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Zags NOT in the NBA

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Not the NBA but professional basketball players in places many pay to visit

Turk Telekom v Filou Oostende: FIBA Champions League Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Being a contrarian, I thought I change up the weekly Zags in the NBA article and have a look at those who aren’t in the NBA.

If you’ve ever been to Stockholm, the island Djurgården may not ring a bell but the island’s sights the Vassa Museum and Skansen should. That’s where you’ll find Bryan Alberts playing and averaging 12.7 points per game. My guess is it’s a pretty good life.

Speaking of Scandinavia, Silas Melson (21.3 ppg) and Byron Wesley (20.1 ppg) are both in Finland, east of Helsinki near the Russian Border. They both play in the Finnish Korisliiga League for teams in towns about 40 miles apart. On the other side of the country in a town called Uusikaupunki you’ll find Luke Meikle (remember him against Arkansas in Maui?) averaging almost 9 ppg.

Jeremy Pargo is killing it in the NBA G-League for the Santa Cruz Warriors. He’s averaging 16.6 ppg and 6.3 assists per game and at 33-years-old is still dunking with the best of them. We all know Zach Norvell was resigned by the South Bay Lakers, but we may have missed one of his teammates is David Stockton. David has been limited by a hamstring injury but averaged 12 points and nearly 7 assists in the 11 games he’s played. Josh Perkins hasn’t started any games for the Greensboro Swarm, but he is averaging 15 minutes and almost 5 points and 3.5 assists per game.

Another 33-year-old dunker, Micah Downs, is playing his second year in Lisbon, Portugal and is averaging 15 ppg after averaging 19.1 ppg last season. This is his 10th season of professional basketball with stops including the G-League, Croatia, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Jeremy Jones is in Kapfenberg, Austria (near Graz) playing for the Kapfenberg Bulls and averaging almost 15 points and almost 6 rebounds per game. On 27 Novemeber, Kapfenberg signed a shooting guard named Eric McClellan who is averaging 11 ppg. Both former Zags are starters and Lederhosen on-court is optional.

After taking Kim Tillie’s place in Greece and playing for a year in Spain, Kyle Wiltjer is playing for Turk-Telekon in Ankara, Turkey for the top Turkish league. Kyle is averaging almost 14 ppg, 6.5 rpg and playing questionable defense.

After parts of six seasons in the NBA (earning over $10 Million) and an NBA Championship with the Spurs (where he got a single rebound in six minutes playing time throughout the entire playoff run), 31 year-old Austin Daye has spent the past six seasons in Europe with the last three playing for Umana Venezia in the top Italian league. Venezia is Venice for those only familiar with anglicized Italian names and Austin is averaging nearly 14 points and 5 rebounds per game. Austin’s father Darren Daye also played in Italy after his NBA days were over.

One of Daye’s opponents is a couple of hours away on the Autostrada A4 in the city of Cremona. Jordan Mathews had been starting and averaging 11 points per game, but injury limited him to two games in December.

Trier, Germany is a wonderful place, with extensive Roman Ruins, great wine and the Mosel River running through it. That’s where you’ll find Kyle Dranginis playing his third season with the Trier Gladiators. Kyle is starting at small forward and averaging 8.2 points per game. Apparently, his German is about as good as mine.

In the UNESCO World Heritage Site city of Bamberg, Germany, perennial Bundesliga powerhouse Brose Bamberg is led by their captain Elias Harris. E had been with Brose since 2013 and is currently averaging almost 11 point and 4 rebounds per game.

In the small town (17,000 population) of Svitavy in the eastern part of the Czech Republic near the Polish border, you’ll find Geno Crandall who’s started 12 of 16 games for Turi Svitavy and is averaging 13 points per game and shooting 32% from deep.

Ira Brown is 37-years-old and still looks like the statue of a Greek god. Japanese citizen Ira has been playing in Japan since 2014, is currently averaging 12.5 points and 7 rebounds per game for the Osaka Evessa, could still jump over you to dunk and definitely didn’t steer Rui to Gonzaga when he met him as a youth.

(not his current team but still a great dunk)

At 38-years-old, Joao Paulo Lopes (J.P) Batista is playing his 14th year of professional basketball in Le Mans, France. J.P played for Le Mans from 08-14 and was one of the team’s most popular players. The big guy has started 10 of 16 games for Le Mans this season and is currently averaging 7 points per game.

In his ninth year of professional basketball, Steven Gray has had a really nice career playing in Europe. This season he is playing for Peristeri BC in the top Greek league and has started all 22 games at shooting guard where he is averaging nearly 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

Finally, two Gonzaga favorites have had very tough 2019-2020 seasons. Information on Przemek Karnowski has been tough to find, but I don’t see any indication on his playing this season and the only reason I can find is the Achilles Tendon surgery he had last season is still a problem and has not healed properly. Kevin Pangos has only played two games for FC Barcelona because of an injury to his left foot (remember his junior season at GU) and he has been week to week all year.