Struggling amidst a series of defeats, “Žalgiris” found themselves in urgent need of a remedy for their fundamental issue – the absence of a leader proficient in one-on-one play. In response to this, the Kaunas team’s management made a strategic move by signing a contract with NBA player Edmond Sumner, recently recovered from an injury. However, a month into this high-profile acquisition, speculations are already arising that the anticipated impact may not be aligning with the team’s expectations.
While anticipating Sumner to deliver impactful assists proved to be a challenging prospect from the outset, with an NBA average of only 1.1, the team’s hopes were predominantly pinned on his prowess in one-on-one situations, his ability to take initiative in challenging moments, and his skill in dismantling the opponent’s defense.
Despite possessing unique abilities and remarkable speed, Sumner seems to struggle when it comes to concluding attacks in one-on-one scenarios. Rather unexpectedly, “Žalgiris” found themselves with a player who excels in scoring points through three-pointers.
Sumner’s statistics reveal a stark contrast, with more successful three-pointers (27 in total) than two-pointers (26 in total), showcasing a significant accuracy discrepancy in favor of long-range shots. Notably, the American player boasts an impressive 48% accuracy from the three-point zone in the EuroLeague, while his accuracy drops to 42% for two-pointers. Coach Tomas Purlys remarked on the show “Širdyje žaliai balti,” stating, “With three-pointers, he practically lives. He was taken as a completely attacking player. No one can stop him one-on-one; they have to go through his head. Opponents risk three-pointers against him, and it turns out completely the opposite. We rarely see breakthroughs, and yesterday there were a few, not very confident ones.”
Analyzing statistics, Purlys emphasizes the nuances involved, such as the caliber of opponents, the player’s role as one of the leaders, or the circumstances when substitute players are on the court. He notes that Sumner had an average of 7 points in the NBA, highlighting the dependency of those points on various factors.
Sumner’s ten games in the EuroLeague have led analysts to assess the adaptation of this NBA-style player to the distinct basketball culture prevalent in Europe. Despite potentially superior NBA statistics compared to guards like Shane Larkin and Mike James, Sumner’s style seems to lack certain essential elements crucial for thriving in the EuroLeague. Purlys reiterated, “There were situations when at that speed he doesn’t have either a mid-range shot or a floater. We saw when he lost the ball, broke through, two meters to the basket, it looks like throw the ball, but no, he tries to go into the body, falls in contact and doesn’t make a good shot.”
Expressing disappointment, Purlys emphasized that in the EuroLeague, lacking a mid-range shot and a floater renders a player ineffective. Despite this, Sumner’s proficiency in hitting three-pointers remains a notable aspect. Purlys draws a comparison with other guards like Larkin, James, and Wilbekin, who possess mid-range shots and floaters, essential skills in European basketball.
Sumner’s initial goal in coming to Europe was clear – to perform well and secure a return to the NBA. However, his current style of play seems to be a potential hindrance to achieving this goal. In the EuroLeague, Sumner averages 7.4 points and 0.7 assists, indicating a challenging adaptation period.
Addressing Sumner’s predicament, Purlys stated, “You don’t attach yourself to the NBA, but your goal is to return to the NBA. You go to a lower level – the EuroLeague, to dominate and return to the NBA. But now you see that your statistics are even worse. It’s harder to play, and confidence decreases.”
In the recent episode of “Širdyje žaliai balti,” reviewers observed that the new team coach, Andrea Trinchieri, will now have more time to implement the desired changes. This extended timeframe could potentially aid Sumner in integrating more successfully into the team and finding his rhythm in European basketball.