BallinEurope had planned this second edition of the “Monday Hangover” to take a wide look at events in Euroleague play and top European domestic leagues, but the headlines vis-à-vis Continental basketball have been dominated by Fenerbahçe Ülker…
Talk about your roller-coaster weeks: The Istanbul side entered Euroleague week two as the vogue choice for a 2013 Final Four bid before suddenly confronted with a few obstacles on the way through the season. Take a look at a tumultuous four days in Fenerbahçe’s existence.
Glimpses into the possible Euro-flavoured future of several NBA teams will begin on Friday with the welcome return of the NBA Europe Live Tour and the Euroleague American Tour. What could inspire a Chicago Bulls fan to catch a Memphis Grizzlies preseason game against Real Madrid? The prospect of checking out Nikola Mirotic, of course!
A handful of rights-owned players will be suiting up to play on both sides of the Atlantic over the next eight days, but today BallinEurope takes a slightly wider view beyond these exciting-but-mostly-irrelevant dozen games. Below a look at five players – a bit of a future dream team, perhaps, though desperately seeking a monstrous big man – taken in recent NBA drafts and currently developing in Europe’s higher levels. And yes, there will be highlights.
Your five for the European present and NBA future, then…
In the interests of complete transparency – hey, somebody in Hungary should aspire to such – BallinEurope today presents the outcome of a heavy Euroleague basketball-watching habit plus several hours of intense thought: Namely, the five names that went onto BiE’s media representative’s ballot for 2011-12 Euroleague MVP.
Since there’s no way the chosen quintet will make anybody completely happy – even though surely the top seven or eight (depending how you feel about certain American imports in Lithuania) individual performances in the 2011-12 ‘League would surely be agreed upon by the great majority of Euroleague fans – BiE will explain the thought process behind the vote and show the initial list of 25 from which the five players receiving points were winnowed. (Bonus: YouTube clips, natch.)
In backwards order, then…
• Toughest omissions – Henry Domercant, Erazem Lorbek and Sonny Weems. Each was so emblematic of their teams in 2011-12, with Domercant and Weems veritably carrying their clubs at times to unexpected Euroleague success. Unics Kazan got attention early in the regular season with a few monster performances by Domercant – including the amazing 30-point, seven-rebound show against Montepaschi Siena in the opener – but Bad Henry actually became more consistent and more well-integrated into the Kazan offense as the team’s season progressed.
Weems kept the overachieving Zalgiris Kaunas afloat – and more – after Ty Lawson returned to the NBA post-lockout, plus gets bonus points for performing among the more YouTubable in European ball. Keeping Weems off the ballot were a couple of off-games in the Top 16 round which may have ultimately kept the Greens out of the semifinal round – and the man did turn over the ball the second-most frequently in the EL, too…
Most notable about FC Barcelona – even more so than in previous years of title glory – is the team’s incredible defenses. Lorbek has controlled the paint on D to make the Blaugrana’s zone traps even more effective and together with Pete Mickael has been triggering fast breaks off the boards while playing in all 19 Euroleague games. Plus, what if someone had told you at season’s beginning that the leading scorer for 2011-12 on Juan Carlos Navarro’s team would be the big Slovenian?
Tough to leave off this expectation-scattering trio, one and all…
• 5. Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow
After not exactly fitting into the Boston Celtics after an ill-advised trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder late in 2010-11 and reading the writing on the wall vis-à-vis the player lockout, Krstic may have been the first NBA refugee headliner to sign in Europe. And whoa, has the investment paid off for CSKA Moscow. In Krstic, the Red Army has the ‘League’s no. 1 in accumulated performance index rating, no. 2 in average PIR and no. 5 in points scored – with a shooting percentage of just under 64% overall. A big man among the big men at Moscow, Krstic had to get on the ballot.
