Amir Carraway is a 25 year old 198cm forward playing his third professional season and first with the ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (Germany-ProA). He played at Chico State from 2010-2014 playing a total of 117 games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 13.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 37.4%, FT: 81.3%. He started his professional career in 2014 with SC Rasta Vechta (Germany-ProA) playing 22 games averaging 3.9ppg, 1.7rpg. Last season he played with SC Rist Wedel (Germany-ProB, starting five): 17 games: 12.5ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 83.3%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Amir welcome back to Germany. Time really flies. It seems like it was only yesterday when you were a rookie with SC Rasta Vechta. You keep coming back to Germany as you have signed with the ETB Wohnbau Baskets. What are you looking forward most to doing on the court again?
I’m excited to be back here in Essen where my last game in ProA was. In my first week being here with ETB Wohnbau Baskets we’ve already got a win and I’m looking forward to keeping that up.
You signed in mid season. How difficult was the last 9 months between the Wedel and Essen jobs? How difficult was it not losing faith and being positive about getting a new job?
I wouldn’t call it difficult at all. It’s hard to be mad when you live in California during the summertime. Anyone who follows me on Snapchat sees the same thing everyday. I get my conditioning in, I get my work in on the court, and I get in the weight room. It’s simple & repetitive but I love it. The extended time off allowed me to attend two different weddings with close friends. I got a chance to work with the NBA2K franchise on their upcoming game. I got a chance to go back to Chico State in both the summer and the fall to watch the newest players prove themselves. I finally saw my Raiders play in the Coliseum and I even made it to a Drake and Kanye concert. These are things people don’t realize we sacrifice leaving home but I was fortunate to do that and spend Thanksgiving with my family which is something I haven’t been able to do for a long time.
You had a solid season in Pro B with SC Rist Wedel. Why did it take so long to find a new job? You obviously were waiting for that perfect opportunity, but how important was it for you playing at the best possible level?
Very important. I love competing against the best. That’s why I play the game. I had an opportunity in the middle of preseason to join one of the top clubs in Poland. My father at the time had a major surgery coming up and being that I was available to take care of him I chose to. I knew I would be able to make a team by Christmas break.
You have replaced American Lakeem Jackson and are joining a 4-13 team that is in 15th place. What do you feel will you be the most vital thing that you will be able to provide for the team right away?
I’m here to add more fire power to the team. Starting with defense. Coach is confident about what I can do offensively, but it starts with defense. We have many talented players here and I feel as though I’m just the extra boost we need to get us over the top to get back to winning games.
How motivated are you to show everyone at the Pro A level that you have game after never really getting a real chance as a rookie with SC Rasta Vechta?
The motivation is definitely through the roof. It’s unfortunate the Rasta fans could only see a glimpse of my game and what I brought, but I have unfinished business in the ProA. At one point we had 7 Americans on the roster and with the import rule only allowing 3 to play at a time, I fell victim to it. My teammates definitely knew what I was capable of. I think it was something like if I played more than 15 minutes, then I scored in double figures. I’ll definitely have more opportunities to show what I’m capable of and with a great group of guys.
Besides helping the team win, what goals have you set for your own game? You are 2 years older and are back in the very competitive and highly skilled Pro A.
My primary goal is to have a good year and prove that I belong in this league. When the clock runs out I want the opponent to know I just gave them hell.
Last season you played for SC Rist Wedel (Germany-ProB) playing 17 games: 12.5ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 83.3%. How do you feel has your game developed further since your rookie season in Vechta?
I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum in terms of rookie reserve my first year to being a key guy my second. Last year Coach Claxton needed someone to come in and help move the team up from the bottom of the standings. He needed a player with leadership and that could fit to make an instant impact. Not only did we do that but we were playing our best basketball right at the end and finished a spot under playoffs. Individually, I think my versatility is my greatest strength. Before coming to SC Rist I never had to worry about initiating offense or being the team’s primary ball handler. When a few of our guards were injured, Coach Claxton again challenged me to take on some of those responsibilities and I thought I responded pretty well. It really helped expand my game to see exactly what a point guard goes through night in and night out.
The ETB Wohnbau Baskets give up 81 points per game. Do you feel as though you will be able to impact the defense with your athleticism?
Athleticism is a plus but it’s more about heart. Understanding the defensive concepts as well as your opponents tendencies is what gives you the best chance to defend. You still have to be able to communicate with your teammates and that was one of the key reasons why Coach Krisanovic brought me in.
Your rookie season obviously wasn´t easy as you got very limited minutes. What did you learn from this experience that made you stronger as a player and person?
I learned a lot my first year man. On the court Coach Arigbabu with his National team, EuroCup, and German Cup experience taught me footwork and concepts only a guy from his caliber could know which made basketball easy. Pat Elzie, also a good coach, gave me confidence and always brought out my best. I had the best veteran group I think any rookie could have. Ahmad Smith taught me P/R concepts and details. Off the court, Chase Griffin and Donald Lawson simply showed me day in and day out what it takes to be a pro with their focus, work ethic, and professionalism.
How important was it battling a guy like Vinnie Bailey every day in practice who was a rookie like you? How did the competitive spirit help your game?
We never really went against each other being that I was a guard and he was a big, but from day one when I first met him, we got in the gym together and put in the work. Before he became a starter, our unit with me, him, Kevin Smit, and Big Ollie always had produced a positive +/-. The friendship only continued after that. We kept each other mentally ready and focused. We challenge each other still to this day and hold each other to higher expectations. Coming from a DII school, there’s always a chip on our shoulder and we’re not afraid to go at anyone. He’s about to have another great season this year in Morocco.
Last season with SC Rist Wedel, you played with very talented young German Louis Olinde who moved on to Bamberg now and has a double license to play with Pro A team Baunach. How excited are you to play him again this season to see where his development is now?
Very excited. He should know that I’m coming at him. I loved playing with Lou. That was my rook. From when he left during the season to fulfill his duties with the U-18 National Team and when he returned, he really started tapping in to some of his abilities. I still don’t think he knows how far he can really take his game. The sky is the limit for him.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
MJ, Magic, Tim Duncan, Kareem (Not yet LeBron fans)
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
Right now he’s definitely in the Top 10. There’s no debate about that. He’s already the greatest SF of all time. If he wins another one this year, I think he solidifies himself in the Top 5.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
He’s Top 5 maybe even Top 3. It’s a tough position against the likes of Dirk, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and the great Tim Duncan.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
It’s definitely up there. That’s the one guy you don’t want to get going. What’s crazy to me is that in both of his career highs, he has sat out the entire fourth quarter which leaves you thinking of what could’ve happened.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
When you are averaging a triple double and leading the league in both scoring and efficiency against the best players in the world, I think so. He is this year’s MVP so far and is making a case against LeBron as #1 regardless.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Creed and Whiplash!
Thanks Amir for the chat.