When you think of the recent success of the Seoul SK Knights, who is the first player that comes to mind? While opinions vary, many would probably say the “MVP duo” of regular season MVP Kim Sun-hyung (34‧187cm) and Most Valuable Foreign Player Jamil Warney (29‧199cm). There’s a reason they’ve only played for SK in their KBL careers and have proven both their skills and popularity.
Then there’s Choi Jun-yong (29‧200.2cm), who is now playing elsewhere but made the biggest impact during the championship. Kim Sun-hyung may not be in the same league, but depending on how newcomer Oh Se-geun (36‧199.8cm) performs over the next few years, his name could also be etched in SK history.
In the midst of all this, there’s one player who shouldn’t be left out of the roster: “Young-mi” Ahn Young-jun (28‧194.1cm), who will be returning from military service next season. He’s not a flashy player, but he’s good at the grunt work of defense and hustle, and has a history of being the backbone of the Knights’ offense. He may not be an ace or a charge leader, but he’s a valuable piece of a strong team.
There’s a type of player that may seem common at first glance, but is rare. The type of player who focuses on the grunt work of defense while providing supportive fire with ball-less movement on offense is preferred by all leaders and teammates. But historically, there aren’t many of these players with starter-level skills. They’re either bench players with a similar style of play but a downgrade overall, or they specialize in one aspect of the game, either offense or defense.
In a way, they are rare. It’s not often that a player with such talent and ability is willing to sacrifice for the team and play a supporting role. This is especially true in the current era, where many players have more pride than their capabilities and want to be the center of attention. Yang Kyung-min, who was called the epitome of a 3&D player during his DB heyday, Choo Seung-gyun, a strong man who could do everything including defense, shooting, and passing, and Kang Byung-hyun, who was a blue walker but had a strong star quality, are supporting roles that are still talked about to this day.
In an atmosphere where there are so many outstanding forwards such as Song Kyo-chang, Choi Jun-yong, Yang Hong-seok, and Moon Sung-gon, Ahn Young-joon tends to be somewhat buried. While these players were the mainstays of the team and played in the spotlight early on, Ahn was relatively unnoticed in the star-studded SK team. He’s reminiscent of Choo Seung-gyun in his “IZOCHU” days.
Ahn has a style of play that many coaches would love. He has good size for his position, with a solid weight and a long wingspan of 202 centimeters, and he has good athleticism, including speed and power. With so many offensive options on the team, his man-to-man defense and high rebounding participation are significant strengths. Next season, SK will need a player like Ahn to contribute with his defense, hustle, rebounding, and activity.
SK’s main offense this season has been through a variety of options from Kim Sun-hyung and Warney. Known for their floaters, the two players shake up the defense from all sides and create secondary scores from the offshoots. Choi is a prime example. He was criticized for his lackluster performance, but he played well as a secondary striker by finding empty spaces and scoring goals.
Next season, he’ll be joined by Kim Sun-hyung, Wonie, and Oh Se-geun. We need a player to fill that role, and Ahn Young-joon’s ability to move without the ball makes him the perfect fit. While Choi Boo-Kyung’s receiving options are limited to the area around the goal, Ahn can play all-around, both inside and outside the box. With his good mobility, he is a good finisher and trailer on the inside, and his outside shot from a kick-out pass is also excellent.
He’s a great partner for the ace, as he can work diligently in and out of the paint and take the offensive load off of him in a variety of ways. But Ahn isn’t just a receiver. His game is very much centered around simpler plays that fit the team’s offense, so he has an even mix of two-man games, step-backs, pull-up jumpers, and mid-range ability.
He’s basically a distributor, so he’s willing to step up and spearhead the offense when needed. While he’s impeccable at the 3, there are some who say that Choi’s absence could be felt at the 2. Although he is a balanced player in the offense, he is unproven in the areas of secondary reading and passing. He also lacks experience in those plays.먹튀검증
However, this year, SK’s passing game worked well enough without Choi, and the main players such as Kim Sun-hyung and Oh Se-geun are very seasoned and experienced veterans. Even if Koo Tae-yeo doesn’t participate in the secondary leading role, the experienced Oh Se-geun can fill in the gaps. The recent trend in basketball is that the front line is no longer responsible for leading the team as it was in the past. It can be done from the back line or shared by all players.
Furthermore, Ahn Young-joon has been recognized for his BQ since his rookie year, so he should be able to play a solid linker role. In some ways, the departure of Choi Jun-yong could be an opportunity for Ahn. After all, he has a lot of work to do, so he needs to take on more roles and “grow into a flounder, not just a snapper”. It will be interesting to see if Ahn Young-joon, a former housekeeper, can return with a more seasoned look and become the mainstay of the SK Knights.