BiE continues its preview of the leagues across Europe with a look to one of the most exciting, in terms of gameplay, on the continent. Here’s what Emmet Ryan is looking forward to with the upcoming Bundesliga season
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there are few leagues more convenient to follow and enjoy in Europe than Germany’s top flight. With all games available in HD through Laola1, a pretty offence heavy focus in the league, and generally fantastic crowds, there are worse ways to spend a hungover Sunday afternoon in a coffee shop.
A new name will be on the trophy this season but only because the reigning champions have changed theirs. Brose Baskets Bamberg are now Brose Bamberg but there’s little reason to look past the kings of the BBL in the year ahead. Losing Brad Wanamaker (Darussafaka Dogus, BSL) is big but Darius Miller looks more than ready to step into the role of being the guy for Brose Bamberg in this season’s campaign while the rest of the roster, including newly acquired Fabien Causeur (Baskonia, ACB) and Maodo Lo (Columbia, NCAA), looks pretty stacked. It’s hard to see anyone making a serious challenge to this roster which retains the services of Nikos Zisis, Nic Melli, and Janis Strelnieks.
Last season’s runners-up, Ratiopharm Ulm, retain the services of the key pieces that got them to the finals while also bringing in solid pieces in Tim Ohlbrecht (Enisey, VTB), Karsten Tadda (Giessen, BBL), and an interesting prospect in Devon Baulkmann (Tennessee, NCAA).
The most interesting arrival however is at FC Bayern where Reggie Redding (Darussafaka, BSL) returns to the Bundesliga after a disappointing season in Turkey. Redding’s displays two seasons ago with Alba Berlin were the talk of the continent and he gets to link back up with Alex Renfroe in Munich. There has been a huge amount of change on the Bayern roster. Gone are John Bryant (Valencia, ACB), Deon Thompson (Galatasaray, BSL), and Paul Zipser (Chicago Bulls, NBA) while Redding is joined by Devin Booker (Élan-Chalon, LNB), Alex King (Alba Berlin, BBL), and Ondrej Balvin (Real Betis, ACB). There was definitely a need for change with Bayern, having stagnated somewhat since their Bundesliga title win three seasons ago, and the new look for the Bavarians will be keenly observed this season.
Alba, despite winning the cup, were a disappointment last year. Having lost their big three of Redding, Renfroe, and Jamel McClean they went through last season looking a thoroughly spent force. The one on-location view this site had was more of rugby match than a basketball game as Alba fell at the first hurdle of the playoffs. The moves in the off-season have been significant. Along with replacing Sasha Obradovic with Ahmet Çakı, the Berlin club has brought in Engin Atsur (Besiktas, BSL), Dominique Johnson (Banvit, BSL), former Louisville standout Peyton Siva (Caserta, Serie A), and Malcolm Miller (Maine, NBADL). Out go King, Will Cherry (Gaziantep, BSL), Kresimir Loncar (s.Oliver Basket, BBL), and Rob Lowery (Astana, VTB). Like Bayern, it’s a huge amount of change that’s going to keep folk focused on them early.
After a disappointing season last time out, more is expected from the usually reliable Telekom Baskets Bonn. A solid organisation with the benefit of being the biggest sports attraction in a decent sized city, there’s a lot of upside to Bonn’s overall situation. Converting that into honours on the court is another matter entirely. Yet again it’s another side with sweeping changes to the roster. Florian Koch is the only returning name with Ryan Thompson (Trabzonspor, BSL), and Skyliners Frankfurt duo Konstantin Klein and Johannes Richter amongst the new arrivals.
As for that Frankfurt side, it was a bit of a what-if season for them a year ago. Johannes Voigtmann (Baskonia, ACB) is the highest profile of 7 departures. Having built up to make a good run last season, the hope in Frankfurt is that the remaining pieces can build something with a mixed bag of new arrivals to remain at the top end of the Bundesliga discussion.
The one glaring mark over the season is the sheer expectation that Bamberg will win it all. There’s not enough in the moves made by the other sides in the Bundesliga to think that the league’s Euroleague representative will do anything other than win again. A run by anyone to at least threaten their dominance would prove interesting but competitive balance, long the league’s biggest selling point, is going to rely on the rebuilding projects by the bigger clubs in the league.