Euroleague 2017-2018 Season Preview
Konstantinos Panas starts the analysis of Euroleague teams ahead of the 2017 -2018 Season.
A team that surprised the whole Europe two years ago entering the Final Four and almost becoming finalists. A team who played a satisfying basketball last year. But also a team that will be re-created again this time with a rookie head coach, Pablo Prigioni. Everybody knew he was going to become a head coach one day and all I can say is that I am sure his Baskonia will have the elements he had in his game. Mental toughness; pressure; a lot of pick-n-roll on a quick tempo.
Even though they lost both Larkin and James in two years; the most explosive guards in this league; they manage to sign suitable replacements.
Prigioni brought Granger as his primary creator in the point guard position. One of the best guards for sure. I am pretty enthusiastic about this move and think Granger will be able to transform his game to the next level with Prigioni coaching him. An offensive oriented point guard who can work as a facilitator. He is a terrific athlete with great body balance. Defensively he is excellent on-ball defender with the ability to apply pressure on his opponent. He has a very explosive first step which makes him tough to guard off the dribble.
Then is Marcelo Huertas who returns from the NBA to his favorite team. The Brazilian mastermind is one of the pure playmakers this league. A fantastic passer overall especially in pick-n-roll situations. He was always a very intelligent player who will try to beat his man off picks or facilitate to the wings or his big men.
And there is Luca Vilodza who I believe he can become a fan favorite. A point guard with great size who plays taller than he looks. He can also play the facilitator role. He is an excellent defender on and off the ball. I like his ball handling; He is a better shooter off the dribble than from the spot. I love watching his passing off pick-n-roll situations. I am sure he would put a lot of competition to Campazzo as a starting PG in Argentina.
So you can see Prigioni is relying on three North American point guards…
Then is still Rodrigue Beaubois. The French guard who had a solid season last year. We ‘ve known that he is an elite scorer and he can kill any defense with his skills. Great shooter off the dribble who can drive and make a play going towards the basket.
Jordan McRae is the new signing. He is a player with a large size for the average European wing. He is versatile and can play multiple positions. He likes to work as an initiator and run the pick-n-roll. He has some nice passing abilities and good leaper overall. He uses his size on both ends of the floor.
The “3” spot
After Adam Hanga left Baskonia is said to be searching for his replacement in North America. Patricio Garino could be that man.
In the team already there is Janis Timma, an incredible athlete from Latvia. A guy who had great seasons with Zenit. He can also play the initiator role. He is a good ball handler with the possibility of running the pick-n-roll. He has nice court vision for his size. He is a legit post up threat; he is a good defender overall, and of course, his biggest strength is he can shoot the threes with range. That’s what Prigioni would like from his wing players. Timma will also get some minutes in the “4” spot in small ball lineups.
Tadas Sedekerskis is the next big thing for Baskonia. An elite athlete at age 19 who can play both the forward positions. He has great size and length. A player who knows how to move well without the ball. Has tremendous motor for a European forward and it’s a great leaper overall. He can pass the ball, But he will need to improve his shooting if he wants to turn his game to the next level. Great ball handler who can attack the close outs on a constant basis.
As we said Timma; Sedekerskis and even the next forward might give some minutes on the “4” spot and Voigtmann of course. Tornki Senghelia captures this place of the primary power forward for Prigioni. If he healthy he is in the top-5 in his position. A solid post player with NBA size and elite frame. He is great defender both on the low block and as a rim protector, amazing footwork for his waist.
Then there is Ilimane Diop; Voigtman and Poirier. Diop has the quick feet; Voigtman has the shooting and Poirier who is an athletic seven-footer with a nice mid-range game.
I guess the only problem would be the power forward spot if Shengelia gets injured.
After a terrible season last year, the Israeli team is looking to rebuild itself back to its former glory. The club decided to rebuild the entire team.
Neven Spahija who was an assistant coach for Atlanta Hawks returns to Europe and seems like the best fit for the fortune of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
I love how Spahija settled the roles in this team. He has two leading playmakers on spot “1” and then many great shooters from the wings and the “4” and “5” spot.
