Euroleague Update: Ricky Hickman Rising, Nemanja Bjelica to Minnesota This Summer?

Ricky Hickman, MaccabiIf Anadolu Efes is supposed to have merit as a contender, they sure aren’t supposed to let a team with ten losses take them to overtime in their own building.  But for a second straight week, Jordan Farmar scored 20-something and Istanbul’s darlings resisted the urge to tumble into their old ways, closing it out against Bamberg 89-86.

Above them in Group E, Real Madrid couldn’t respond, losing to Unicaja 77-74.

Even with Madrid throwing fresh bodies at him–Marcus Slaughter, Rafael Hettsheimer, Nikola

Mirotic–the Spaniards had no answer for Luka Zoric, and the Croatian big man ended up with 21 points, 12 boards and a pair of steals and blocks.  Now, Madrid and Efes sit atop Group E at 9-2, with the Turks carrying the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Spaniards 74-72 in the seventh game of the Top 16.

Madrid picked a Hell of a day to go 5-of-23 from three, as leading scorer Rudy Fernandez (13.2) didn’t suit up for the Madrileños.  But luckily for Fernandez that meant no more walks to or from the team bus, where last week he was allegedly attacked by two Zalgiris fans in Lithuania after Madrid’s overtime win against Zalgiris on March 7.

To my knowledge, Simonas Baranauskas broke the story with this tweet.

The Rudy hatred stemmed from this game earlier in the season between Madrid and Zalgiris, when Rudy ruffled some feathers with some trademark shenanigans, and that influenced these creative signs at Zalgirio Arena for the re-match and, eventually, the post game attack.

After an independent investigation by the Euroleague, the Macius brothers (devout Zalgiris fans and the perpetrators of the attack) have been banned for life from the arena, Zalgiris has been fined €25,000 and security will supposedly be buffed up near the busses (fences, guards, the whole nine) to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Olympiacos went into Siena and held Bobby Brown to a Top 16-low eight points, as the Reds’ athletic duo of Kyle Hines and Kostas Papanikolaou paid huge defensive dividends and Olympiacos won 68-67.  Hines, the 6-foot-5 center who gets off the floor quickly and recovers on screens as easily as a guard, might be the toughest two-way match-up in all of Europe at the moment; Papanikolaou has proven time and time again that his approach doesn’t loosen with more playing time, and the 22-year-old small forward responded to a career-high 37 minutes with 11 points (1-of-2 from two, 3-of-6 from three), seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks and no turnovers.

Amazingly, Papanikolaou has turned it over just twice in his last 125 minutes of floor time.

With the NCAA tourney bearing down on us, a look at some of the Americans performing at both ends of the spectrum and a 6-foot-10 Serb who could make the jump to the Timberwolves as soon as next season.


  1. AP says

    Nick, I have to ask, when you endlessly reap praise on Mirotic here, how come you never once ever mention when he has bad games? He has bad games all of the time and not even a mention of it.

    Then when he has a good game the articles are singing his praises.

    • says

      Thanks for reading as always, AP. And this was from my Mirotic piece that started our debate:

      “…Mirotic had his worst game of the year this past week in a 76-70 loss to Cantu. He scored just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.”

      I realize the man has his faults and definitely could work on consistency, but it doesn’t shake my belief that he’s the best young player in Europe. And honestly, the fact that his consistency even gets called to question as a 22-year-old shooting 60/30/90 in the Top 16 and averaging 12 and 6 for Europe’s deepest club is exceptional, is it not?

      Who do you think–at his age or younger–projects as a better pro?

      Thanks for the comment, AP.

      • AP says

        At his age or younger project as a better “pro”? Several guys in Europe do…….

        Like Hezonja, Abrines, Dubljevic of course there are plenty of others as well, but they are too young to get into the discussion. You overrate him. I just watched him get manhandled by an old washed up Kostas Tsartsaris for example. Maybe also Gentile and Karasev……..

        Also don’t sleep on some guys that are “unheard of” because USA NBA hype machine has not put them into the hype machine (like they did with Mirotic) .

        Adetokoubo brothers

        And the use of these NBA terms like “pro” is the problem here. You guys use terms like “pro” to refer to NBA players and imply that guys in Euroleague and other good European leagues are somehow not pros. Well, I am pretty sure they are pros also, considering they make enormous salaries.

        So Mirotic is already a “pro” player. And as for Real Madrid, the “deepest team in Europe” has lost 4 straight home games. I think you are definitely overrating Mirotic and that whole team.

        You are taking this idea of what Mirotic will be in the NBA, and claiming he is that in Euroleague. It’s two different things. It’s the same discussion about Rubio when he was in Euroleague. “He’s going to be a star in NBA, so he’s obviously the best player in Europe”.

        Even though he pretty much sucked in Barca. Mirotic of course is a good player in Madrid, so it’s not the same level, but the point is that you can’t talk about a guy being best in Europe, just because you think he will be an NBA star.

        Mirotic is a good player currently in Euroleague and nothing more than that. He might be an NBA star, but that should not somehow magically make him better now than he actually is.

        If you really watch him play, he scores in two ways – free throws and wide open jump shots. That’s basically it. That’s his entire offense. And on defense, he’s barely even an average player.

        Sure, he could be an NBA star (because no one plays any defense in NBA and I am sure he can put up numbers there), but in Euroleague, he’s not what you advertise him as.

        Anyway, I like reading your articles Nick. Keep up the good work on helping to promote Euroleague in English speaking press. It needs it.

  2. AP says

    Kyle Hines has been officially measured at 199 cm or 6’6 ½” tall by Olympiacos. He’s not 6’5″ and that’s just an obvious error by – which has many, many such errors in their height listings of players.

    Kyle Hines is 6’6″, not 6’5″, since players get listed in shoes these days.

    Actually, just as an example on the same team of the BS height listings by Draftexpress – they claim Spanoulis at 6’3″ barefoot, when anyone can clearly see he’s more like 6’3″ in shoes.

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