By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
Stanko Barac, Anadolu Efes via Caja Laboral
Stanko Barac looked like an All-Euroleaguer in group play with Caja Laboral, putting up 14.1 points and 6.7 boards in 26 Vitorian minutes per. Then the Uruguayan rebounding machine, Esteban Batista, rolled into town and chopped those 26 minutes down to 18 in the Top 16, and the averages plummeted as well, down to 7 and 4 in those next six games.
Now Barac, still 24, heads to Istanbul to solidify his reputation as one of Europe’s best bigs. Finally he’ll be free from Esteban Batista’s shadow, ready to spread his wings and—oh, damn. Nevermind.
Esteban Batista, Anadolu Efes via Caja Laboral
Looks like Stevey Bats just needs some Stanko in his life. That, or Efes is trying to create Caja East. Next thing you know they’ll employ planes and cranes to airlift the Fernando Buesa Arena. Oh. My sources are telling me that Operation Airlift is already underway.
Sasha Vujacic, Anadolu Efes via New Jersey Nets
There’s not much I can tell you about Sasha that he hasn’t already blurted out himself. The Machine can drop 25 to 30 points whenever he damn well pleases and dates a Russian tennis player whose hair is only slightly longer than his used to be. We’ll see if one of the world’s most hated bench scorers can find a few fans in the old continent, where even the Slovenian press has told me there’s no love for Sasha.
With Igor Rakocevic on his way out the door, however, that ball’s not going to toss itself through the rim. With Dogus Balbay and Sinan Guler locked into place, Efes boasts an incredibly stout defensive backcourt, but lack the punch out front to complement Batista, Barac and Dusko Savanovic inside If Sasha can put up half the points he’s promised hypothetically, Efes might be raising their glasses to toast The Machine.
Leon Radosevic, Olimpia Milano via Cibona Zagreb
If Leon thinks he had fun last year shocking the basketball world with his endless surge of consistent production, just wait until he sees what it’s like to score, rebound and get paid.
I paid homage to him in a SLAM Magazine post earlier this year, and look forward to seeing how he cranks it up next to Fotsis, Bourousis, and a paycheck or three.
Drew Nicholas, Olimpia Milano via Panathinaikos
Milano’s assault on abandoned Greek talent continues after plucking Ioannis Bourousis from Olympiacos and Antonis Fotsis from Drew’s Greens. With Omar Cook swagging out the point guard duties, Drew Nicholas settling into his new role as Drew Nicholas and Radosevic chipping in on the interior, Milano might not have to worry about a second straight year of relegation. And should I say it? I don’t want to say it. OK, I’ll say it: Siena might want to watch out in the Italian League.
Not saying, I’m just saying.
Marcus Slaughter, Brose Baskets via Valladolid
The way stats are weighted in Europe, averaging 9.9 points and 6 boards in the ACB read more like a double-double, so Brose Baskets should be thrilled to add a little more muscle to go with Tibor Pleiss’ overall flemsiness.
Milovan Rakovic, Zalgiris via Montepaschi Siena
If you measured prowess in tribal arm bands and shiny heads, Milovan Rakovic could look down upon any starting center on any team in any league on any planet. As it stands, however, he’s a very large man with a perfectly intimidating combo of ink and facial hair, and it turns out, he can hoop a little, too. Last season for Siena he gave Ksistof Lavrinovic the go-ahead to drift out to the elbow and beyond as he banged inside, turning missed shots into opportunities and men into boys with biceps that just wouldn’t quit. Kaunas didn’t sign a man; they signed a grizzly bear.
