The waffling is over! After a couple of weeks of mulling over the field of 50 candidates for ten spots on the Euroleague All-Decade Team, the final decision has been made (and whoo, was that painful) and the ballot submitted. The following, then, is how the official BallinEurope ballot for the 2010s all-stars, along with some of the thought process a la Euroleague Fantasy Boss Javier Gancedo, ended up.
Four choices were obvious:
• Sarunas Jasikevicius,
• Juan Carlos Navarro,
• Dejan Bodiroga, and
• Theo Papaloukas. BiE reckons that membership on Dream Team Europe (first inclusion or no) and/or the official BallinEurope All-Decade All-European Team gets you onto the Euroleague All-Decade squad.
• After that, BiE went straight to the middle of the list to seek out my personal must-have on this roster: J.R. Holden. Purely empirically speaking, no US-born player has so managed to seamlessly combine the American and European styles of point guard play. Statistics aside – and Holden’s are awesome as no. 1 in the decade in Euroleague games played, no. 3 overall in assists, no. 4 in points scored, and no. 2 in three-pointers – the official site puts it best when proclaiming “It is impossible to overestimate point guard J.R. Holden’s pivotal role in lifting CSKA Moscow back to the top of European club basketball.”
• Speaking of stats: As the decade’s no. 2 in Euroleague points and no. 2 in Euroleague rebounds, Nikola Vujcic’s in …
• …as is Mirsad Turkcan, the decade’s overall leading rebounder and three-time Euroleague rebound titlist.
And here, things become a tad less obvious. After some deliberation, a further two were added to the roster:
• Trajan Langdon and Ramunas Siskauskas. Another American key to CSKA’s success in the 2000s, Langdon closed the decade as no. 9 EL scorer in the decade to go with his two first-team and one second-team all-Euroleague nods. As for Siskauskas and in the eventuality you’ve spent three seasons hiding under a rock, well, he’s the guy The Boss calls the “Natural-Born Mismatch” and in short has dominated the Continent since 2006 after simply performing excellently.
Finally, there’s that tenth spot … why is the last always the toughest? After waaaaaay too much deliberation and clicking around, for that all-important end-of-the-bench spot, BiE goes with…
• Arvydas Sabonis.
Nah, just kidding. Indeed, Sabonis appears to have made Euroleague’s list of 50 nominees based purely on reputation and one season. Badass as said single season may have been – and it was awesome, make no bones about it, with 16.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals at age 39 in 18 Euroleague games with Zalgiris Kaunas – not even the unabashed worship of Sabonis displayed by BiE can supply enough fuel to justify such a selection.
So, after considering and rejecting names like Manu Ginobili (for if Sabonis’ miracle season ain’t enough, neither are Ginobili’s two excellent years with Kinder Bologna); Vassilis Spanoulis, who hasn’t quite accumulated enough Euroleague achievement to make this ballot though BiE already has the Greek penciled in for the all-2010s Euroleague Team; and Antonis Fotsis.
Last to fall was Tiago Splitter, whose last two seasons with Baskonia have been downright scary, the first half of his career was mostly spent as dutiful prodigy coming off the bench. But hey, this guy’s only 25; he’ll be on the 2010s ballot, too.
• And in the end, the 10 spot was filled by Matjaz Smodis. The BiE All-Euroleague team may be a bit Moscow-heavy, but there is simply no denying Smodis’ status as a winner; is Smodis the European “Big Shot Bob”? In one decade, Smodis played in seven Euroleague finals and won three, numbers any player would be thrilled to experience in any ten-year stint.
So who’s on your ballot…?