After slumping in Milano, Panathinaikos added to their back court with the signing of Andy Rautins. There appears however to be room for one more move and Emmet Ryan feels the Greens need to strike it big
Andy Rautins is a risk as a signing but one with significant upside. He can score a lot, the Canadian generally puts up good numbers wherever he goes. He is however not used to playing at a level like Euroleague nor will he be as familiar with the likely reduced role he will have at Panathinaikos.
Still, he was the type of gamble worth making. Panathinaikos had more room to roll the dice on their back court addition than up front. A high upside player who might provide some real diversity in scoring can deliver a lot and the fundamental roles for PAO are already well covered.
He’s not however going to be enough to prevent a repeat of what happened in Milano. A week after going to Kaliningrad and delivering a simply breathtaking display of guile and character, PAO were just flat for the bulk of the contest with Olimpia. It allowed Ettore Messina’s side to complete the season sweep, which might count for a great deal come the final standings, and moreover showed the issue PAO really has.
Milano may be a playoff team but this was still a let-down game for Panathinaikos. After the high of winning on the road against a top tier contender, they couldn’t follow it up with another display of that level or even a really coherent one.
Panathinaikos managed to waste a really efficient night by Jimmer Fredette, who went 11/17 for 28 points (a personal season high in makes and joint season high in field goals attempted), as the rest of the team went 22/55 in total (40 per cent) including 5/19 from deep (26 per cent).
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. A team that can do what PAO did to CSKA and still hold just a 10-8 record is going to have issues. The number of options for scoring in the back court seems to at least be partially addressed with the Rautins signing. That’s not just about how many guys Rick Pitino can get into a game but also about the added fatigue with the extended regular season.
PAO however should be in better shape than most teams of their depth to weather the heavier schedule. Their run to the Greek title this year was already looking processional, despite exiting the cup early, with Olympiacos out and then second placed AEK saw Howard Sant-Roos go to Moscow right after he played the full 40 minutes in their upset of the Greens.
It’s not a stretch to say that PAO could probably punt the rest of the regular season and still coast into the Greek playoffs. From there, nobody seriously thinks they are losing a series to anybody. Pitino needs to keep his players sharp but the regular season domestically can take care of itself. The more important players need to be kept fresh in the battle to get a good seed in the Euroleague post-season.
As things stand, Panathinaikos would face Efes in the playoffs and that’s a nightmare match-up at the best of times. The interior depth of the Greens, as they are, compounds the problem.
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It’s generally accepted that Panathinaikos are going to sign a big but they need to be smart here. Just getting a long banger has some appeal but they don’t need to make height and length the overarching priorities here. There are no absolute must-tick boxes in terms of body in the big PAO signs.
That’s because of Dinos Mitoglou, he gives Panathinaikos the length they need from the 4 and with Georgios Papagiannis continuing to feel the Pitino effect since the coach came back, there is room to think broadly here.
PAO need to look at this in terms of two factors, impact and complement. How will the big they sign change the flow for them in terms of creating space offensively or reducing it on D? How will they gel in terms of style with the pieces Pitino is moving around them?
That’s it, those are the only things that are going to matter with this one move. Panathinaikos are not looking for a franchise player, they have that in Nick Calathes, and they don’t need an All-Euroleague talent. They need someone who will give them something they don’t have without subtracting from what’s there.
It’s boring but sometimes the most important answers are. Now we have to see how Panathinaikos respond.