Ben Woodside, Union Olimpija via BCM Gravelines
Shawty can shoot. Period. Time for the rank and file.
|Rank #colspan#||Player #colspan#||Team #colspan#||He's here because... #colspan#||Last DLU #colspan#|
|1||Ioannis Bourousis||Olimpia Milano||Can't wait to see him play extended, consistent minutes. The most efficient big in Europe is about to get a big test.||1|
|2||Jaycee Carroll||Real Madrid||The two-time ACB scoring champ is ready for his EL debut. He won't be able to sneak up on the Spanish teams anymore, but everyone else: hide your kids, hide your wife.||2|
|3||Milos Teodosic||CSKA Moscow||The EL's most clean cut franchise adds the Shooting Stoner to a backcourt that just lost a pair of legends in Trajan Langdon and JR Holden. Good thing Milos' brain doesn't process pressure.||3|
|4||Maciej Lampe||Caja Laboral||Ever since he vanished from Maccabi's roster two seasons ago, I've been itching to see him in the EL again. He's primed to explode.||4|
|5||Stanko Barac||Anadolu Efes||A 24-year-old center who rarely makes mistakes and still has room to grow. Yeah, OK. We'll take him.||-|
|6||Esteban Batista||Anadolu Efes||Indifferent to pace or pairings, Stevey Bats gets boards as well or better than the rest. If he and Barac can figure each other out, it's lights out for the rest of Turkey.||-|
|7||James Gist||Fenebahçe Ülker||His enthusiasm is neither a front nor compensation for a lack of skill. Ülker's no Partizan, fan-wise, but they're getting there. A couple oops from Gist should accelerate that process.||6|
|8||Sasha Vujacic||Anadolu Efes||"Stop telling me and show me, Sasha."|
|9||Luka Zoric||Unicaja||This Nesterovic clone was built for the index rating. Spain should be kind to him.||7|
|10||Drew Nicholas||Olimpia Milano||Former EL scoring champ came to personify Panathinaikos' consistently unspectacular dominance. Italy's a different story, and we'll see if he still has some 20-point games left in the tank.||-|
|11||Ben Woodside||Union Olimpija||Put Davis Bertans on the floor with Woodside and watch the shots fly up. Neither one's what I would call bashful.||-|
|12||Henry Domercant||Unics Kazan||The hefty hoister seems to be right at home in Russia. Now, after five Final Four-less EL seasons and in a starring role, he'll be hungrier than ever.||5|
|13||Leon Radosevic||Olimpia Milano||A bright star in a dimly lit organization last year, now he'll be a key piece in the Italian Renaissance.||-|
|14||Sonny Weems||Zalgiris||Props to Sonny for making the leap, and props to Romanov for welcoming the Raptor with open arms. Think Weems has any idea what he's gotten himself into? Not a chance in Hell.||9|
|15||Nathan Jawai||Unics Kazan||I hope restaurants stay open late in Kazan. Nathan strikes me as a fourth meal fiend.||10|
|16||Jon Scheyer||Maccabi Electra||With his vision fully restored, the cultural adjustment is all that stands between him and an instant impact.||8|
|17||David Lighty||NGC Cantú||The new kids on the block get proactive and pluck one of college's most well-rounded, pro ready swingmen. Me like.||12|
|18||Robertas Javtokas||Zalgiris||He should sell his house and just move into an ice tub to be safe.||11|
|19||Shawn James||Maccabi Electra||Who needs Serge Ibaka when you've got Shawn James? If you think that's a stretch, check the stats. (OK, so maybe it's still a stretch.)||13|
|20||Milovan Rakovic||Zalgiris||Tatted up, shaved down and ready to beat your ass.||-|
|21||Marcus Slaughter||Brose Baskets||If you watch this man play, his last name starts to makes sense.||-|
|22||Raul Lopez||Bilbao Basket||The ACB finalists finally have a new face on the bench, and it's one of experience. It's also one, however, of considerable age and injury.||14|
|23||Thomas Huertel||Caja Laboral||Nothing personal, young fella. Keep your ears open and Marcelinho Huertas might show you how to leapfrog some of the guys on this list. ELA will be watching you closely.||15|
|24||Marko Cakarevic||Partizan||After extending super vets Bozic and Kecman (again), Partizan better hope Cakarevic can provide some bounce on the wing.||16|