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Euroleague 2016/17 Analysis
#1
EuroLeague 
The Euroleague has kicked off with the new format this season, and with all of its pros and cons, there's no denying that the dynamic has been completely different. 1/5 of the regular season is behind us and this is a good time to see where the teams are relative to their preseason expectations (all in my opinion, of course):

Top Dogs: CSKA MOSCOW (6-0)

The defending champions are the only undefeated team so far and they have done so convincingly, defeating Real Madrid, Olympiacos and Panthinaikos and leading the league in scoring. Reigning MVP Nando de Colo is on fire with 21.7 PPG on 52% shooting from the field, while Milos Teodosic leads the league in assists with 8.2. They seem well on their way to another Euroleague final and shot at a back to back title.

Powerfully Representing Spain: REAL MADRID (4-2), BASKONIA VITORIA (4-2), FC BARCELONA (4-2)

All three representatives of Spain are off to a strong start to the season. Baskonia in particular are doing very well, defeating fellow Final Four contenders Real and Fenerbahce (very convincingly), despite slipping up at Zalgiris. Andrea Bargnani started his Euroleague comeback season well before succumbing to injury, but two other former NBA players, Shane Larkin and Toko Shengelia, have helped the team stay near the top of the the table.

Real have lost two hard close matches to Baskonia and CSKA, but seem set on another deep run and title challenge. Rudy Fernandez has shown his age at times, but Real's star studded roster, led by the sublime Sergio Llull, packs arguably the most punch in the league.

Barcelona haven't been as dominant in the accumulation of 4 wins, and have enjoyed a relatively easy schedule, with their loss to Fenerbahce being their only game against a team at .500 or above. Injury problems have plagued several players, with the everlasting Juan Carlos Navarro out since game one. The result is a dependency on superstar Tyrese Rice, who has been dominant in his past 3 games. Barcelona have two very big tests coming up at Olympiacos and vs Real, where they will have to prove they can keep winning against better competition.

Looking Good: PANATHINAIKOS (4-2), DARRUSAFAKA (4-2)

Both these teams can be considered dark horses at making a Final Four run after good starts to the season. Panathinaikos is a shell of the club that won 3 championships in 5 years in 2006-2010, and started the season without retired superstar Dimitris Diamantidis for the first time in over a decade. However, they've started the season as well as they could have hoped, while enjoying an easy schedule. Over the next four games, they visit Spain twice to play Real Madrid and Barcelona and host Olympiacos and Darrusafaka, in a stretch which will surely show whether they can compete with the big guns.

Darrusafaka made a huge splash in the offseason by signing coach David Blatt, fresh off his time with LeBron James in Cleveland, and adding Brad Wanamaker, Will Clyburn, James Anderson and Adrien Moerman to the roster that finished 9-15 last season. They're off to a disappointing start in the Turkish league and have a point difference of just 9 - their games have been decided by an average of just 3.5 points! They have enjoyed possibly the easiest schedule in the league, but they have a very tough challenge next in CSKA before a heated derby against Galatasaray and a visit to Athens against Panathinaikos. Will they continue their winning ways?

Crisis in Istanbul? FENERBAHCE (4-2)

Last season's finalists and arguably the most dominant team in the league last season, Fenerbahce are fresh off two straight losses, including a very painful 86-52 loss to Baskonia. Superstar Bogdan Bogdanovic is battling an injury and has missed half of the team's games, and is surely sorely missed by Zeljko Obradovic. However, the team has enough firepower to stay near the top of the table even in his absence, and need to get back on the winning road against Maccabi Tel Aviv at home tonight, before a derby with Andalou Efes.

Middle of the Pack: OLYMPIACOS (3-3), EA7 EMPORIO ARMANI MILANO (3-3)

The Greeks kicked off their season with a painful 18 point loss to Real Madrid, and have had to deal with a particularly tough schedule so far. Aging local stars Vassilis Spanoulis (34) and Georgios Printezis (31) continue to lead the squad, and they will have to continue to play at their best in order to take advantage of games against Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Darrusafaka to stay close to the top.

Milano has led the league in scoring with 93 points per game so far, but lost 3 games in a row before recovering against Andalou Efes. 5 players have scored an double figure average as part of a very balanced attack, but Milano will have to improve their defense in order to mount a serious challenge to the league's top teams.

Underperfoming: MACCABI TEL AVIV (2-4), ANDALOU EFES ISTANBUL (3-4)

After the worst European campaign in club history ended in early elimination from the Euroleague and promptly from the Eurocup, Maccabi completely retooled their roster and splashed on proven Euroleague stars Sonny Weems and Andrew Goudelock, while also adding several other players including Belgrade's Maik Zirbes and Quincy Miller. However, a serious knee injury has kept Miller out of the competition so far, and the team has struggled to gel, defeating only Zalgiris and Galatasaray, while already firing it's coach.

