In the sixth of our 16 team previews in 16 days, Emmet Ryan looks at the reigning Turkish champions and last year’s runners up in the big show, just what can we expect from Fenerbahce in Euroleague 2016/17?
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: Željko Obradović
Arena: Ülker Sports Arena(13,000)
Last season in Euroleague: 20-6, runners up
Last season in Turkey: 24-6, won finals
Who’s new? James Nunnally (Avelino, Serie A), Ahmet Duvieroglu (Anadolu Efes, BSL)
Who’s gone? Ricky Hickman (Olimpia Milano, Serie A), Omer Yurtseven (NC State, NCAA), Ercan Bayrak (Samsun, BSL)
What friend are they on a night out? If things are going their way, watch out these guys are capable of outdrinking everybody in the room.
This is just so promising. All of the key pieces from last season are back. The two recognisable names that are gone were essentially irrelevant albeit for different reasons. Hickman couldn’t stay healthy while Yurtseven was, and really still is, too young to be a factor for a team this deep. There’s really no reason to question this side’s chances of making a run to the final four and being a contender yet again. That’s not a set up for a so let’s, it’s just the nature of this roster. Ekpe Udoh was still getting used to the style of play over here for most of last season yet he was still a beast more often than not. Jan Vesely has a rep for his DNGAF attitude off the court at times but on the floor you just can’t debate his work. He puts it in, gets it done, and that’s what matters. Pero Antic, while 34 now, still looks to have the body and head to do his thing at this level.
It’s outside of the big men that we are less sure of what to expect from Fenerbahce. Kostas Sloukas is a walking closer, the guy just knows how to switch the tempo late for this side. Bobby Dixon, again a man whose age will probably raise an eyebrow or two, still looks to have his pace and his handle. Last season was a huge change in role for Dixon, arguably the biggest of his career. It was a rare time where he wasn’t the out and out guy. It took Dixon time to get used to it. At times he reveled in it but he arguably wasn’t comfortable still unleashing his hero ball game, which is a legitimate tactical adjustment when deployed correctly, until the final quarter of the Euroleague championship game. Now, like Udoh, he has that year of adjustment under his belt and that should only be to his benefit.
Then, of course, there is the tale of Bogdan Bogdanovic’s road to being a grown ass man. He got there last season, we saw him take charge in playoff games last spring in a way he hadn’t before. That’s a big step up for the 24 year-old Serbia whose draft rights are currently held by the Kings. Amidst the mass exodus of Euros last summer, Bogdanovic was a notable name that stayed behind. A huge 2016-17, and you can imagine he’s going to give the NBA a serious look.
Fearless prediction: Most of you have probably guessed this by now and the rest of you are only off by one spot. Fenerbahce should, rightly, be favourites to win it all this year. Even if they don’t, it will take something special to stop them reigning during the regular season. Fenerbahce are BiE’s pick to come top of the ladder.