Beyond checking out the wild Menorca-Caja Laboral Baskonia game yesterday, BiE spent a good deal of time this weekend contemplating an empty 2010-11 All-Euroleague team ballot. The EL folks sure don’t make things easy for the voter, providing 60 names are allowing one to vote for just five – not that anyone would ever think of stuffing the virtual box somehow…
All whinging and indecision aside, then, BallinEurope takes a stand and names the five below-listed players to make up the official BiE All-Euroleague team ballot for 2010-11.
Point guard: Though it was tough not to Vassilis Spanoulis, Milos Teodosic (BiE promises this isn’t a revenge vote for the totally incorrect Euroleague MVP award he bagged for 2009-10) or even sentimental fave Khalid El-Amin for saving Lietuvos Rytas’ bacon more than once.
Nope, here BiE’s going with Dimitris Diamantidis. Diamantidis is clearly contributing one of the best all-around games in the ‘League this season and continues to do as he attempts to steer his Panathinaikos past Barcelona.
While Double D’s punishing 26- and 17-point performances against Barca are incredible enough, what’s more notable is that he seems to be able to turn on the scoring at will. If the PAO point is put up against opposition a mere half-step too slow, Dimitris can (and will) most assuredly blow past said sorry defense to give up the body and get sent to the line again and again in Iversonian fashion. The rest of the time, fans’ll just have to “settle” for his average line of 12.4 points, 5.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per EL game – not to mention his unmatchable leadership for the Greek side.
Shooting guard/small forward: For a while, BiE seriously considered Bogdan Bogdanovic, who put up some serious numbers while just doing it all for hapless Cibona Zagreb in 10 Euroleague games: His 18.0 ppg is still good for no. 2 in the EL (behind Keith Langford) in that statistic – and he’s putting in 18.92 per for Cibona in Adriatic League games. Ah, no matter: Bogdanovic will have other whacks at this, to be sure. Unless he’s playing in the NBA sooner rather than later…
After mentally removing Bogdanovic from contention, the other two spots on this ballot weren’t too difficult to fill. First has got to be MVP favorite Fernando San Emeterio, right? In pure statistical terms, two Euroleague numbers are particularly mind-boggling:
• The two guard is going for an insane 58.1% (89-of-153) in overall shooting, including 54.7% on threes at 29-of-53; and
• he tops the table in player ranking – by more than 2.5 points – over the likes of Diamantidis and Joel Freeland, who are having career years both.
Statistics aside, San Emeterio is a key factor in Baskonia’s outstanding success in this Splitter-less season. After living and dying by the pick-and-roll last season at home and in the ‘League, Marcelinho Huertas alongside San Emeterio have morphed the team into a speedier, flashier unit with a deadly and unpredictable outside game.
For the second choice, BiE’s ticking the box beneath Juan Carlos Navarro’s pic. Navarro is pretty much BiE’s default answer to the question, “Who’s the best player in Europe right now?” Yes, he did miss four games in the middle of the Euroleague regular season, a circumstance which BiE typically holds against a player in these sorts of electoral situations; aside from this month-long blip, however, Navarro has been bringing it week in, week out, in EL and ACB games.
Since returning in mid-December, Navarro has gone for double figures in 21 of 24 games played – and one of these “failures” was still worth nine points in a laugher against CAI Zaragoza. Besides, Navarro erased all memories of his rare off-nights with back-to-back barrages in the Top 16 round against Maccabi and Union Olimpija.
Back home, Navarro shoots 43% from beyond the arc and 93% from the stripe; in the EL, those numbers are 41% and 87.8%, respectively. When on the court, Navarro simply finds ways to score, strengthened in his capacity to do so by a deep and versatile roster.
The best player and go-to guy on the best club in Europe right now? Yeah, Navarro makes this All-Euroleague team.
Power forward/center: Since here BiE can justify a sentimental selection, i will: The first spot here goes to Sofoklis Schortsanitis. After years of hype, Sofoklis is living up to his super-sized reputation in the ‘League statistically with a career year of 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds but infinitely more important is the way in which the man-mountain has given Maccabi Tel Aviv both an awesome presence in the middle on defense and a steadily-ascending 58.1% (dunker) shooter when on offense.
In fact, it seems the only way to beat Schortsanitis this season is to get him off the floor altogether – and only Baskonia has managed to speed things up enough to make Big Sofo a non-factor. They’ve done it twice, in fact. But then we all saw what havoc he wreaked on the suddenly stunned Caja Laboral front court last Thursday:
BiE believes Sofoklis will help Maccabi into the EL Final Four. And that this could well be his last chance to make the All-Euroleague first team. Plus, dude just rules. So he gets the vote.
For the last-but-not least spot, BiE considered PAO powerhouse Mike Batiste briefly and Joel Freeland quite a bit longer; the Team Great Britain player has steadily contributed points and rebounds since 2010-11 EL play tipped off, scoring at least nine points in every single game he’s played. He’s added 6.6 rebounds per EL game and has registered one double-double this season.
As awesome as Freeland has been for Unicaja, though, one-time All-Euroleague first teamer Ioannis Bourousis has been a wee bit awesomer for Olympiacos; even though his numbers are slightly off his 2008-09 peak, the improvement to his defense (not to mention more favorable changes in league rules and team roster) has made Bourousis a better player overall – and a decent choice for election. Do you think the chair had anything to do with it…?
And who did you pick?