Norris Cole is the biggest name of all the signings. The former NBA champion has a nice size and excellent speed. He is a very competitive defender, and I am sure he could be in the top-5 stealers in the league this year and very smart when it comes to pick-n-roll decisions.
Pierre Jackson is an extremely quick streaky shooter & excellent finisher with both hands which is good at facilitating mostly through drive and dish situations.
Spahija signed many shooters to help compliment Cole and Jackson.
John DiBartolomeo; Michael Roll; Deandre Kane; Deshaun Thomas; Jonah Bolden; Jake Cohen and even Yovel Zoosman.
DiBartolomeo was the MVP of the Israeli league, measures at 6 feet and even though his size could be ideal for a point guard he skills set is mostly of a wing player. He has a great touch, and he can score both as a spot shooter or off the dribble.
Same as Kane who is a great scorer overall, also a terrific shooter who will never hesitate even under pressure. His mechanics are great.
There is a question about the “3” spot though many players can play in that position.
Kane measured 6’5’’ mostly plays at the at wing, so he can play as a small forward if needed. Michael Roll can play both the shooting guard and small forward position. He is a sharpshooter. One of the best in Europe for sure. He can also run the pick-n-roll pretty well and work as a facilitator. We have seen Zoosman play as a small forward with the Israeli national team who were finalists against Greece this year. Deshaun Thomas can play as a small forward and of course, is the rebounding machine Karam Mashour.
From what I see Maccabi will give a big emphasis in spacing. That’s why they will get at least two or three-floor spacers next to Jackson or Cole just to help them penetrate and give them the spacing they need for that occasions.
Jonah Bolden; The Australian big man could have a great rookie season. His size is terrific measured at 6’10’’.His footwork for that height is superb. He can shoot the ball quite exceptionally from the perimeter. He is a fantastic rebounder, and of course, he can protect the rim quite well. His motor is unbelievable, and I love how he reacts on attacking the rim. The Maccabi fans are going to love him.
Deshaun Thomas will give some minutes on the “4” spot in small ball lineups. His two-way ability in the offense will help him on that.
There is also Jake Cohen who returned to the team. A seven footer who can play both the “4” and the “5” spot. He is a great shooter who can post up and grab rebounds. And even though he looks slim due to the average frame he shows some “refuse to lose” spirit. Itay Segev is a seven-footer completely different to Cohen though he likes to attack near the lane.
And last is Alex Tyus who returned to Maccabi once again. The fan favorite would like to get crowned champion with this team once more like in 2014. Everybody knows what he is capable of. One of the best rim protectors and best divers in the pick-n-roll situation. His leaping ability remains excellent.
Unicaja Malaga returns to Euroleague after claiming the Eurocup last season. A new season and new goals for the promising squad of Joan Plaza.
Many new faces this season but still it would be tough for anyone to escape from Jose Maria Martin Arena.
Joan Plaza and his Malaga team have uncharismatic style from most Spanish and ACB Teams. They had the lowest pace on offense last season in the ACB. But with players like McCallum or Nedovic – both streaky shooters – coach might like to run a bit more on the offensive end.
Ray McCallum would be the leading man at the point guard position for Plaza. He is an ultimate threat in transition offense; extremely quick feet and has the potential to become a very efficient defender.
Alberto Diaz who was Finals’4 MVP on Eurocup will get some minutes as a facilitator. A better facilitator than McCallum on half court and a better defender overall. Diaz progressed as a shooter this year and showed some clutch shots when was needed.
Nemanja Nedovi, the explosive guard out of Serbia, is getting his second opportunity in Euroleague this season. He is a great threat as a slasher due to his explosive first step and finishing abilities.
And of course, there is Salin and Milosavljevic who both like to work as close out threats and next to the primary ball handlers. They are both good at getting space out of screens and have steady feet ready to attack or shoot.
