Tyler Honeycutt is a 27 year old 203cm forward playing his third season with BC Khimki Moscow Region (Russia-VTB). He started his basketball career at UCLA (NCAA) and as a senior played 33 games averaging 12.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 2.8apg, 2.1bpg, FGP: 40.6%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 73.6%. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings (NBA,2rd(35) in 2011 and played two seasons with them playing 22 games while also playing in the G-League for Reno and Rio Grande. In 2013 he made the jump to Europe joining Ironi Nes-Ziona (Israel-Winner League) playing 29 games averaging 15.6ppg, Reb-2(9.1rpg), 3.8apg, Steals-3(2.1spg), 1.2bpg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 66.9%. Last season he played with Anadolu Efes Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) playing 27 games averaging 7.7ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 67.3%; In the Euroleague, he played 35 games averaging 9.2ppg, Reb-3(7.3rpg), 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 68.0%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Euroleague game against Brose Bamberg in Bamberg.
Thanks Tyler for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. You have a a 1-5 record against German teams. What memories do you have in general of playing against Brose Bamberg?
The first thing that stands out is the tough arena. The fans really support their team. It feels like a college atmosphere. They are really well coached and fight until the end. I watched the game against Barcelona. It was amazing how they came back and won.
What do you know in general about the country of Germany and what is your impression of its basketball?
German teams in general are always tough nosed. I remember playing against Munich a few years ago and those were tough games.
Your back at BC Khimki Moscow Region (Russia-VTB) for a third season. How good does it feel to be back and playing again and is it like a second home?
I would say so. Being in Russia is the longest that I have been in one place outside of California. The first two years with Khimki were tough. I didn´t really know what to expect and I had a tough coach. But this season all is well and I know what is going on. The coach has been good, and we have one practice per day. It has been an enjoyable experience for me.
The club is having solid seasons in the VTB and Euroleague, but surely still has a lot of potential. How far do you believe will the journey of the club go in both competitions?
I feel that we can take it as far as we want to. We have a special team. We still haven´t had a full team. We have had injuries the whole season. When we are complete then our potential is very high.
The club has eight new players this season. How well do you believe the talent level is this season in comparison to previous years when you were there? Do you feel like this is the best team you have been a part of there?
Yes I feel we have the most talent since I have been here. There are a lot of young guys and some experience is lacking, but in terms of athleticism and skill we are one of the best teams in Europe.
There so many veterans on the club, but also younger guys like ex Virginia(NCAA) player Anthony Gill. How much potential does he have and where do you see his journey going to?
Anthony is a great player. He can do it all on the court. He can shoot the ball at a high rate. He has been a big surprise to many teams in Europe who hadn´t seen him before. As soon he learns to find his spots on the floor, then, I think that in the next years he can be anywhere. We all tell him always to shoot the ball more especial Sergey Monya because he does pass up too many shots.
Your had a very productive Euroleague last season with Efes averaging 9.2ppg, Reb-3(7.3rpg), 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 68.0%. What do you believe was key for you having such a solid season so far and what dues did you have to pay as a Euroleague rookie last season?
Last season I got more comfortable on the court and showed that I could do more with the ball. My first year in the Euroleagie, I was just a spot shooter that sat in the corner. This season I have a lot more freedom can push the ball more and play more pick and roll. My coach told me he didn´t know that I could pass the ball so well. I want to be more of a point forward and I am happy that I have gotten the freedom to play my game.
How key was ex NBA player Derrick Brown been for you last season in terms of your game development in a new league in Turkey?
He was very big for me. He was closest to me on the team and we were roommates. I talked a lot to him and always tried to pick his brain about certain situations on the court during a game. Talking on the court was important. We showed that we had chemistry. He often found me back door and I found him a lot with the lob pass.
You battled against Darius Miller many times the last years who returned back to the NBA. What do you respect most about his game?
He is a very good player. He played the 3 and 4 with Bamberg. He shot the ball tremendously well. He was able to show his whole game there with playmaking and pick role. That helped him get back to the NBA.
Your 27 years old now and where do you see your game developing to in the next years? Have you arrived in your prime yet?
I am getting close. My downfall has been that since I left the NBA, I have injured each season. During the summer it is most important to work on your game to get better, but I couldn´t do that, because I was rehabbing. I have lost a lot of valuable time the last summers. I think that I still have a lot of potential. I want to be a more consistent shooter, be more comfortable with my playmaking and put the ball on the floor better.
You are a very versatile 203cm forward, but what do you feel is still a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed on the floor?
