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14-15 Euroleague Power Rankings: Shooting Guards

As the 14-15 Euroleague season goes on, RealGM continues to present the ultimate positional rankings of the league's best players. In the fourth edition, we rank the elite shooting guards from one to ten. 

1. Vassilis Spanoulis (Olympiacos, Greece) 

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 19.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 turnovers.

The 32-year-old was an undeniable leader of Olympiacos team over the past four seasons. Same as in previous years, Spanoulis remains one of the best scorers and most influential players in the league, who always has the ball at crunch time. Spanoulis also demonstrates this season that Euroleague titles and MVP prizes did not take away his appetite as he scored career-high 34 points against Neptunas in Week 3 game and his team is among those which earned an early ticket to Top 16 with perfect 6-1 record.

2. Rudy Fernandez (Real, Spain)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 9.7 points (92% FT), 3.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

Due to a right hand injury, Rudy Fernandez has appeared in only three Euroleague games so far this season and in general was not as efficient as he was last season. The guard scored 14 points, grabbed four boards and dished out six assists against low caliber Niznhy Novgorod but overall averages career-low 9.7 points, while shooting career-low 30% from the floor. Still, it is an early stage of the season and that did not affect Fernandez’s position in RealGM positional rankings. Considering that 13-14 season was the best in Fernandez Euroleague career, the former member of thePortland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets deserves to be called the second best shooting guard in the league.

3. Andrew Goudelock (Fenerbahce Ulker, Turkey)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 19.3 points (44% 3FG), 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

Andrew Goudelock’s career in Europe is skyrocketing. Last season's Eurocup MVP, Goudelock needed no time to adjust to the highest European level and he is now on a way to possibly win the Euroleague MVP award in his debut season. Surprisingly, Goudelock was ignored by his teammates at crunch time against FC Barcelona and in the very next game he proved them to be wrong. In the game against Bayern Munich, Goudelock managed to make it to the Euroleague history by becoming the first man to sink 10 three-pointers in a single game. One of the league’s leading scorer has been also incredibly reliable as he turned the ball over only five times in 217 minutes he played.  

4. Juan Carlos Navarro (FC Barcelona, Spain)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 10 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

As this is his 17th season with FC Barcelona, 34-year-old veteran Juan Carlos Navarro is the symbol and heart of the Catalonian club. Same as for Fernandez, the beginning of the season was not ideal for Navarro, who averages career-low 10 points per game and makes only 32 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Navarro tries to rather involve his teammates than score by himself as he averages career-high 4.4 assists per game. However, Navarro has been always known for being clutch and ready when his team needs him in the most important postseason moments. 

5. Keith Langford (Unics, Russia)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 17.4 points, 3 rebounds and 1.9 assists.

Keith Langford is one of the most efficient Euroleague scorers when his team plays run and gun style of basketball. Traditionally, Langford is among top scorers in the league as he averages over 17 points per game for the third straight season. Langford is also a player who never shies away from the contact and no surprise he is ranked second in terms of drawn fouls (7.6 per game). Nevertheless, this is not enough for Unics to becoming a winning team as they have a losing record (3-4) and might become the biggest upset of the season.

6. Jaycee Carroll (Real, Spain)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 10.1 points (44% 3FG, 92% FT), 1.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

If there would be a ranking of the league's biggest offensive threats coming off the bench for the past three seasons, Jaycee Carroll would be an undoubtedly number one. However, Carroll played his career game on a very rare night when he had actually to be in a starting five. Week 3’s game against Nizhny Novgorod was the first Carroll’s start since 2012 and the guard scored a career-high 32 points, making seven three-pointers out of nine attempts.

7. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Fenerbahce Ulker, Turkey)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 8.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

After having a great season last year and averaging 14.8 points per game in Euroleague, Bogdan Bogdanovic played an important role while playing for Serbian national team in 2014 FIBA World Cup. At the age of 22, Bogdanovic averaged 27 minutes and 9.4 points per game, including 15 points performance in the final against Team USA. Bogdanovic left his home country this summer and joined Zeljko Obradovic’s Fenerbahce Ulker where he also became an important part of the team straightaway. It seems Bogdanovic is not rushing to join the Phoenix Suns, which drafted him with the 27th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, and will continue to develop his game in Europe over the next few years. 

8. Ricky Hickman (Fenerbahce Ulker, Turkey)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 9.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

Ricky Hickman played a very important role for 2014 Euroleague champion Maccabi as he was a consistent starter and scorer throughout the season. Hickman had his career performance in an opening playoffs series game against EA7 Emporio Armani, where he scored 26 points grabbed four boards, while he was also one of the most influential players in the final, where he finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds. However, the guard has a different role with his new team, Fenerbahce Ulker, where Hickman provides instant offence by coming off the bench. 

