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David Pick | Nr. 67

Die neue EuroLeague Saison verspricht viel. | David Pick über die Stars der EuroLeague.

The 2023-2024 EuroLeague season has promised to become one of the greatest and biggest yet. With a massive pool of returning NBA players, a movie star in “Bo Cruz”, and several new faces. So grab some popcorn, sit back, and buckle up because we’re in for a BIG ride.

It’s been an unconventional offseason for the EuroLeague. Not only have teams brought in some serious names for big money, but before we mention the 10 biggest inbound players, here’s a toast to two stars: Legend PG Vasilije Micic, who bolted to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a deal worth $20 million. Thanks for the memories (Patrick Stump voice). And the recent EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, who signed a 3-years, $ 20 million agreement with the Sacramento Kings.

10: Jabari Parker (2.01, 28) Boston Celtics à Barcelona

Parker is one of the most curious deals this summer, bringing a lot of promise to Barcelona. Parker was destined to become a massive NBA superstar but injuries held him back. Barcelona must protect their gem from the rigorous EuroLeague/ACB schedule and do everything in their power to maintain load management and avoid injuries.

9: Juancho Hernangomez (2.06, 27) Toronto Raptors à Panathinaikos

Bold move by the PAO is signing Bo Cruz to a reported 2-years, $4.5 million deal. Hernangomez played seven mediocre seasons in the NBA, never leaving an impactful mark, averaging 5PPG and 3.3RPG.

8: Frank Kaminsky (2.13. 30) Houston Rockets à Partizan Belgrade

After eight solid seasons in the NBA, where he almost averaged double-figures in scoring, the big man makes the move overseas. Maccabi Tel Aviv was also in the mix trying to secure a deal with Kaminsky, but he chose Partizan, and it should be very interesting to see how he fills in the big shoes of Mathias Lessort.

7: Mathias Lessort (2.06, 27) Partizan Belgrade à Panathinaikos

After a bunch of seasons bouncing between EuroLeague and EuroCup clubs, the French big man had a breakout year under Zeljko Obradovic, and joined the mega-star loaded team assembled by Ergin Ataman for a reported $3 million.

6: Darius Thompson (1.93, 28) Baskonia à Anadolu Efes

With Micic’s depart to the NBA, Anadolu searched for a PG with size and skills to pair with Shane Larkin. Thompson played most of his career as SG, but his move to Baskonia showed he can be a playmaker, posting 12.6PPG, 3.6RPG, 6.7APG. Darius was recruited by Milan, Panathinaikos and other EuroLeague clubs as well, but a $550K buyout plus a $2+ million contract, secured the deal for the Turks.

After ranking signings 10-6 of the most noted Euroleague deals, now we reach the Top-5 on the list.

5: Nikola Mirotic (2.08, 32) Barcelona à Olimpia Milano

In one of the longest most tiring sagas ever in the EuroLeague, Mirotic, who was already close to joining Partizan, also had offers from Monaco, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, finally decided to take his talents to Milano to join Ettore Messina for the next three seasons. It’s arguable that Mirotic is one of the best players in the EuroLeague, if not the very best, but since his return from the NBA he failed to lead Barcelona to the EuroLeague title. He must prove himself capable of doing just that in Milan, because they don’t need him to win the SerieA.

4: Facundo Campazzo (1.78, 32) Red Star Belgrade à Real Madrid

Amid all the high profile NBA players signing in Europe this offseason, including but not to be forgotten – Ben McLemore to AEK Athens – it seems that Campazzo’s return to Real Madrid has been forgotten and overlooked, but adding a player of his magnitude to the reigning champions could be the exact boost they need for a potential repeat.

3: Willy Hernangomez (2.11, 29) New Orleans Pelicans à Barcelona

Barcelona’s 2nd recruit in our Top-10 list features Spain’s starting center to the World Cup. Hernangomez becomes the 2nd player after Nikola Mirotic to return to Spain from the NBA directly to Barcelona, but even more interesting is that Real Madrid declined their option to bring him back to Los Blancos. Willy signed a reported 3-years, 12.5 Million Euros deal, locking in the biggest free-agent Spaniard after Mirotic’s leave.

2: Kemba Walker (1.83, 33) Dallas Mavericks à AS Monaco

WOW. Kemba Walker to the EuroLeague. How crazy does that sound? Even more crazy than Jordan Farmar to Maccabi TLV at the time despite Farmar being an NBA champion. Kemba is a multi-time NBA All-Star. Walker signed a one-year deal in Monaco, and it’s sad to say that injuries led him out of the NBA. It’s easier for Kemba to be able to focus primarily on roughly 30 EuroLeague games as opposed to putting the weight of 82 NBA games on his knees. The key question would be “who takes the last shot?”, or “whose team is it?” These are Qs Monaco must answer sooner than later, but it’s a fair assumption to say that Walker and Mike James step on each other’s toes.  For hoop fans, it’s a great story, and one that could have a happy ending if Walker turns into the face of the EuroLeague.

1: Kostas Sloukas (33, 1.90) Olympiakos à Panathinaikos

Sloukas crossing the road to Oly’s arch-rival PAO is the biggest middle finger a player can give his former club. Sloukas in green literally feels like a bad Disney movie. The notion was he’d extend with the reds, but ongoing friction with coach Giorgos Bartzokas led to his departure. Fenerbahce were expected to lure him to Istanbul as a replacement to Nick Calathes, but PAO swooped in for the kill under everyone’s nose, and Sloukas highlights the 3rd PAO recruit on our Top-10 list. The reason I have Sloukas at the top of this list is because he’s a winner, he’s a vet and he’s a leader. He’s proven in the Euroleague, and with all due respect to these NBA newcomers, by the time they figure things out, Sloukas can be celebrating another championship, because he’s battle tested.

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