As it is with many foreign players who enter the NBA Draft, not much is known about their game until they actually come to the United States and play against NBA talent. That is the case with recent Cleveland Cavaliers draft pick Sergey Karasev. Selected 19th overall, Karasev will be in training camp later this month. This will be his first exposure to the NBA. He did not participate in the Summer League because he competed for Russia in the World University Games.
The games were aired on ESPNU and I was able to watch them. I was very pleased with what I saw out of the 19 year-old Karasev. He displayed poise and skill against the international competition. The Russians won the tournament, and Karasev was named the tournaments Most Valuable Player.
Scouts praised Sergey’s offensive game leading up to the draft. From what I saw during the tournament, the scouts were right. In the tournament semi-final against Canada, Karasev scored 20 points on only 12 shots. Through the first three tournament games, he had poured in 76 total points for the Russians.
The part of his offensive game that impressed me the most was his passing. This was not talked about as a real strength of Karasev’s. Most scouts talked about his shooting ability, but his passing jumped out at me.
A lot of the passes that I saw him make did not lead directly to baskets. Even with that said, he had seven assists in the semi-final contest. A few times, Sergey would penetrate then dump the ball off to a big-man down low. Plays like this would work beautifully with the personnel the Wine and Gold have in the frontcourt.
Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao are two players that initially come to mind. Although Kyrie does possess this skill, having another wing player capable of driving to the rim, then dishing the rock off once the defense collapses, is incredibly valuable. It will create plenty of easy shots down low for Cavalier big men.
Even though he missed the summer league, Karasev did not take the summer off. His performance in the World University Games is evidence. If the same player who played for the Russians this summer shows up in training camp for the Wine and Gold, I expect him to see a lot action early on. The more playing time that he is allotted, I believe, the better his developmental process will go. Karasev, certainly, will have a little bit of transition into the NBA game, but the more minutes he sees early on, the better.
Sergey should provide the team with a young, athletic wing presence. His ability to stretch the floor with his shot will prove to be invaluable for the Cavs. If the same passing ability that he displayed this summer is on show during the upcoming season, Chris Grant and the Cavaliers’ front office may have found a complete player. And if we’re lucky enough, the small forward of the future.