9. James Anderson (Zalgiris, Lithuania)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 16.3 points (41% 3FG, 85% FT), 6.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

It was quite a surprise to see James Anderson, who averaged 10.1 points per game in the NBA last season while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, signing with mid-level European team Zalgiris Kaunas and taking a challenge to carry Lithuanian club to the Top 16. So far Anderson is extremely effective in his role as he averages 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Anderson’s amazing performance against Unics was also one of the best in recent years for Zalgiris as the guard scored 27 points, grabbed 11 boards and dished out four assists. Considering the job Anderson already did in first seven weeks, he seems to be one of the biggest offseason steals in Euroleague.

10. Nihad Djedovic (Bayern, Germany)

Statistics in 2014-15 (Euroleague): 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Although it is just a beginning of the season, the early improvement of Nihad Djedovic’s game proves that Bayern Munich made the right decision to extent the contract with the 24-year-old shooting guard for two more years. Despite his still young age, Djedovic seems to be very matured while playing big roles for both Bayern and Bosnian national team and successfully uses his experience wisely in the Euroleague so far this. Djedovic averages 11.7 points for the second straight season but that is not enough for Bayern to get on a winning path as they won only one game out of seven.

Joel Anthony Hopes To Re-Sign With Pistons As Part Of New Culture

Once Stan Van Gundy began a culture turnover of the Detroit Pistons, one of his first targeted acquisitions became Joel Anthony. For nearly seven seasons with the Miami Heat, Anthony was a fabric of the franchise’s system and provided rebounding and defense as a reserve on two NBA championship teams.

Van Gundy hired players he coached in Miami and Orlando, Tim Hardaway Sr., Quentin Richardson and Malik Allen, and traded for another member of the Heat’s old culture in Anthony, a complete shift of climate for an organization that had a 14-year run under Joe Dumars.

Anthony will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, potentially a consecutive year out of the NBA playoffs for a veteran who had three straight runs to the Finals with the Heat. Even so, Anthony, 32, has made clear to Van Gundy his desire to remain part of the new regime, aiming to re-sign with the Pistons and be a member of a roster that thrives again in Detroit.

“I love the idea of being here, staying here moving forward and having a chance to help them turn this franchise around,” Anthony told RealGM. “Stan has been very adamant about wanting to change the culture, so to be part of that … I don’t want to say it’s more special than playing on a contending team that could win it all, but it would be very satisfying and gratifying to be part of a situation where you’re able to turn things around.

“Obviously, it’s great being on a contending team, because you’re winning and things are going well. But it’s more about being in situations where I feel like I could help. This a situation where I can help, where they want me, Detroit wanting to bring me in. Winning-wise, we’re not there yet, but the fact that we can built it into something like that, it’s something I’m excited to be a part of.”

The Heat traded Anthony before the trade deadline a season ago, a transaction that neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade endorsed publicly and privately.

“I had caught wind that a trade was a possibility,” Anthony said. “So when it happened, even though you knew it was a possibility, it still caught me by surprise just because you’re so close to the team, the organization and the city. It’s tough having played somewhere your entire career, the amount of time I had over there and all the memories. Obviously, Miami has always been home for me. I still have my place there in the offseason.”

Magic Find Free Money In Evan Fournier

When the Orlando Magic traded Arron Afflalo for Evan Fournier, it looked like one of the most lopsided deals of the offseason. Afflalo was Orlando’s leading scorer last season, averaging 18 points a game on 46% shooting and just missing out on his first All-Star berth. Fournier, in contrast, was a second-year player still trying to find his way in the NBA, averaging only 20 minutes a game in Denver. Most NBA fans probably couldn’t pick him out of a line-up.

Fournier didn’t come into the league with much publicity. He was kind of lost in the shuffle in the run-up to the 2012 NBA Draft, which featured five shooting guards - Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers and Jeremy Lamb - who were taken ahead of him. As a 19-year-old in France, he put up good but not great numbers for his pro team and he didn’t have the type of out of this world athleticism that would garner a huge buzz in the months before the draft.

Like many young guys drafted towards the end of the first round, Fournier didn’t walk into a situation where he could rack up a lot of stats early in his career. He was taken at No. 2o overall by the Nuggets, who went on to win 57 games in Fournier’s rookie season. He was the low man on the totem pole, playing behind Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari on the wings. As a rookie, Fournier played in only 38 games.

Things changed for him a bit in his second season, as turnover at every level of Denver’s organization opened up more opportunities for playing time. With Iguodala gone and Gallinari out all season with a knee injury, Fournier moved into the rotation full-time, playing in 76 games. However, because he was coming off the bench, his per-game numbers weren’t huge - 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists a game on 42% shooting - and he didn’t attract much notice.

There were way too many other things going on with the Nuggets, who face-planted spectacularly after firing George Karl, going from from a No. 3 seed to falling out of the playoffs entirely. As Brian Shaw quickly found out, you don’t want to be the guy whose replacing the legend. He walked into an almost impossible situation, given a mandate to change a very successful team without a lot of the personnel that had made them successful in the first place.

