By Ohad Ilovich
A few ex-Pistons (Carlos Arroyo, Rodney White both playing for Macabi Tel Aviv) and one potential piston (Deron Washington – Hapoel Holon) have migrated to Israel to play some professional basketball. I apologize in advance that I know very little about Washington but he plays for a rival team and I can't watch a basketball game for too long if I'm not cheering for one of the teams …
Rodney White – Oh Rodney, Rodney. This guy was very active in the start of the pre-season. He did the biggest mistake he could, though. He hogged the ball. That might work well for some NBA superstars, but in Europe you play team ball or you don't play at all. That is exactly what happened to him since he saw zero minutes from the start of the season until Macabi replaced their coach. The new coach gave him one chance in a Euroleague game and the next day he was on a plane back to the US. On the surface that might not seem like too many chances, but in our league you get to practice 3-4 times a week and I'm guessing he didn't impress during practice either.
Bottom line – Getting 30.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 2.8 apg in the South American league doesn't mean you can play ball in Europe. Plenty of players have made the transition but players who play for themselves don't stand a chance.
Carlos Arroyo – If you want to let the numbers do the talking than Carlos is 1st in points, assists and steals per game and 3rd in rpg. Those are good numbers and he's so important the team that when he's off the court you can see the team shifting one gear down. But -- and it's a big but -- Macabi was looking for a leader on the court. They wanted a good point guard to distribute the ball well and make good decisions when closing out games. What they're doing now is letting the Israeli shooting guard playing next to Arroyo play point while Carlos is playing shooting guard about half of the time. There have also been a couple of occasions where he made crucial mistakes in the end of important games and a "sore back" incident where the commentators made it obvious that his "claims" of an aching back were minor and he should have played instead of sitting out the game.
Bottom line – a very good player who could and should do more than just shoot the ball well.
Deron Washington – Holon has changed its coach and all but one of its players during the summer and this has caused the boat to rock quite a bit. Things are more or less looking as good as they used to for Washington. In the start of the season he got to do more or less whatever he wanted. A short losing streak catalyzed the signing of Detroit native Brian Tolbert who might not post big numbers but is a definite veteran presence in the team. Washington is also playing next to a volume shooter like Luis Flores who's really having a good season. Washington's stats have gone to 3rd in ppg, 3rd in rpg and 1st in spg so in this regard he is doing fine but he isn't as stable as you'd wish. He's getting games where he scores 19 or 20 points (with half of them coming from the line) and then the week after he's posting 2 or 6 points. Another problem is his tendency to get into foul trouble. Washington tends to finish almost every game with 4 fouls (In Europe you only get 5 per game, remember?) and is 2nd on the team in fpg. As expected, Deron is playing very athletically and making a lot of nice dunks and moves but that's not helping his team win any more games.
Bottom line – an athletic player with a lot of energy and a few instabilities you come to expect from a young player.