With the new Euroleague season nearing, BallinEurope is once more break down each of the teams individually on 16 consecutive days in the run up to tip off. As with last season, we’re going in reverse order from the opening round of games. We continue our rapid catch-up process, because we are so behind schedule, with a look at the year ahead for Baskonia
Jordan McRae is that rarity in Euroleague, a NBA champion. Like many of the players with such an accolade, he wasn’t planning on landing here at this stage in his career but he’s looking to make the most of it. McRae was waving the towel as the Cavs ended a city’s long wait for a championship of any kind back in 2016 and managed to hang around for most of the following year before eventually getting waved.
McRae doesn’t want to wave a towel, he wants to make a difference and he wants to show he can do that at a NBA level. Welcome to Vitoria-Gasteiz mate, they know all about those kinds of reclamation projects. Well not so much reclamation projects so much as “You want to show out, here is a place where you have the licence to do just that.”
McRae will have seen how Shane Larkin and Mike James were both able to build off single seasons with Baskonia, albeit with another year in Europe afterwards for James, as a means of getting back to the association. He will see that the way to be relevant is not play like you miss America but play like you want to rule Europe. Do that, make Baskonia better, and somebody back home will notice pretty quickly.
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Coach: Pablo Prigioni
Arena: Fernando Buesa Arena, 15,504
Last season in Euroleague: 17-13, lost playoffs
Last season in ACB: 23-9, lost semi finals
Who’s new? Patricio Garino (Orlando Magic), Jayson Granger (Efes), Marcelo Huertas (Houston Rockets), Jordan McRae (Cleveland Cavaliers), Vincent Poirier (Paris-Levallois), Janis Timma (Zenit)
Who’s gone? Ricky Ledo (Efes), Jaka Blazic (Andorra), Adam Hanga (Barcelona), Shane Larkin (Boston Celtics), Tadas Sederskis (Burgos), Kim Tillie (Olympiacos), Nicolas Laprovittola (Zenit), Andrea Bargnani (free agent), Chase Budinger (TBD), Rafa Luz (TBD)
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Well it’s quite clear that Pablo Prigioni gets what Baskonia is about. It’s hardly a surprise given his long association with the club but the back court is basically how you imagine Pablo would draw up his NBA 2K roster with a blend of experience, youth, and some untapped potential. That’s the good news.
The bad news is there is still an Adam Hanga shaped hole on this roster and the types of pieces that could have hidden it have also gone. This is a really different Baskonia side to the one that appeared last year, never mind the final four side from a couple of years back. It’s a long campaign and the front court questions aren’t going away anytime soon. This side is going to lean on Toko Shengelia when he’s healthy and be worrisome when he’s not.
Fearless prediction: 11th. Last year Baskonia punched above its weight with some big gambles on the roster. This season it looks like there’s no way the cards fall the right way for them. They will still be there or thereabouts but hanging around to get a post-season spot looks too big an ask.
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