If BallinEurope is spelling “lull” with one L, you know that Euroleague basketball is between stages of play. No matter, BiE has a good argument starter to help wile away a little time before next Tuesday’s draw for grouping the Top 16 round: Announcing the official BallinEurope All-Euroleague Regular Season Team for 2010-11!
Though many of the best individual seasons have thus far been run up by guys mired on non-Top 16 teams, no special consideration was given to those bounced from the competition already. However, looking at the final list, it’s clear an all-star level performance becomes exaggeratedly important to a not-quite tippity-top European club. And let’s get to that list, shall we?
Ladies and gentlemen, yourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr BiE All-Euroleague Regular Season All-Stars!
Point guard – Bo McCalebb, Montepaschi Siena. After getting passed up for the 2009-10 All-Euroleague first team for MVP (!) Milos Teodosic – yes, BiE *is* still grinding that axe – it seemed like Bo’s career would take something of a downturn both in terms of statistics and leadership at the point when he signed with an experienced Montepaschi side which would seemingly demand the ball out of his hands more often.
But McCalebb adapted his slash-first game to work the perimeter more while playing better defense than ever: He’s only matched his 2.4 steal per game average in 2010-11 once before – and that was with Mersin BSH in Turkey. Second team: Marcelinho Huertas, who was given the keys to Caja Laboral Baskonia and has driven them well.
Shooting guard – Okay, who figured Keith Langford of BC Khimki Moscow region would be the Euroleague’s overall leader in points and player ranking through 10 weeks? Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.
Perhaps the only player to truly flourish within now-departed Sergio Scariolo’s system, Langford was a monster for Khimki in 10 Euroleague games. A sliver under 25% of all Khimki’s points and total ranking points, the two-guard was also sent to the line over twice as much often as his next-nearest teammate and was close to tops on Khimki in assists and rebounds as well – even better for Khimki backers: In his last four, Langford has torched the opposition for 24 points per game.
Second team: Chuck Eidson, Maccabi Tel Aviv, who’s threatening to set personal bests in assists (4.6 per through 10 EL games) and steals (a huge 3.1) plus his second-highest rebound average (4.5), or cheat a bit and give it to Panathinaikos’ Dimitris Diamantidis and his 18.7 player rating.
Small forward – Bojan Bogdanovic, Cibona Zagreb. Whoever it was that had Langford at no. 1 overall probably also saw Bogdanovic coming, too. To say the 21-year-old has been the sole bright spot in Cibona’s season would be understatement; to call Bogdanovic the club’s star would be unfair – This lad is a supernova.
After appearing out of nowhere to average 12.6 ppg in Cibona’s five-game Top 16 bid last year and ultimately take a weekly MVP award, Bogdanovic hasn’t looked back. His 18-ppg average in Euroleague play belies four games of 20 points or more and, even more importantly to this depleted squad, the youngster played 34 minutes or more in nine of 10 Euroleague games. Second team: Mirza Teletovic of Baskonia, who probably would have taken this spot in any other year.
Power forward – James Gist, Partizan Belgrade. The former University of Maryland Terp was hastily called in to fill the open non-European slot on the Black-and-White roster before week three of the Euroleague season. With Petar Bozic in foul trouble early, all Gist did was contribute nine points and six rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench against Europe’s top club.
Before you could say “Who the heck is James Gist?” he had established himself as one of the big league’s best pure rebounders with 7.25 per game – mostly still off the bench – not to mention a habitual posterizer. Here’s to thinking the Euroleague hasn’t seen the last of the Gist. Second team: Unicaja’s Joel Freeland, the fantasy basketball stud.
Center – Interesting to note that, while the NBA is celebrating a bumper crop of superstar point guards, the emphasis on The Continent has seismically shifted to the frontcourt. This spot might easily have gone to Baskonia’s Stanko Barac and/or BiE’s main man in Maccabi, Sofoklis Schortsanitis (gee, figure all the big guy needed to reach his potential was more disrespect from the Los Angeles Clippers, a crummy Summer League performance and a move to Israel). Instead, though, BiE’ll go with Olympiacos’ Ioannis Bourousis.
After clearing the roster of “bling-bling players,” the Reds don’t really need more weaponry, but they’ve got one big gun in Bourousis. While Olympiacos enviably need not even go to their big man every night, Ioannis has proven next to unstoppable, with a 60% “shooting” average and some monster lines as a result (8-of-11 shooting with seven boards vs. Unicaja in just 18½ minutes; a 16-and-10 in fewer than 20 minutes at Roma; 19 points on 8-of-10 overall shooting at Spirou Charleroi). Runner-up: Barac.