Credit: Reuters-Scanpix
Credit Reuters-Scanpix

If FC Barcelona have managed to keep their unbeaten EuroLeague (5-0) and ACB (7-0) run so far, Brandon Davies has definitely been one of the main reasons.

Brandon Davies

Brandon  Davies
Brandon  Davies
MIN: 23.09
PTS: 14.2 (57.97%)
REB: 3.4
As: 2
ST: 0.8
BL: 0.2
TO: 2
GM: 5

The 30-year-old center knows the stakes better than most. Residing in the capital of Catalunya since 2019, Davies has become one of the cornerstones in the EuroLeague's best offensive team until now (84.8 points per game). Holding an average of 14.2 points, he is also his team's second scorer, behind Nikola Mirotic (17.8 ppg).

Last week, the squad coached by Sarunas Jasikevicius blasted Zenit Saint Petersburg 84-58, but this double week includes trips to Istanbul and Tel Aviv, which will provide the strongest test for the 2021 competition finalists.

In case they manage to pull off a couple of wins, FC Barcelona will have consolidated their place on top of the standings.

Brandon Davies, currently on his 8th season in Europe, feels more European than American, as he confides to BasketNews.

The 2,08 m. center, who grew up in Provo, Utah, went undrafted in 2013 after a four-year career at BYU in which he finished in top-10 in school history in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

In September of that year, he signed a partially guaranteed deal with the Clippers but was waived after a solid, albeit unspectacular, performance in the preseason. However, the NBA dream was about to come true for him, as from 2013 through 2015, he played a total of 78 games with the Philadephia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets.

Credit AP - Scanpix

His NBA career lasted almost 15 months, but still, Davies is grateful for the experience he had, especially with the Sixers.

In January 2015, he moved to Europe for Elan Chalon, played another year with Varese in Italy, and then came his time to shine big-time. A promising campaign with AS Monaco in the Basketball Champions League (9.3 points, 3.9 rebounds) was followed by a leap to the EuroLeague.

3-pointers this season

Points made: 9,2
Accuracy: 42,6%
Place in standings: 3
Record max: 14
Record min: 5
Most made 3FGs: Nikola Mirotic

At Zalgiris Kaunas, Davies found the perfect situation: a place that reminded him of home, fans, people that loved him, a coach that trusted him, and a team that was on the way to reaching its pinnacle.

In fact, Zalgiris had a dream-like campaign in 2017-18, which culminated in the EuroLeague playoffs and their first participation in a Final Four since 1999.

Now on his third year in Barcelona, Davies is focusing on one thing only: how to win the much-coveted EuroLeague trophy that he and his teammates missed out on last year when Anadolu Efes beat them in Cologne.

Talking to BasketNews, the American center referred to Barca's perfect track, his trajectory from the NBA to the BCL, and finally to the EuroLeague, Rokas Jokubaitis's NBA potential, but also his priorities in the upcoming summer.

FC Barcelona have had a perfect start to the EuroLeague (5-0) and ACB (7-0) season so far. What's your view on the team's performances until now?

Everything is heading in the right direction. I think we're playing well, we're playing right, and at the same time, we're getting better in every game. That's the most important thing, especially in this part of the season.

The only mishap for Barca has been the lost SuperCup final against Real Madrid. Is the way you guys lost that game still in the back of your minds?

Anytime you lose a Clasico, it sticks with you. Especially when a cup is involved, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It's something that we have used in order to play how we've been playing. Hopefully, we can learn from that the next time we are in an important or title game.

Is it also a reminder that the team still has some things to improve on?

Yes, as good as we are, we still have to get our mind right every single game. Teams are giving us their best shot. If you don't come prepared or handle things the right way, that gives other teams chances to beat us. It's up to us to limit those chances.

How can Barcelona get what they missed last year, the EuroLeague trophy?

We got to lock in on our one goal and know what's going to take to get there. Right now, we're focusing on the little things.

I always go back and watch games. Watching last year's championship game was hard, especially with the type of player I am. I dissect all the mistakes that I make.

Everyone was one mistake away from being champions last year. So, if everyone locks in and tries to take away one last mistake, that will be the difference for us.

You've reached the EuroLeague Final Four with and without the home-court advantage. In which way are the EuroLeague playoffs a different story than the regular season?

I think that everything is tightened. Not just the pressure and the expectations, but you have your own goals and come closer within reach. Once playoffs are set, nothing else matters but trying to win that next game. You focus more on the task at hand and less on the things that got you there.

Saras is a coach tough to please, which became evident after the two consecutive overtime wins against Monaco and Olympiacos. Of all players currently in the EuroLeague, very few know him better than you do.

How did you manage to translate your game from the BCL to the EuroLeague so quickly and effectively, and how did coach Jasikevicius contribute to that adjustment?

Being coachable and able to read between the lines has helped me the most. Sometimes you can get caught up in how things are said and not what the message is behind those things.

