Switzerland has a unique way of recognising the players who take all the shots and Nicolò Origgi reckons it could be fun if applied elsewhere. Here he looks at the Italian league players who deserve a jersey all of their own
Even the most die-hard basketball junkies might not know that in Switzerland each team’s top scorer up to the point of a given game wears a jersey highlighting such individual achievement as a part of a fundraising campaign aimed at each top league club’s youth ranks. While a former beast of Italian painted areas – though well past his prime – surprisingly did not put the ball through the hoop enough times to earn the honour in spite of the team and league’s not exceptional talent pool, one wonders the effects of this singular initiative on particularly offensive-minded players – not necessarily great scorers – at the thought of having their statistical supremacy rewarded. With this sinister guess in mind, breaking out the most likely domestic league competitors in the quest for an hypothetical special jersey should be equally interesting. Quite obviously, membership to the restricted club about to be presented is for ballhoggs, black holes and chuckers only.
1. Edgar Sosa, Juve Caserta – 2016/17 stats
Probably inhibited by the cumbersome company of two guys on this same list – let’s actually count to three as this one is not pounding the rock and jacking up shots in Italy anymore but would deserve a spot with no doubt – in his Sassari days as a coveted microwave off the bench, this year the Dominican combo-guard was given free rein by Juve Caserta. Although Mitchell Watt should be grateful to him for the next contract he will sign, the Louisville alumni has literally freezed out the rest of the pack and all of this came to a price. The unexpected 7-3 start was soon a distant memory and the ten losses in the subsequent twelve games likely led to Sosa’s voluntary departure amid Instagram rants for allegedly being unpaid by the club.
2. Darius Johnson-Odom, Dinamo Sassari/Vanoli Cremona – 2016/17 stats
Without even looking into details, a similar nickname on social media says it all. If that is not enough, however, the lefty North Carolina native will turn any league game into an impromptu playground by engaging explosive one-on-one battles to show off his unquestionable ball-handling and scoring skills either from deep or at the rim. The problem? He is supposed to be the point guard for his teams and, as a matter of fact, his inconsistency at running an offence in spite of the occasional flashy dish actually cost him a roster spot in Sassari halfway through the season. His subsequent arrival in Cremona boosted an otherwise dead-last team but ultimately could not prevent the club’s relegation after a number of close losses.
3. David Logan, Scandone Avellino – 2016/17 stats
A major addition to a talented but short Scandone side back in February after some hot months in the otherwise cold Lithuania, the former sparkplug – alongside the above-mentioned Sosa and Dyson – on the 2014/15 Italian champion Dinamo Sassari delighted the passionate Avellino crowd with some usual scoring punch but his impact probably was not as significant as expected given his winning resume. Not the first time, though, for someone who learned the hard way in his future second homeland of Poland by being on the wrong end of a clutch scoring barrage by a then fading world-class performer.
4. Rakim Sanders, Olimpia Milano – 2016/17 stats
A former unsung partner-in-crime of the aforementioned trigger-happy Logan, Sosa and Dyson in the run-and-gun Sassari team that shocked the whole Italy and his current club back in 2015, the bulky forward is in love with the long-range shot – and can catch fire very easily as well – to the point that he often settles for lackadaisical isolation plays leading to long jumpers in pure Carmelo Anthony fashion. If only he did this more or played as a part of the team on offence, his personal output would benefit a lot and, most importantly, his staying in Milan would not be in question for a second.
5. Terran Petteway, Pistoia Basket – 2016/17 stats
Arguably the least known among these names, the second-year swingman out of Nebraska University embodies the definition of streaky shooter as he once managed to bury the best defensive team in the league under 10 (ten!) long-range bombs but, on the other hand, went freezing cold on multiple nights as well. Even though season-long patterns indicate that bad shooting days exceed the good ones by far, given the amount of attempts it is safe to assume that the kid is definitely not scared to let it fly!
Throwback wild card: Delonte Holland – Lega A career stats
A true globetrotting journeyman too quickly disappeared from the basketball scene, the Maryland-born wing set fire to Italian nets for three years spanning from 2005 to 2008. The closest thing to your typical NBA go-to-guy who simply demands the ball anywhere on the floor and delivers in any possible way, not surprisingly he could not adapt to more democratic settings than those where he was the undisputed alpha male. In retrospective, what turned out to be his curse was instead a blessing for Italian fans as his golden exile in Varese – Danilo Gallinari should remember something about that – would not have taken place had he not been kicked out of Virtus Bologna with no regrets earlier that season. For the record, however, the most decorated Italian club in Europe fell to the second division at the end of that same year.