Othello Hunter: Making Real undersized

2016-07-30T18:08:02+00:00 2016-07-30T18:08:02+00:00.

Aris Barkas

30/Jul/16 18:08


This summer Real Madrid completely changed their philosophy regarding their staffing of the line of big men and Hunter is part of the change

By Panos Katsiroympas/ info@eurohoops.net

This summer Real Madrid completely changed their philosophy regarding their staffing of the line of big men. They did keep Ayon, who is one of the most high quality players in Europe in the game in the post, but since they released Lima and Hernangomez, they acquired in their place two players who are mobile and can offer things that the “Whites” were missing.

Regarding Anthony Randolph, there’s been a piece written recently about him and the elements that he can contribute to the Madrilenos, while the same will be done in this article about Hunter as well, a player who – before coming to Olympiacos, a team where he found what he was looking for as a player – was a drifting role player who made the US-Europe-China route too often.

Who he is

The truth is that most people found out about Hunter through his stint in Olympiacos, however he had passed through Greece once again in the past with Ilysiakos. He split his college career between two universities, the small Hillsborough but also the much better known Ohio State, where his teammates included Greg Oden and Mike Conley in his first year, but also Kosta Koufos and Evan Turner in his second and last year there.

In college he had the role of the tough defender and the good and athletic blocker without taking any special initiatives on the offensive half of the court. He went unnoticed in the 2008 draft, but he got a contract with the Hawks, where he stayed for two years, with a stint in the NBA’s development league. From then on he essentially became a basketball wanderer, playing basketball in Greece with Ilysiakos and Olympiacos, in Italy with Sassari and Siena, in Spain with Valladolid, in Ukraine and Azovmash, but also with two teams in China as well. Essentially, the only team where he stayed for more than a year is Olympiacos, and at the same time it was the team his playing style matched more with than any other, which resulted in him coming up with very good numbers. His transfer to Real was the culmination of his very good presence.

What he can offer

The truth is that players with Othello Hunter’s profile have become in great demand in Europe in the last ten years. Before, big men who couldn’t be good scorers and creators from the post would not have a place on the rosters of the big European teams.

Hunter does very well what most undersized centers do in Europe. In offense, he usually scores through the pick-and-roll game, since aside from the fact that his screens are rather good, he can cut inside to the basket with great speed, while he also has good hands in grabbing hold of the ball and finishing plays.

His very good jumping ability allows him to finish plays with an alley oop as well, especially when his collaboration and timing with the team’s guards are good, something that he did with great success in Olympiacos with Vassilis Spanoulis. He also scores many points through second chances, as he has an aptitude for offensive rebounding, while, more rarely, he undertook a few attacks with his back to the basket. He has a relatively noteworthy shot from 3-4 meters, a detail he worked on in Olympiacos, a shot however that is static and in no way is a result of his own creativity. He’s also pretty good in transition whether in offense or in defense.

He had a leading role in Olympiacos’s defense mostly due to his very good hedge outs that even reached the center of the court, but also his fast returns to the key following the double-teaming. That was his main role in the defensive part for as long as we watched him in Greece. Nevertheless, he can contribute in switching defenses as well without being exposed, perhaps not with the same quality as other big men like Hines or Udoh, but it’s definitely not easy for any backcourt player to create a rift facing Hunter in a switching defense.

He fights hard in the post even though his frame is not the strongest, nor is he very tall. He often tries to get in front of his opponents in order to make it difficult for them to get receive the ball, something that he can do thanks to his plasticity and his speed. He might not make a lot of blocks for his level of athleticism, but with his jumping ability and his body he makes it very difficult for any opponent trying to approach the paint to get shots off. Overall, he’s a player who might not match Real’s quality in offense, but who can give them things similar to those Marcus Slaughter had given them the year the Madrilenos returned to the top of Europe. The absence of such a player cost them last year and the fact that Real placed him very high in their planning is no coincidence, as they basically reached an agreement with him before he had even completed his playing duties with Olympiacos.