As I matured, I've been able to sit back, learn from a given situation and use that to better myself as a player. A lot of that came with some adjustment periods, especially with Saras during my first years in Zalrigis. But he was patient with me, and I was patient with him. You can say that we both grew together.

Credit Rodolfo Molina/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

What did that adjustment period include for you?

Especially my first year was about me growing up. Once you find out your role on the team and utilize what you're capable of, that's what changed mostly for me. He wants your best, your maximum, in every game and every practice. If he can see that you're giving that and you're striving to do that, you'll become better.

Recently, you had a career night against your former team Monaco. They've followed a similar path as you, moving from the Basketball Champions League through the EuroCup to the EuroLeague. Were you expecting them to progress so quickly?

I'm happy for them. Living there, I had a lot of ex-teammates who have helped bring them up to where they are now. That's exciting to see, especially with the same coaching staff as well.

For me, it's hard to put a timetable on things like that. Once the basketball world wants things to get rolling, one year can turn into two good years and that's what they did.

Each year they progressed, going a little further. Once they won the EuroCup, they deserved to be in the EuroLeague.

I guess that in Barcelona, the Zalgiris connection is very strong. Apart from yourself, Saras, assistant coaches Darius Maskoliunas and Tomas Masiulis, Rokas Jokubaitis, and Nigel Hayes were added to the roster last summer.

Are those shared experiences important when a player enters a new locker room?

Rokas and Nigel came in knowing that they have a connection together. Also, us having a connection kind of breaks the ice. Going to a new team can be hard for some guys. But they have all accepted their role.

They came in, and we've all accepted them with open arms - and they've been nothing but great since then. That's really important, especially in their first year in Barcelona. For them to come here and feel comfortable right away is a plus.

What do you miss the most about your days in Kaunas?

I really fell in love with the people there, not just the fans. I grew up in Utah in a small town with mountains, outdoors, and things like that.

So, Kaunas felt like home when I arrived. Just being accepted by those people and not knowing much about the country, the way they embraced me and my family was something I will never forget, along with those shared memories we have.

Do you think Jokubaitis is NBA-ready?

Honestly, Rokas has made amazing strides since I last played with him in Zalgiris. I called him "my young bull". I made him carry my shoes and do all the little things for me in Zalgiris.

He's really grown into a man. He's shown great things in the game so far. He's headed in the right direction.

I'm not an NBA analyst by any means, but he's shown that whenever he's on the floor, he can compete with the best of them. As he progresses throughout the season and that's his goal, he'll get there.

How active have you been in pursuing an NBA comeback over the last years? Are you ready to explore that market next summer? I mean, will the NBA be your first priority after your contract with Barcelona expires?

It's hard to say. My priority is my family. Every summer, every contract year, I always put first what's going to be best for my family. I trust my agent for his honesty. I've never faltered on what I should do.

So far, you've seen many players who leave (Europe) and don't come back the same as they were. Right now, I'm trying to ride the wave, trying to get better, and that will open more doors for me. My focus is on my team here and now.

I always explore options, whether it's in the NBA or the EuroLeague. Those doors aren't closed, but at the same time, I'm working towards being the best version of myself.

Do you ever feel homesick?

I think I'm more European now than I am American. I've spent a lot more time in Europe than at home, especially during those last COVID seasons. I haven't been home for two years.

I stayed in Barcelona last season and last summer, I was home for two weeks. I've been overseas for almost three years straight. I obviously miss family, but we always find time to get them out here. For the most part, I try to make a home where I'm at.

If someone not watching the EuroLeague were to ask: "In which respect has Brandon Davies gotten any better or different compared to what we saw at Philadelphia or Brooklyn?" What would you answer?

Just by being a student of the game. I think that my knowledge has grown. I'm able to see things a lot differently than before. In the NBA, everything is based on athleticism, effort, and energy.

There's so much more to the game, especially tactically, here in EuroLeague. There are things that you have to think of that I had no clue about back in those years.

Like what?

Dissecting defenses. Knowing what teams are going to do, what's going to be open or not. In the younger days, you think that it doesn't matter what they are going to do. You only care about what you're going to do.

Those things seem small, but in the grand scheme of things and throughout, you notice that they can make the game slow down and help you get easier baskets.

You were a member of the Philadelphia 76ers in the early process days. From 2013 through 2015, the roster featured, among others, Alexey Shved, Tony Wroten, Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson, Malcolm Thomas, Isaiah Canaan, and JaKarr Sampson, who all played in Europe at some point. Looking back, as an outsider now, did the process succeed?

I'm definitely a big fan of Philadelphia now. They still have all my support. It's a team that gave me a chance, and I really enjoyed my time there. I learned a lot through my experience, and I wouldn't be the player I am today without going through that.

So, everything has been working out for them. I'm happy to see it. They've had a great couple of years, and I wish them nothing but the best.

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