Nicola Brussino, Salah Mejri, Maxi Kleber. The Mavs continue their run of signing mysterious foreign players with the addition of Aussie Ryan Broekhoff.
The Mavs have been quiet in free agency since signing Deandre Jordan. Most notably, we lost both of our sharpshooters in Seth Curry and Doug McDermott. As the free agency market began to shrink, sharpshooting options started becoming slim. Then the Mavs did what they’ve made a habit of over the past few years and signed an older guy who has been playing in Europe.
I would have called him an unknown prospect but he worked out for several teams so he was definitely on radars. The Mavs were not one of the teams that saw Broekhoff work out but they swooped in with a contract offer and got him to sign. So who is Ryan Broekhoff???
Ryan Broekhoff was a 4-year player at Valparaiso. He started from his sophomore to senior years shooting 44.8, 39.1, and 41.7% from 3 in his final 3 seasons. He averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds his Junior season en route to a Horizon League player of the year award and an AP All American Honorable mention. He led his team to the NCAA tournament his senior year where they lost to Michigan State.
After going undrafted Ryan ended up playing in Turkey. He played there two years, shooting 35% from 3 in year one and 50% from 3 in year two (4.5 attempts per game). He also averaged 5 rebounds per game. He earned a spot on the Nuggets summer league team that year. He shot 40% from 3 (on 3 attempts per game in 5 games) but did not get a look from an NBA team. He instead decided to sign a 3 year deal with a Russian club as he looked to improve his game.
In Ryan’s first year with the club he shot 47% from 3 but his numbers dropped in year 2 to just 31.3%. That’s the lowest percentage he’s ever shot and I don’t see any explanation for it but he fixed it in a big way this season. Ryan was key off the bench for his team and shot a whopping 50.6% from 3 on 5 attempts per game. Watching a couple of his Russian games where I understood 0% of the words, I did understand when he checked in and they used the word “sniper” after saying his name. He was named to the All-EuroCup 1st Team despite coming off of the bench.
Watching Broekhoff I got a pretty good sense for his game. First of all, his shot. He has a very quick release and doesn’t force shots up. Off the ball he works to get open off of screens and slides to the open spot when his defender gets caught ball-watching. He’ll also cut backdoor for a layup in this situation so his mind is not only on shooting 3’s.
He doesn’t put the ball on the floor often but when he does, he does it with purpose. He makes solid passes on the move and also finishes in traffic or through contact. He makes good passes to the post from the perimeter. The ball never gets stuck in his hands. He’s either shooting or getting the ball to the next open man if the ball comes to him. He is often compared to Joe Ingles, though most point out that he’s not quite the point forward that Joe is. While I can’t disagree with this, he does seem to always make the right pass.
Finally, he runs the floor hard. When the rebound is secured he hustles back to get into position for a transition 3 or easy bucket at the rim. With Dennis and Luka pushing the break I would expect this to be a place where he’ll flourish if he gets the opportunity to play any real minutes this year. I also expect him to flourish on the wing as a spot up shooter if his man sags to help on the pick and roll’s we’ll definitely be running often.
The second most impressive part of Broekhoff’s game is his rebounding. He’s not a big guy but he does value hitting the glass on both ends. Having averaged 7+ rebounds per game in his last two college seasons would tell you that but still averaging 5 a game in Eurocup play is significant. On defense, he boxes out, consistently. He turns his head to look for a body which may not always lead to a board but at least keeps one more player from getting to the glass and is underrated. On offense, he looks to crash when a shot goes up as well.
On defense, he gets low and wide in his stance. I don’t think he’s as good a defender as Ingles but he understands defensive principles. He plays off of quick guards to avoid being blown by and can still challenge shots with his length. He keeps his feet moving as well and uses ball-you-man principles off the ball. He’ll also dig off the ball when an opposing player drives near him and he is known to draw a charge. The clip below shows him playing D in space, then switching onto a big, and finally him taking a charge.
One of the two games I saw came down to the wire and Ryan stepped up on both sides. Going back to his college days he’s always been good in clutch situations. This is a testament to his attitude and confidence.
Ryan Broekhoff signed a 2 year deal with only the first year guaranteed so he has a chance to prove himself this year. He could slide into McDermott’s role from last year and have a few big shooting nights off the bench. He’s going to need to if he wants that second year picked up. He’s 27 so he’s in his prime and should be comfortable and confident on day one.
I expect his shot to fall but, even if he has a rough stretch, I expect him to get PT because he plays hard and Rick loves guys that play hard. A lot of people are ready to move on from DFS and Broekhoff may be a guy who helps push that process along.
We’ll see when the pre-season hits but this is a low-risk, high-reward move that we are 2/3 on thus far. Hopefully this turns into more of a Maxi situation than a Brussino one.