The Dotted Line Up: McCalebb to Montepaschi, Mikhail to Maccabi, and Jankunas heads home.

By: Freaknick/@euro_adventures

Bo McCalebb, Point Guard, Montepaschi Siena (from Partizan)

A band can top the charts with an atrocious lead vocalist and a multinational corporation can rake in billions under a clinically incompetent CEO, but don’t expect to see a championship caliber basketball team without an elite point guard orchestrating the show. So while BP pollutes our waters and Nickelback does the same to our ears, Montepaschi has been scouring the hoops landscape for someone to replace their lead singer of four years, Terrell McIntyre, who fled for Malaga.

It seems they’ve done just that. His name: Lester “Bo” McCalebb. His last gig came with Partizan, who scooped him up just a week prior to their first EL contest. It didn’t end horribly: 22 games, 13.4 points, 3.4 assists, 2 steals and an All-Euroleague Second Team bid, all while sending the illustrious club to its first EL Final Four since 1998. Add that to Adriatic League, Serbian League and Serbian Cup titles and I’d say Bo’s year wasn’t awful. His reward was a trip to Siena where he steps in as the unquestioned starter, a fate I was not so sure would befall him. See rumors had him going to Barcelona, which would have been an utter waste of his abilities. The thought of him splitting touches five ways with Rubio, Navarro, Lakovic and Basile is a stab to the heart of the fantasy player inside of me. It’s his show now, and he deserves that.

McIntyre’s departure, along with Henry Domercant and Romain Sato, will give Montepaschi games a different feel than they’ve had the past few years, but with young gunner Pietro Aradori aboard it could also mean a younger, faster backcourt rather than the grind-it-out style that’s defined Siena in the past. Not necessarily better, but different, which can evolve into better if you let it. In addition to the starting lineup, Bo steps right into a leadership role on this team too, alongside Ksistof Lavrinovic and the now iconic (to me at least) Shaun Stonerook. I’m still hoping to see Siena shake things up a little more by signing a slasher—Sato was one of the best—and clearly more will be expected of David Hawkins who never appeared to take a breath the entire 2010-11 season; horrendous passes, cramming himself into double teams and awkward shots ensued. He’s better than that, and his skill will shine through this year with the expanded freedom and responsibility.

I can only hope now that Aleks Maric decides Partizan’s offer—whatever it is—has enough commas to keep him around for another year. Otherwise, the brutal pattern persists and Belgrade loses all its stars once more.

Paulius Jankunas, Power Forward, Zalgiris Kaunas (from BC Khimki Moscow Region)

The brighter news Sunday came out of Kaunas that big man Paulius Jankunas was returning home after a lousy showing with BC Khimki last season. His sixth and most recent season with Kaunas, 2008-09, included some nifty stats: 13.8 points and 8 rebounds as a very mature 24-year-old. Now he’s 26 and coming off a season in Russia where his EL production dropped off to 8.2 and 4.9 thanks to his sudden urge to step outside and shoot 53 triples in 16 games; his previous EL high had been 34 in 20 games back in ’07-08. A little tougher to grab boards when you’re 20 feet from the glass. No wonder the numbers tailed off.

With Travis Watson sucking everything down in the paint for Zalgiris and Omar Samhan pretty much one-dimensional offensively, Jankunas’ stroke will help out, but he can’t fall in love with it. I know he’s a European power forward and society tells him he was put on this earth to stretch defenses, but what society doesn’t understand is that pulling a post threat away from the hoop is doing nothing but favors for the opposition. Zalgiris fans—a label I now loosely identify with—should send Paulius written pleas begging him not to poison Mario Delas’ head with visions of corner threes and 15-foot fadeaways. If Kaunas wants to compete, they ain’t doin’ it with cutesy finesse tactics. It’s got to be tough, and with the team they’ve assembled it might as well happen now.

