This past Friday, Sacramento Kings forward J.J. Hickson signed with Bnei Hasharon/Herzliya of the Israeli Basketball Super League for the duration of the NBA lockout.
In a bizarre twist, Hickson landed in Israel several months after being traded from Cleveland in exchange for Israel’s first NBA player, Omri Casspi. The fifth current NBA player to sign in Israel during the lockout, Hickson’s acquisition comes with a mountain of expectations, considering that he is the most heralded prospect to make the leap.
Despite having all the tools to succeed in Israel, Hickson showed in his debut on Sunday that he will need to adjust quickly if he hopes to make an impact. On the surface, it may seem as if Hickson’s first game was a success, as he had 20 points on 67 percent shooting, eight rebounds and five assists.
However, fancy numbers don’t mean too much when your team gets blown out by 39 points against a middle-of-the-pack team, Hapoel Holon, whose big men combined for 66 points and 29 rebounds. If Hickson wants to succeed in Israel, he will need to follow six important rules:
1. Do not take the competition lightly.
Aside from Hickson, other current NBA players such as Jordan Farmar, Avery Bradley and Craig Brackins have been playing in the Israeli league, and Trevor Booker should be returning shortly from his injury to team up with Hickson in Herzliya. While Farmar and Brackins certainly have been very good players in Israeli League play, they have far been far from dominant, as they have struggled to adjust to the style of play.
Bradley looked completely lost in his debut, and was a non-factor as his team, Hapoel Jerusalem, was blown out.
The league is filled with American and Israeli players who may not carry NBA recognition, but have adjusted their game to be better suited for the Israeli League. Recent fringe NBA players such as Luke Jackson, Joe Crawford, Brandon Bowman, Dwayne Mitchell and Sean Williams have fared much better as they have already adapted to the European game.
In last night’s game, American big men Tasmin Mitchell (LSU), Bryant Dunston (Fordham) and Patrick Sullivan (Southeastern Louisiana), none of whom have yet to sniff an NBA court, absolutely demolished Hickson in the paint and on the boards.