Jaleen Smith’s move: The best starts again

R27 minutes of playing time, 13 points and some spectacular dribbles at 101: 63 over the Skyliners Frankfurt – this was the answer to the question of what happened to the MVP, the most valuable basketball professional of the past season, after he switched to the German champions Alba Berlin has become? Jaleen Smith hadn’t scored a single point at the start of the season when his new club lost to Telekom Baskets Bonn, just thrown twice in no more than eleven minutes of play. “This is not an answer. Nobody asked me anything, ”replied Smith after the triumph on Tuesday evening. “I’m trying to find my way here.”

A good choice

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MVP, most valuable player in the league, that is a great honor and at the same time a heavy mortgage. The outstanding development player of the past year, who led the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg to first place in the main round as strategist, passer and scorer, now has to join an ensemble that does not rely on individual performance, but on fast, intelligent team play.

“I had seen Alba play before,” says Jaleen Smith in Berlin: “It was clear to me that even the best would play twenty minutes here, not much more. Not everything depends on me here. I can play as hard as I can and rely on the man next to me to be just as good. “

Handlebar of the game

Jaleen Smith, 26, born and raised in Texas, wants to go up. He works hard for that. When the NBA ignored him in the 2017 talent selection when he graduated from college (New Hampshire), he became a professional in the second German division at USC Heidelberg at the age of 22. There the MHP Giants Ludwigsburg discovered him and brought him into the first division with a temporary contract. His ambition and his growing skills convinced coach John Patrick.

Patrick secured Smith’s whereabouts for a second year by centering his once again newly formed team on them. Smith lived up to the high expectations. With his mobility and overview he is a good handlebar of the game, hits solidly from a distance and with his 1.93 meters is also a factor under the basket.

Debut in first class in Europe

So he played himself, often from the first to the last second on the field, with hits (15.2 points), assists (5.3) and steals (1.7) among the best in the league. And to the surprise of the competition and to the enthusiasm of his audience, Ludwigsburg took first place in the main round with thirty wins. After being eliminated in the semi-finals of the play-offs against Bayern Munich, Jaleen Smith was allowed to leave. Patrick praised him farewell that he deserved to play in the Euroleague in the future.

Before he started the season in Berlin, Smith showed himself doing trial training with the Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, the dream goal of every professional basketball player. This Friday he will make his debut at FC Barcelona in first class in Europe, second in the world. “Mirotic, Calathes, Higgins. . . ”Smith enumerates the names of the opponents like a crying connoisseur would rave:“ It’s like an all-star team. Maybe the best team in Europe. “

It is doubtful whether his Berlin team, which is injured three out of four centers and is not yet well-rehearsed, can compete with the Catalans, who have won the championship 19 times and the Euroleague twice. But the encounter is a value in itself. “You want to play against teams like that. You want to see where your own team is. ”And where you are.

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