It was an interesting off-season in a changing ACB. Teams have different budgets and there is a lot of youth coming in from all around Europe in the league. To help decipher all of this we also brought in Austin Green from LosCrossovers.com, the source for ACB writing in English. Austin lived in Madrid for the whole 2014-15 season covering the ACB and will be based in Sevilla for this season.
We dove into five questions about the summer’s happenings, and we’ll post one per day. Think of it as your off-season menú del día. To tip things off, we asked…
What is Barcelona doing?
Sam Meyerkopf: In Barcelona this summer it seemed there was a lot going on with potential management changes and elections that the turmoil showed in how they put the team together. There just really isn’t any synergy in the moves they made.
Pau Ribas is a good signing, props. Shane Lawal is a very good center who plays harder than almost any other big in Europe. But to come from Sassari and play disciplined, in line defense and basketball for Xavi Pascual? The fit doesn’t seem right. Samardo Samuels, I don’t have to dive deep on this one but just ask: why? Stratos Perperoglou has been on some championship teams and brings a hefty amount of experience but he has always been fairly inconsistent and at 31 is looking slower.
Aleksandar Vezenkov at his age and with his scoring ability was destined to move up to a big club soon but he’s another slow-footed defender for Barca and for him, will he even get much burn? And then lastly Carlos Arroyo at 36 makes the million dollar move to Barca.
Individually maybe you can make a case for the moves case by case but together, adding a bunch of slow defenders to a team trying to win rings doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially when looking at who the coach is.
Rob Scott: The key to understanding Barca’s offseason is that there’s no theory to understand. It looks to me like they just acquired a bunch of players, most of whom are pretty good at one thing or another, but might not necessarily work together. The big question mark is defense.
'Hey man, it looks like that if we play Barca next season, you're gonna be guarded by Vezenkov or Perperoglou' https://t.co/84GBMCJjQr
— rodhig (@rodhig7) July 18, 2015
As much as I’m in love with Vezenkov’s old-school, under-the-rim. young-man-old-man game, he’s a seriously minus defender, to the point where
Damir Markota Dusan Sakota abused him in the post in the Greek playoffs. Playing alongside Shane Lawal, a monster shot blocker and athlete could mitigate the worst of it, but I have doubts that someone with such slow lateral movement will be able to make the defensive rotations necessary at the elite ACB and Euroleague level.
Ribas is a huge addition, even though he probably won’t shoot 47% from three again like he did in the ACB last season, he’s an elite shooter. He’s one of those Spanish combo guards in the Llull-mould who adds something to both backcourt positions rather than being slightly deficient in one or the other. When I interviewed former Spanish u20 coach Luis Gil in 2012 I was surprised he mentioned Ribas along with Rubio, Llull, Rodriguez and Rudy in the exciting new generation, but nobody would raise an eyebrow now. Alex Abrines may struggle for PT now Ribas has arrived.
I don’t get Samardo Samuels, he’s the kind of B-minus level player like Lampe and Nachbar that Barca jettisoned in the summer. Maybe Joan Creus thought he’d be a stretch-five but I don’t buy that for a second. Diagne is a project, who could work out, and probably won’t disappear to the NBA before he does anything for Barca (sorry, Austin).
Barca’s “decline” can be traced to indecision over how to replace Juan Carlos Navarro - without the JCN of three-to-four years ago they lack a dynamite shot creator/scorer in the Spanoulis/Tyrese Rice/De Colo mould. Those players are hard to find, but it’s not like there’s a shortage of cash at Palau Blaugrana.
Arroyo is worth the one-year bet - he’s a lob pass savant and his knees don’t have to hold up to 30+mpg as Ergin Ataman’s number-one option. If his body gives up then it’s not like Barca are short of playmakers. But if he does play, there’s another severely compromised defender. I wouldn’t like to be Xavi Pascual’s blood-pressure doctor this season.
Austin Green: Not building a defensive powerhouse, that’s for damn sure.
I like most of their signings. Ribas is a baller. Perperoglou brings championship experience. Vezenkov is too good offensively not to sign. Lawal (two-year deal) is a monster and Diagne (three-year deal) fits nicely as his understudy who can take the reigns in Year Three. I’m not sold on Arroyo, but I’m in wait-and-see mode with him.
[Note: check out Austin’s detailed breakdown of Diagne’s potential on his own site LosCrossovers.com]
And then you get to Samardo Samuels. He’s a fine player, but I don’t know why the hell he’s on this team.
Ante Tomic is still alive. Not only that, he just signed an extension in June that keeps him in Barca through at least 2018. As I said, Lawal and Diagne are both around for the near future (assuming they don’t make the late decision to loan out Diagne). How the hell is Pascual going to find minutes for these guys? What happens to their spacing? Why add a fourth center instead of an athletic wing defender? Or maybe a third point guard? Or another shooter? Or anyone besides a fourth center?
It was a baffling signing and it’ll be interesting to see how Pascual juggles his big-man rotation.
Also, DeShaun Thomas is gone, and that just sucks.