The “3” spot
Like last year Diez and Waczynski shared the load at small forward. Diez is an active athlete who is very competitive on the defensive, and dangerous spot shooter shooting almost 47% percent from behind the arc in Eurocup.
Jeff Brooks is back for another year with Malaga. The talented Power forward showed some clutch moments last year. A great intangibles guy. He can also post up regularly and provides He is good at protecting the rim though.
Next to him is another excellent shooter, Carlos Suarez. The Spanish forward brings the veteran leadership to his team; a glue guy who holds his team together.
James Augustine who landed from CSKA. The talented forward-center is a great post up player who can also finish very well off the pick-n-roll.
Dejan Musli is a solid seven footer. A classic pivot with nice passing skills. Even though he is not the fastest player in the world, he uses his body very well to protect his position in the low post.
Giorgi Shermadini who had a fantastic year with Andorra. The seven-footer out of Georgia progressed as a finisher on the low block. It’s a great defender on the low post and is very quick for his size.
Coach Sfairopoulos decided to part ways with all the foreign players all except center Milutinov. The Club made some great signings to help alleviate the problems from last season adding more depth to the team.
Mantzaris had agreed on a new three-year agreement with the club as starting point guard. Mantzaris is one of the best facilitator point guards in Europe. His quarterback skills are brilliant, and he advanced as a clutch shooter.
Next to him is Brian Roberts. A scoring point guard who spent most of his time in the NBA but has Euroleague experience as well. He can score in many different varieties.
Janis Strelnieks landed from Bamberg. He is a very experienced guard who can play both the “1” and “2” spot. He is known for his abilities as a shooter. He is also good perimeter defender
And of course Spanoulis, the leader of this team. No need to say his veteran leadership is bringing success to the club since the day he arrived in Piraeus.
The “3” spot
This position is Olympiacos best and deepest. Hollis Thompson landed to Europe from the NBA and had the potential to a top shooter and defender for the club. Since Papapetrou and Papanikolaou are streaky shooters; a guy like Thompson can bring stability in that area and of course a reliable name due to his NBA experience.
Papanicolaou surely looks like a different player since he arrived back here. He is mostly known for his defensive focus and impact in this Olympiacos defense. For me, he is in the top-5 perimeter and not only defenders in Euroleague. He is very athletic and might be one of the best offensive rebounders in the small forward in the Euroleague.
Papapetrou from the other hand works mostly on the perimeter and in the low post. He is a physical wing player, who provides toughness to the Olympiacos front line.
Here are my only questions. Coach Sfairopoulos will have a tough decision to decided which young player will get the majority of the minutes as a back up at the power forward, Bogris or Agravanis.
Printezis was too tired playing in the spot almost alone last year, but he was superb having the best season of his career.
Kim Tillie from the other hand is a blue collar type of player who sacrifices his everything for the teams. He is solid on defense and in rebounding, but his perimeter game is average. But surely he is smart; I love how he works without the ball, and I am sure he will be able to give Printezis more rest this season.
Milutinov will be Sfairopoulos leading man on the “5” spot. He finished exceptionally well, and I am sure he will play in the NBA next season if he is healthy. The seven-footer out of Serbia has swift feet; it’s a great finisher on the pick-n-roll situations, and he progressed as a finisher and passer in the low post. He is firm on defending the lane both in the low post or protecting the rim.
Jamel Mclean landed from Armani. He is known for his dynamic game near the rim. He is an excellent rebounder, and he can do a little bit of everything on the offensive end, though he struggles in the defensive area.
And of course, Giorgos Bogris who was magnificent last year. H He is excellent making space for himself and finishing near the rim. He progressed his mid-range game also.
Coach Xavi Pasqual enters his second year with Panathinaikos with the hope the greens can overcome their final four droughts.
Mike James and Giannis Bourousis left, but the Greeks were able to sign seven players!
Surely the Spanish coach is a fan of the Read & React offense. He likes to give freedom to his players and doesn’t play so many set plays. He likes patient but fast-paced style basketball.
