Mike James on Calathes move to Fener: 'Nick will thrive there, he's perfect for them'

2022-08-23 12:13

Former Nick Calathes teammate Mike James thinks the Greek point guard will thrive in Fenerbahce as the Barcelona system wasn't suited for him.

Credit: Pascal Della Zuana/Icon Sport via Getty Images
Credit Pascal Della Zuana/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Former Nick Calathes teammate and current AS Monaco star Mike James believes that the 33-year-old Greek point guard will thrive in his new team Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.

Last week, James took part in the URBONUS podcast alongside Donatas Urbonas and Errick McCollum and shared his thoughts about Calathes' situation in FC Barcelona, his possible move to Fenerbahce, and the Blaugranas signing of Tomas Satoransky.

"I think that move was less about Satoransky's fit and more about Nick's inability to fit in that system," James commented on Satoransky's arrival at Barcelona. "It's just the wrong system for me. Nick needs freedom, Nick needs to run up and down."

Nick Calathes

Nick  Calathes
Position: PG
Age: 33
Height: 198 cm
Weight: 97 kg
Birth place: United States of America

"His inability to hit pull-up jumpers makes him better in transition where he can get people trying to decide if they need to go under or over the screen. Then he's quick enough to get by you with that first step.

And if he plays in any 4-on-3 or 5-on-4 situation… I mean, Nick is maybe one of the best passers we've seen in the EuroLeague. He will make a good decision or a good pass. 

When he's in transition, being that tall, being not as slow as he would seem, and being able to make good decisions, he's perfect for a system that he had in Panathinaikos when we ran up and down. He could pass the [ball to] people, shooters, create lob threats," James continued.

James also added that slow-paced basketball isn't suited very well for Calathes, stating that that kind of style takes half of Greek point guard abilities.

"When you slow him down, you take away half of his creativity. And even then, you still probably got one of the best passers who will make good decisions. His inability to make pull-up threes at a consistent rate kind of handicaps your offense if you're just going to slow down the whole time.

Because then we can wait for him under screens, we can make a decision: 'Okay, we're just going under', instead of Nick beating us in transition, forcing us to make a quick decision. Maybe you go over that time, and he gets by you. And now he gets a layup, and if he gets a layup, he might make a pull up [jumper] because he got confidence now," James argued.

Monaco star player wondered whether Jan Vesely's signing had an effect on Barcelona's decision to sign Satoransky.

James also agreed that the Czech point guard will likely be a better fit for the Blaugranas. However, he doesn't think that Satoransky is a better player than Calathes.

"I think it was more about his [Calathes'] inability to fit in the Barcelona system, and Satoransky already had been in Barcelona with Vesely coming. I think it was an easy person to pick up.

I think he [Satoransky] could fit better. Maybe he's more prone to shooting pull-up shots, catch and shoot threes since that's kind of what he did in the NBA.

Maybe he's more ready for a slow-down pace. Who knows, but in general, I don't think Satoransky is a better individual player than Nick, but maybe it's just a better fit than Nick," noted James.

Another thing James noticed was Calathes' personality he used to see during their Panathinaikos days.

"I think Nick was probably the worst fit I've seen in Barcelona. He looked like he was miserable. He looked like he wasn't having fun. Having played with Nick for two years and knowing how he is… 

It wasn't just the same Nick Calathes I'm used to looking at every day. He cracks jokes, always smiling, [a player] running up and down the court that can always get you a triple-double. It was less about Satoransky's fit and more about Nick being a total opposite of what they needed," James continued.

Asked whether we could see a better Calathes version under Dimitris Itoudis, James had no doubts.

"I think Itoudis is less about the system and more about the players he has and how to make it work. If he goes to Fener with [Nemanja] Bjelica and Scottie [Wilbekin] – two great shooters, Nick is going to thrive. Anything up-tempo where he has shooters, and if they have a lob threat, Nick will be a perfect person," James continued.

Finally, a former Calathes teammate highlighted the defensive impact that Calathes brought to Barcelona.

"I also think Barcelona will miss a little bit of Nick's defense on the ball. Part of their defensive presence was that Nick is a good defender, and he can muck up a point guard by being so tall. He's bigger than most of the point guards, he kind of gets in a way, he's got good hands.

He kind of makes up for the fact that maybe Mirotic doesn't move his feet as well on a pick & roll, so he can get back. They might miss a little bit of that. I don't know how that dynamic is going to work now, but obviously, he [Sarunas Jasikevicius] is a great coach, he'll figure it out," James concluded.

Fenerbahce officially announced Calathes signing on Tuesday. The 33-year-old signed a 2-year deal.

Calathes averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 11.8 PIR for FC Barcelona over 29 EuroLeague games last season.

He became the EuroLeague all-time assists leader overtaking former teammate and record-owner Vassilis Spanoulis with a total of 1,711 assists across 281 matches.

Full URBONUS episode

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