Anadolu Efes: At a crossroads

Euroleague Basketball
Euroleague Basketball

Following a series of mediocre performances and unfortunate results, coach Velimir Perasovic was let go and former Galatasaray coach, Ergin Ataman, has been appointed as his replacement. Is this enough, though, for the Turkish club to turn things around?

Although there were high expectations in the beginning of the season, due to the roster’s depth and talent, things didn’t work out very well.

With five straight losses in the first five Euroleague games, Perasovic and his players had to play at much higher standards to reverse the situation.

The two consecutive victories over Barcelona and Maccabi Tel-Aviv on the road were a sign that the Turks would make the come-back, yet the squad won only once in their next five games.

Consequently, they are on the bottom of the table (3-9 record) and the loss to Baskonia at home last Friday night (81-82) put an end to Perasovic’s second stint with the team.

That said, Ataman has now taken over, in what will be his third time as the side’s coach (1999-2001 and 2008-2010, respectively).

However, his mission will certainly be very difficult, since Efes will play against Khimki and Olympiacos Piraeus in two do-or-die matches on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

But, what changes should the experienced coach make to help the team return to the winning track?

Anadolu Efes are among the worst clubs in almost every category, so Ataman should work very hard to help his side rapidly enhance its performance.

More specifically, the Turks should play faster and have better ball movement in order to make their playing style less predictable and dish more assists, as they average just 15.2 per game (15th overall).

Moreover, they need to raise their two-point (49.9%) and three-point percentage (33.3%) respectively, which are very low, and the same goes for their overall field-goal percentage as well (46.3%, 14th overall).

Concurrently, they should improve their concentration level and be more focused in order to reduce the number of turnovers (averaging 11.25 per game) and avoid offering their opponents many fast-break opportunities.

On the other end of the floor, a tougher and more effective approach should be adopted, as the squad has one of the worst defensive lines in the league (conceding 83.7 ppg), while they are on the bottom of the steals category (just 4.9 per game), which shows their lack of defensive aggressiveness.

Euroleague Basketball

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

On the contrary, the club is one of the best in the rebounds category (36 boards per game, 5th overall), which lets them control the tempo and run the floor well.

In addition, Ataman should enable his players to improve their overall performance and play for one another, otherwise I think it would be wise for Anadolu Efes to sign new players that could immediately become game changers.

Concerning the current roster, it consists of talented players that can make the difference on both ends of the floor, yet the supporting cast needs to step up, while Derrick Brown’s return to action is of utmost importance for the side.

The latter, who made his season debut against Crvena Zvezda two weeks ago, was one of the leaders last year and his pres-season injury shocked the side, which failed to cover his gap.

Brown’s return will offer Bryant Dunston (11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds) and Vladimir Stimac (13.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg) plenty of space inside the paint, as the opponents’ strategy will mainly focus on guarding the American power forward.

Besides, the presence of Brock Motum (8.3 points and 3.4 boards per game, 53.3% in two-pointers) ensures there will be reliable backup, when Brown goes to the bench.

Euroleague Basketball

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

In the back-court line, Errick McCollum is the best player (14.2 ppg, 41.8% in three-pointers), however he should share the ball more and dish more assists (just 1.8 per game).

For their part, McCollum’s back-court mates, Krunoslav Simon (8.9 points and 3.5 assists per game, 36.8% from beyond the arc) and Josh Adams (7.2 ppg, 41.4% in three-pointers, 2.3 apg), need to stabilise their performance at high levels, and the same goes for Ricky Ledo (10.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, just 29.2% from beyond the arc), too.

Overall, the aforementioned players will have a central role in Ataman’s tactics and should quickly adapt to the coach’s playing style and turn things around.

Euroleague Basketball

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

As both Khimki and Olympiacos will fight tooth and nail to claim the victory, Anadolu Efes need to be at their very best to beat their opponents. Otherwise, things will become very difficult and it will be unlikely for the Turks to reverse the situation.

That said, the match against Khimki on Wednesday evening (18:00 CET, 20/12) will be the first crash-test for Anadolu Efes and new head coach, Ergin Ataman, in their effort to prove they can still make the come-back.