Producing a league power index at the start of the season, any league, is always a difficult task – teams rebuild themselves, change coaches and play methods and it is challenging to predict at the end of September what is supposed to happen somewhere in mid-May. This year, in the shadow of the Corona plague – this task becomes almost impossible because into another equation has disappeared, which at the moment it is too early to know what its impact will be on the clubs, the factory and in general international sports in the coming year.
- Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague – live broadcasts on the sports channel
Still, the Euroleague is the most significant basketball enterprise we have in Europe, and eighteen teams have done the maximum possible within the minimum means to lift as strong staffs as possible, and for them to prepare for the season, as if it were a regular season. So if the clubs are trying to broadcast business as usual, we too will flow with them and try to give a certain measure to the strength of the teams, just before the jump ball.
For the purpose of comparison, I decided to divide the Euroleague teams into 4 levels, each level should symbolize the place of the team, depending on the rest of the field and the strength of the other levels. Part A: Levels 3 and 4.
The fourth tier – “know our place, we will not pretend to be something we are not”
Teams – Alba Berlin, Bayern Munich, Willerbahn, Red Star Belgrade
Despite one of the greatest seasons in its history in the local arena, the German doubles player (who does not hold a guaranteed contract in the Euroleague) is not expected to threaten the greatness of the factory. Aito’s team has lost two significant players in the form of Martin Hermanson and Rokas Gidreitis, and will continue to be based on the two anchors who linked their fate with the club, Luke Sikma and Peyton Reason.
Purchasing, as is Alba’s habit, is limited, according to the team’s policy from Berlin, which gives opportunities in the local and European arena to players who have grown up at the club. Yes, let’s keep an eye on the substitutes’ guards at Alba – it is very clear to him that he came from Bayern, Jonas Matisk, because if next year Tamir Blatt does fulfill his contract and comes to Germany, one of the two will not be able to continue alongside him.
The Bavarian team failed last season. Diligent failure, at all levels. Accordingly – the team has undergone a major change starting from the coaching position. Andrea Trinkieri, after a fairly successful tenure in the Belgrade partisan and very good days in Germany as a coach in Bamberg, returns to the Euroleague with the biggest club currently in German basketball. It’s just that unlike the last two years, when the “guns” landed in Iran in the form of Derek Williams and Greg Monroe, the Bavarians went for a more modest purchase this year, in parallel with the loss of Captain Danilo in Artel.
And really looking at the new squad built at Bayern, the real lack of a real 4 is noticeable – it has 3 chins (Jajuan Johnson, Malcolm Thomas and Jaylen Reynolds) and two excellent players at 3 (Lucic and Zipser). This means that Trineikry will have to improvise, and not just there. Also in one position, with Wade Baldwin disappointed in the Olympiacos, TJ Bray whose Euroleague debut season went awry due to injuries, and Jean-Marc Sishko the young Slovenian, someone will have to become the landlord so Bayern do not become irrelevant this season as well. Bottom line – mediocre staff, quite a few structural flaws – see you in 2021/22.
The French re-baptism of fire in the Euroleague was surprising. A team that seemed at the beginning of last season to be the weakest in the factory, in the gap, provided quite a few beautiful moments, especially in “Astrobel” (ask Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Basconia, CSKA and Milan). The season is built deeper, with a little more firepower and talent In the form of Norris Cole and Elric Freeman, and generally with more options for her coaching staff.
By the way, when I say coaching staff – I mean it. TJ Parker (Tony’s brother, the owner) has been named head coach, but alongside him, Frederick Photo has been named “co-coach.” In fact Tony Parker is trying out the NBA model on his team’s coaching staff in France, and along the way giving help to his inexperienced brother on the lines, with Photo having served for the past five years as Paris LeBlou coach. Optimistic forecast – tenth place. Realistic – no more than fourteenth place
The Red Star Belgrade
For the first time in the present analysis we will put into the picture the corona plague and the uncertainty regarding the crowd on the pitches. When you come to play in Belgrade, you face not only the top five on the pitch, but also thousands of Serbian fans in the stands. Sometimes, those same fans made the difference for completely mediocre teams and gave them the bounce to get wins, but this year – not sure the push will be there, certainly not in the numbers we were used to in the past.