Efes are fresh off a home win against Unics Kazan and have recovered slightly after losing their first 3 games of the season. The club has routinely underperformed in the Euroleague, and this season seems no different. A hot derby vs Fenerbahce awaits.

Staying Afloat: BROSE BAMBERG (2-4), CRVENA ZVEZDA MTS BELGRADE (2-4)

Belgrade sport the league's stingiest defense but have struggled to find the rim so far, averaging less than 70 points per game. Ognjen Kuzmic has led the team in scoring (10.2) and the entire league in rebounds (8.5) and 2pt scoring percentage (72%). Their surprise win against Barcelona at home has been a bright spot, and very winnable games against Bamberg, Efes, Milano and Zalgiris are next.

Bamberg were very close to away wins at Darrusafaka, Barcelona and Fenerbahce and lost by a point to Panathinaikos at home. A bit more luck and focus could have resulted in a very strong start to the season by the Germans - I wouldn't count them out as playoff contenders throughout the rest of the season. They certainly have the talent to do so, with Nikos Zisis, Daniel Theis, Nicolo Melli, Darius Miller and Janis Strelnieks all on the roster.

Bottom Dwellers: UNICS KAZAN (2-5), ZALGIRIS KAUNA (1-5), GALATASARAY ODEOBANK ISTANBUL (1-5)

Kazan joined the league from the Eurocup this season, and were not expected to mount a playoff run. So far, they've been playing as expected, despite a fantastic season by Keith Langford, who leads the league in scoring with over 24 points per game. A very surprising away win at Fenerbahce has been the team's sole impressive achievment, while they can look forward to an interesting match at home against Maccabi as they attempt to win their third game.

Galtasaray won the Eurocup last season, but lost their leading stars in the offseason before joining the Euroleague. They are off to a horrible start, and former NBA players Austin Daye and Justin Dentmon will hope to lead their team to greener pastures ahead. A home win against Olympiacos after 5 straight losses gives a glimmer of hope.

Zalgiris had a very bad Top 16 last season, finishing with just a 2-12 record despite the appointment of Sarunas Jasikevicius as head coach. The Euroleague legend hasn't found much more success this season and has placed some of the blame on officiating. Zalgiris has had to deal with a very tough schedule so far, but their next match against Galatasaray at home seems like an opportunity to move up the table.
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#2
Nice analysis. It sums up the situation at this early stage of the season. Fenerbahce will probably climb higher even though so far they are unconvincing. Also I don't expect Baskonia to be that high at the end of the season. They have a talented squad though. And what's up with Efes? Despite spending big time they can't get the results they want.
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#3
Don't write down Bamberg just yet. Coach Trinchieri will make us better.

My top 8 for playoffs:
CSKA
Real
Barca
Fener
Baskonia
Maccabi
Bamberg
Oly
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#4
I can't explain Efes. They seem to spend so much only to end up barely making the playoffs or losing in the top 16.

I think other than Kazan and Galatasaray, every team has a shot at making the playoffs. CSKA, Real and Fener (despite their horrible stretch) are the only ones I believe are locks. The other 5 spots are up for grabs. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bamberg or Belgrade grab a spot while a powerhouse like Barca or one of the Greek teams sits out. And I think only one makes it out of Milano - Baskonia - Maccabi.
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#5
ROUND 9 UPDATE

Ahead of the Field: CSKA MOSCOW (8-1), REAL MADRID (7-2)

A tough loss in Turkey to Darrusafaka, in which Nando de Colo lost 8 turnovers and Milos Teodosic was held to 4/12 from the field, is the only blemish on CKSA's resume so far this season. A dominating fourth quarter vs Zalgiris and three dominant quarters vs Baskonia followed their lone loss and have kept them in 1st place, with the best offense in the league.

As for Real, they are counting 3 straight wins since their 1 point loss to CSKA and boast the league's best point difference. They absolutely dismantled Barcelona (in Barcelona!) in an unbelievably one sided "Classico", which included what is sure to be the block of the year by Anthony Randolph.

Nearing the Top: FENERBAHCE (6-3), MACCABI TEL AVIV (5-4)

Both teams met in Istanbul in Round 7, with Maccabi coming away victorious thanks to fantastic performances by Sonny Weems and Yogev Ohayon. The Yellows have won 3 straight after a mediocre start to the season, including an impressive away victory over Olympiacos. They're favorites for their next 3 games (Efes and Brose at home and an away game in Belgrade), so don't be surprised to see them near the top of the standings for the foreseeable future. 