Nick Calathes is the leading man for Xavi Pasqual. His Admiral. He is one of the best point guards in the league. Great as facilitator; fantastic perimeter defender and a solid rebounder at times. He controls the pace of the offense pretty well, and he likes to run in the open floor. He s surely one of the fastest point guards in Europe in that area.
Next to him would be Lukas Lekavicius. An offensive oriented point guard who works mostly using picks. He isn’t such a good penetrator by himself, but he is solid hitting the left side when he gets a pick with a good angle. He uses floaters and he can even score through contact.
Nikos Pappas could be the go to guy or claim Mike Jame’s spot who left the team. The Greek guard showed some clutch played versus Olympiacos in the Greek finals last season, but he needs to improve his consistency. He is the best slasher in this team, and he progressed as a shooter of the dribble. His biggest improvement was the perimeter defense and what gave him more playing time.
Marcus Denmon for many is an unknown player, but the draftee of San Antonio has the tools to make a great rookie year. He is outstanding offensive player overall. He can score as a spot shooter and even off the dribble pretty well. He can play a useful role as a facilitator too, but his passing isn’t his biggest weapon even though he raised his numbers in Turkey this year. Surely his greatest asset is the shooting.
The “3” spot
KC Rivers who can play as a shooting guard as well renewed his contract and will fire his bullets in OAKA for three more years. Everybody knows how good Rivers can be coming off screens. He is a terrific shooter and most important he showed some clutch when it comes to late game decisions. The main thing is that he can defend the perimeter well also.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo the elder brother of Giannis landed from Spain where he had a terrific year. He advanced his ball handling, and he remained that “monster” of energy and high motor. He can play both the “3” and the “4” spot. In my eyes, he is the only true defensive stopper on that team. He is a terrific rebounder who can finish well at the rim or in the transition offense. His physical tools are exceptional, but he needs to improve in shooting.
And of course is Matt Lojeski. The swingman out of Olympiacos who had four solid years with the team out of Piraeus arrived at OAKA. He is one of the best shooters we have in the league, and I am sure they will make a great duo with Rivers if he stays healthy.
Chris Singleton and Kenny Gabriel will claim the “4” spot this season with the promising Dinos Mitoglou who might get some minutes there too.
Singleton officially belongs as one of the best Power Forwards in the league. His shooting stroke is excellent. He is long and athletic. He can drive or shoot from mid-range. He is a great defender overall, and there are many things he can do on the court.
Gabriel is an active stretch-4 who can make a play above the rim. He is quick on the ball defender who can apply enormous pressure.
And then it’s Ian Vougioukas who landed from Russia. The seven footer out of Greece who is serious post threat with solid mid range game, but he suffers on pick-n-roll and posts defense.
James Gist will earn a lot of minutes in spot “5” this year. And of course is Zach Auguste who is a very athletic and long big man. He is a great finisher through pick-n-roll but needs to become a more consistent defender.
Mitoglou can play both the “4” and the “5” spot. He has a solid shooting form that comes along with a great frame.
Life after Sergi Llull season ending will be hard for Real Madrid. Luka Doncic and company will have to make up for the absence of Llull.
Madrid lost many things when Llull went down with his injury but even despite the loss, Madrid is a final four favorite.
All the lights are on Luka Doncic, the potential #1 pick in next years NBA Draft. The Slovenian point guard is the ultimate pick-n-roll weapon; Solid physical tools combined with an extremely athletic package for his age and a great feel for the game. He has excellent passing skills and able to make a variety of passes. What I love already is Doncic clutch ability. He was only 17 when he was able to win games for Madrid with buzzer beaters or assists. His defensive skills are also pretty good. He loves to play physical defense, and due to his size and wingspan, he puts a lot of pressure on the ball handler.
Facundo Campazzo returned to Madrid more mature than ever. The “shorty” had two fantastic years with Murcia and now is ready for the new Euroleague experience. He is very quick and agile and has a great court vision combines with nice footwork that helps him become competitive on defense. He is an incredible playmaker in the half court, and he can find the open man very well on pick-n-roll and drive and dish situations. He also offers a very nice touch from the perimeter and hustle on defense.