At the staff level – back line of the Israeli Ex League, Jordan Lloyd (Eilat) and Corey Walden (Holon). On these two, the team from Belgrade will rise and fall. On them, and on the authoritative figure of the club legend, Sasha Obradovich who received the reins. The local produce is not overly promising, and the front line will be based on Kozmich and Emanuel Terry, whose debut will wait for his recovery from Corona. Wish – to see the pioneer full, at least once this season. Everything else is a bonus.
Third tier – “In a good season, we will reach eighth place”
Groups – Basconia, Zalgiris Kaunas, Zenit St. Petersburg, Olympiacos
Spanish Champion. Yes, the Spanish champions are currently at the lowest level of the four Spanish teams in the Euroleague. The team from Vitoria “took advantage” of the Corona plague to make a horrible season successful with a championship at the last second, while at the same time providing the perfect farewell to the club’s biggest star in recent years – Toko Shangalya. Given the absence of the Georgian, the weight shifts to the shoulders of the foreign players – Luca Villodesa and Priya Henry, who at least at the beginning of the season in the Spanish league, very quickly adopted their new role in Dusko Ivanovic’s lineup.
Basconia is one of those groups where gambling is always confusing – when you tend not to count it, it’s surprising. And when its roster looks impressive, it falls apart in the middle of the season. This year it comes somewhere in the middle, with a young squad (only Zoran Dragic over 30), and a lot of players looking to make another leap (Alec Peters, Tonya Jakiri, Rokas Gidritis). This is a group that is a mine, certainly at home.
It is impossible to start talking about this season in Zalgiris without the change on the lines. Sharas, the symbol of Lithuanian success in recent years in the Euroleague, which also included a performance in the Final Four, left, and was replaced by the relatively anonymous Martin Schiller in Euroleague terms. The Austrian Schiller has coached in the G League in recent years and was even crowned coach last season, but to link that to success in a league where basketball is played entirely differently is still in question.
Indeed, Zalgiris managed to keep Wakap and Grigonis leading the back line, and even landed Frenchman Joffrey Lubren who would try to overcome his injuries during his time at Fenerbahce, and return to being a dominant Axis player in Europe. The Lithuanian team remains almost intact, with the exception of Ulanovas’ departure, and some home players such as Yukobaitis and Gabin are expected to receive more extensive minutes than before. In conclusion – a year in which we will understand how big was the influence of Sharas on the luxury team of Lithuanian basketball.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Another year of changes in the economic project that is also looking for sporting touches this season for the name of Zenit St. Petersburg. Like last season, when it entered the Euroleague, this season too the squad changed considerably with the bringing of several players with Euroleague experience (Kevin Pangos, Vitaly Friedson, Casey Rivers, Arthuras Goodaitis, Billy Baron) alongside some surviving players (including Austin Hollins, Will Thomas, Methuselah Ponitka), and all this under the Spanish Xavi Pasqual.
Zenit’s only way to influence the Euroleague – to become a team, in the full sense of the word. In terms of personal talent, she does not have any unusual name that will decide games alone, so her power will be expressed together. However, as we have seen before in the factory, gathering so many new players in one season and turning them into a cohesive unit – not a simple task at all that requires patience. And for a team that does not have a long-term contract in the Euroleague, and is looking for immediate success – patience, this is not an option.
By now the business has been pretty simple and I guess most of you have agreed with my choices. From now on – it starts to get complicated. Olympiacos has a kind of advantage over the other teams this year – it plays in one frame. While this produces rotation problems and playing minutes, it may be that in the Corona era, multiplayer is more of a curse than a blessing. Another advantage of Olympicus – Costas Slokas. 5 years after leaving for Fenerbahce because he did not get the professional and economic conditions that suited him, Slokas returns to the undisputed position of Olympiacos, at least on the pitch. We enjoy every minute Spanoulis gets at 38, but neither he nor Printzis can carry the white and red cart alone. From the season, this is Slokas’ role.
The thing is, as much as Slokas is a formidable coordinator on a European scale, the players that Bratzokas put together alongside him are not currently seen in a caliber that fits the team in the top eight on the continent. It will be interesting to see Arun Harrison’s integration into the Euroleague after two years at Glatsray, and Hassan Martin, Octavius Ellis and Shaquille McKisick will also have to make a special effort to show that they belong to the top of Europe. As hard as it is always hard to bet against the team from Piraeus, it will need something extraordinary to bring the playoffs to the Hall of Peace and Fraternity.
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