At 4-12 and joint bottom of the standings, Olimpia Milano don’t seem like the Euroleague team to recommend to US viewers but Emmet Ryan reckons it’s a team NBA fans will enjoy watching
They rarely win, they are iso heavy, and they don’t know their best line-up, yet Olimpia Milano guarantee excitement almost every time they step on the floor in Euroleague.
Of their 16 games so far this campaign, 13 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Even one of the blowouts was worth watching, a 62-94 reversal at home that announced Zalgiris Kaunas as this year’s dark horse contenders in Europe’s top flight.
It’s no accident that Milano get far more time on the Sweet 16 podcast than any of their compatriots circling the basement. Last season, they stank in the worst way. It wasn’t just that they were bad, finishing bottom of the table in the first season under Euroleague’s new format. They were ugly to watch. Everything about this team was wrong, with the play being all over the shop and way too many blowouts to bother tuning in.
This season, Milano still lose games but they are infinitely more fun to watch. The Italian club has become the League Pass side in Europe and there’s a heap to enjoy when watching their games.
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Arturas Gudaitis has shown some flashes of his potential, and why the Kings are keen to get him to the NBA reasonably soon. Jordan Theodore has taken a while to adjust to this level but he’s getting work done inside. His partnership with Andrew Goudelock and the varying degrees to which they work together on the floor is one of the things to watch this season.
Dairis Bertans is putting up lovely numbers, with a line of 46/45/92 so far on the season and they just signed Mindaugas Kuzminskas. There are plenty of offensive reasons to want to watch this team.
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The three point shooting as a whole remains a giant issue. With neither Theodore nor Goudelock breaking 30 per cent from deep, there’s a big issue in spacing being created by the back court.
All of this however really is just gilding the lily when it comes to explaining why NBA fans should tune in to their games. Think of Sunday’s clash between the Utah Jazz and Miami Heat. It was close throughout, sometimes the basketball was good and sometimes…eh…not great but it all came together for a really entertaining finish. Going up against the NFL playoffs, the NBA was never going to go with a marquee clash in the afternoon slot but those neutrals who did tune in got what they wanted out of that kind of a game.
That’s essentially what Milano deliver consistently. With a 4-12 record, this is not a team you are tuning in expecting a W but they deliver near guaranteed entertaining and competitive, for whatever reason, basketball that fills a nice slot in the calendar.
Not every team is going to challenge for titles, some teams aren’t even going to challenge for the post-season. Rarely is a team so prone to defeat yet so reliable to keep viewers engaged. It obviously stinks to be a Milano fan right now, they have the budget of a playoff team that should dominate Italy yet struggle to win their home league and are nowhere near the Euroleague post-season, but it’s at least easier for them to watch their charges this season.
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