By Sam Meyerkopf @HoopLikeDrazen, Nick Gibson @Euro_Adventures, Rob Scott @robscott33, Nick Flynt @JailedFlynt, Rodhig @rodhig7, Emmet Ryan @bie_basketball

Euroleague Adventures and Friends continue our 2015/16 Euroleague Previews with Group C. You can also read what will unquestionably happen in the other groups below.

Group A: The Group of Shved

Group B: Dear Dario

Group D: Emir’s World

FC Barcelona Lassa FC_Barcelona_(crest).svg-2

Rodhig: Remember the 2012-13 version of the Blaugrana? Saras playing significant minutes, often alongside Navarro? Nate Jawai complementing Ante Tomic inside? Lorbek as their starting power forward? Would you ever bet that those guys would be part of an elite defense? Well, that’s exactly what hapenned then, so it could happen now, with Doellman, Perperoglou, Vezenkov, Samuels and, yes, Navarro and Tomic as the main question marks/black holes. The perimeter trio of Satoransky, Oleson and Ribas could minimize tough rotation dilemmas and Xavi Pascual’s system really brings out the best out of rim protectors like Shane Lawal.

Last season Barcelona looked like a team in decline and they will probably still rely on the great Juan Carlos Navarro more than they should, but this is a team that will be around come winning time.

Emmet: Ooooh boy. Oh my oh my. They have to make the playoffs right? I mean we can’t seriously discuss Barca as a team that doesn’t make the playoffs? There has been so much change. They have brought in some good bodies but the sheer amount of change is a concern. It’s going to be middle of the Top 16 before a roster like this can truly gel.

Nick: Don’t mind me.  Just dropping in to share this nugget: Tomas Satoransky is really fucking good, and getting better. All-Euroleague good. This-is-his-last-year-in-Europe-good. Here is evidence of said good-ness.

Barcelona Depth Chart
PG Tomas Satoransky Carlos Arroyo
SG Brad Oleson Pau Ribas Juan Carlos Navarro
SF Stratos Perperoglou Alex Abrines Markus Eriksson
PF Justin Doellman Aleksander Vezenkov
C Ante Tomic Shane Lawal Samardo Samuels Moussa Diagne

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar loko logo eng

Nick Flynt: Loko is replacing the two main frontcourt guys in Hendrix and Brown. Fesenko takes over (pending foul trouble due to much worse footwork) as the defensive backstop for Hendrix, and Randolph will get a minutes bump to take over as the athletic-yet-sometimes-space-cadet-esque offensive guy for Brown. Even though I didn’t like Brown from a chemistry standpoint, his offense was perhaps better than ever last season — doesn’t make me feel good about Randolph, who has never been consistent at any level, except maybe high school. That’s my main question mark for them, ignoring some new blood at guard position and the loss of Krunoslav Simon.

UPDATE:  And it turns out, even without new reports and VTB league play to guide me, I had good reason to mark Randolph as the main question mark — he’s still suffering from an apparently-major ankle injury, he’s missed the opening of VTB play, and reports are saying he might not even end up staying with the team.

So this changes some things: in the early VTB league going, it’s been all about Chris Singleton (he didn’t exactly shine in his NBA stints, never shooting over 38% from the field in a single season, but he is all over the place on both ends so far - albeit against limited competition). Coupling Singleton up front with a downright resurgent Victor Claver has meant, and let me reiterate that this is only through one week of the VTB season, quite limited minutes for Fesenko. This saddens me, because I love that big goofy Ukrainian, but this has me thinking things could shape up very nicely for Loko.

Of course Malcolm Delaney is still in-place, a known quality offensive commodity (to understate it), and Ryan Broekhoff has come over to take Simon’s place. Broekhoff might be more limited on the offensive end as a ball-handler, but with him coming in to space the floor, rebound, and use his size on both ends, he could be just what the doctor ordered for Lokomotiv to compete consistently among other Top-16-level teams.

I haven’t even mentioned Dontaye Draper. With Anthony Randolph out of the picture and Chris Singleton playing well, I might be getting a little hyped about this team — and that’s even assuming that Claver doesn’t keep playing over-his-head on offense. Things are looking much more interesting than I thought they might for Lokomotiv Kuban. Stay tuned

Lokomotiv Kuban Depth Chart
PG Dontaye Draper Sergey Bykov
SG Malcolm Delaney Evgeny Voronov
SF Ryan Broekhoff Alexey Zozoulin  Nikita Balashov
PF Victor Claver Chris Singelton  Andrey Zubkov
C Anthony Randolph Kyrylo Fesenko

Panathinaikos Athens LOGO 6STARS

Rodhig: It’s a shame that Dusko Ivanovic is not around anymore, because this roster would fit him really well; there’s a bunch of shooters (Feldeine, Charalambopoulos, Fotsis, Pappas and possibly Pavlovic) a very effective pick and roll guard (Calathes) and a couple of seven footers who can score and play inviting defense (Raduljca and Kuzmic).

This team should be deeper and more consistent offensively, as they will not rely too much on Diamantidis. James Gist could also fill some of the defensive holes, but the future governor of Colorado will need all the help he can get from the backcourt - the Greens’ season will be determined in large part by perimeter defense.

Emmet: Well they have to be better than last year and they did enough, barely, to make the playoffs last year. I’m not sure how much they will improve but it never hurts to have one of the best home court advantages in the sport.