Mikhail Torrance, Guard, Maccabi Tel Aviv (from the University of Alabama, NCAA)

Here’s how it went: David Blatt gets hired, Maccabi signs Richard Hendrix, Blatt tells Hendrix (and all of his new players) that he’s committed to winning and connecting with his players on a more personal level than Pini Gershon did. You know, he’s like the “cool dad” of coaches—the one who buys the teenagers wine spritzers and lets them watch R-rated movies—and the first order of business is asking their thoughts about the team. Hendrix says there’s this kid who played with him for two seasons at Alabama and is cut out for Euroball: he’s got a sturdy build, positional versatility, and can distribute from either the 1 or the 2 (much like Doron Perkins). His name is Mikhail Torrance and he’s a beast, and the best thing about him is he didn’t get drafted despite having some great individual workouts and more than enough talent. See he’s got this common heart issue that pushed him right out of the top 60 on June 24 and now he’s available and Richard has already put in a good word. Blatt asks his US scouts about him, they call his agent and sooner than you know it Mikhail’s on his way to Israel.

Granted, I made that scenario up in my head (and acted most of it out to myself in my empty bedroom, which was oodles of fun), but I’ll bet it’s not far off. Besides, Tucaloosa is often hailed as the Tel Aviv of Western Alabama, so I’m positive the cultural transition will be seamless. As far as finding a fit for Torrance, it looks like Alan Anderson is headed elsewhere (Olympiacos maybe? I no longer trust any signings I read until they’re reported by EL.net…gotta be certain) so Mikhail along with Israeli MVP Elishay Kadir would be a nice replacement by committee. Speaking of committees, I’m heading up the “Bring Halperin Home” committee trying to get Yotam back and playing in the yellow jersey. While spirits are high, funding is low, so send whatever you can spare.

So with all of this stored away in our files, it’s time to sort and shift 55 players into their rightful spot in ELA’s rankings. Where do McCalebb, Jankunas and Torrance end up? Look and see below, and make sure to note the biggest movers (Omar Samhan up, Jaka Klobucar and Arvydas Siksnius down) in this edition of The Dotted Line Up:

