TalkBasket continues its look into all 24 teams in this season’s Euroleague, here is a look at Real Madrid.
Introduction: Real Madrid’s last stints in the Euroleague haven’t been what is expected for a perennial powerhouse who always plays to win every trophy they compete in. The last title for Los Blancos dated to 1995 where they beat Olympiacos, with Sabonis leading their way.
This year signings of Rudy Fernandez (Denver Nuggets), playmaker Dontaye Drapper (Cedevita Zagreb) , Marcus Slaughter (Brose Baskets) and Rafael Hettsheimeir (CAI Zaragoza) look to make up for the losses of Novika Velivckovic, Ante Tomic and Kyle Singler as they look to fight for a spot at the Final Four in London and create some troubles to recover a title that has been missing for too long.
Coach: Pablo Laso extended his contract this summer and will set to stay on the sidelines until the end of 2013-2014 season. In his second year with Madrid, Laso created a very attractive style of play to watch with a high pace on both hands on the floor. Last year Real Madrid finished with 86 points per game, which was the highest in the Euroleague overall. He is expected to continue this motor of game, especially with the incomes.
Key Player: Rudy Fernandez will be the go-to-guy in this Spanish team. After an unsuccessful year in NBA because of back injuries, Rudy will try to relive his career playing in Madrid (where he played already during the lockout being their leading scorer in that time).
He has the ability to play with every other backcourt player on the roster, but expectations are high too see what he can do with Spanish Olympic team-mate Sergio Rodriguez on the floor forming the “Spanish Armada” in this run-and-gun style of play.
Breakout Player: Rafael Hettsheimeir will be a standout on this Madrid roster with him and Drapper who will divide minutes with Llull and Rodriguez at the point guard position.
Last season playing in ACB, Rafa finished with 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, being one of the main guys for Zaragoza.
It’s also expected that Slaughter could be a breakout player in this team. In his first appearance with top Euroleague team but mainly with a frontcourt that doesn’t have a lot of reliable solutions in the offensive end the American player will have to be step up and play big time.
Biggest Euroleague Moment: With Real Madrid’s rich heritage, it’s really difficult to pinpoint a single moment. They have won a record eight Euroleague crowns and recently won the Eurocup (then-ULEB Cup) in 2006-07.