Last year was an annus horribilis for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Can the big signings they made in the off-season make the required difference? Emmet Ryan breaks down their chances in our eleventh preview of all 16 Euroleague 2016-17 teams in 16 days
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: Erez Edelstein
Arena: Nokia Arena (11,700)
Last season in Euroleague/Eurocup: 4-6, missed Top 16/2-4, missed playoffs
Last season in Israel: 24-9, lost semi-finals
Who’s new? Joe Alexander (Dinamo Sassari, Serie A), Andrew Goudelock (Houston Rockets, NBA), Sonny Weems (Philadelphia 76ers, NBA), Quincy Miller (Crvena Zvezda, ABA), Maik Zirbes (Crvena Zvezda, ABA), DJ Seeley (Gran Canaria, ACB), Victor Rudd (Nizhny Novgorod, VTB)
Who’s gone? Dragan Bender (Phoenix Suns, NBA), Ike Ofoegbu (Balikesir, BSL), Taylor Rochestie (Lokomotiv Kuban, VTB), Richard Hendrix (Gran Canaria, ACB)
What friend are they on a night out? Flashy as hell no matter how they’re dressed, questions about whether they can back it up
There are no ifs, buts, or maybes. By the standards expected of Maccabi Tel Aviv, last season was a disaster. Wholesale changes were necessary, that’s not up for debate here. Even if some of the issues could be down to the wrong break here and there, and that’s a big stretch, this level of failure domestically and in Euroleague simply isn’t expected from a fanbase used to dining at the top table.
The obvious question when looking at the legion of reinforcements is how are they going to manage with just one ball? Individually, I really can’t find a problem with any of the signings. Collectively it gives me heart palpitations (and I’ve actually had those before, not fun). Star power really wasn’t the problem for Maccabi last year, it was guys filling roles. The Blatt side that lifted the Euroleague trophy in Milan was undoubtedly loaded with talent but what made it a title winning side was having guys to do jobs when you need them. It was the same with Real Madrid a year later, having the likes of KC Rivers and Marcus Slaughter to free up the rest of the team, and CSKA finally broke their vile run with their least star studded roster in years. You need top talent, no question, but you also need to build a roster around that talent that gets work done.
Those aren’t doomed to failure concerns but they are the type to make you wonder if this is the right roster to build after such a shocking season last time out. The need for guys who have individually impressed is obvious, that’s the easy sell. Finding the right role player and convincing people he will help you back. That’s a much tougher ask.
Fearless prediction: 8th. The have so many questions but in a crowded race for the final playoff spots, they should have enough to shade it. Whether that’s enough to please the fans in Tel Aviv is another matter entirely.