In the third of our 16 team previews in 16 days, Emmet Ryan looks at how financial reality in the new format is going to be a big issue for Zalgiris Kaunas this season
As the intro suggests, we’re doing a preview for each of the 16 teams in Euroleague in the 16 days leading up to the start of the new season. Regarding player movement, we are relying heavily on the wonderful Mark Porcaro’s work with his 2016-17 player movement database. You should all follow Mark on Twitter.
We are going through the sides in reverse order of when they take the floor in the opening round of games in the 2016/17 Euroleague season. The entire reason we ended up on that order was because we figured it would be cool to finish with the two teams playing in the season opener.
Coach: Sarunas Jasikevicius
Arena: Zalgirio Arena (15,552)
Last season in Euroleague: 7-19 (5-5 regular season, 2-14 Top 16) didn’t make playoffs
Last season in Lithuania: 32-4, won finals
Who’s new? Kevin Pangos (Gran Canaria, ACB), Antanas Kavaliuskas (Lietuvos Rytas, LKL), Leo Westermann (Limoges, LNB), Augusto Lima (Real Madrid, ACB), Arturas Milaknis (Unics Kazan, VTB)
Who’s gone? Jerome Randle (Adelaide 36ers, NBL), Olivier Hanlan (Le Mans, LNB), Ian Vougiokas (Lokomotiv Kuban, VTB), Martynas Pocius (Murcia, ACB), Siim-Sander Vene (Nizhny Novgorod, VTB), Kaspar Vecvagars (VEF Riga, VTB)
What friend are they on a night out? They’ve been there forever but always seem to flame out early without being able to live with the other drinkers despite having a rousing crew cheering them on.
The old story with Zalgiris used to be that somehow, some way, for all their faults they would find a way to make the Top 16 and have something to show from the Euroleague season. In the new 16 team format, well they’ve already made that ‘stage’ but the prospects for the year ahead are grim.
Individually, their signings look good. Pangos is definitely worth a run at Euroleague level and Westermann is a great piece to have. Neither however is a player that makes you think this is a side that can turn around its recent form. It’s a tough spot for Zalgiris. While clubs with their budget restraints have been able to make deep runs in Euroleague by making gambles with their roster, Zalgiris need to be a touch more conservative in their signings with the demands of success in the LKL.
On the upside, this is a roster that should romp to the LKL title but it’s just not at the level required for this competition. It’s annoying, Lithuania’s got tremendous fans all-round and Zalgiris is the flagship for that on the continent. It’s also the nature of money in the modern game.
Fearless prediction: I’m going to get slayed for this but I was going to no matter who I picked for this spot. Sorry Zalgiris, you are 16th of 16.