David Pick | Nr. 47

Anadolu Efes have traded guard Shane Larkin to Real Madrid for Sergio Llull and the returning rights of Usman Garuba, when he leaves the NBA. Maccabi Tel Aviv and ALBA Berlin have completed a trade centered around PG Scottie Wilbekin and Yovel Zoosman, for Maodo Lo, Luke Sikma, Marcus Eriksson and four future prospects from ALBA's U18 farm team. Khimki Moscow has finalized a deal sending Alexey Shved and their mascot to crosstown rival CSKA for a suitcase filled with Russian Rubles to prevent the club from folding into non-existence.

Pretty wild, right? I can go on and on with these scenarios. Obviously not real, but wouldn't it be crazy if the Euroleague would mimic the trade rules applied in the NBA?!

Oh wait, I forgot a good one: Zenit St. Petersburg, Red Star Belgrade and Olimpia Milano completed a 3-team deal sending Kevin Pangos to join forces with Nicolo Melli and Kyle Hines forming a new BIG3 under Ettore Messina; Zenit also sent Austin Hollins to Belgrade.

Hold the phone. Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a political partnership trade as Maccabi Tel Aviv sent veteran center Othello Hunter to Bayern Munich, for a package that includes big man Jalen Reynolds, and Hamburg forward Kameron Taylor. Now we wait for Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless to analyse if this is a good fit or a recipe for disaster.

These were just a sliver in comparison to what's going on in the NBA where LeBron James is forming (another) super team in Los Angeles with Russell Westbrook (BAD FIT?), Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and friends. Zach LeVine got a lot of firepower in DeMar DeRozen and Lonzo Ball - not to mention Kyle Lowery and PJ Tucker joining Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THE NBA?! WOW.

But all that aside, in my opinion, on paper at least, Bayern Munich seem to be the superior Euroleague club in Germany. I think Munich is a better team this season. Last season Bayern had a roster where the whole was great than the sum of its parts and they came really close to eliminating Milano in the playoffs. That team thrived with the underdog label. This season is totally different.  Expectations have risen tremendously. Huge credit to Marko Pesic and Daniele Baiesi for landing not 1, but 2 former Euroleague Champions. This goes to show a lot about the brand Munich has developed internationally. That being said, Hilliard was never a leader or cornerstone piece in Moscow, and he hasn't shown to have that character, so he needs to prove he can THE guy, as opposed to ANOTHER guy on a winning team. Hunter will bring veteran experience and the defensive abilities that Jalen Reynolds was lacking, but the key with Othello will be his ability to remain healthy and consistent throughout the season because he isn't getting older and missed a significant portion of time in Tel Aviv that he can't afford to miss in Munich. Corey Walden is an animal on the floor and he will bring the grit and grind mentality the complete the roster for Trinchieri. He is a great signee for Bayern and an upgrade to Wade Baldwin, I'm sure.

In Berlin Tamir Blatt, who has been mentioned often in our magazine this offseason, will experience a lot of growing pains and no one really knows what to expect or predict he’ll do in the best league outside the NBA. Same for Yovel Zoosman, who was always used as a slashing / spot up role player at Maccabi; now must fill the role of an import player expected to produce from the jump. With ALBAs signing of Jaleen Smith - I'm not sure what Blatt Jr envisioned this when he signed, but it strengthens the idea that the coaching staff need more assurance and experience from their floor general.

My expectations for the upcoming Euroleague season are for Olimpia Milano to contend for a Euroleague title alongside reigning champs Anadolu Efes, CSKA Moscow and Barcelona. The only way these teams won’t make it back is if they play each other in the playoffs. Red Star Belgrade are going to make a handful of changes to the current not-so-strong squad; same for newcomer AS Monaco. Real Madrid made good signings with Thomas Heurtel, Adam Hanga and Guerschon Yabusele, but neither have won on the Euroleague level, and I'm not sold on Nigel Williams-Goss leading the Blancos to a championship. Zenit St Petersburg will surprise a lot of teams and I think they have one of the best backcourt shooting bros in Conner Frankamp and Billy Baron. Can Frankamp step into the role of a lead PG with his quiet, soft spoken personality, or does Zenit need more of a leader from their floor general?!

Introducing returning coaches to the 2nd best league in the world are Fenerbahce and UNICS Kazan. With Igor Kokoshkov stepping down to link up with Luka "Baby Bird" Doncic in Dallas, Fener brought in Sasa Djordjevic in a questionable hire. Fener's roster is legit a 1-8 seed, but they're lacking depth to really compete in the playoffs. EuroCup and VTB Finalist UNICS saw tactician Dimitris Priftis return to his homeland signing with Panathinaikos, as Velimir Perasovic returns to Euroleague sidelines after an overdue absence. Kazan retained John Brown, Isaiah Cannan, and Artem Klimenko - while bringing in mega star Mario Hezonja, alongside blue-collar players Lorenzo Brown, Tonye Jekiri and Will Thomas.

