers of imports that most leagues enforce upon their teams. This often leads to the always-amusing sight of various players (often American) scoring passports from nations they have no connection with, purely because they can buy them. Only a fortnight ago, Taurean Green and Quinton Hosley did exactly the same thing. Another addition can now be made to that list. Former Utah State forward and two-time Jazz signee Spencer Nelson has broken new ground, acquiring not one of the standard Macedonian or Georgian passports, but an Azerbaijani one. This makes him the only Azerbaijani basketball player you’ve ever heard of. And unless you’re Polish and incredibly up to date on your PLK knowledge – Turow just signed an Azerbaijani centre called Alex Rindin – then he’s also the only Azerbaijani player you’ve ever going to hear of. Nelson took seven years to use up his four years of academic eligibility at Utah State. This is partly because he tore his knee up in his sophomore season and took a medical redshirt, but also because Nelson took two years out to go on a Mormon mission. Nelson is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is presumably now the only such member to also be an Azerbaijani passport holder. You couldn’t make it up. Well, you could, but you don’t have to.
– Mamadou N’Diaye Mamadou N’Diaye missed last season with a serious knee injury. This year, he started the season by going for a tryout in Lebanon with Al-Riyadi Beirut, but failed the physical as his knee had not yet recovered. Then in February, the comeback began when Mamadou signed with Maccabi Haifa in Israel. In 72 minutes of six games, he has totalled 23 points, 20 rebounds and 4 blocks. – Boniface N’Dong Former Clipper big man N’Dong is with Barcelona. Splitting time at the centre position with Fran Vazquez, N’Dong is averaging 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 15 minutes per game in the ACB, alongside 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in 16.1 minutes per game in the EuroLeague. You may never have heard of Boniface N’Dong, and the fact that he spent a whole season on an NBA roster as recently as four years ago may have completely passed you by. This is fair enough, because nothing much really happened. But it happened. N’Dong signed a minimum salary deal with the Clippers in time for training camp 2005, made his NBA debut aged 28, and appeared in 22 games with the team. He even started one. Boniface totalled 50 points, 37 rebounds and 23 fouls for the Clippers, and put up a PER of 11.0, before returning to Europe to continue his strong career there. Boneyface has NBA talent, particularly on the offensive end and on the roll, which isn’t usually the case with fringe NBA-calibre Senegalese big men. And he has a great name. There’s nothing here not to like. – Bostjan Nachbar Bostjan Nachbar has not had a very good season. He moved from Dynamo Moscow to Efes Pilsen in the summer, signing a big fat contract and becoming one of Efes’s key targets […]
Despite a solid 3-2 start to the season, Greek A1 team Peristeri Athens announced that they were releasing former Illinois big man and Golden State Warriors camp invite Shaun Pruitt, as well as Rhode Island forward Will Daniels, to be replaced by Utah natives Spencer Nelson and Gary Wilkinson. Nelson has not signed anywhere this season after being released by the Utah Jazz in training camp. It was rumoured that he was to sign with an unnamed Belgian team as of only last week, yet that’s not going to happen now. Nelson played in Greece last year with Aris Thessaloniki, and averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds on the season. He’s a tweener forward without any distinct position, but wherever he goes he rebounds, passes, and scores a bit with an inside/outside game. This is Wilkinson’s first professional season at the ripe old age of 27. (The reason for that is described here.) He had spent the season to date in the South Korean KBL, after being made the 11th overall pick in their draft this summer. He was averaging 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16 minutes per game for Dongbu Promy, splitting court time with their other American import, Marquin Chandler. (A silly KBL rule says that each team can have only two Americans, but the two can’t play on the court at the same time.) Peristeri haven’t had much luck with their imports this year. They first signed Cedric Simmons, but had to release him in preseason after deciding he was not up to par. Three of their other four American players – Jamie Arnold, Marcus Faison and Michael Bramos – all hold European passports (Israeli, Belgian and Greek respectively), which absolves them of being counted as Americans. And the fourth (Cliff Hammonds) is doing OK, averaging […]
– Juan Carlos Navarro is back with Barcelona, and he’ll probably never leave again. He is technically still a restricted NBA free agent of the Memphis Grizzlies, but that’s kind of meaningless, because he has no rhyme, reason, or (I assume) desire to leave Spain again. Navarro averages 15.4 points and 2.8 assists in the Spanish league, alongside 14.0 points and 3.6 assists in the EuroLeague. – Boniface N’Dong still boasts one of the greatest names in human history. In his second season for Unicaja Malaga, as a starlet on the ultimate “oh yeah, I remember them, whatever happened to them” team (also featuring Omar Cook, Jiri Welsch, Robert Archibald, Marcus Haislip and, until recently, Paul Shirley), Ndong is averaging 11.3 points in less than 20 mpg in the EuroLeague. That’s pretty damn good for anyone, but especially a centre. He also has 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks a game to go along with that, and his Spanish league numbers (18.5 mpg, 9 ppg, 4.5 rg, 1.0 bpg) aren’t bad either. – Drew Neitzel is with the Artland Dragons of Quackenbrueck in Germany. Somebody had told me that he was going to leave the team, but apparently that somebody was wrong. Neitzel (whose name sounds like a cough syrup that you take before going to bed) averages 6.4 points and 3.2 assists in the German league, alongside 9.6 points and 4.0 assists in the EuroCup. – Matt Nelson is unsigned after playing in France last season. – Spencer Nelson is playing for Aris in Greece, a team whose recent additions included Bengal cats owner and former Minnesota Timberwolves guard Bracey Wright, as well as seminal British star Andy Betts. Spiceworld. Nelson averages 8.2 points and 7.1 rebounds in the Greek league, alongside 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds […]