3 Total Updates since September 26, 2012
8 months ago Update 24 comments
doesn't get major minutes. In my view, he probably should. I understand the basic reason why hasn't happened. Fesenko is large and bulky, but he struggles absurdly much at the offensive end of the floor -- his per36 numbers are a tepid 10 points and 8 rebounds a night. Poor all-around, ergo, most teams barely deign to play him at all. But the game is played on two ends, and on one end of the court, Fesenko is rather special. His real value comes on defense -- Fesenko has reliably been among the tops in the league for almost every defensive stat he could for the last few years. On/off court adjusted plus/minus, Synergy stats, 82Games opponent tracking, everything -- name a defensive assessment stat, and Fesenko probably rates pretty highly on it. In the last few years, anyway. He isn't necessarily a great defender due to hustle plays, shot blocking, or freak athleticism. More aptly, he's a great defender because for someone his size, he's incredibly fluid. Moves as though he's six pounds shorter and 100 pounds lighter. Probably would make an EXCELLENT boxer. Combine that with his raw size, which is honestly incredible? You've essentially created this giant, highly mobile wall that smart teams employ very effectively to cordon off the rim and blow up any team's average pick and roll play. Even with his lacking offensive stuff, his defense makes him a clear NBA talent, and in a good situation where he's only called upon as a defensive rock he could carve out a relatively lucrative career. I'm hoping he does.
if they utilize him in a similar role as Asik, there's absolutely a fringe possibility he'll be just about as good. Which would be astonishing. But his limited-minutes defensive stats certainly indicate that kind of a potential in a greater role.
Asik wasn't just a good big man defender, he was one of the best in the league. Also, it should be noted that one possible reason Fesenko kept seeing limited minutes was his insanely high rate of fouling. But a fringe possibility that attempts to bridge that gap is better than none!
8 months ago Update 10 comments
Yes, it's true that Bulls camp invite Kyrylo Fesenko can't officially sign a real contract with the team until late November unless Nate Robinson is waived or some sort of salary dumping trade is made. But at this point, I think it's pretty safe to assume that as long as Fesenko isn't a complete disaster in camp, he'll be signing with the Bulls at that time. Because let's face it, if there was other legitimate interest out there, he'd probably be all over that and not settling for a non-guaranteed deal.
So assuming this, let's take a gander at Fesenko's career and see just why nobody is willing to offer a 25-year-old 7-footer a guaranteed contract.
Fesenko was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 38th pick in the 2007 Draft (for reference, Omer Asik was drafted 36th in 2008), but apparently the Utah Jazz were enamored with him enough to trade up from pick No. 55. One can find a pretty glowing scouting report on DraftExpress, a report which called him a "true draft sleeper." There was plenty of raving about his physical tools and while reading through much of it, I couldn't help but think of Asik. For example:
For the most part, his production comes in the form of dunks. He moves pretty well off the ball, looking for low-post looks, trying to fill spaces and rolling after setting picks.
As for the defensive end, he wasn't quite as highly touted as Asik, with one reason being his propensity to NOT avoid contact:
Defensively, he's again an active guy, but the kind of player who looks first for the block rather than to stop the rival with his body. That's particularly obvious in defensive rotations. Although for the most part, he recognizes when and where to help a teammate, he doesn't seem very willing to take charges to force offensive fouls, and goes directly for the block if he has the opportunity. In many other situations, he's a player that never avoids contact, but he just doesn't seem keen on being rolled over by a rival. Anyway, he enjoys solid lateral quickness, he intimidates thanks to his length and provides a nice effort.
Still, even with the fouling issues and the lack of a developed offensive game, this was a guy who had a bit of promise. So what the heck happened?
Remember that NBA Cult Classics post about Viktor Khryapa? Well, Fesenko was SLC Dunk's choice for that (h/t to BaB commenter THEKILLERWHALE for dropping this in the comments of the original story in this stream). Basically, Jazz fans wanted to love the guy because he's a lovable goof, as seen in this video made by Moni, the "resident media guru" of SLC Dunk:
The problem, of course, was that Fesenko just wasn't very good in Utah. He played only 1090 minutes in 132 regular season games over four seasons with the Jazz, doing little but bricking free throws and compiling an enormous foul rate. He had his moments here and there, but for the most part, there just wasn't much going on. Interestingly enough, he got some "extended" playing time in the 2010 Playoffs due to injuries to Jazz starters. The results were quite awful (via Basketball Reference):
After that postseason debacle and a horrific 2010-11, Fesenko found himself on the free agent scrap heap. He remained unsigned until the end of March 2012, when the Pacers inked him to a deal for the rest of the season. He only played three games with Indiana, but he did put up a 29.3 PER! Hooray for small sample sizes!
Now, while this seems like a nothing signing based on Fesenko's rather poor track record, I do actually kind of like it. He's still only 25 years old, and he's a legit 7-footer with some athleticism. I really don't know if Nazr Mohammed has anything left in the tank, and if he truly is toast, perhaps Fesenko could step in and play some competent spot minutes. The guy is obviously no Asik, but under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau, I think he could possibly become a poor man's Asik. And I'm sure some people at the United Center won't even be able to tell the difference.
8 months ago Update 21 comments
Sources told ESPN.com that Fesenko is on course to sign with the Bulls by week's end after working out for team officials this week.
Stein acknowledged the Bulls cap situation on Twitter:
Bulls been looking for proven big willing to take non-guaranteed deal now & possibly re-sign in late NOV when tax issues ease. Fes says yes— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 27, 2012
Indeed, the Bulls cannot add Fesenko to the roster until his prorated amount is lower than what's allowed under the luxury tax apron, a figure the Bulls cannot exceed under any circumstances all season. Though they can obviously make moves to get further under like waiving Nate Robinson or making a money-saving trade. At first glance, I like this as a project signing. Usually the Bulls use these spots for 'Org. guys' who are past their last legs, so it's nice to see someone with some upside. Even if it's dwindling after 5 seasons failing to really prove himself, and his career at a low point after appearing in only 3 games last season. Also, someone who can provide a few laughs if you've ever read Fesenko Friday at SLCDunk.
8 months ago Article 32 comments
Free agent big man Kyrylo Fesenko announced via Twitter that he would be working out with the Chicago Bulls. Fesenko also announced that he was excited to see former Jazz teammates Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, who of course are no longer Bulls.