Fabien Causuer arrived from Bamberg where he had a great season. He returns to Spain as a leading guard and ready to become Madrid’s starting sg. He is tough on defense, and that’s his primary asset. His solid frame and good footwork also help him against taller opponents on the low block. He can shoot well from the spot and create his shot
I assume Fernandez; Caroll and even Yusta might get minutes on the spot “2” this year.
Santiago Yusta it’s the next generation small forward out of Spain. He kinds of reminds me of a young Victor Claver or Rudy Fernandez. Able to make the three consistently and also able to run the floor pretty well. His footwork is already at an exceptional level, and the fact he can defend several spots on the floor makes him a unique weapon to my eyes.
The “3” spot
Here there is a lot of competition since there is Fernandez; Maciulis; Taylor; Yusta and even Dino Radoncic.
The Lithuanian bull is a guy who can also play in the “4” spot in small ball lineups. He is very tough; He is excellent at attacking from the low post and still hit the three pointers on a constant basis.
Everybody knows what Fernandez is capable of and the type of player he is. Injuries the past couple season has made it difficult for Rudy to find his best shape.
Here the Spanish team made only one signing Ogjnen Kuzmic from Crvena.
Randolph; Reyes and Thompkins are the ones to play in the “4” spot most of the time. Is Randolph surely the best power forward in the league nowadays right? Not many would disagree. He is long enough to play as a center. He is extremely quick for a seven footer. He can shoot off the dribble; as a spot; at the low block; in the transition or even attacking the basket.
Felipe Reyes brings the veteran leadership off the bench.
Trey Thompkins is likely going to get a lot of minutes this year, and his role would be much more of the backup for Randolph. An excellent rebounder who can stretch the floor like no one else.
Gustavo Ayon had another solid season for Madrid. The leading man for Lasso has a strong presence in the low block and brings many intangibles. A player who goes aggressive on the boards and is strong on both pick-n-roll offense and defense.
And of course, there is Kuzmic who had a fantastic year with Crvena Zvezda. A quick seven footer; who recorded many double-doubles this past year. Great rebounder who has rim protector instincts. Progressed as a finisher on the low block this year. Very good on finishing plays through pick-n-roll or even second chance points from offensive boards.
Valencia returns to Euroleague as Spanish champions being the 4th team who will represent Spain in Euroleague this year. Very strong team with a solid base and very quick pace on their offense.
They did not make many moves. Certainly, they were able to keep some very important players and also sign some decent ones.
Antoine Diot and Guilleme Vives would be the ones to claim the point guard spot. Both good facilitators with quarterback skills. Especially Diot is a very underestimated point guard and he should definitely belong to a franchise club.. He progressed as a shooter off the dribble and he is going to make an impact on his team pressure. One of the best perimeter defenders I have ever seen. Hustle.
Vives is exactly the same type but not that ready for the Euroleague level as Diot is. A very good perimeter defender with great size and hands for the point guard position. Able to hit the three and still drive to the lane. He is a good finisher even with contact.
Valencia signed Eric Green. Green arrived from Olympiacos where he showed some clutch moments last year especially on the semi-final versus CSKA. A great shooter off the dribble with decent ball handling.
And of course, there is Sato who can play both the “3” and the “2” spot. The veteran out of Central Africa remains a great perimeter defender and a good shooter from beyond the arc.
Of course, Valencia is looking to produce players from young ages that’s why players like Rico and Abalde might get their chance this year. Still there is Rafa Martinez.
The “3” Spot
San Emeterio returns to Euroleague to show everyone he remains one of the best small forwards this league has ever seen. An amazing shooter from beyond the arc; surely the pure captain for this team. A great slasher as well.
And next to him is Joan Sastre. Sastre progressed a lot this year. He is a 3&D forward; very good shooter from the wings with a nice touch and quick release. Good footwork; good lateral quickness.
And as we said there is still Sato.
