Loaned from CSKA to Khimki, Ponkrashov is finally finding regular playing time to display his game at a high level. Indeed, Khimki is a very strong squad, head-and-shoulders the second best team in the powerful Russian League, tied with Pamesa Valencia leading their ULEB Cup group, and enjoying a deep and talented roster (with some familiar names for the American fan such as Maciej Lampe
, Daniel Ewing
or Pat Burke
). Its not like Anton has taken a huge step back in terms of the competitiveness he faces.
Precisely this past week, Ponkrashov faced the team that owns his rights, CSKA, delivering 17 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists that left Khimki on the verge of stunning the Russian powerhouse. Its not his most typical performance, as Anton is more of a pass-first point guard. Averaging 4.4 assists per game between the Russian Superleague and the ULEB Cup, hes a guy with notable ability to find the open man, effective in the pick and roll, prolific with kick-out passes, and who takes advantage of his size to better see the court and execute his passes over his rivals.2910[c]Photo: Khimki[/c]
At 6-7 and strongly built, hes obviously not an orthodox playmaker. On the other hand, hes not very athletic, particularly in terms of his leaping ability (highly underwhelming). Still, he can move his feet pretty fast, and he can even challenge smaller guards on defense, showing nice lateral quickness.
Back to the offense, one of the reasons why Ponkrashov is not a very prolific scorer is the fact that hes extremely left-handed when it comes to putting the ball in the net. When he goes right, he almost always passes the ball, even forcing the delivery, unless hes completely open. Everybody knows it, and hes constantly invited by his defenders to attack with his off hand. Actually, in the game against CSKA he executed a successful slashing move from the right side, took the steps for a wide open layup and, when it came to release the ball, he awkwardly used his left hand despite having last touched the floor with his left foot and having his right knee elevated.
In the end, many of his points come off jumpers that he can take off the dribble. Hes coming up inconsistent shooting from the three-point line, but looks pretty reliable from mid-range distances.
Although generally displaying a nice level this season, Ponkrashov still shows up tentative at times. He doesnt completely trust his scoring skills, which might affect to some degree the aggressiveness he displays running the offense, and therefore, his effectiveness there. Anyway, its just a matter of gaining maturity, confidence and experience.