Despite a big step back in Euroleague last season, Olimpia Milano came strong at the end in Italy. Emmet Ryan looks at whether that can bring that form to the big show in 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: Jasmin Repeša
Arena: Mediolanum Forum (12,331)
Last season in Euroleague/Eurocup: 3-7, missed Top 16/6-4, lost quarter finals
Last season in Serie A: 22-8, won finals
Who’s new? Awudu Abass (Cantu, Serie A), Zoran Dragic (Khimki MR, VTB), Ricky Hickman (Fenerbahce, BSL), Miroslav Raduljica (Panathinaikos, A1E), Simone Fontecchio (Virtus Bologna, Serie A), Davide Pascolo (Trento, Serie A)
Who’s gone? Esteban Batista (North Control Beijing, CBA), Charles Jenkins (Crvena Zvezda), Oliver Lafayette (Unicaja Malaga, ACB), Daniele Magro (Pistoia, Serie A),
What friend are they on a night out? The best dressed on by far.
This was a team that got it together last year eventually but only when they found they were out of the challenge of taking on the best of the best every week. Well, the bad news is they’re doing that again this year and there’s already been a dust up with Alessandro Gentile being stripped of the captaincy. That’s not an ideal start before a ball is even tipped but at least there is some promise in the moves made.
Milano will be desperately hoping they get the version of Raduljica that wears a Serbia jersey than a club team top as the difference in his performance between national team and club performance the past few seasons has been shocking. Zoran Dragic is a Euroleague level baller so that’s a solid addition, even if his NBA distraction saw him come back with a bit of a hangover in his game last year. It’s near impossible to dislike the signing of Hickman, when healthy he’s a guy you want on the court but staying healthy is going to be the critical part here.
That aside, it just doesn’t look enough to get the job done with the big boys. This corner has a massive pack of teams fighting for the last three or four playoff spots and the moves made by Milano don’t make them look like one of them. It’s an odd spot to be as we’re talking about a club that was only a poor playoff series away from playing in the final four at home. The import signings and movement since then have varied wildly. This year looks an up one on that front but how far is a different matter entirely.
Fearless prediction: 14th. Milano fit a really odd spot here. Of all the calls here for a specific position across the 16, this is the one I’m most confident in. They look just plain better than Zvezda and Zalgiris but way outside of what’s needed to be part of that big pack across 30 games.