Unlike most first-time coaches in the NBA, who are given rebuilding teams without much expectations, Shaw was expected to win big. As a result, he leaned on veteran guards like Randy Foye, Aaron Brooks and Nate Robinson, guys he knew he could trust to carry out assignments. He may also have been scarred by benching Andre Miller, which created a huge rift in the team when the 15-year veteran refused to accept a smaller role and demanded a trade.

From the outside, it was hard to get a read on Fournier. He had proven he could stick in the NBA, but he was still waiting for the chance to dominate the ball and show teams what he could do. So while the Nuggets weren’t looking to deal a young player with upside, they couldn’t pass up the chance to acquire Afflalo, a proven veteran who was still in the prime of his career. Afflalo had enough skins on the wall that no one could complain if he was the starter.

Nevertheless, there was still a lot to like about the second-year player. For starters, he was still only 22, the same age as college seniors like Doug McDermott. Instead of spending the last two seasons playing against much inferior competition in the NCAA, Fournier essentially had a two-year internship in Denver, where he got the chance to learn from some of the best wing players in the NBA as well as one of the most respected coaches in the league in Karl.

More importantly, whenever he got the chance to play, he played well. As a 20-year old rookie, Fournier’s per-36 minute numbers were eye-popping - 17 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists on 49% shooting. They slipped in his second season, which you would expect from a guy getting more minutes on a significantly worse team, but they were still impressive for a guy his age - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists on 42% shooting. This is a guy who needed more minutes.

When you combine his production with physical tools, Fournier was one of the more intriguing young players in the league. At 6’7 200 with a 6’8 wingspan, he had the size to switch between either wing position and even slide down to playing as a small-ball PF in certain situations. And while he wasn’t an elite athlete, he had the skill to make up for it. Fournier had a complete offensive game, with the ability to shoot, put the ball on the floor and find the open man.

In that respect, Fournier was a lot like Tobias Harris, another promising young player whom Orlando scooped off another team’s bench. After coming into the league as a 19-year-old, Harris spent his first 1.5 seasons in the league playing behind a bunch of veterans on a Milwaukee team trying to contend. As a result, when the Magic were shopping JJ Redick around at the 2013 trade deadline, the Bucks had no problem moving an unproven youngster like Harris along.

As soon as he got consistent playing time in Orlando, Harris exploded onto the NBA scene. He went from 11 minutes with the Bucks to 36 minutes with the Magic, averaging 17 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists on 46% shooting. Milwaukee, meanwhile, lost Redick for almost nothing, shipping him away to the LA Clippers for a few second-round picks in a sign-and-trade. The same things could happen to the Nuggets, as Afflalo is a free agent at the end of the season.

Harris and Fournier, meanwhile, have thrived in Orlando. While their recent high lottery picks - Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon - have been in and out of the line-up with injuries, the Magic have been able to count on Harris and Fournier, both of whom are averaging around 35 minutes a night. Even with all their injuries, Orlando has been surprisingly competitive this season, with a 6-9 record that includes many close losses in the fourth quarter.

Their two starting wings have been a huge factor in that, as Harris is averaging 19 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists on 47% shooting while Fournier is averaging 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on 48% shooting. They have both benefitted from the driving lanes created by Channing Frye’s presence at the PF position, as well as the opportunities in the offense opened up by the departure of Afflalo and the injury to Oladipo, Orlando’s two main scorers last season.

The surprising play of Harris and Fournier has already created a good problem for the Magic front office, which spent three Top 4 picks on perimeter players in the last two seasons. Gordon, Oladipo and Elfrid Payton all have a lot of potential, but it’s not going to be easy for them to unseat the two under-23 starters ahead of them. Fournier, in particular, is such a good shooter - 47% from 3 this season - there’s no reason to move him to the bench anytime soon.

If you look at it, there isn’t all that much that separates him from Oladipo, despite the vast differences in the amount of publicity they have received. Oladipo is the more athletic of the two and projects as a better defensive player, but Fournier is bigger and a much better shooter. And while Oladipo has received a lot more opportunities to play with the ball in his hands, Fournier is just as good a playmaker, with a superior assist-to-turnover ratio.

If Fournier had spent three seasons at Indiana playing next to Cody Zeller, he would be pretty well regarded too. Instead, because he came to the NBA as quickly as he could and wound up on a team full of veterans, he spent his age 20-21 seasons as a practically anonymous young player, learning from the bench. It’s far too soon to make any judgments about Orlando’s recent draft picks, but the front office clearly knows how to spot talent once it is in the NBA.

Before they came to Orlando, guys like Fournier, Harris and Nik Vucevic all represented free money laying on the ground, waiting to be picked up. The same thing happened to a lesser extent in Phoenix, where an aggressive young front office grabbed Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee for pennies on the dollar. There are a lot of good young players in the NBA waiting for a chance to play. The Afflalo/Fournier trade was a heist alright, but not for the Nuggets.

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