For Karasev, he’ll be hoping that the new year and rehabilitated knee will be the start of something special. It may take him a while to shake off that rust and get back to game speed, but there’s always room in the rotation for a good shooter. The mission for Karasev is simple: prove that you belong.
Big Stat: 16.8. That’s how many minutes Karasev played per game in a slightly less crowded rotation last season. With the additions of Wayne Ellington, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Shane Larkin, Karasev will have to earn any significant playing time once again.
Strengths: Outside shooting, passing.
2014-15 recap: Fans in Brooklyn were reasonably excited for Karasev’s arrival following the trade that brought in Jarrett Jack last summer, but it was quickly clear that 6-7 forward was about as raw as they come. Karasev did have a few fun moments, however, including a 12-4-2-2 game he put down in a season-high 36 minutes in December against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Karasev is a smart player; it’s safe to assume he won’t slow an offense, take poor shots, or turn the ball over. In fact, Karasev shot more than nine times just once, never had more than two turnovers in a game, and had a surprisingly positive plus-minus score of +16. Yes, +16 is hardly something to write home about, but it was higher than Danilo Gallinari, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, and Ricky Rubio.
(Don’t take that too seriously.)
2015-2016 Outlook: Sergey Karasev has a very important season ahead of him, and he’ll have to be ready from Game 1 if he wants to make the most of his opportunity. To our knowledge, Hollins has not carved out a defined rotation yet, and experimented with combinations all summer and preseason. Karasev should have his chances to break into the rotation, but if others pass him, it’ll be tough to get consistent playing time.
Additionally, Karasev offers very little defensively, so if he’s not hitting his open shots at an above-average rate, he’ll be a tough player to keep on the court. It’s not entirely clear what Karasev’s brightest strengths are yet, but he is athletic and has shown the ability to hit from downtown. If he can exhibit those skills over the first month of the season, he’ll have made a strong case for the rotation.
What a good season for Karasev would look like: In his triumphant return to the NBA, Karasev shakes off the cobwebs, starts hitting from distance at a consistent click, and proves that he belongs in Lionel Hollins’ shooting-heavy rotation. Karasev helps space the floor for Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Thaddeus Young, becoming a staple for the franchise in 2015-2016 and beyond.
What a bad season for Karasev would look like: Karasev quickly falls behind newcomers Ellington, thanks to his better three-point shooting, and Hollis-Jefferson, thanks to his better defense, and the Russian winds up at the end of the bench. Karasev is undoubtedly talented, but there’s plenty of hungry athletes, young and old, ready to take what remains of his playing time.