The Cleveland Cavaliers will have the first pick and the 19th pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 27. Today, we profile Sergey Karasev.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Sergey Karasev
Russian Pro Team: Triumph
Weight: 197 lbs.
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 16.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 42.5 FG%, 36.5 3PT%, 85.7 FT%
One of the players that the Cavs have been linked to throughout the draft scouting process has been Russian small forward Sergey Karasev. Karasev is a smooth-shooting, 6’7” small forward, and even though he’s only 19, he already has Olympic experience this past summer and has played three years at the top level in Russian basketball. Karasev is a guy who always gives maximal effort and works to overcome his deficits, and if he can continue to fulfill his very high upside, he could eventually be a very good NBA player.
Karasev has a good frame for an NBA small forward. Standing at 6’7” and around 200 pounds, Karasev won’t have any problems dealing with NBA forwards because of his size. Karasev also has some solid upside in the strength aspect, as he has consistently gotten better here throughout the past few seasons in Europe and should be able to put on even more strength as he continues to grow into his body. It’s not a stretch to see Karasev eventually being able to put in some minutes as a stretch four in addition to small forward. Karasev isn’t a great athlete and will probably be a below-the-rim guy at the next level. He also probably won’t be a threat on the break because of this lack of athleticism and quickness. Karasev isn’t very fast and struggles with perimeter D and taking guys off the dribble because of this. However, Karasev’s game doesn’t necessarily rely on these things, and he should be able to be effective at the next level thanks to his height, coming strength and shooting ability.
Karasev’s offense revolves around his shooting ability and high basketball IQ. He led the Russian PBL in scoring, thriving from three-point range and attacking the rim. Karasev is left-handed, which is a huge weapon for him when it comes to attacking off the dribble, because even though he doesn’t have great burst or quickness, he has a great handle for a small forward, and that handle coming with what is most NBA players’ off hand will make him more dangerous. However, this isn’t where Karasev really excels. Karasev uses his quick and smooth jumper to score from anywhere on the court, hitting 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep while attempting almost five three-pointers a game. Karasev definitely has the range to score in the NBA and isn’t shy with his jumper either, as he has the confidence to take shots while covered or late in the shot clock. Karasev is best in catch-and-shoot situations, but he can also score off the dribble, though he is fairly hesitant to do so past a couple steps and gets frustrated. Karasev is also adept at creating for teammates, using outstanding court vision and fairly well developed touch to get teammates excellent looks. He didn’t put up high assist numbers in Russia, but he carried a lot more of the scoring burden than he will be doing in the NBA, so his passing game will likely become an even larger part of his game in a more fluid NBA offense.
Defensively, Karasev is pretty bad. He struggles with perimeter D, where he often takes poor angles, can’t close out and is not quick enough to stay in front of his opponents. However, the good news is that this is something he should be able to overcome. Karasev definitely exerts a good amount of hustle and effort on the defensive end, but his technique is terrible. I think that given a good NBA coach and time to develop proper defensive technique, that lack of quickness will be less pronounced, and he will be able to be effective on that end as well. The potential is there, as we saw at the Nike Hoops Summit when he routinely found himself matched up with Andrew Wiggins and didn’t embarrass himself. I’d call that a win. I feel strangely confident after watching him that Karasev can eventually be a useful defensive player.
Karasev has superior court vision and basketball IQ, which allows him to be a very effective and well-rounded player on the offensive end, and should allow him to grow as a defensive player. Karasev shouldn’t have much trouble grasping pick-and-roll D and rotations as well at the next level, adding to his potential as a defensive player. Karasev also moves really well without the ball on the offensive end, smartly using screens and flashing cuts to set himself up for good shots. Karasev also shouldn’t have many issues with confidence, as he has experience both carrying a team with his shooting, as he did in Russia last year, and playing a complimentary role on a higher-level team in the Olympics for Team Russia. Karasev’s versatility will also help him in the NBA, as he is a natural small forward but did get minutes at shooting guard last season with Triumph, and he’s starting to develop a post game if teams want him to go big. Really the only transitional issue I see Karasev having next season is with his defense, and that eventually shouldn’t be as much of an issue.
Karasev is going to get the Kyle Korver comparison, the default comparison for any unathletic small forward who can shoot a ton. I think that’s an accurate comparison for Karasev as well. Karasev should be able to work his way in as an effective bench player and occasional starter, hit a ton of threes and eventually develop into a surprisingly effective defender. Even if Karasev never develops a strong game attacking the basket, he should be able to spot up and work off screens to score points from outside and will help an offense with spacing, because he’s definitely a threat to hit from outside at all times. If Korver can make a 10-year NBA career with a very similar game, Karasev will be fine in the NBA.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Going into next season with Sergey Karasev as your offensive small forward off the bench and Alonzo Gee as the defensive small forward the Cavs would have a lot of flexibility with their lineups, especially if they add another guy like Corey Brewer in free agency who can be the starter. Karasev would get to work with a strong defensive coach in Mike Brown and would be able to work his way into the lineup without too much of an issue. Having another guy who could make plays with his passing would also be beneficial for a Cavs offense that had a tendency to get stagnant at times last year. Also, having a good spot-up three-point threat would open up the pick-and-roll game for Kyrie Irving and help with the general spacing of the offense. I would not mind at all if Sergey Karasev was available for the Cavs to take at No. 19 overall.