Here is where Valencia has all the big names at. Will Thomas who previously played in Euroleague with Unicaja returns this time with Valencia. A southpaw with a nice release who can still post up and add some explosiveness around the rim. He is a threat for Valencia’s transition this year. A great finisher around the rim who is not afraid of contact.
Aaron Doornekamp an amazing shooter arrived for Tenerife. A guy who can play both the forward positions. A guy who can still post up and can hit it off the dribble and as a spot regularly. Doornekamp can become the stretch-4 this team needs and will hit the threes most of the time. He is a good defender overall but he will struggle against taller and quicker opponents than him.
And then there is Latavious Williams who has a great season with Unics. A terrific pick-n-roll finisher both down the lane and over the rim. He is one of the best divers in this league and he gets most of his points mostly from catch ‘n finish situations. A solid rebounder also and a really good defender on the pick-n-roll. Long strides. Though he struggles on defending the low block.
Of course there is Tibor Pleis who arrived from Galata. The German seven footer who is a great low post player who is working very well off the short roll both facilitating or hitting it from mid-range.
And Boban Dubljevic one of the reasons to watch the “bats” this year. The forward-center out of Montenegro was a pure magic last year. A two-way big man with amazing low post moves. He knows exactly how to lock his defender on the low post. An amazing shooter also.
Zalgiris was the most fun to watch team last year and surprised many with their strong play. Sarunas Jasikevicius created a unit with a low budget that played tough and was a big headache for almost everyone they faced. Fast pace; quick movement; great set plays and of course a lot of cooperation on the defensive end.
This year they managed to sign many new players. They are a lot more athletic, and I feel like Saras is likely going to let his team run a bit more this year.
Like last year, Zalgiris will have at least two primary ball handlers. The team managed to keep Kevin Pangos and also sign the very promising Micic and Dee Bost.
Pangos was one of the favorites for Jasikevicius. A great pick-n-roll player who can either facilitate or shoot from the perimeter. A very agile and quick player with a great feel for the game.
Dee Bost is a very athletic point guard for his size. He likes to work mainly with the ball in his hand. He is very quick and a threat in transition offense. He can attack the lane and create him a shot off the dribble both from mid-range and behind the arc. He is a better perimeter defender than Pangos.
And then is Micic who had a solid year in Turkey. He has all the size and length to complete the other two point guards. He is a good facilitator in the half court. He can run the pick-n-roll mostly working for his teammates, but he progressed as a shooter off the dribble.
Then is Arturas Milaknis one of the best shooters in this league. Sharp Shooter. Jasikevicius had many plays exactly for him.
Zalgiris also has Valinskas and Varnas on their producing goals as they both look promising.
The “3” spot
Here is still Ulanovas. One of the most promising players of Zalgiris. A potent finisher near the rim. I feel he is the next to leave Zalgiris next year after Lekavicius. He is a great defender on and off the ball. Loves to get physical.
And the new signing who is Axel Toupane. The French forward is a very versatile and athletic player who will be a threat on transition offense. He is quick, and he improved as a ball handler and shooter in his time in the NBA.
Paulius Jankunas a genuine leader of this team and one of the most underestimated power forwards of our era. He is an all around player; He is solid all around low post player. A terrific rebounder. He can also stretch the floor.
Next to him is Aaron White who landed from Zenit. A dynamic power forward who is very long and athletic. He can finish plays at the rim with ease. Great leaper and rebounder. He likes to shoot the ball from long distance and mid-range. White finishes most of his plays around and near the lane.
Antanas Kavaliauskas is still there. The mighty Lithuanian is a very active center and a great finisher near the rim. Not anything spectacular but a blue collar guy with intangibles. He gives his soul for Jasikevicius and Zalgiris.
And of course, there is Brandon White. A dynamic center with a wing skillset. Very athletic player with great leaping ability. I love the timing. Has a very strong frame and is very hard to back down in the low block. He can shoot from mid-range or go all the way to the basket. Mostly he likes to play back to the basket where he has some nice moves.
Masiulis and Sajus might get some minutes also