This year’s regular season has been one of the most exciting since the league took on its current format in 2001-2002, due to the influx of talent during the NBA lockout. With each team only having one game remaining in the regular season, now is a good time to take a look at the All-Euroleague teams from the league’s first round.
While most readers may be used to the typical NBA “MVP” rankings which rely heavily on statistical input, statistics have far less value in evaluating players’ performances in the Euroleague. Typically, the best teams in Europe have deep player rotations in 40 minute games, and the games have a more defense-oriented, playoff type of atmosphere, resulting in lower statistics for players who clearly bring more value to the table. Therefore, rather than rationalize picks by the numbers, it seems more accurate to observe what a player has brought to table — and how he has helped his team win.
All “NBA-Out” Team
G – Jordan Farmar – Maccabi Tel-Aviv – New Jersey Nets
After taking a few weeks to adjust to playing in Israel, Farmar emerged as the leader of Maccabi Tel-Aviv during his time with the club. His ability to get into the paint and either kick out to shooters or finish around the rim was the driving force behind Maccabi’s offense in the early portion of the season, and the team has struggled in running their offense since his departure. As a two-way guard who can take command of the offense and lock down opposing guards, Farmar has locked up a spot with Maccabi if he should choose to take advantage of his Israeli passport and head abroad in the future.
G- Rudy Fernandez – Real Madrid – Denver Nuggets
Getting a chance to play the style of game he has openly admitted to missing the past few years, Rudy thrived as an athletic wing man. Plugged into a deep Real Madrid squad, Rudy’s combination of speed, hops and shooting ability made him one of the most explosive scoring threats in the Euroleague. While he still had a tendency to disappear at times, his ability to contribute on hustle plays, and defensively, allowed him to make an impact even while he was struggling. Fans of Madrid have been keeping their fingers crossed that Rudy can negotiate a buyout with Denver and help the team make a run at a Euroleague title.
F – Nicolas Batum – SLUC Nancy – Portland Trailblazers
Batum has emerged as a jack-of-all-trades player over the last few years. During his time with Nancy, Batum proved he is ready for a breakout season this year in the NBA. With Brandon Roy and Fernandez no longer in Portland, Batum may be one of the early contenders for the Most Improved Player award this season.
F – Andrei Kirilenko – CSKA Moscow
Fantasy owners would be pleased to know that AK47 can still put up his old-school stat lines in the Euroleague, averaging over two steels and three blocks. As a player whose game clearly is more suited to Europe than the NBA, AK has been hands down the best player of the Euroleague so far this season. In the NBA, where teams play very isolation-heavy offenses, a player like Kirilenko who plays well through the flow of the game, suffers a bit. Since Europe has far less one-on-one play, guys like Kirilenko gain a significant amount of value. With the option to leave his contract for the NBA, AK is likely done once he can find a team. However, it wouldn’t be shocking if CSKA opts to increase his contract to convince him to stay.
C – Nikola Pekovic – Partizan Belgrade – Minnesota Timberwolves
Pekovic has quietly developed into one of the best back-to-the-basket big men in the world. Pekovic possesses excellent mobility for his size, and has an excellent array of moves in the post. His ability to not only draw a double team, but to pass out of the double team has proven to be very effective, as many of his teammates, notably Cavs 2011 second-round pick Milan Macvan, have had career years playing off him. While he didn’t make a big impact as a rookie in Minnesota last year, look for Pekovic to emerge as a reliable big man in Rick Adelman’s Euro friendly system. If given the opportunity, Pekovic could be a solid starter in the NBA, and a strong building block for the Wolves going forward.
Danilo Gallinari – Emporio Armani Milano – Denver Nuggets
Thabo Sefolosha – Feberbahce Ulker – Oklahoma City Thunder