• 4. Bo McCalebb, Montepaschi Siena
• 3. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos
• 2. Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos
BiE swears that with each coming year, the playmaking guard becomes even more disproportionately important to European and/or international success. Case in point, these three guys in 2011-12; first, the statistical highlights for each:
McCalebb – 16.9 points per game on 61.3% overall shooting, 2.6 apg, 1.3 spg, 17.29 average PIR
Diamantidis – 11.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 17.00 PIR
Spanoulis – 16.5 ppg on 49.7% overall shooting, 3.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.37 PIR
Bear in mind all are in the top five in average index rating behind a couple of dudes on CSKA Moscow and that none of three have missed a single game for their teams – now who do you choose? The reputed “fastest man in Europe” and Euroleague top scorer who can lead break after break though doesn’t have the best eye for the open teammate (Gee that’s kinda 2003-04 Kobesque)…
…or the more-than-sum-of-parts guy who just happened to chase last year’s EL MVP bid by leading the league in assists and three-pointers made plus added priceless veteran leadership of a three-time champion…
…or do you go with BiE’s selection from among the three, i.e. the “rock in the middle of that roster … on whom all the Reds could rely” with a career year on the only surprise in the Euroleague Final Four?
• 1. While deciding among the 2 through 4 and 5 through off-ballot positions was difficult, the top choice was the opposite. Yes, BallinEurope went for that most polarizing (only the basketball gods know why) player of 2011-12, Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow.
Forget what you may think about his consistent-if-not-mindblowing tenure with the Utah Jazz and the virtual all-star squad CSKA management set him up with in the 2011 offseason: The AK-47 has had a monster year. His average PIR of 24.07 per game played is more than 19% better than the nearest competitor (Krstic) – such a mark is currently the 15th best for a single season in the modern era and would be the highest by any player advancing past the regular season since Anthony Parker for Maccabi back in 2004-05. And while he’s “only” ranking seventh in ppg at 17.0, he’s tops in rebounds and blocks plus no. 2 in steals, making him the sole player even close to the top 10 in those four statistical categories.
Yes, Kirilenko missed five Euroleague games and yes, CSKA went 5-0 in that run, but BiE dares say that no single player in the 2011-12 EL became the center of focus every minute he’s on the floor the way that this season’s prospective MVP did – four player-of-the-week awards should prove it.
This season, Kirilenko rules. Let the comments begin.
The top 25 players, as BiE sees it for 2011-12, were the following.
Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos
Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos
Bo McCalebb, Montepaschi Siena
Henry Domercant, Unics Kazan
Juan Carlos Navarro, FC Barcelona
Milos Teodosic, CSKA Moscow
Jaycee Carroll, Real Madrid
Devin Smith, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Omar Cook, Emporio Armani Milano
Marcelinho Huertas, FC Barcelona
Andrei Kirilenko, CSKA Moscow
Sonny Weems, Zalgiris Kaunas
Nikola Mirotic, Real Madrid
Mike Batiste, Panathinaikos
Marko Banic, Gescrap Bilbao Basket
Viktor Khryapa, CSKA Moscow
Bojan Bogdanovic, Fenerbahce Ulker
Pete Mickael, FC Barcelona
Richard Hendrix, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Felipe Reyes, Real Madrid
Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow
Erazem Lorbek, FC Barcelona
Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Giorgi Shermadini, Bennet Cantu
Luka Zoric, Unicaja Malaga
Courtesy the Euroleague folks, BallinEurope brings a compendium of facts and figures spanning history and record books regarding tomorrow night’s slate of a half-dozen games – plus lines on the games and highlight clips. Enjoy!
CSKA Moscow vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
• CSKA leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-7.
• Nenad Krstic has scored in double figures in each of his last 16 Euroleague appearances dating back to the 2003-04 season.
• Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic lead the Euroleague in index rating with at averages of 27.8 and 21.5 per game, respectively.
• Kirilenko also leads the Euroleague in blocked shots (3.2 bpg).
• Milos Teodosic is ranked second in the Euroleague in assists this season with a career-high 5.6 assists per game.
