The NBA playoffs are in full swing. The league’s top eight teams in a fierce post-season series win championship rings. But all this happens without the participation of our representatives in the most powerful league in the world. Sviatoslav Mykhailyuk and Oleksiy Len with their teams stopped playing in the tournament long before the decisive stages.
The 2021/2022 season has become very difficult for the Ukrainians. Lin and Mikhailuk started it with new teams, which promised them new horizons, but in fact, the current draw, which had already ended, brought them more trials and difficulties than reasons for joy.
Sport.ua briefly summarizes the results of the current season for our compatriots.
Basketball player Cherkasy couldn’t find a team for long outside last season and the Toronto Raptors have already signed their holiday flag. The Ukrainian was awarded a two-year contract with the player option for the second season. This indicates that Mikhailiuk is expected to be in Canada and has every chance of finally getting a foothold in one of the league teams.
And in the beginning everything was really good. In the period from October to November last year, Svyatoslav played a lot and productively. During this period, he played more than thirty minutes (the record – thirty-eight minutes on November 28 against Boston), the most productive for him was the match against “Indiana”, which was held on October 30, the Ukrainian scored 16 points. . This was followed by two consecutive matches with 15 points. The three-point sales percentage was particularly satisfactory during this period, because Svyat is listed in the NBA as a personal shooter. In October, it was 42.1%, which is a very decent number.
However, other problems began. The percentage of sales fell (the worst point in terms of months – very low for the shooter 28.6% in December, however, there was still 0% of 5 shots in January), and with it Ukrainian game minutes fell. However, the most important test of the holiday began after the New Year.
At this time, “Toronto” competed in the region of 8-10 places in the standings and his prospects were somewhat murky for the rest of the season. Then Nick Norse, head coach of the only Canadian team in the NBA, made an unexpected decision. He kept his team’s rotation to a minimum and divided the lion’s share of minutes among his top 7-8 players. Mikhailyuk was one of those who suffered from this decision, who never convinced the coach that he was part of the main hug of his team. Let’s move on to the numbers. In total, Svyatoslav played 689 minutes in the regular season, of which in 2022 he spent only 122 minutes on the ground.
Despite all his contradictions, Nick Nurse’s decision succeeded. The team made a huge leap in the standings and finished the regular season in fifth place with a straight ticket to the post-season. Perhaps the main good news for Svyatoslav this season is related to this moment. He made his debut in the NBA. However, it appeared nominally faster. Mikhailyuk spent four minutes in three first-round playoffs against Philadelphia (all in so-called “lost time”, when the outcome of the match was already decided) and scored one point. His club lost the series – 2:4 and the season ended, and Svyat became the sixth Ukrainian in history to enter the field in the NBA after the season ended.
In general, the statistics of Svyatoslav in the regular season are as follows. The Ukrainian took part in 56 matches for his team, in which he spent an average of 12.8 minutes. During this time, he scored 4.6 points, made 1.6 rebounds and made 0.8 assists. It is worth noting the percentage of sales with three points, as this statistical graph of Mikhailuk is one of the main factors in his basketball resume. On average, during the regular season, the Ukrainian achieved long distances at a rate of 30.6% (0.7 shots minutes from an average of 2.4 attempts per game). Unfortunately, it should be noted that these are not the best numbers for a profile shooter. And these are the worst indicators of our compatriot in his four-year career in the NBA.
Unlike Svyatoslav, No. 5 of the 2013 NBA Draft earned his contract prior to the start of the 2021/2022 season much earlier. After a good game in the previous tournament for the Washington Wizards and reaching the playoffs with him (the first in Alexei’s career), the Ukrainian big man got a two-year contract from the Sacramento Kings and moved to the California capital for the second time in his career – signing a two-year contract with the club.
There were no VIPs in Sacramento at the start of the season, and hopes for a serious playing time for the Ukrainian (and with him good personal stats and a role on the team) were well founded. However, in reality, everything turned out to be much more complicated.
The Kings began the season under Luke Walton, who was replaced by Alvin Gentry last November. The coaches have changed, but at the same time the role of the Ukrainian big man in the franchise has not changed. Both mentors used Alexei as a player in rotation, obviously not the closest. At the same time, it cannot be said that Lenya was not given a chance. During the regular season, there was more than one match where the Ukrainian spent more than twenty minutes on the ground, and on November 26 of last year Lane spent a full 37 minutes on the field, which was his best result of the season.
However, in these games, the Ukrainian could not convince his mentors that he deserved a more important place in the team rotation. In the current NBA, with a wide range of requirements and skills for the position (which already includes fairly well-established three-point throwing and passing skills), Alexei remains a well-functioning player, but rather limited. In addition, in December, a Ukrainian was infected with the coronavirus. Twenty-four positive tests in a row and three weeks without a training process severely affected our big man’s match prospects.
Despite all the difficulties, Alexey gave his best game of the season after his recovery. As for our compatriot, it fell at the beginning of this year. From January 2-16, Sloth played nine consecutive games and scored the only doubles in the current tournament, setting seasonal records in these games for performance and rebounds (on January 7 against the Denver Nuggets – 18 points + 10 rebounds and on January 9 against the Denver Nuggets Portland – 16 points + 10 rebounds. Oleksiy repeated his season record in the rebound and in the next game against the Cleveland Cavaliers (10 rebounds), but the disastrous throwing percentage in this game (2 out of 13, 15.4%) is unlikely to make it a full-fledged asset.
At the end of this calendar period, the Ukrainian again began to slowly fall back from the rotation. Then the Sacramento Kings made a very serious move in the transfer market and signed Domantas Sabonis. This did not help the “kings” get to the playoffs, but it immediately became clear who would bet on the team’s front court. After the Lithuanian top player moved to California in February of this year, Oleksiy’s playing minutes and other stats fell very sharply. Since he first wore the Baltic Kings T-shirt on February 9, the Ukrainian big man has participated in only six meetings and spent a total of 65 minutes in them, with the lion’s share of those numbers (4 matches and 48 minutes respectively) falling to Lenya after the Lithuanian injured his knee. As part of his new club.
All of the above in the amount led to a rather modest season for Alexei. Statistically, it’s the second of all eight seasons in the NBA since the end (it was only worse in the 2013/2014 rookie season). Lynn played a total of 39 games (10 of them starting), and his average playing time was 15.8 minutes. In terms of the total number of games played, this is the lowest average for a big man we’ve had in his outdoor career. The Ukrainian scored exactly six points per game (the worst number since his debut in the NBA, then there were two) and averaged 4.1 rebounds per game. It was the same last season, only then Alexei played 64 matches.
It is difficult to include both Svyatoslav and Alexei this year in the NBA. They expected more from both and both could show more, but for various reasons it just didn’t work out. However, we must not forget that the fact of playing in the most powerful league in the world in itself deserves respect. And there are more obvious people to leave the NBA than Ukrainian basketball players. Linea is also optimistic about the availability of a guaranteed contract for next season and the player’s option in Mikhailyuk’s contract. So it’s very likely that we’ll continue to see our reps in outdoor basketball, even though a lot more is possible in the off-season. We expect that the current championship was rather average, and soon Oleksiy and Svyatoslav will delight all Ukrainian basketball fans with their good performance more often than several times a season.