Maccabi Tel Aviv should be a team to keep an eye on. With a longtime coach on the sidelines and core unit of Wilbekin, Caloiaro, Blayzer, Zizic, and familiar faces in Jake Cohen, James Nunally and Jalen Reynolds - with a mixture of star additions in Derrick Williams - it will be fun to watch. The enigmas fall under the rookies - two bound to be featured more locally than internationally - PG Iftach Ziv and PF Roman Sorkin, while Euroleague newcomers Keenan Evans and our recent BBL friend Kameron Taylor, made the jump from Hamburg to Maccabi, hoping to make a splash in the competition.

The EuroCup

The revised EuroCup format has brought a fleet of German clubs BACK to the second-tier competition. Although EWE Oldenburg left the competition to bolt to the FIBA Champions League; the BBL still has some respectable representatives: Hamburg Towers in Group A and Ratiopharm Ulm in Group B will probably not advance to the next round, but will look to be competitive nonetheless. Recent reports that I can confirm have linked Ulm to Israeli star PG Yam Madar, whose rights belong to Hapoel Tel Aviv. Ulm, though, couldn’t reach Hapoel’s $250,000 buyout demands, and Madar is likely headed to Partizan Belgrade on a 2-year $300,000 NET agreement.

Partizan's gladiator project behind Zeljko Obradovic seem to be the greatest force in the competition, but I wouldn't rule out Marco Belinelli, Milos Teodosic, Ekpe Udoh and of course Nico Mannion who bolted from the NBA to Virtus Bologna, under returning star coach Sergio Scariolo from the Toronto Raptors.

Other teams that can make a splash are Lokomotiv Kuban, Joventut Badalona. MoraBanc Andorra, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana and Valencia.

Some of the top names entering the competition that could make a huge noise include sharpshooting sniper Keith Horsney of Paris Metropolitans, forward Jordan Caroline from Trento, recent NBAer Jonathan Motley and All-Italian 1st-Team guard Darius Thompson with Lokomotiv Kuban; TBT legend with Sideline Cancer, Marcus Keene with Cedevita Ljubljana. Miniature PG Marlain Veal out of 2nd Division Turkey and Israel respectfully, with Bursaspor. Also highlighting the star roster of returning players are Spaniard Victor Claver, who rejoins Valencia after leading the Bats to the 2010 EuroCup Championship; and Errick McCollum - former EuroCup winner with Galatasaray.

Basketball Champions League

The 3rd-best ranked international competition overseas in the Basketball Champions League. You remember the last time a BBL team had success in the BCL, right? Nope. I just remember s.Oliver Würzburg lost in the Europe Cup Finals vs Dinamo Sassari on a roster that featured two of my clients - Justin Carter and Tyrus McGee.

While Wurzburg lost most of their financial assets since COVID-19 broke, and the club's budget dropped significantly, other German teams are in pursuit of BCL glory: EWE Oldenburg have bolted to the BCL from the EuroCup; alongside MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg have automatically made the group stages.

Ludwigsburg have been pooled to Group A with former champions Lenovo Tenerife, Dinamo Sassari, and the winner of the qualifying round from A4 (Cypriotic Larnaca vs Croatian KK Split; Romanian Champs U-BT Cluj vs Finnish Salon Vilpas; and the clubs waiting in the semifinals stage - Swiss club Fribourg or Greek side Peristeri).

Oldenburg already know the identities of all their rivals, consisting of 2x BCL winners San Pablo Burgos and a very interesting matchup between Tyrus McGee and Max Heidegger - who battled a bunch of times not long ago in the Israeli Winner League with Hapoel Holon and Bnei Herzliya respectively. While Max had some up and down games vs McGee, McGee would use his big frame and strong upper body to pound Heidegger in the post; so this is a matchup I'm excited to rewatch. Other opponents are Turkish side Besiktas and Lithuanian power-club Rytas Vilnius.

But we might have a 3rd German representative in the BCL as Brose Bamberg formed an interesting roster to compete in the Qualifying Rounds and will face in the semifinals the winner between Kapfenberg Bulls or Lithuanian Juventus Utena. The other semifinals will see Montenegrin favorites Mornar Bar against the winners of the matchup between Portuguese club Sporting CP vs BC Kalev/Cramo. It's widely expected for Bamberg to face Mornar Bar in the Finals to qualify to the BCL on September 17 in Tallinn, Estonia. The Group Bamberg might enrol into the following teams: Filou Oostende, SIG Strasbourg and Tofas Bursa.

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