• Darjus Lavrinovic needs three more blocks reach 100 for his Euroleague career. With his next block, Lavrinovic will tie former CSKA big man Terence Morris for 12th place all-time. Continue Reading…
• This game was quite the textbook example of the 13th man’s value to Kazan, as the second half was all Unics riding the home support after a disastrous second quarter.
• What was the deal with the Unics bench? Is coach Evgeny Pashutin simply unwilling to go seven deep with this side? Pashutin looked to be running his preferred quintet into the ground as Nathan Jawai, in for about 11 minutes, proved the only viable substitute for the Russian team last night. Terrell Lyday, Vladimir Veremeenko, Petr Samoylenko, Henry Domercant, and Mike Wilkinson all went for 28 minutes or more to score 68 of the team’s 76 points. Yes, Jawai had the other eight.
Lopez went for 20.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game with the New Jersey Nets last season.
And if you’re keeping score at home, the refugees from Nets land playing in Europe increases: After Williams and (prospectively) Lopez, there are Jordan Farmar (with Maccabi Tel Aviv), Sasha Vujacic (Anadolu Efes), Mario West (Scaligera Basket Verona), Sundiata Gaines (BC Armia) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Fenerbahçe Ülker; and okay, BiE realizes Bogdanovic isn’t technically a refugee, but he may be a Net someday).
Five Euroleague games were played last night and things were interestingly shaken up a bit when the final buzzers sounded. Tonight’s slate looks even nicer, with Montepaschi Siena vs. FC Barcelona and possible instant classic Panathinaikos vs. CSKA Moscow. To get you up to date and ready – plus possibly take up a minutes of your time courtesy YouTube – BallinEurope has compiled a few notes for your perusal presented in time-honored bullet fashion, starring Furkan Aldemir, Bojan Bogdanovic and Juan Carlos Navarro, among others.
Funny … after the 2011 NBA Draft, was BallinEurope completely alone in guessing the New Jersey Nets got a steal of a pick by landing via trade with the Miami Heat the no. 31 overall selection Bojan Bogdanovic? BiE’d like to think not. After all, contributions to Cibona Zagreb last season in the Adriatic League, the Croatian A-1 League and 10 games of Euroleague play were impressive, even if he seemingly had no one to pass to.
So, how do the prospects look for Bogdanovic after a handful of games with Fenerbahçe Ülker in Euroleague and TBL play? BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, assesses the Croat’s performance thus far … and Nets backers are certain to be disappointed.
Of course, here are BallinEurope, we basically had one question: How does this affect The Continental game?
Below, BallinEurope UK guy Sam Chadwick takes a look at some of the pros and cons – or rather the Massive Benefits and Consequences of an NBA Draft round three – vis-à-vis European basketball. Plus, there’s some stuff about Darko Milicic.
So how many rounds is too many? The current NBA Draft has two rounds, two picks per team with a total of 60 players making the grade to join the world’s most elite league.
With BallinEurope temporarily stationed in the USA, the business-as-usual machinations of top European clubs and preparations of national teams for Eurobasket 2011 threaten to be lost in a squall of speculation about the NBA lockout – of which amazingly little progress is being seen, by the way. And so, BiE has a few bulleted thoughts, quips and links this morning (afternoon CET time) on Deron Williams and his ilk.
• If Williams in fact does suit up for Beşiktaş Cola Turka come September, won’t he be the first Team USA team member to play in Europe since the days of the (totally awesome) Dirty Dozen? Come to think of it, Trajan Langdon and the guys wouldn’t have even been in USA colors in 1998 had it not been for … a player lockout. Hmmm…
• As for Kobe Bryant joining D-Will and Zaza with Beşiktaş, American media is all over this story despite recent (assumed impermanent) sanctions against club. Coach Ergin Ataman’s quote is getting lots of play already before much of the country even awakens this morning: “It is a fact that Kobe Bryant’s managers have contacted us.”