Player preview: Sergey Karasev
Why did I pick Sergey Karasev before those remaining?
I did consider both Tyler Zeller and C.J. Miles here, and either of them would have been a solid choice. Both of them will likely play more regular season minutes than Karasev. Still, I think Karasev will make a bigger impact in the minutes he does play, and I think he will be more of an asset come playoff time.
What does Sergey Karasev bring to the team this year?
Sergey has a very unique and diverse offensive skill set. A lefty that can put the ball on floor, set up his teammates with crisp passes, and an assassin from long-range. Yes, he is a rookie, so we may not see all these things consistently this year. Remember, though, that he does have plenty of experience on the international scene. This may soften the rookie learning curve for him, at least a little.
His most important skill this season will likely be his 3-point shooting. Last season only Kyrie and C.J. Miles were reliable from 3-point range for the Cavaliers. Adding another floor spacer to the mix will help open things up for the rest of the team.
Yet, he isn't just some guy you stick in the corner to create space for the rest of the team. He can make things happen in his own right. If his defender drifts too far off him, Karasev has the ball-handling skills to drive past him as he tries to recover. Moreover, he is a willing passer with great court vision, so he can set up his teammates and contribute to good ball movement. He may not be able to do much at the rim in the NBA, but outside 10 feet his skill set is about as well-rounded as you can get.
However, Sergey isn't without his flaws. Specifically, his athleticism and strength are both going to be issues, especially on the defensive side of the court. There will be many times where he is just physically outmatched as a defender. He is a smart player, though, so I am hopeful that in time he can minimize this issue with good defensive positioning. The question is: When will that time be? Will it be this season, or will we have to wait a year or two?
I'm hoping that over the course of the season he can improve his defense enough that he can be a weapon off the bench for us during the playoffs. If so, he could prove to be a very valuable player for us this season.
What is Sergey Karasev's long-term potential with the Cavaliers?
Karasev will always have athletic limitations, but he has both the size and the skills to become a very good wing player in time. Players like Steve Novak have proven to be useful weapons despite athletic limitations, and I'm confident that Sergey can do the same. As long as Dion is around he probably won't start for us, but I think he could become a difference maker off the bench. A dynamic player that is able to play both wing positions, I expect him to be someone we can depend on in big games.