The Euroleague final is almost a distant memory despite taking place just 10 days ago but we’ve just entered one of the most interesting phases of the year for what happens next season across the board in basketball, writes Emmet Ryan
The week in Madrid was fun and it’s easy to get lost in the bubble of the Final Four but that show in the Barclaycard Centre also served as prelude to the next wave of stories that will dominate European Basketball between now and the start of October.
Normally at this stage, I go off trying to draw a bunch of arcs together but for the sake of clarity I’m going to actually use sub-heads for once.
Who jumps and who replaces them?
There are some obvious names when it comes to NBA moves, Nemanja Bjelica and Mario Hezonja are gone, Dario Saric and Bogdan Bogdanovic are staying, and then there are the likes of Sasha Kaun and Ante Tomic. The smart money says we see the latter in the NBA, it could be super smart money if Kaun ends up as the second Russian on David Blatt’s Cavs. He plays hard and has the game for a back-up big over there especially in a Blatt system. Also it would be amusing to see a second Euro in three years aged 30+ make the Rising Stars game.
All of these dominos have an impact. Bjelica just won the Euroleague MVP, that’s a big hole foir Fenerbahce to fill particularly with the Turkish giants clearly in need of a 5 as well. CSKA always seemed to under-utilise Kaun and Xavi Pascual isn’t exactly a card-carrying member of the Hezonja fan club. Pascual will however be wary of losing Tomic and even winning the Trevor Mbakwe sweepstakes (Trevor is getting paid, oh so very paid, this summer and he wholly deserves it) may not be enough. Which leads us nicely to wondering…
Where does Boban Marjanovic go?
The big monster in the middle got BiE’s MVP ballot despite our normal desire to avoid players who missed the post-season but he made Zvezda relevant and was the most singularly dominant force in Euroleague this season. Of course that leads to the obvious possibility of Boban going to the NBA but that is far from a lock and whatever about Mbakwe getting paid, Marjanovic is getting big money if a Euro team is willing to go all in on him. Stick him in an top tier line-up and that team becomes a prohibitive favourite for next season. Of course, one much younger man may also be hitting the road.
If it’s too soon for Kristaps Porzingis…
To go straight to the NBA, then maybe he should think about where he plays next season more than what he gets paid. At Sevilla, he gets minutes but the cheddar doesn’t compete with what he could get elsewhere. If the objective of staying in Europe an extra season however is to make him more NBA ready staying in the ACB and with a team where he will get game time against stronger opposition would surely be to his benefit? Normally I shout at young people to go get their money but for once that may not be the smartest investment.
Who even plays in Euroleague?
With the shift in licences the early stages of the ACB playoffs just got interesting. Baskonia fans seem confident of getting that third A licence which would put some pressure on Unicaja in the early going at least.
Turkey looks to be Fenerbahce, Efes, plus…Darussafaka if they pay the money to get in. That makes the third of this Istanbul trio well worth a look in the TBL Playoffs just to see what, if anything, they bring to the table.
Germany’s evolution from Big 1 to Big 3 may have ended the hegemony of a really fun fan base but it also could cause headaches with wild card spots. With Bayern facing Alba in the semi-finals, whoever loses will surely hope their conqueror claims the Bundesliga title. That makes life a lot easier for both when it comes to the wild card slot because a Bamberg title win puts some big heat on both. Speaking of Bamberg, let’s get back to Mbakwe for a second. Remember when Barca supposedly tried to get him mid-season? I can only imagine that conversation being something like “Hi Bamberg, we’ll give you a version of Tibor Pleiss whose confidence has been shattered plus benefits for Mbakwe” and the reply being “Umm, we’d rather win a title.”
And finally EuroBasket
I did say all European basketball at the top and we are already in will-they won’t-they play mode thanks to Nando de Colo’s flip flop at the weekend. As of now he is in but De Colo is just the start. Bar Joakim Noah, Vincent Collet probably has everybody but between injuries and fatigue a whole lot of other coaches will be anxious about what rosters they bring. BiE just really wants to see a lot of Nikola Mirotic in the Spanish line-up.