Fenerbahce broke their 3 game losing streak with a win over Efes, before beating Milano as well. Kostas Sloukas has been the main factor in their recovery, averaging nearly 20 points on 72% shooting over the two wins. Three of their next four games are at home, and they'll try to capitalize on their momentum, starting with a very tough challenge against Real Madrid.

Middle of the Pack: PANATHINAIKOS (5-4), DARRUSAFAKA (5-4), OLYMPIACOS (5-4), BASKONIA (5-4)

Olympiacos won hard fought battles with Barcelona and Panathinaikos before suffering a tough home loss to Maccabi. It seems like far too much of the workload is set on Vassilis Spanoulis' aging shoulders, though, and he isn't getting enough help from his supporting cast.

Panathinaikos have played better than their record suggests. They lost to Real and Olympiacos by a combined 5 points before defeating Darrusafaka behind Ioannis Bourousis' 18 points in 18 minutes (including 14/18 from the free throw line!). 

Baskonia have shown some inconsistency this season and each of their past two wins has been followed by a loss. They were demolished by CSKA in Moscow in round 9, and will hope to take advantage of their coming home stand against Darussafaka and Galatasaray. Andrea Bargnani has failed to impress since returning from his injury, but Shane Larkin and Rodrigue Beaubois have put in solid performances.

Finally, after a fantastic start to the season, including a win over CSKA, Darussafaka have lost their last two games (both away games) and have slipped to 7th place. Their upcoming schedule is rough, as they return home to host Olympiacos before meeting Baskonia (away), Real (home), Fenerbahce (away) and Maccabi (home).

Losing Ground: EA7 EMPORIO ARMANI MILANO (4-5), FC BARCELONA (4-5)

Milano recovered from their early season 3 game losing streak with two home wins, but followed with two losses, including a terrible performance in Belgrade. Milan Macvan has cooled down considerably after two excellent games to start the season, and Miroslav Radulijca missed the last game with an injury. Most importantly, however, Milano have been held under 80 points for the past 3 games after boasting the league's best offense after Round 6.

Barcelona are in a deep downward spiral, riding a 3 game losing streak. They were held to just 52 points against Olympiacos and lost by 39 points to Real Madrid before losing to Galatasaray thanks to a 3rd quarter meltdown. Tyrese Rice has been struggling to carry the team alone, averaging 16.4 points, but shooting just 37.5% from the field. Barca will have to recover soon or risk falling far behind in the playoff race.

Recovering: CRVENA ZVEZDA (4-5), ANADOLU EFES ISTANBUL (4-5), ZALGIRIS KAUNAS (3-6), GALATASARAY (3-6)

Efes have gone 4-2 since losing their first 3 games of the season and have taken advantage of home games against Belgrade and Kazan. They boast a balanced attack, with 5 players averaging double figures, which places them 3rd in the league in points scored. An away win over Maccabi in their next match would show they're serious about entering the playoff conversation.

Crvena Zvezda continue to show the league's top defense, alongside it's worst offense. The defense collapsed against Efes, allowing them to score 100 points. They have a must win game against Zalgiris before meeting some of the league's top teams during December: Fenerbahce, Olympiacos, Maccabi, Real and CSKA.

Zalgiris suffered a 4 game losing streak, but have won 2 of their past 3 games, with the loss coming in Moscow after putting up a good fight. 3 of their next 4 games are away from home, including a very big challenge in Madrid. They will need more huge performances from Brock Motum (who scored 50 points combined in round 6+7) and veteran Paulius Jankunas (who exploded for 30 against CSKA and is averaging 14 points on 50.6% shooting) in order to mount a playoff challenge.

Galatasaray own the longest losing streak of the season (5 losses) but have recovered with 3 wins in their past 4 games. However, all 3 wins have been at home, and their next two games are at Baskonia and Panathinaikos. They've played away from home just 3 times this season and have yet to register a win. Winning one of their next two games will be a solid achievement.

Bottom Dwellers: UNICS KAZAN (2-7), BROSE BAMBERG (2-7)

Brose have continued a very disappointing start to the season and are on a 4 game losing streak. Shockingly, their first 5 losses came at a combined 11 points (!) and they have lost just one games by double digits. Unfortunately, things won't get easier for the Germans as they are set to face league leaders CSKA and Real and the hot Maccabi and Efes in their next few games.

Kazan have failed to surpass expectations and find themselves in last place in the league. Keith Langford continues to lead the league in scoring, and they nearly managed to surprise Maccabi at home, but the Russians don't have much going for them. Another weak month in December, and they can start planning on an early exit from the Euroleague this season.
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