Bringing energy to the game is something that I feel doesn´t always get noticed. I come off the bench with the second unit and just want to always bring energy.
In your first season in Europe you played for Ironi Nes-Ziona (Israel-Winner League). What was your wake up call to European basketball where you knew that you were very far away from Sylmar, California?
We didn´t go anywhere that season and stayed in Israel. I really didn´t need any adjustment period or had any wake up call, because it was warm something I was used to from home in California. But my first season in Russia was different. The flight was a lot longer and experiencing -20 degree days was a total 360 turn for me. That was when I realized that I need tough skin to survive 10 months.
In the summer of 2014 you played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Miami Heat): 6 games: 11.8ppg, 7.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 72%. You had good stats, but returned to Europe. Was the NBA then not an option for you?
It was an option and I was pretty close to signing with Miami. I had a work out with Houston, but had hurt my elbow and I couldn´t shoot the ball well. In the end, it was between me and Tyler Johnson and they went with him.
When I say the name Danilo Barthel does he ring a bell for you?
He was your teammate both in Orlando and Las Vegas with the Miami Heat. What memories do you have of the German on the court? What conversations or funny experience do you remember having with him?
Wait let me google him. Yes now I remember him. He played very hard. I thought he was a pretty good player. He mostly kept to himself.
You played parts of two NBA seasons with the Sacramento Kings playing a total of 22 NBA games. When you look back at this time what did you cherish most about the experience?
Just getting the opportunity to be there, It was always a dream of mine to get to the NBA. In my time there I was very close to Isaiah Thomas. I was able to see the work ethic of him and he was a good example for me of how to handle one´s self the right way as a professional. He was always the first and last in the gym.
People always say reaching the NBA is all about timing and connections. What would you say is else needed to not only have had the experience, but to stay?
It all has to do with opportunity and politics. I had a lot of bad luck. The head coach who drafted me Paul Westphal got fired after having an altercation with Demarcus Cousins. The management chose Cousins over Westphal.
Was one of your most memorable games when you beat your home town team Los Angeles Lakers scoring seven points?
That game was memorable, but also the game where I had to guard Kevin Durant. I got two quick fouls as he posted up against me. My other big moment was dunking on Michael Beasley.
You played two seasons with current Boston Celtic Isaiah Thomas. He carried the team well in Boston. Do you see him being as much of an impact with the Cavs as Kyrie Irving was?
I think that he will make a big impact with the Cavs. He is more outspoken than Kyrie and he will demand more form his teammates. He is a little dude with a big heart. There is a reason why he is an allstar.
You played two years with UCLA. How did head coach Ben Howland groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He gave me experience. He was a defensive minded coach and reached three NCAA final four´s in a row. I wasn´t a main scorer there, but was a guy that just did a little bit of everything.
You came to UCLA the same time Reeves Nelson did, but you left earlier for the NBA. What do you remember in general about the battles that you had in practice with him?
He was a good kid even if many had a bad impression of him because of negative press. He was one of the most efficient shooters in college. He moved to the five in college. He was a tough kid. He was one of those guys that you never wanted to play against, but loved to have as a teammate.
Having played at UCLA what is your general take on the Ball family? Will Lonzo be the next great player and how long do you see his two brothers being in Europe?
I was optimistic at first, but now after paying more attention to their show, I have gained more respect for the family. Lavar is a smart guy that just wants to get his sons to where he wants them to be. His new league will be a league changer. He is a guy that is the first to do things that people wish they could do like coming out with his own shoe. Lonzo is a good player and just needs to develop his shot, but that will come with experience. Lonzo came from a boys game and now is playing with men. The saying is no boys allowed in the NBA as he is playing against the best every night. Lonzo will be ok. With the other two sons, he is just trying to get them to the NBA.
Who won a one on one practice you or Reeves Nelson?
It depended on how many dribbles we got. We had good battles.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA?
Chandler Parsons and Derrick Williams
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
For me Lebron is the best because the best is who can do it all.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I think towards the end of the season teammates were letting him get rebounds, but he had an amazing season being able to put up those numbers. He went down in history.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Kyle Kuzma and Donovan Mitchell is my rookie of the year.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I hope that they will get out of the first round. They got better, but not know if they have enough to compete.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
It was a good trade for both teams. The Cavs got a versatile defender in Jae Crowder and a good scoring point guard while Kyrie has more experience and is just great.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
They could, but it´s hard to do having no bench in the west. But they do have a lot of talent.
What was the last movie that you saw?
What happened to Monday.
Thanks Tyler for the chat.