One of the "Flintstones" that carried Michigan State to an NCAA title in 2000 and appeared in three straight Final Fours, Charlie Bell
arrived to Europe after going undrafted and failing in his initial attempt to stick on a NBA roster after five months with the Suns, a couple of ten day contracts with the Mavs, and a short stint in the ABA sandwiched in-between.
Bell took his goods straight to Europe two months later on that year in 2002 as a pretty complete guard to help Benetton Treviso on both ends of the court. While he did his job perfectly then, new teams brought new demands and forced him into becoming a voracious scorer to the point of being the scoring leader in the two best domestic leagues in Europe (Italy and Spain) the last couple of seasons. All in all, he has followed the trend of undersized but talented shooting guards who came to Europe to earn a living such as Alphonso Ford
(RIP), Marcus Brown
and Louis Bullock
, to name some of the most successful stories.
After his season in Treviso, Charlie a transition year in Virtus Bologna before moving on to another Italian team in Mabo Livorno for the 2003/04 campaign. Livorno was a pretty weak squad and Bell had to assume a huge offensive role. He managed to average 25.5 points, with 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.4 steals and a logical amount of 3.6 turnovers given his enormous share of the ball. Last summer, he moved to Spain, to Leche Río Breogán, definitely not a contender, but at least a candidate for the playoffs in the ACB League. It was a upgrade team-wise for Bell and he fared very well, improving his scoring to 27 points per game, with 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals and lowering his turnovers to 2.3. What's most important for Bell is the fact that his percentages improved from 42.2% (37.2% in three pointers) the year before to 47.5% from the field and 44.5% from behind the arc. More points on a better team with much better accuracy and significantly less turnovers, can you ask for anything more?
In the end, Breogán couldn't make the playoffs. Bell had some physical problems early into the season that made him struggle and seriously affected the team to the point of being in risk of being relegated to the 2nd division at one point of the year. However, a 9-2 run where Charlie averaged an awesome 32 points per game brought the calm back to the team, allowing them to finish the season in the middle part of the table. Strengths:
At this point of his career, Charlie Bell
is a great scorer. The scary part is that he seems to be improving day by day. He's an athletic player who is rather quick with the ball in his hands. It can't really be any other way considering the playing level he displays despite being only 6-3. He's not a pure shooter, as you can tell watching him release the ball (his mechanics aren't bad, but lack a certain refinement), but his jumper now enjoys excellent accuracy after working on it considerably. We have to consider that last season's 47.5% comes mostly from jumpers, and rarely comfortable static ones considering that he is usually being hounded. He enjoys great range, out to the NBA three-point line. The key part of his current game is his ability to create his own shot. Showing excellent handles and nice footwork, Bell finds a way to score almost at will in Europe. It's really hard for a defender to keep up with his first step, particularly when he changes gears or direction.
Bell has been focused on his offensive game mostly the last couple of years, but he's an able defender. Charlie has nice lateral quickness and he's a tough guy. He's a rather smart player that knows where he can be more useful. All in all, he would likely be able to adapt his game to the role his team asked him to play. Weaknesses:
It remains to be seen how well he will fare in the NBA at only 6-3. He's clearly undersized for a shooting guard and everything will be more difficult for him on both ends of the floor, playing against more athletic defenders that won't let him release his shot that easily, as well as facing bigger guys that will chase any lay-up attempt (he's not especially creative in this area). He'll also have to battle on defense against players who are a couple of inches taller than him. He could play some point guard, but he's an off-guard all the way (although he won't be the first nor the last scoring guard playing the point), as his court vision is not particularly remarkable and he doesn't show some of the natural instincts of a playmaker. He's not the type of player that tries to freeze out his teammates, but many times he overhandles the ball and delivers some wild shots. Again, we have to take into account his role being the main offensive weapon on all the teams he has played for lately. Why Sign Him?: Charlie Bell
probably deserves the risk of investing money in an undersized shooting guard. He has become a very good player in Europe and he's only 26 years old. If he manages to adapt his game to the NBA, he could be a steal for a team by providing a very nice offensive spark off the bench from day one. Besides, he's not under contract in Europe so there are no buyouts to deal with, meaning he would come cheap.
The thing is, it's not usual to see undersized shooting guards come back to the NBA once they've become successful in Europe. NBA teams are reluctant to give them good enough money compared with what they can make overseas, especially guaranteed money, fearing that they won't be nearly as effective playing in a more demanding competition physically. Super tweeners like Bell who can score from anywhere on the court and guard whomever they please usually enjoy star status in the Old Continent meaning many lucrative offers to choose from for a lot more than the NBA will be willing to offer.
Nevertheless, according to his agent Mark Bartelstein, Charlie Bell
will be in the NBA next year. Bartelstein informed DraftExpress.com that they have come to an understanding with an NBA team that Bell will be signed when it is allowed to be announced on July 22nd. According to Bartelstein, who did not want to name the NBA team Bell will sign for, the contract is two years long and is fully guaranteed. Bell came over from Spain during the Chicago pre-draft camp and held a private session with other Priority Sports clients for interested NBA teams. Afterwards he worked out for a couple of NBA teams privately and since then a deal has been struck to keep the undrafted free agent in the league for at least two seasons. Bell will not be participating in summer league.
According to our own sources in Spain, the team that Charlie Bell
will sign with could very well end up being the Milwaukee Bucks. The contract is expected to be for the minimum. Bell would be considered entering his 2nd year in the NBA on the sliding scale, because of his previous experience with the Suns and Mavericks in 2002.