Since BallinEurope’s Official Power Rankings were so, um, popular during the FIBA World Championships, today we’re kicking off the same schtick for the upcoming Euroleague campaign.
The rules, again: These rankings are basically purely subjective (at this point; once the games are played, actual wins and losses will be figured in) but are based loosely on last season’s performance, Euroleague seedings before the draw, transactions made in the offseason, and performances in preseason games. (Olympiacos fans, you might want to look away right now.)
Today, the EL according to BiE looks something like the following.
1. FC Barcelona – Early on, it looks like business as usual for the side that dominated European club basketball in 2009-10 (well, until that gnarly showing in the ACB Finals, that is). In the off-season, Barça mostly stood pat while adding “only” Kosta Perovic; this weekend, the Blaugrana pummeled Euroleague contenders Real Madrid and Power Electronics Valencia by 172-118 to cruise to the Spanish Super Cup. Perhaps *this* will be the year Barcelona takes a quadruple cup, eh?
2. CSKA Moscow – Though the Zoran Planinic departure hurts a bit, the nucleus of the Red Army is still around and you gotta love the addition of Jamont Gordon. Best of all, Dusko Vujosevic is on board. If coach Dusko can work one-quarter the miracle he did with Partizan in 2009-10, CSKA’s thinking Euroleague Final Four early. Combined with the new rules which should favor the stifling baseline defense the Muscovites traditionally bring, and this year may be a perfect storm for CSKA Moscow.
3. Caja Laboral Baskonia – Tiago Who? Seriously, though, despite the departures of the newest San Antonio Spur and one-year man Lior Elihayu, Baskonia may have *improved* their ACB champion team this offseason by bringing in ultra-talented youngsters Nemanja Bjelica and Dejan Musli, plus Euroleague veterans Marcus Haislip and David Logan. Imagine an all-Spanish EL final in Barcelona…
4. Panathinaikos – A few names departed (Haislip, Nikola Pekovic, Vassilis Spanoulis) while a few joined up (Aleks Maric, Romain Sato, Kostas Kaimakoglou), but most of the core (Mike Batiste, Nick Calathes, Dimitris Diamantidis, Antonis Fotsis, Drew Nicholas, Milenko Tepic) stayed put. How confident is Greens’ management that the fluke early exit from Euroleague 2009-10 won’t be repeated? Confident enough not to worry about resigning Sarunas Jasikevicius. BiE says PAO is back in 2010-11.
5. Maccabi Tel Aviv – Normally, the assemblage of a team such as Tel Aviv undertook this offseason is to be distrusted (BiE’s one of the few who will admit he doesn’t have the Miami Heat penciled in for the NBA Finals), but it’s business as usual for Maccabi: This is the fourth similar shakeup in four years. David Blatt should make for the best possible replacement in lieu of Pini Gershon, having served Maccabi as both head coach and Gershon’s assistant this decade. On paper, you have to love the additions of Jeremy Pargo and Sofoklis Schortsanitis plus intriguing NCAA grads Mikhail Torrance and Jeff Foote. Now they’ve got to actually play the games… (Though making short work of Asseco Prokom in the Wroclaw Tourney last week, 83-65, would appear to be a very good sign.
6. Montepaschi Siena – Siena did suffer quite a roster shakeup thanks to economics, but Ksistof Lavrinovic, Nikos Zisis and Shaun Stonerook stayed in Italy to steady the foundation. A couple of great new additions in Rimantas Kaukenas and Bo McCalebb should enhance this team, especially the latter who brings a slasher of the sort MPS hasn’t seen in years.
7. Real Madrid – Is Ettore Messina having claret-and-blue colored nightmares already? Barça exposed several of Madrid’s weaknesses in the Spanish Super Cup caused by way too many key departures (Louis Bullock, Travis Hansen, Marko Jaric, Rimantas Kaukenas, Darjus Lavrinovic, etc). Messina is known for his active recruiting of players throughout the season, so BiE’d advise that he start putting in some overtime right now.
8. Partizan Belgrade – They’ll always have Pionir, of course, but here’s who the Black-and-Whites won’t have for 2010-11 (among others): Aleks Maric, Bo McCalebb, Lawrence Roberts, Slavko Vranes and, most of all, coach Dusko. Surely these unheralded guys can’t make another run deep into the Euroleague playoffs … can they?
9. Lietuvos Rytas stayed mostly at home in augmenting their roster this offseason, a formula that has served them well in two seasons as back-to-back LKL champions. You many not know many of these guys now, but you should by the Euroleague knockout round.
10. Olympiacos – Josh Childress, Sofoklis Schortsanitis and team MVP Linas Kleiza are all gone. Add in the sanctions levied against the team by home league EΣAKE and BiE just can’t believe this is Olympiacos’ year. (Though you gotta love the stealing away of Vassilis Spanoulis from archrival PAO.)
11. Unicaja Malaga – Like ACB rivals Barcelona, Unicaja mostly stood pat this offseason to their benefit; BiE’s just happy to see potential deadshot Uros Tripkovic back in the big league. Could this be his breakout year (finally)?
12. Valencia – It’s a big leap from Eurocup to Euroleague, and the fifth ACB team has made a couple of nice necessary additions to supplement their bid in Omar Cook and Robertas Javtokas. Add in some nice talent held over like Victor Claver, Nando de Colo and Rafa Martínez and you might believe this team can make some noise at this level … then again, there is that Spanish Super Cup loss…
13. Fenerbahçe Ülker
14. Efes Pilsen
15. Asseco Prokom Gydnia
16. AJ Milano – Call this quartet the “Who Can Say Bunch”: These four teams did lots of deck-shuffling this offseason and BiE’s gonna have to wait for a few more results before differentiating between these four. BiE’s favorite here, though, is clearly Gydnia, who has assembled a potentially lovable ragtag bunch of guys from obscure clubs like PGE Turow, Barangay Ginebra Kings, Associazione Basket Latina and the Los Angeles Clippers.
17. Cibona Zagreb should love the addition of Mario Delas, be interested in Marcus Johnson, and be more than somewhat concerned about making up for the playmaking abilities of the departed Jamont Gordon and Marko Tomas: The two combined for 30.3 points and 5.7 assists per Euroleague game last season.
18. Žalgiris Kaunas – In direct contrast to rivals Lietuvos Rytas, which was the first Euroleague team to have its roster set, Žalgiris is apparently still searching for that elusive missing piece. BiE might have ranked these guys higher, but the Romanov Self-Subversion Factor must be figured in
19. Brose Baskets Bamberg – One of the feel-good stories of last season, Bamberg reasserted its winning ways this weekend in taking Germany’s Domeiter Tourney.
20. Union Olimpija – Poor Olimpija. Forced to downgrade this season, the Slovenes will have to run without Jaka Klobucar and Jure Lalic in 2010-11. Not a good sign: The willingness to give Shawn King a look. Also not a good sign: a loss to Brindisi last week. A nice measuring-stick game goes off Wednesday when Olimpija gets Eurocuppers Crvena Zvezda.
21. Virtus Roma – Score from Saturday: Montegranaro 83, Roma 81. Anyone concerned yet?
22. Cholet Basket – Typical of French clubs these days, Cholet shuttled players back and forth in France to comprise this season’s roster. (Has no one told him all quality players from La Republique just go straight to the NBA?) Should Kevin Seraphin return from his NBA quest, Cholet might move up a spot or two, but 2010-11 might be another frustrating season for French basketball.