First half report cards for European players in NBA

At the halfway point of the crazy fast 2011-12 NBA season, BallinEurope flexes the university professor muscles a little bit this morning with midterm assessments of individual performance by the big league’s Continental Players. We’ll be using the European grading system, with 5 being the top score possible and 1 the lowest; the Americans may consider the numbers roughly equivalent to the A-F system of U.S. high schools.

Listed along with the player’s name and team are a few metrics employed in handing out the marks, chief among these current Player Efficiency Ratings as devised by ESPN’s John Hollinger.

Now, class. Ready for the second half…?

5. Head of the class
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors (22.1 PER, 23.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (19.23 PER, 15.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 1.0 spg, 38.1 mpg)

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (22.32 PER, 19.4 ppg, 8.1 apg, 1.1 spg)

Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves (22.38 PER, 12.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 0.7 spg, 24.4 mpg; in February, 17.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 0.8 spg, 32.2 mpg)

Continue Reading…


Basketball diplomacy: Obama plagiarizes self in praise of Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli

Hosting dignitaries and politicos from Italy this week, U.S. president/basketball devotee Barack Obama recently gave an interview to the visiting media as well, naturally taking time to praise Italia’s representatives in the NBA. As self-proclaimed scholar of basketball diplomacy – perhaps the only one on the planet – Enrico Cellini has noticed that Obama’s effusive acclaim for Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli is in fact quite similar to the prez’s gushy quotes on Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur back in 2009…

In a rare interview between an American president and an Italian newspaper, Barack Obama went through a wide variety of topics ranging from the state of the current Euro Crisis, through the turmoil in Syria to the importance of Italian-Americans in US society: “Italy can be proud that its sons and daughters continue to make invaluable contributions to the success of the United States and to our bilateral partnership”.

Of course, Obama didn’t miss the chance to deploy his trademark basketball diplomacy and dropped the following grand finale for the interview: “Of course, I have to add that guys like Danillo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli bring some pretty good game to the NBA, too.

Continue Reading…


“Sinister”: Zalgiris Kaunas owner to form political party, fight for “sport, culture, art”

Would you buy a used Lada from this man?

What’s up with the bizarre mix of politics and basketball going on in Europe? While Barack Obama butters up Italia with references to Danilo Gallinari and Marco Bellinelli, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is stumping in Russia on an apparently futile bid for the presidency there. And now … well, let’s just say Lithuania better brace themselves for weirdness in the political arena.

For those of you wondering why Vladimir “Mad Vlad” Romanov has been relatively quiet lately vis-à-vis his formerly incessant tinkering, toying and messing around with his professional sport teams, Žalgiris Kaunas basketball and famed Scottish football club Heart of Midlothian among them, this may be the answer. As it turns out, Romanov will be forming his own political party, one that will “fight for the country’s sport, culture and art,” as “these areas have been abandoned.”

Continue Reading…


Dirk Nowitzki: “Angela Merkel is nice”; “I want to top Sabonis.”

Surely to no one’s surprise, Gazzetta dello Sport gave its prestigious Euroscar Player of the Year Award to Dirk Nowitzki, he of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Clearly the favorite to take FIBA Europe’s equivalent award, the Mav was bestowed with the honor on the same night he collected his bling-bling title ring in Dallas.

Enrico Cellini has gathered a few choice quotes from la Gazzetta’s interview with Nowitzki, including the German’s thoughts on his favorite Italian player, meeting Angela Merkel and topping Arvydas Sabonis.

On January 27, Dirk Nowitzki did not play for the Mavericks against the Minnesota Timberwolves but still brought home two interesting souvenirs from American Air Center. As you are reading BallinEurope, you don’t probably care too much about the diamond-encrusted $40K NBA championship ring (courtesy of Mark Cuban) that Dirk received in a touching ceremony (courtesy of Rick Carlisle), do you? Instead, what’s worth reporting about that night is the fact that Wunder Dirk also received the Europlayer 2011 award, an acknowledgement assigned by Italian Gazzetta dello Sport to the best European basketball player of the season.

You may see the ceremony here.

All right, so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the ring ceremony but still …

Gazzetta dello Sport later published in its printed version an interview with Nowitzki, in which Würzburg’s finest touched on several topics.

Said Dirk on the loss in the 2005-06 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat: “That experience actually helped me – it made me improve: Now I handle the fourth quarter with more intelligence.”

Continue Reading…


Eurocentric NBA highlights, bullets: Parker’s big game; Nuggets top Heat; Deng rules over Celtics; Rubio masterful as ever in first start

BallinEurope gets things rolling on Saturday with highlight clips – okay, some links to online stuff You Should Read as well, but the main point is highlight clips, right? This morning, then, a quick look at some excellent performances turned in in last night’s NBA action from the Continent’s top players. Starring Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Tiago Splitter, Ty Lawson, and of course a certain Spanish point guard you may have heard something about…

• Tony Parker contributed perhaps his best NBA performance of 2011-12 last night, with 20 points and nine assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Fellow TrueHoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell does some “Statistical Sleuthing” in an excellent piece on Parker’s play in the paint and at the rim this season, for ages a strength for the Spur.

