In the eighth of our 16 team previews in 16 days, Emmet Ryan looks at one of just two teams in Euroleague for the 2016/17 season that wasn’t there last year. What can we expect from Unics Kazan?
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: Evgeniy Pashutin
Arena: Basket-Hall (7,482)
Last season in Eurocup: 14-4, lost last 16
Last season in VTB League: 25-5, lost finals
Who’s new? Pavel Antipov (Zenit, VTB), Coty Clarke (Maine, NBADL), Aleksandr Karpukhin (Zenit, VTB), Eugeny Voronov (Lokomotiv Kuban, VTB)
Who’s gone? Petr Gubanov (Nizhny Novogrod, VTB), Valery Likhodey (Khimki MR, VTB), Arturas Milaknis (Zalgiris, LKL),
What friend are they on a night out? So my buddy Ferg has a guy he knows called Cam-bo. He can turn up, go wild, get thrown out of the hotel, and find the weirdest way back in. I’ve never met Cam-bo but Unics seem most like Cam-bo.
Ok, Unics, y’all owe a big thanks to Rob Scott for convincing me take a second look at this preview. I was initally quite meh on you but, in pretty short order, he made a strong case for why you are one of the most compelling teams to watch in the season to come.
That case really comes down to two men but what a pair. Quino Colom has been around a while but always on the outside looking in when it came to the big show. At 27, the Spaniard finally gets his shot with Unics Kazan and there’s a lot to get excited about here. I could write at length but the following 62 seconds show you why getting to watch him play against the best is going to be fun.
The other reason to be excited is the man wearing number 22 in that clip. Latavious Williams, like Colom, has known his fair share of homes despite his young age but has found a brilliant partner in the Spaniard. They turn Kazan from just another Russian team with money into a side you want to watch when the team you love isn’t playing.
Of course, I should also add Kostas Kaimakoglu’s beard but potentially more interesting than that is the addition of Evgeny Voronov. He’s not going to win any MVP awards but here’s a functional guy who knows how to make an impact off the bench. Voronov is about as near to Vitaly Fridzon, in terms of understanding what he needs to do and what’s around him, that Kazan are going to get.
Fearless prediction: 13th. Yes, after all that, I still have them ostensibly well out of the playoffs. In truth, the gaps between 5th and 13th this season really aren’t significant so don’t be shocked if Kazan ride that big home advantage to a higher finish.