Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is Louis Labeyrie Interesting?

On Wednesday the New York Knicks drafted Louis Labeyrie using the 57th pick in the draft which they acquired by affording "Cash considerations" to the Indiana Pacers. This piece seeks the answer to an important question about this young man: is he interesting?
Louis is a 22-year old man from France. He plays basketball professionally with Paris-Levallois Basket of the French LNB Pro league, the top pro ball league in France. He is Six feet, ten inches tall, taller than most people. Here is a photo of him standing with a young woman where the top of his head has been cropped out.

The fact of his height is a matter of interest for NBA GMs and coaches and observers, because being extraordinarily tall is an advantage in basketball. Of course, this doesn't really matter if he is a startlingly incompetent basketball player. Real GM's recorded tell the strange tale that many Euro prospect's line tells. Last season, Louis netted a mere 5.26 points and 3.39 rebounds a game and he only plays 12 minutes a game. But in that 12 minutes, he is shooting 61.2% from the field and a whopping 51.9 % from three.
Even when someone is shooting behind the truncated FIBA line, 51.9% is VERY INTERESTING. This mark is probably the reason that the Knicks have decided that Louis, who is at first sight maybe a little wiry to play in the NBA, is at least interesting enough to spend a super late draft pick on the right to sign him to a contract someday.
A six-ten player who can shoot three pointers can do a lot to spread out and opponent's defense and open up a lot of options in the modern NBA. When this year's Phoenix Suns used lineups with Marcus Morris (38.1 3pt%) at power forward and Channing Frye (37.0 3pt%) at center they had a whoppin' +14.4 Net Rating, the result of a blown out offense keeping shotblockers away from the rim or lurching towards shooters at the line. Even if Louis is not playing a lot of minutes in Europe right now there's a kernel of potential as a NBA stretch four in his heart and if it can be forged with fire and spirit and blood and metal, it will be a pick well bought for the Knicks.
Here is a video of Louis playing basketball at a clandestine, winner-keeps-his-life game in an underground complex somewhere in Europe. It was brave of whoever shot this footage to release it. He cut the sound out so the notorious gangsters involved in this nightmare hoop scene wouldn't be able to figure out who he is. It was shot before he refined his three point shot, so don't expect to see that. From that same game, here is him dunking on a fool:
Sorry man, Adidas goons are going to kidnap your family and force them to sew shoes now. Get out of the way next time.
Oh, did you want to see a video of Louis getting some artistic portraits taken in a graffiti ridden alley in France, set to a sort of B-/C+-y semi-political club jazz mock-y song?
There's no way of knowing if Louis will make the NBA. But IF HE DOES, I think it's possible we have a new Tyson Chandler on our hands. Expect videos from art galleries, appearances in left-of-center fashion magazines. In short, expect an INTERESTING player.

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