Freddie Gillespie joined Bayern Munich on a two-year deal and he can become an important part of the team’s plan in the upcoming season. In Gillespie, Bayern is receiving a player with freakish athleticism and great length at 6’09 (2.06 m).
After spending time developing in the G League with Memphis Hustle the last two seasons, the Baylor product could shine in the EuroLeague environment as a mobile big with great feel for the game around the rim.
Gillespie made a total of 29 appearances in the NBA, 20 of them in his first professional season during 2020/2021 for the Toronto Raptors. On average, he spent around 18 minutes on the court with a 50 percent shot percentage and almost five rebounds per.
His strengths will fit right in Bayern’s head coach game plan next season.
Despite being considered kind of undersized for a center in the NBA, Gillespie showcased his ability to rebound the ball and make a difference around the rim. His length helps him reach the ball in the toughest situation, while his ability to have a quick second jump makes him capable of offsetting the opponent.
Gillespie has showed his high motor since his college days. As a sophomore in the Third Division at Carleton, Gillespie broke out in a sense, posting averages of 10.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over 27 games (23 starts).
The aggressive way he played earned him a chance to transfer to a Division I college in Baylor. After staying out for a season, the big man shined as a starting center in Baylor during the 2019-2020 NCAA season that was disrupted by COVID.
He averaged 9.6 points and 9.0 rebounds over 30 games for a Baylor team that went 26-4 before the season ended abruptly. In the process, Gillespie earned Second Team All-Big-12, All-Big-12 Defensive Team and Big 12 Most Improved Player honors as a senior.
Bayern was one of the worst teams in rebounding the ball last season, so Gillespie will help the team address a vital need that hurt the Bavarians, especially in the EuroLeague. Gillespie’s ability to secure those 50-50 balls is well documented during the last two seasons.
The second-strongest trait in Gillespie’s game is his ability to offer rim protection and stop his opponents from making easy buckets. His athleticism helps him send shots away, while his recovery after his first jump seem to be also a strong part of what he can do under the rim.
Standing at 6’9( 2.06 m) with a wingspan of 7’6 (2.29 m), the Baylor product will excel in the EuroLeague as a shot-blocker. At the 2020-21 NBA G League Bubble, which was held at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, FL, Gillespie appeared in all 15 games and dominated under the basket.
The 25-year-old posted averages of 10.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while appearing in just under 28 minutes per contest. He averaged 1.0 blocks per game in the 29 NBA contest he appeared.
His lateral quickness and ability to position himself also stands out in Gillespie’s play, while his timing on the jump is impeccable. Defensively, the former Raptors’ big man will be a great addition for Bayern Munich.
Bayern was Top-5 in points allowed last season in EuroLeague with 74.8 per contest. This number could be enhanced with Gillespie under the rim.
Gillespie will be a strong presence in the defensive end, but his offensive play is kind of limited so far to shots around the paint area. Gillespie hasn’t shown any ability to shoot the ball from range, as he had only one make in six three-point attempts in the G League.
However, his strong suit has always been taking position under the basket to receive a pass from the playmaker. He shot 57 percent from the field in 103 field goal attempts through 12 games in the G League.
In his 29 appearances in the NBA with the Raptors and the Magic, the Minnesota-born big man shot exactly 50 percent from the field, again taking advantage of his motor and his athleticism around the rim.
Gillespie is not exactly great at putting the ball on the floor, especially when he’s starting to dribble from the perimeter. However, he will every time provide an option to his playmakers with his ability to position himself in the right places around the basket.
The big man can make a huge impact in the game as it is, however, adding more layers to his offense repertoire will go a long way to becoming one of the best bigs in the EuroLeague the next two seasons.
Expanding his ability in offense will also help him to make a potential return to the NBA as a role player. However, he is good at diving to the basket after the screen in the pick & roll action, so he can end up offering several high-flying highlights in the offensive end.
Bayern Munich addressed a huge need with the signing of Gillespie, and they added more length to an already “big” squad with the likes Vladimir Lucic, Nick Weiler-Babb, Augustine Rubit and Paul Zipser standing out with their size and versatility.
Bayern will hope to continue growing in the EuroLeague after two consecutive appearances in the postseason. Despite the disappointing defeat in the German BBL finals, Bayern kept most of the 2021-22 core and they hope to remain healthy and have even more success in the upcoming season.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how Andrea Trinchieri and Bayern will capitalize on Gillespie strong traits and improve his play in the process,