With less than 48 hours before the official start of the season, here is a preview of what we are expecting to see from the 16 top clubs in Europe.
CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce and Real Madrid are the favourites to go all the way for another season. All three of them acquired top players and still have the best and deepest rosters in the league.
The Muscovites are under pressure to win the title. Another failure will cost head coach Dimitris Itoudis his place in the bench. They will rely on the duo of Sergio Rodriguez and Nando De Colo to make the difference in the backcourt line. Kyle Hines and Othello Hunter will again be the main weapons in the frontline.
Fenerbahce saw Brad Wanamaker and Jason Thompson leave the squad. Former NBA players Tyler Ennis and Joffrey Lauvergne came in. If they play consistently, they will help the Turks take it to the next level. Head coach Zeljko Obradovic has created a great roster, with versatile players that can have a game-changing role.
Real Madrid has to deal with the departure of Luka Doncic. The Slovenian star left the “Whites” and joined the Dallas Mavericks. The team is very talented and deep, though. They have made a great start to the season and have already won the Spanish Super Cup. The defending champions will try to play an up-tempo basketball, with Sergio Llull as the leader.
The Greek Giants
Olympiacos decided to rebuild the team during the off-season. Nikola Milutinov and Janis Strelnieks were the only foreign players that remained with the “Reds”. Head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos was let go. 2014 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion David Blatt came in as his replacement.
The 59-year-old coach brought in players that fit to his playing style. They will need time to adjust to his tactics, though. Olympiacos have a difficult schedule ahead of them, so they will rely on the duo of Giorgos Printezis and Vassilis Spanoulis to make the difference.
Panathinaikos want to go all the way for the first time since 2012. They signed talented players, like Keith Langford and Ioannis Papapetrou, while defensive specialist Stephane Lasme returned to the six-time EuroLeague champions.
Nick Calathes will again lead the way for the “Greens”, while head coach Xavi Pascual will want to see his players avoid any ups and downs, especially in the first part of the season.
The Question Marks
Barcelona, Anadolu Efes and Maccabi Tel-Aviv want to return to the postseason and tried to strengthen their roster during the off-season.
The Catalans saw Juan Carlos Navarro retire, yet the squad seems deeper and more talented than last year. Kevin Pangos, Chris Singleton and Kyle Kuric signed with the “Blaugrana”, while Thomas Heurtel and Ante Tomic have played well in the start of the season. They will have to improve their chemistry and teamwork if they are to fight for the playoffs.
Similarly, Anadolu Efes acquired players who know how tough EuroLeague Basketball is. Shane Larkin, Adrien Moerman, James Anderson and Rodrigue Beaubois have the talent and experience to help the team reach the playoffs after having the worst record last season (7-23).
Maccabi Tel-Aviv let most of the players go and rebuilt their roster. Scottie Wilbekin, Tarik Black, Johnny O’Bryant and Jeremy Pargo joined the Israelis and want to make Maccabi a force to be reckoned with. They will need to improve their teamwork and chemistry in order to fight for a place in the postseason.
Baskonia and Armani Milano
The Basques will host the 2019 Final Four and want to play in the semi-final for the first time since 2016. Tornike Shengelia is the undisputed leader, while the teams consists of versatile players. Head coach Pedro Martinez helped the team play at high standards last season. He wants to do the same this year, too.
The fans set a new season ticket sales record and Matt Janning said the team has no extra pressure, despite hosting the Final Four. Baskonia want to be the league’s pleasant surprise and seem perfectly capable of doing this.
Armani Milano brought Mike James, Nemanja Nedovic and Jeff Brooks to the squad. All three of them are very talented and can be game changers. They will play alongside Vladimir Micov, Arturas Gudaitis and Kaleb Tarczewski. It is all about teamwork for the Italians. If they focus on their stats, they will fail again.
Regarding the remaining teams, Khimki want to advance to the playoffs for a second straight season. Bayern Munich and Darussafaka will also fight for a place in the postseason. Zalgiris Kaunas will try to make another miracle. Gran Canaria and Buducnost will likely be the weak links.
Overall, the 2018 EuroLeague will have exciting and of high quality matches. And as Kyle Hines stated, it will be more balanced and competitive than ever before.