After crunching the numbers, 48 Minutes’ Aaron McGuire deduces that “The fact is, Tony Parker has been playing atrociously, *especially* at the rim, and it’s tough to say whether this should make Spurs fans excited or terrified. Why excited? It’s easy to simply chalk this up to small sample size and assume he gets better as the year goes on, which would be an instant improvement to San Antonio’s already gelling offense. Terrified is more obvious — if this represents a permanent change in his game, the Spurs are essentially down to *no* all-star caliber offensive players.”

Continue Reading…


The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Western Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

Continue Reading…


The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Eastern Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

While basketball lovers are getting something of a Christmas gift this season in the December 25 NBA opening day – BiE says “something of” there because this belated debut is kinda like your parents saying, “Well, we’ll just give you your birthday gift at Christmas.” When your birthday’s in October – BallinEurope would like to add to the virtual bounty under the tree with our annual Eurocentric NBA preview.

Here’s BallinEurope’s predominant working theory for at least the first two months of this season: The teams with more critical players who did a stint in Europe (or South America, for that matter) during the lockout will jump out to the best starts. And with a shortened season increasing the importance of every individual game, imagine what a, say, 17-5 could mean in the long-term – for a European equivalent of this model, how ‘bout that CSKA Moscow turbo boost?

So Kevin Garnett’s complaining that the preseason is too short … guys like Deron Williams have already been in real-game situations. Manu Ginobili is well rested but not “in basketball shape?” The Danilo Gallinaris, Mehmet Okurs and even the Gasol Brothers of the basketball world are set to go. More back-to-back games than ever before in NBA history? Hey, perhaps those two-a-days European coaches are so notorious for assigning will have readied these NBAers well more than the fortnight many of their colleagues are getting.

BiE would even argue that latecomers such as Tiago Splitter and late-peakers like Serge Ibaka are surely few steps ahead of the many American ballers who did not take Continental clubs up on even the most outrageous of offers. It is with this dictum in mind that this preview and Official Fearless Predictions™ were written. Today, the Eastern Conference.

Continue Reading…


Danilo Gallinari on life in Denver: “Crazy schedule, less aggressive women. I go to bed earlier.”

BallinEurope’s Enrico Cellini gives us some excellent highlights from a recent interview between his countryman Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets and Italy-based daily Gazzetta dello Sport. Gallinari is nicely candid in the piece on topics ranging from the comparison of the ladies in Milan, New York and Denver to el jefe himself, NBA commissioner David Stern. Read on for some Danilo, translated but uncensored…

In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Danilo Gallinari goes through his lifestyle in Denver: “I want to live downtown – I’m looking for a house.” Regarding food, a crucial issue for every Italian abroad, he says, “I have been doing some ‘scouting’: I found a couple of pretty good restaurants. One is downtown and is managed by an Italian guy. The other one is in Cherry Creek, a neighborhood full of shops and fun places. It’s the closest thing you can get to Corso Como,” recalling a commercial street in the center of Milan, very close to where he was living during his term with Euroleague club Emporio Armani Milano.

The comparison with the more glamorous Milan and New York to Denver comes inevitably. “Yeah, I’m feeling the difference,” says Gallinari. “We are in the provinces here. I need to get used to it. They send you to bed earlier – which is positive – and there is less temptation. Women are less aggressive, you might need to fall in love,” he jokes.

Continue Reading…


Gallinari is gone? Next! Emporio Armani Milan’s new sensation Alessandro Gentile

Emporio Armani Milano sits at a dismal 2-4 in Euroleague play and now marquee name Danilo Gallinari is departing the club … so what’s next? How about coaxing the top prospect in Italy, Alessandro Gentile? Enrico Cellini reports.

Emporio Armani Milan knew that sooner or later it would have had to deal with the loss of NBA lockout refugee Danilo Gallinari, but no one expected this moment would take place in such troubled waters. The team has shown poor chemistry, losing four of its first six Euroleague games to compromise the chances of getting to the EL Top 16.

Continue Reading…


Serge Ibaka brilliant vs. Spirou, at Zaragoza; says “I wish I could stay, but…” (Highlights!)

The BallinEurope reverse jinx works again … two days after BiE posted (via Tu Basket) that perhaps folks in Real Madrid land weren’t too happy with Serge Ibaka’s performance for Los Blancos, the no-longer locked out Oklahoma City Thunderer became the block machine again against Spirou Charleroi on Thursday with five swats added to 12 points in Real’s 93-89 win. (Video highlights run at bottom of this post.)

Yesterday, nearly directly immediately following the news that an accord had been reached between NBA franchise owners and the players’ union, Ibaka again did what he was brought to Madrid to do. Enrico Cellini takes a look at more awesomeness from Ibaka in Liga Endesa play and whether Saturday was his last game with Real.

The news of the end of the NBA nuclear winter arrived yesterday, a few hours before the game between Real Madrid and CAI Zaragoza. Aware that he would be losing Serge Ibaka soon, Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso must have thought he’d better get the most out of his NBA exile. After averaging just 12 minutes in four ACB games with los Blancos, Ibaka stayed on the court for 25 minutes and responded with a monster game: 15 points (7-of-8 from the field, including five dunks), nine boards, six blocks (five in the first half) and a performance index rating of 29. Led by the Congo native, Real Madrid cruised to an easy 84-67 win at the annihilated Zaragoza.

Continue Reading…