Euroleague champions Real Madrid ended the season in a triumphant way by beating Baskonia 3-1 to win the ACB title, yet Luka Doncic’s decision to move to the NBA may be harmful for the “Whites” in their effort to successfully defend their titles next year.
When Sergio Llull suffered a serious knee injury last summer, which sidelined him for almost eight months, it was widely believed that Real Madrid wouldn’t be able to go all the way, despite having one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league.
However, coach Pablo Laso decided to make Doncic the leader and the Slovenian guard had no problem to take over and dominate his opponents.
The 19-year-old player made the best season of his career, averaging 16 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the Euroleague and leading his squad to a record 10th Euroleague title.
Concurrently, he was named Euroleague’s Rising Star for a second straight year, while he also won the MVP Award both in the regular season and the Final Four.
That said, it was inevitable that he would leave the “Whites” to join an NBA team. A few hours ago, during the 2018 NBA Draft, he was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in number three and was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he will have the opportunity to play alongside the legendary Dirk Nowitzki.
So, the question now is whether Real Madrid will still be one of the favourites, even if they will play without their best player.
There is no doubt that Llull will again become the team’s undisputed leader and the one that will take over.
The Spaniard has fully recovered from his injury, but the key for coach Laso will be to create an excellent supporting cast, like the one he had during the season.
As of now, most of the players are expected to retain their place in the roster, so very few changes will probably take place during the offseason.
Rudy Fernandez, Fabien Causeur, Jaycee Carroll, Facundo Campazzo and Jeffery Taylor are set to remain in the team and the same goes for big men Anthony Randolph, Gustavo Ayon, Ognjen Kuzmic and captain Felipe Reyes.
It’s still unknown whether Walter Tavares will leave the squad or not, since Kuzmic, who suffered a knee injury and missed most of the season, has been 100% healthy.
Moreover, the “Whites” want to renew Trey Thompkins’ contract and have made him a new offer.
Ηοwever, and according to Sportando, Anadolu Efes have made a more lucrative offer and it’s questionable whether the American power forward will stay in the Spanish side or will join the Turks.
That said, coach Laso should search for a combo guard that can play alongside Llull and be a game changer on both ends of the floor.
Although it’s difficult to find a player with similar characteristics to Doncic’s ones, the club have the budget and prestige to persuade the best free agents in Europe to join the team.
There is no doubt the departure of Doncic will have a negative effect on the team, especially in the beginning of the season, as he was one of the best two-way players in the league, yet the “Whites” have the talent and depth to adapt to this situation and overcome it.
Even if Thompkins decides to sign with Anadolu Efes, coach Laso can find another talented player to cover the gap, while Doncic’s replacement, who is expected to be a top class player, will help them start the season as the grand favourite to go all the way for another year.