By Antonis Stroggylakis / firstname.lastname@example.org
If EuroLeague had an MIP (Most Improved Player) award, then Alec Peters would already be one of the frontrunners to take the 2021 edition of the trophy home.
Peters has catapulted his production rates in his third season in EuroLeague and near-tripled his scoring output, averaging 11.9 points on highly efficient percentages (58.1% 2-pointers, 55.6% 3-pointers) while grabbing 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 21:30 minutes per game so far with Baskonia. He’s seeing more time on the court and having a prominent part in the team’s offense that has allowed him to illustrated his strengths to a much bigger degree than in his first two years in Europe.
“I like to think I’ve always been the same efficient basketball player. Scoring-wise, shooting-wise. Whatever I have to offer. I’ve always prided myself on being a smart guy, having a high IQ. Being in the right place, I am thankful to have a more extended role,” Peters, who scored a EuroLeague career-high 25 points in a win over Fenerbahce Beko last week, told Eurohoops in a live interview.
It has been much different for Peters after making his overseas debut in 2018-2019 with CSKA Moscow to complete the season as EuroLeague champion and then spending 2019-2020 with Anadolu Efes, before the coronavirus crisis cut the team’s fantastic campaign short. His role on these star-laden rosters wasn’t as significant as it is now with Baskonia but his stints provided valuable learning experiences for him.
“In my first year in Europe I played with CSKA for coach Itoudis in what was a loaded roster of guys. We won the EuroLeague that year. For me to step in and having that as my first year in European baskeball, I wasn’t expecting much. And I did get to contribute quite a bit in some games down the stretch,” Peters said.
“With Efes… Shane Larkin had the craziest season you can argue in EuroLeague history. Vasha Micic was unbelievable, Chris Singleton was having one of the best season in his career,” Peters added on Efes. “Two teams and two years where I was playing a smaller role where I was able to learn from some of the best players.”
“My focus in this offseason was “OK, I’ve done it for two years now. Let’s try to find somewhere where I can take on a little bit more responsibility and see if I can use that to then go back to all these big clubs or somewhere and be a primary guy,” Peters said. “Baskonia has reached out these last couple of years to have me on their team. it worked out this season and, so far, it’s been pretty good.”
Peters discussed Baskonia’s progress in the season so far and his scoring, what he learned from his championship experience with CSKA Moscow, his scoring with , Dusko Ivanovic’s tough practices, his NBA goal, his admiration for former teammate Kyle Hines and… who would win in a EuroLeague 3-point contest. Here are some of the topics of Peters’ conversation with Eurohoops:
Baskonia’s run and finding consistency:
“We obviously can beat everybody and it’s [the run] shown how vulnerable we can be. I think it’s not a bad thing to be able show this vulnerability because everyone may think you’re an easy target and we can continue to surprise some of these better teams we play. I think that offensively, we are really interesting and special regarding some of the lineups we can play. We can go small with me, Achille Polonara and Rokas Giedraitis playing ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘5’. We have also super – super big dudes with Youssoupha Fall, Ilmane Diop and Tonye Jekiri. We are able to play in different plays and whatever style is needed for a game. I think that’s a really important factor for the end of the season. Depending on who our opponent is, we can be really interesting offensively, unlike last night (the loss to Zenit St. Petersburg) when we could’t anything to click. If we get that more consistently moving forward we’re going be in really good shape and have a great chance at the playoffs.”
Being more than just a shooter:
“When people think of me, they’ll always think ‘he’s a shooter’. That’s he’s a guy who spaces a floor. And it always will be [one of his major strengths] something that it’s No. 1. I’m a bigger guy who can play “4”, who can play “3” but I can also roll off action. I can attack the close out, I can use the dribble. I try to be unique in that way in the team switch. I worked hard to be more efficient on the low post, whether that’s creating and passing or scoring. I try to be as much trouble as I can be. And this year, being with this team and having this opportunity, I’m able to showcase that a lot more.”
His physical improvement:
“I feel great this year. I’ve battled a few things on the past, every player does that here and there. I’ve felt really good. I always try to take care of my body, I try to eat right things. Lift weights and work with the strength coaches. It all comes with more confidence I guess. Being out there, you’re running higher, you’re jumping higher, you have more flow and rhythm. And when you have that, you’re more aggressive with your movements. Even playing defensively, I feel more confident playing defensively, when I switch over guards. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job this year and I’m making it more tough for other people to score on me.”