RankPlayerTeamHe's here because...Last Week
1Terrell McIntyreUnicajaEL's streakiest team picks up EL's most consistent PG. Viva Malaga.1
2Romain SatoPanathinaikosThe 'D' Pana needs at the 3 w/o the lack of 'O' they're used to.2
3Marko TomasFenerbahçeF**k Jacob & Edward. I'm #TeamMarko.3
4Bo McCalebbMontepaschiWith the season he had last year for Partizan, one could argue McCalebb vs. McIntyre is a push.-
5Vassilis SpanoulisOlympiacosI just hope this doesn't turn Teodosic into a pure jumpshooter.4
6David LoganCaja LaboralWith Tiago gone, the ACB champs will run. And run and run and...5
7Ali TraoreLottomatica RomaHis lefty hook is second only to Navarro's runner as far as trademarked shots go.6
8Andrew WisniewskiEfes PilsenNo more PG duty for Rakocevic. The best need-based signing of the summer.7
9Brad NewleyLietuvos RytasCan't wait to see him in Action in Istanbul this summer, Vilnius this fall.8
10Robertas JavtokasValenciaI think Valencia could make noise, and The Hammerhead could be the difference.9
11Richard HendrixMaccabiAthletically he's a downgrade to Fischer, but he plays a smarter, better game.10
12Omar CookValenciaIt remains to be seen how de Colo will adjust to off-ball scenarios.11
13Matt NielsenOlympiacosOlympiacos needs to bring in more frontcourt offense before I'm ready to slide Matt up.12
14Paulius JankunasZalgirisThank the Lithuanian Lord. Now pray that he regains his '08-'09 form.-
15Sergio RodriguezReal MadridLlull/Rodriguez could easily be the league's coolest backcourt...if Ettore Messina allows it.13
16Krzysztof SzubargaAsseco ProkomThe stage is set for Daniel Ewing to slide over and fill David Logan's scoring shoes.18
17Jamont GordonCSKA MoscowLike teammate Tomas, he earned the right to play for a winner.14
18Pietro AradoriMontepaschiInflated role should get him 12+ per game.15
19Dusko SavanovicValenciaBeautiful complement to Javtokas down low. And to everyone else, everywhere else really.17
20Miroslav RaduljicaEfes PilsenHas the skills. I question the desire. Efes needs him to ramp it up.16
21Kaya PekerFenerbahçeExtra points for stealing him away from rival Efes.19
22Engin AtsurFenerbahçeGentlemen, start your Engins. Calling it now: breakout year.20
23Kosta PerovicBarcelonaHe'd be a great pickup for anyone else. For Barca he's just another guy.21
24Mikhail TorranceMaccabiLove when teams capitalize on potential NBA draftees who slipped through the cracks. Keeps 'em hungry.-
25Elishay KadirMaccabiAlways important to lock up homegrown talent.22
26Luc-Arthur VebobeCholetMay end up on my All-Beastly team.23
27Milovan RakovicMontepaschiDoes the EL test for steroids?25
28Sergey BykovCSKAI really need to see how the CSKA backcourt shakes out before I rank him appropriately.26
29Clay TuckerReal MadridShould see plenty of good looks with Rodriguez/Prigioni runnin' thangs.27
30Darjus LavrinovicFenerbahçeYou like him more than I do. This I promise you.30
31Cenk AkyolEfes PilsenHawks draft pick. Holler back.29
32Erwin DudleyEfes PilsenGive him 20 minutes and he'll grab you 6 or 7 rebounds.32
33Arvydas SiskniusLietuvos RytasLooked great when I saw him play, so maybe I'm biased.24
34Omar SamhanZalgirisSamhan is a great 3rd or 4th big now that Jankunas is back in town.39
35Jerry JohnsonLietuvos RytasWith Newley and Kelys on board, Rytas should play much faster next year.28
36Kostas KaimakoglouPanathinaikosA definite offensive upgrade over Stratos Perperoglou.31
37Ian VougioukasPanathinaikosI'm liking this pick up more every day. Will look good next to Batiste (who wouldn't?).37
38Zydrunas KelysLietuvos RytasThe world will soon know Speedster Kelys.33
39Jure LalicCibonaNot great when your team's best signing is this low.36
40Jaka KlobucarPartizanIt would be great if he could spell Bozic/Kecman.34
41Romain DuportCholetHe'll block some shots. So that's cool.38
42Pablo AguilarReal MadridJust pray he doesn't get stuck on the bench a la Vlad Dasic.40
43Dragan MilosavljevicPartizanIf it's not Klobucar who steps up on the wing, it better be Dragan.35
44Nicolo MelliAJ MilanoThis signing will look terrific in two years.41
45Jeff FooteMaccabiStyle of play will be no issue for the Ivy Leaguer. The athletes will.42
46Tal BursteinMaccabiIt must seem like I'm hating on the veterans pretty hard. Sorry.43
47Andrea MicheloriMontepaschiPart of a bulk signing to make MPS feel good about their interior D.44
48Giedrius StaniulisLietuvos RytasHe and Valanciunas should have some fun practices.45
49Rasko KaticPartizanLord have mercy on the man who's expected to fill in for a 7'6" behemoth.46
50Cemal NalgaLietuvos RytasIs Rytas going to have enough jerseys to go around?47
51Eimantas BendziusLietuvos RytasWell Rytas certainly has options on the perimeter. Good ones? Not sure yet.48
52Meredis HoumounouCholetHe doesn't need to buy a vowel.49
53Drago PasalicCibonaThinking of donating the contents of my piggy bank to CIbona.50
54Gustavo BarreraUnicajaI sure hope Rafa Freire's ready to go.51
55Paulius DambrauskasLietuvos RytasNothing personal, Paulius. It had to be somebody.52

10 thoughts on “The Dotted Line Up: McCalebb to Montepaschi, Mikhail to Maccabi, and Jankunas heads home.”

  1. Actually it seems that Maric to Panathinaikos is definitive, Partizan sports director Todoric already stated that Partizan is looking for pg, pf and c position, and that 2 of them will be foreigners.

    1. Do you have a source for the Maric signing? I’m always reluctant to jump on something until EL.net reports on it. I’ve been made to look stupid too many times (not a difficult task though, I admit).

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