Panathinaikos Depth Chart
PG Dimitris Diamantidis Nikos Pappas
SG Nick Calathes James Feldeine Eleftherios Bochoridis
SF Vladimir Jankovic Sasha Pavlovic Vasilis Charalampopoulos
PF James Gist Antonsis Fotsis
C Miroslav Raduljica Ognjen Kuzmic Georgios Papagiannis

Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir pinarkskofficial

Rodhig: A very interesting case study for the Siena theory. Earlier this decade, the Italians based their success on ball-dominant guards, whose rights were sold at the peak of their value and their contributions were replaced almost effortlessly - from McIntyre to Bo to Bobby Brown. Karsiyaka also lost their main man this summer, as Bobby Dixon joined Fener. His replacement, Joe Ragland, comes off a bad season at Milano but he has all the tools to prove once again that spacing coupled with creative freedom can work wonders for a Euroleague defense. Also, Kenny Gabriel has a chance to make himself a lot of money as a three-and-D power forward. Definitely a guy worth watching.


Rob: Loved them last season, love them now. Into the round holes labelled Bobby Dixon, DJ Strawberry and Jon Diebler go round pegs Joe Ragland, Justin Carter and Josh Carter. Talking of frictionless peg/hole interface a little more, guys like Soner Senturk have a truly defined role on this team which they will carry on fulfilling - for Soner it was playing Dixon’s body double on defense - the American’s scoring was so impressive that Fenerbahce barely noticed he got yo-yo’d in and out of the game at crunch time.

The two Carters (no relation) have arrived from within the country, so less personal adjustment will be needed, something that shouldn’t be ignored. Add in perhaps the best homecourt advantage in Euroleague once noise and travel time have been computed and they should be able to make the Top 16 at a minimum.

Pinar Karsiyaka Depth Chart
PG  Joe Ragland  Kenan Sipahi  Soner Senturk
SG  Justin Carter  Can Altintig Muhammed Baygul
SF  Josh Carter  Inanc Koc
PF  Kenny Gabriel  Egemen Guven
C  Juan Palacios  Colton Iverson  Kerem Gonlum

Stelmet Zielona Gora logo_gwiazdka_2015_2

Sam Meyerkopf: For those that have time to also listen to our preview podcast, I talk about my interest in this team.  The Ponitka brothers coming back home is a huge get.  Dee Bost in his third Euro season could have a step-up type season and this is a huge platform for his career to play in the Euroleague.

Coming off his championship season with Limoges in 2013-14, JR Reynolds looked like the perfect smart shooting secondary scorer for a high level team.  After a year playing well in the ABA for Budocnost he gets his chance with Zielona Gora.  Karol Gruszecki had a breakout season with Czarni Słupsk last year and he brings his high intensity and devastating transition game over to the Polish champ.  And then lastly for additions, they bring on a Euro-ready-to-play-rookie in Nemanja Djursic who will be a helpful stretch four.

Add in the core of Koszarek, Zamojski, Moldoveanu, Szewczyk, and Hrycaniuk and you have a contender for the Top 16 and a team that will be really fun to watch.  Lots of offensive weapons and transition options on this team, get ready for some 90 point games.

Stelmet Zielona Gora Depth Chart
PG Dee Bost Lukasz Koszarek
SG JR Reynolds Przemyslaw Zamojski Marcel Ponitka
SF Mateusz Ponitka Karol Gruszecki
PF Vlad Moldoveanu Nemanja Djurisic
C Szymon Szewczyk Adam Hrycaniuk Dejan Borovnjak

Zalgiris Kaunas zalgiris-jpg

Nick Gibson: This Zalgiris team has some guys that have been around the block and, since they’re local, there’s a chance it was the same cul-de-sac.

You say they’re old. I say they’ve been marinading in rich, creamy basketball goodness since the ripe old age of zero. I love to see Kaunas’ most enigmatic son, Mantas, back in the fold. He’ll be comfortable from the get-go and have the green light to sort of do whatever the Hell he wants. Thing about Mantas is, he plays the same way with a yellow or red light, too. God love him.

Marty Pocius is back where he started his Euroleague career after a year in Turkey. This feels right. Robertas Javtokas is still playing basketball on top of the same feet he was born with. This feels miraculous.

Olivier? That’s a French ass name. But Hanlan should learn Lithuanian. Also, he should figure out how to be an effective primary ball handler when Mantas is out.  That’s key.

Zalgiris Depth Chart
PG Mantas Kalnietis Lukas Lekavicius
SG Renaldas Seibutis Olivier Hanlan Kaspars Vecvagars
SF Martynas Pocius Edgaras Ulanovas Vytenis Lipkevicius
PF Paulius Jankunas Siim-Sander Vene
C Robertas Javtokas Ian Vougioukas  Brock Motum

ELA Group Predictions

Sam: Barcelona, Loko, Panathinaikos, Karsiyaka. It seems like Karsiyaka, Zalgiris, and Stelmet could end up being a tight battle for fourth.  Karsiyaka has the most talent but they’re relying on a lot of new imports while Zalgiris and Stelmet have a solid domestic core that could help steady the ship in early Euroleague games.

Rob: Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Lokomotiv, Karsiyaka. Loko has an objectively stronger roster than the Greens, but consider this: they have two players with videos set to the song KING KONG. Also stuff like this happens all the time in the Regular Season. Zalgiris will push hard and win some ‘upsets’ at home.

Nick: Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Lokomotiv, Zalgiris. I’m going with the Lithuanian All-Stars. Aš tikiu! (Google translate says that’s ‘I believe’ in Lithuanian.)