Weems jumped to Kaunas, Lithuania to play for Zalgiris when the lockout hit last season, and spent the regular season proving that if you cheated back on him too much he could burn you from distance.
Then a winless Top 16 for Zalgiris saw Weems’ numbers fall off a cliff-–17.5 points to 11.6; 5.9 rebounds to 3.2; 1.3 steals to zero; from 15-of-30 on threes to 3-of-20—while his effort and attitude on the court started to decline as well.
So which was it: stubborn American scorer who sat back as defenses adjusted to, then put a lid on, his aggressive style of play? Or a developing talent who understands that his ability to put the ball in the basket is worth very little to upper-tier European clubs unless he learns how to minimize his negative impact and produce within a winning system?
Instead of returning to the NBA, Weems took an offer from CSKA Moscow, where we would find out if Sonny were cut out for a featured role underneath one of Europe’s most traditional bosses, Ettore Messina.
Aside from a four-point outing in CSKA’s only loss against Barcelona, Weems has showed up every week and pushed his scoring back up to 16.4 while cutting his turnovers from 2.9 to 1.8. On defense, his length has posed many problems to passers of lazy passes, usually a staple of any CSKA wing worthy of the four letters on his jersey.
Leading CSKA Moscow in scoring normally lands you in the thick of the Euroleague’s MVP debate, and Sonny’s output this season is no exception. But more than any points or steals or turnovers per game, winning is the criterion most crucial to a Euroleaguer’s pursuit of an MVP.
It worked for last year’s MVP Andrei Kirilenko, who got CSKA all the way to the EL Finals. Now, after knocking off previously unbeaten Barcelona in the last week of the regular season, the Red Army is 9-1 and clicking.
But let’s not get carried away with championship and MVP talk just yet. Moscow’s first order of business is lasting a week atop these power rankings.