They are favorite Japanese players of an articulate former NBA player.
Veteran center Lance Allred of the Kyoto Hannaryz checks in to provide his insights in the run-up to this weekend's bj-league Final Four.
"To be unbiased, I will not mention my teammates, though I consider them all legitimate threats on any team they were to play for," Allred told me. (More from Allred will be featured in an upcoming feature in The Japan Times in the coming days.)
"As far as other teams: My favorite Japanese player this season is Taishiro Shimizu from Miyazaki. That guy can cover floor as good as anyone. He is big and broad shouldered, but fast. He knows when to strike and when to wait, and whenever he makes a shot, it always seems to be a dagger at the perfect time. He is dead on with his 3point shot, but then he can create so much space for himself with his size to finish so well around the rim, or draw and kick to an open teammate which he created. He is deadly in both half-court and fast break settings. I can’t really say enough about him. I am just a huge fan. Plus, he is also very likable. I wish him all the success he finds.
"Jumpei Nakama for Shimane is a great player. That guy just knows where to find shots, and he is strong enough and athletic enough to finish those plays. He is just a nice, strong solid player. Doesn’t really make mistakes.
"Makoto Sawaguchi for Iwate is fearless. He makes mistakes, but he isn’t afraid to try. And I respect that a lot. He doesn’t care who is standing in the paint waiting to block his shot, he is going to go in. He single-handedly defeated us in our very disappointing home loss to Iwate two months ago.
"Naoto Kosuge for Ryuku is in my opinion the best physical athlete of all the Japanese players in the league. He is just a nuisance. You always have to watch where he is, because he does such a good hand of finding his way in to tip out rebounds and then running wide in the open floor to come in for strong layups. On top of all that, the guy can shoot ball. A nightmare to play against, because you are not only worried about who you are guarding, you are also are watching for Kosuge, too. Thus, basically you are always personally guarding two players when he is on floor, such is the attention he demands."