European Prospects

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German Bundesliga roundup

April 1st, 2009 · 1 Comment

I took a deeper look into the most interesting prospects coming of the German Bundesliga this week. The number of domestic players is really limited due to the particular regulations (9 US players allowed per team) but some youngsters emerged this season and in particular over the last weeks.

Per Günther (1m84 – PG – 1988 – ratiopharm Ulm)

Probably the biggest surprise of the season is the impact of Per Günther in Ulm. The young German PG came from ProA team Phoenix Hagen to Southern Germany this summer and the least you could say is that he started the season like crazy. Being the starter for Coach Mike Taylor’s team in the beginning of the season because of injuries, he led the team to an outstanding win in the difficult JAKO Arena of Bamberg. He is now back on the bench and brings his energy as a substitution player for a current Play off team.

Günther is mostly playing in a role as true point guard, bringing up the ball and setting up the plays. He developed his ball handling and struggles less against pressure defense now, a problem that he had throughout the last years. Offensively, he is not afraid to take the open lanes to drive to the basket and score in traffic. He is not overwhelmingly athletic but strong enough to finish against bigger guys.

Defensively, Günther is very present as an on-ball defender and you can see Ulm play some press defenses with him on the court chasing the opposing PG up and down the court. However, he needs to get a better long distance shooter in order to become a constant offensive threat. For his coach, all this development is on its best way as he explained recently.

Per has played his role in our team to perfection, providing energy off the bench, excellent transition play, attacking dribble penetration and outstanding ball pressure on defense.  What impresses me about Per is his poise and basketball IQ.  We have a complex system here in Ulm and it usually takes veteran players time to pick it all up.  With most young players we would scale back our stuff and reduce the amount of systems to help them but with Per, he has complete mastery of our systems.

Per is so quick he gets into the lane anytime he wants, has improved steadily in ball-screens, has opened up vision to passing lanes above the rim with taller players and has continued to work on his perimeter shooting.  With his outstanding ability to finish at the rim for a small player, Per must improve his perimeter shooting and when that happens he will be a great point guard.

Johannes Lischka (2m03 – SF – 1987 – LTi Giessen 46ers)

When looking at the stats, Johannes “Joe” Lischka is currently the best German player under 22 in the Bundesliga. And the recent injury of SF starter Maurice Jeffers gives the young Giessen 46ers more playing time that he knows how to use. Having changed his body completely over the last 2-3 years, loosing nearly 20kg, Lischka enjoys now a good size and athleticism to play the Small Forward position at the highest level.

Lischka is the type of player that does nothing spectacularly well but a bit of everything right. Rebounding, drives, three point shooting, he is present everywhere on the court and does only few mistakes. You can see him grabbing the defensive rebound and going for a coast-to-coast play finishing of a nice finger roll. His handles are correct and allow him to drive with power to the basket but always looking a bit slow. Check the video clip below for a typical Lischka drive.

Lischka has a three point shot but he does not use it that often with Giessen. However, with Giessen’s farm team in the German ProA where he still plays massive minutes, he has an excellent accuracy as he nails 48.8% of his long distance attempts and going for more than three shots per game. Currently, he gets more touches as the normal Starter on the SF is injured, but he could even see more shots as he is at 15/21 FG over these last three games.

Current Giessen 46ers assistant coach Gerald Wasshuber told us the following about Lischka and his potential.

His best scoring weapon is his strong drive to the basket and he can finish well near the basket because of his good body balance. Joe also has a very good shooting touch all the way up to the 3pt range. Besides his scoring abilities, he is a good rebounder on both ends of the court, because of his natural intuition for the ball and his strong body. Joe is used to play both forward positions, where he can be used for mismatches. His weaknesses are his lack of athleticism and his decision making, but on both things he still improves from year to year.

It would be no surprise to see Lischka as a member of the German National Team this summer during the Eurobasket as the SF position has some open spots because of the poor season so far of Konrad Wysocki and the probable non-participation of Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk Bauermann has already announced that Joe Lischka is among the top candidates to get a roster spot for Poland this September.

Tibor Pleiss (2m15 – C – 1989 – Köln 99ers)

The seven footer from Cologne has recently stepped up and is seeing regular and more interesting minutes. After several injuries over the last years, Pleiss seems finally to be healthy and is seeing the floor for around 10 minutes per game right now.

The main point where I see some progress in Pleiss game is his aggressiveness and confidence. In the league game against ALBA Berlin, he immediately knocked down an open jump shot from the baseline being 5 meter away. Additionally, he is not afraid to go for two handed dunks against opposition when catching the ball on a pick-and-roll situation.

Defensively, he is still lacking the necessary physical tools to battle in the paint but his long arms make him a nice shot blocker as he has the necessary timing to deflect the shots. The recent coaching change in Cologne may give him an additional boost in terms of playing time and we should normally see Pleiss at this year’s edition of the Reebok Eurocamp.

Tom Spöler (2m06 – SF – 1988 – Giants Düsseldorf)

One of the surprises of this end of the season is the impact that Tom Spöler is getting. After not seeing the court at all in the beginning of the season, Tom got some minutes because of injuries of some of the starters, and he used them pretty well. Not afraid at all and full of confidence, Spöler plays a role as long distance sniper and his shot looks pretty well and falls with high percentages.

He is currently mainly used in this role but it may be a specific reason as his team Giants Düsseldorf is a three point shooting squad and the players he replaced were playing the same role. We will see if he still sees the court when everybody is back in the rotation.

Karsten Tadda (1m92 – PG – 1988 – Brose Baskets Bamberg)

Tadda jumped into the Brose Baskets Bamberg rotation after several injuries in the backcourt of the former German champions. And the last you can say is that he did it pretty well. In his first game with significant minutes against Giants Düsseldorf, he immediately became a major factor by hitting 4 out of 4 three pointers and being a permanent defensive threat.

Tadda has now a role as defensive stopper as you could see him do a great job on Jason Gardner from Oldenburg today giving him a particularly tough job. The 1988 born guard had some open looks in the offense but two of his attempts from behind the arc were too short while his last shot, the possibility to tie the game for an overtime at the buzzer was blocked. The big thing though, at least for the game of tonight was that Coach Chris Fleming said before the game that Dan Dickau, who is back from injury is now only the third option. And Dickau did not play the whole game.

Two players that saw already big minutes the last season but had a more or less disappointing season so far are Philipp Schwethelm and Tim Ohlbrecht. While the first one had a good game tonight in a disastrous loss of his team from Cologne, Ohlbrecht came back tonight after multiple injuries and scored a nice three pointer and a dunk in just 5 minutes of game time.

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