It’s not often a foreign basketball player younger than the age of 20 and drafted in the late teens makes an immediate contribution at the NBA level.
That’s pretty much what the Cavaliers are facing with Sergey Karasev, introduced to the media Tuesday.
Karasev turns 20 years old on Oct. 26. He most recently played in his native Russia. He can really shoot, and at 6-foot-8, is capable of playing either small forward or shooting guard.
“He’s a very accomplished young player,” said Cavs vice-president of operations David Griffin. “To lead the Russian league in scoring as he did is unprecedented.”
It’s true that the Cavs have a high opinion of Karasev. Word is, they figured they’d have to move up from their No. 19 slot to select him in last month’s draft. And Karasev did, in fact, catch the eye of plenty of teams.
But he’s not viewed as an instant help, which is probably why he dropped. Truth is, he has a lot to learn — both about the NBA, and about life in the United States. That’s quite a double whammy. So you can be sure it will take Karasev time to adjust.
That makes him a likely benchwarmer, or something close to that, under new coach Mike Brown.
Karasev told reporters his basketball hero is San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. That’s a good role model to have.
Right now, Karasev is known a player with strong fundamentals (he’s the son of a coach), a scorer’s mentality and decent athleticism. He also gained a reputation as someone who could be a little bit difficult to deal with overseas.
Speaking of overseas, the Cavs need to buy out Karasev’s contract in Russia. But they say that is practically a non-issue and he’ll be in training camp come late September/early October.
Bottom line: Karasev has a lot of adapting to do. That makes him highly likely to be little more than a bit player this season, but someone to keep an eye on as the Cavs move forward.