The biggest prize in European basketball is the Euroleague title. There are 18 teams competing to lift the big one in May. Let’s dive in.
Over the last 18 days, BiE has broken down each of the 18 teams competing in Euroleague Basketball this season. Before getting to the fun part of this article, here’s how we’ve ranked all 18 teams. Links to each of their preview articles included.
1. Real Madrid
3. AS Monaco
7. Maccabi Tel Aviv
8. Crvena Zvezda
9. Anadolu Efes
10. Olimpia Milano
11. FC Barcelona
12. Zalgiris Kaunas
13. Bayern Munich
15. Virtus Bologna
17. Alba Berlin
18. LDLC Asvel
Now comes the fun bit. Let’s break them down into tranches.
Home court contenders
As the name suggests, these are the teams I believe have a chance of getting home court advantage in the Euroleague playoffs. Considering there are 4 slots, I honestly expected to have at least 6 teams in this batch. Instead I have settled on just the 5.
Real Madrid and Monaco feel like absolute locks for me here. I’m almost as high on Fenerbahce (yes I know I rank them above Monaco) but they aren’t quite as inevitable. The real decision here will be between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. It’s one where, understandably, home court could matter a lot. I’m narrowly going with the Greens here but it’s very tight.
Easily the largest single group here. Every team from 6th to 12th in my rankings fits. Remember, only 3 of those 7 teams will actually make the postseason. The big shock for most people is probably my excluding Anadolu Efes. That said, plenty of you will wonder why I have Barcelona so low. The reason is simple, the banter years are back.
Having both Belgrade clubs in the postseason of Euroleague may seem a bit of a reach. I genuinely don’t think so. That said, Crvena Zvezda may need a big mid-season run for me to be right.
BallinEurope is ramping up its YouTube game this season. Subscribe to our channel now for player exclusives, analysis videos, and much more.
No, I’m not saying these teams will spend more time on their Instagram than basketball. Each of Bayern Munich, Virtus Bologna, and, especially, Baskonia is built to get multiple wins over teams objectively better than them. That happens every season though so it’s not just that.
I fully expect each of these sides to get big upset wins over teams ahead of them in weeks where that opponent really needs that W. In all three cases, I could see it happening at least twice. In Baskonia’s… look it’s Baskonia. It’s what they do.
A big steaming pile of…
Nobody is going to be happy that I’ve put them here. Asvel fans were the only ones to even get annoyed at me over their ranking earlier in the preview process. Let me explain something here.
I’ve been a fan of UCD AFC, a football team, for more than 28 years. In some of those seasons, the club had a good squad for the level it was playing at. In others, it had a not so great squad. Then there are those seasons where I look at what my beloved boys in blue are fielding. Then I look at what everyone else is fielding. I look back at UCD and all I see is a big steaming pile of you know what. It’s my pile of you know what. I love that pile of you know what. It’s still a pile of you know what.
That’s what I see with an unbiased eye when I look at the rosters at the disposal of Valencia, Alba Berlin, and Valencia, compared to the rest of Euroleague. I see teams destined to have a season like the one my beloved football team is in the process of finishing.
Read our look at the future of basketball in the Philippines and the need for Puso to evolve now.
Storylines to watch
We all love a bit of off court drama around basketball. Before getting to the small matter of who I think will win the title, here are the reliable ones for this season.
1. Mike James
I was worried his ability to provide off court drama was getting samey. The Kemba Walker arrival has revitalised that arc. The beauty of it is that he’s still going to play great basketball no matter what.
2. Yabusele in Belgrade
Honestly, the reason this isn’t number 1 is because it’s so late in the season. Guerschon Yabusele and Real Madrid visit Partizan on 21 March 2024. I expect the reception to be quite something.
3. The Laso revolution
Bayern Munich fans are smart enough to not expect a lot from this roster this season. That said, they expect signs of progress. The club didn’t sign Pablo Laso as coach and then add Serge Ibaka just for laughs. Where we see progress will matter.
4. Mirotic after the drama
What exactly he will do in terms of turning around the fortunes of Olimpia Milano will be quite the story.
5. The last dance(s)
We know Kyle Hines intends to hang up his kicks after this season. Rudy Fernandez has confirmed he’ll retire from playing for Spain next summer too although he has yet to confirm his club future. Hines alone is one of the great stories of success through perseverance. He’s also one of the nicest people capable of breaking you in two. Rudy’s longevity of being so very Rudy will ensure he’s remembered as one of the game’s great characters too.
Picking the playoffs
Based on the above rankings the Euroleague playoff matches would be:
Real Madrid vs Crvena Zvezda
Fenerbahce vs Maccabi Tel Aviv
AS Monaco vs Partizan
Panathinaikos vs Olympiacos
I’m going to breeze through the first three because there’s only one of these you care about me going long on. Real Madrid and Fenerbahce will use home court to their advantage and progress. Partizan to pull the upset over Monaco.
As for the Greek derby aka the Derby of Eternal Enemies. Well, the strengths are different. That’s obvious yet one thing keeps sticking in my head. Olympiacos may be better built for the playoffs than last year. That’s despite taking a step back overall in terms of the roster. In this scenario, I’m picking the Reds for the Final Four.
Who wins it all
Now we are going from projections, in terms of match-ups, to wild extrapolation. So I’m going to skip the results of the semis or who even comes second. I’m just going for who I think wins it all. The big fearless prediction of BiE for the Euroleague season is…
Champion: Real Madrid