We are into the final four of our 16 previews of all 16 Euroleague teams in 16 days and today it’s the turn of the reigning champions, CSKA Moscow
As the intro suggests, we’re doing a preview for each of the 16 teams in Euroleague in the 16 days leading up to the start of the new season. Regarding player movement, we are relying heavily on the wonderful Mark Porcaro’s work with his 2016-17 player movement database. You should all follow Mark on Twitter.
We are going through the sides in reverse order of when they take the floor in the opening round of games in the 2016/17 Euroleague season. The entire reason we ended up on that order was because we figured it would be cool to finish with the two teams playing in the season opener.
Coach: Dimitrios Itoudis
Arena: Universal Sports Hall (5,500)/Megasport Arena (13,126)
Last season in Euroleague: 24-5, winners
Last season in VTB: 28-2, won finals
Who’s new? James Augustine (Khimki MR, VTB), Semen Antonov (Nizhny Novgorod, VTB)
Who’s gone? Demetris Nichols (Panathinaikos)
What friend are they on a night out? Had a terrible tendency for letting everything fall apart after a skinful, seem to be past that phase now
The Euroleague Adventures podcast has already emphasised the biggest advantage CSKA have, depth. They are nearly three deep across the board and, in an expand season, that a huge advantage. Their movement in the off-season was muted, with Augustine’s arrival as much about depth as anything else. When you are signing a player of Augustine’s calibre essentially to make sure you have another really good player at a position rather than that phrase without the word another, you are doing alright.
CSKA, of course, have always done alright. Save for that one nightmare season in 2010/11, this decade has seen them do pretty much whatever they like through every stage of the season until they got to the Final Four. Of course, Vassilis Spanoulis is basically human nightmare fuel for CSKA based on their experiences at that level, and it took some serious shudders to finally put those demons to rest last year. In the final, they led big, still had a big lead going into the fourht, and then saw all of that fall away as Fenerbahce forced overtime. This time, they came good and there wasn’t a happier man in Berlin that Sunday night than Aaron Jackson.
Now they enter a format that massively suits a team with depth. They have the bodies to do liquourice allsorts to most of the sides in this competition and everybody knows it. It’s no accident that they are mentioned repeatedly in the same breath as Fenerbahce when discussing the favourites for the year ahead. They have the cash, the bodies, and the time to wait for the unfit bodies to get healthy.
Fearless prediction: 2nd. This isn’t going to shock anyone and the only real question is whether they can top the ladder at the end of it. The basic difference, in terms of the regular season, between them and Fener is that the Turkish champions likely won’t slip up as much on the road. Still, a top two finish and home court in the playoffs is likely.