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14-15 Euroleague Power Rankings: Small Forwards

As the 14-15 Euroleague season begins, RealGM presents the ultimate positional rankings of the league's best players. In the third edition, we rank the elite small forwards from one to ten.  

1. Emir Preldzic (Fenerbahce Ulker, Turkey)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. 

The 2013-14 season was arguably the best of Emir Plredzic’s career. In his seventh Euroleague season with Fenerbahce Ulker, Preldzic averaged MVP-worthy numbers of 11.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists in the regular season and despite the ups and downs in Top 16, Preldzic was the most efficient small forward in the whole league. Preldzic was also dominant in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where he once again demonstrated his versatility by averaging 12.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists. The 27-year-old forward was also under the spotlight after hitting the shot of his career, a last second three pointer that carried Turkey over Australia. Preldzic could compete for MVP award in any of the upcoming seasons but he might have to sacrifice his statistics by involving his teammates to achieve better results as a team.

2. Alessandro Gentile (EA7 Emporio Armani, Italy)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

Despite his young age and EA7 Emporio Armani being loaded with deep backcourt, the 22-year-old Alessandro Gentile was one of Luca Banchi's main options in crucial moments last season. Gentile, who started playing professional basketball at the age of 16, quickly learned how to use his strong body in Euroleague and that helped him to achieve success in 13-14. Gentile also demonstrated his leadership in Italian league, where he helped EA7 Emporio Armani win the championship while Gentile was named the Italian League Finals MVP. Considering that the rising Italian basketball star was also the top scorer for the Italian national team at EuroBasket 2013, within the next three years with EA7 Emporio Armani Gentile has a great chance to become one of the youngest Euroleague MVP award winners ever.

3. Sonny Weems (CSKA, Russia)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 12.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists. 

For the second season in a row, Sonny Weems averaged more than 12 points, two rebounds and two assists per game, which helped him to make RealGM's All-Euroleague First Team of 2013-14. Weems established himself as one of the best wings in the league back in his debut season with Zalgiris Kaunas in 11-12 and it seemed that joining a winning team and will provide him an opportunity to fully reach his potential in Europe. However, in two years Weems played twice in Euroleague semifinals and both times failed to carry CSKA to the final. In last season’s final four, Weems was one of the most disappointing players as in two games he collected 14 points, making six shots out of 23 attempts, and dished out four assists.

4. Andres Nocioni (FC Barcelona, Spain)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds.

The 35-year-old veteran Andres Nocioni proved last season that he is still capable of playing 26 minutes a game and being a leader in a Euroleague Top 16 caliber team. Nocioni collected 20 or more performance index rating (PIR) points in seven Euroleagues games, including two 35 PIR performances against FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos Athens. Nocioni decided to improve his chances on winning Euroleague title this offseason by leaving Vitoria and joining Real Madrid. Gustavo Ayon, Marcus Slaughter, Felipe Reyes, Ionnis Bourousis, Salah Mehri - Real has one of the best frontscourts in Euroleague, and as lately Nocioni spent more time playing at power forward, therefore no surprise that his role will decrease and playing time will be limited to around 15 minutes per game. 

5. Nemanja Bjelica (Fenerbahce Ulker, Turkey)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.4 points (42% 3FG), 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

For Nemanja Bjelica, the 13-14 season was also the best of his career as he averaged solid numbers in both Euroleague and 2014 FIBA World Cup competitions. In 24 Euroleague games, Bjelica averaged career-high 10.4 points and 6.1 boards, including three double-doubles twice against FC Barcelona and once versus EA7 Emporio Armani. However, the Euroleague season for Fenerbahce Ulker ended soon while with Serbian national team Bjelica traveled all the way to the 2014 FIBA World Cup final. Bjelica led the silver-medal winning team in rebounds (6.9) as he was also one of the Top 3 scorers (11.9 PPG). As it is the case with Preldzic, Bjelica will not be the main and only Zeljko Obradovic’s option on offence this season. As Fenerbahce Ulke is once again full of talent, it is going to be difficult for Bjelica to improve his numbers, which would possibly happen if he plays for other Euroleague team. 

6. Matthew Lojeski (Olympiacos, Greece)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.1 points (43% 3FG), 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Matthew Lojeski had a difficult task in replacing Kostas Papanikolaou in his debut Euroleague season for the back-to-back champions. By using his versatility, Lojeski did that surprisingly well - he helped Vassilis Spanoulis to lead Olympiacos all season long and was surprisingly persistent throughout regular season, Top 16 and the playoffs as he averaged more than 10 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in each stage. Despite being his first Euroleague season, Lojeski was also a big threat behind the three-point line as he scored three or more long-range shots in eight Euroleague games last season. Lojeski revealed his intentions to have a bigger role this season, which means that if Olympaicos stays on winning track, Lojeski might become a serious contender for the MVP award.

7. Jonas Maciulis (Real, Spain)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals.

Jonas Maciulis’ performance in 13-14 could be divided in two parts - Euroleague regular season and the rest of the year. Maciulis was one of the Panathinaikos’ leaders in regular season where he averaged 12.3 points and 5 rebounds and played his career game (19 points and eight boards) against Laboral Kutxa. Then Maciulis disappeared in Top 16 as his scoring averages dropped from 12.3 to 5.6 points per game as all his shooting percentages went down as well. The absence of few key Lithuanian national team players gave Maciulis opportunity to become a leader but the 29-year-old forward failed to use the chance. Despite Maciulis being one of the key defensive stoppers in 2014 FIBA World Cup, his contribution to team’s results (6.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game) was far behind the expectations. 

8. Tremell Darden (Olympiacos, Greece)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 5.7 points (46% 3FG) and 2.6 rebounds.

Tremell Darden played an important role in last year’s Real Madrid team and was an important figure during Real’s 31-game winning streak. Darden started in 30 out of 31 Euroleague games last season and despite his statistics does not reflect that, he was one of the best defensive stoppers in the whole league. His direct opponents averaged only 6.3 points in 19.4 minutes while facing Darden, which helped Real become one of the best defensive teams in the Euroleague. Due to his specific role, Darden will never be considered as a contender to win Euroleague MVP prize, but he still holds a chance to win the Euroleague Best Defender award within the next two years with Olympiacos.

9. James White (Unics, Russia)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Italian league): 17.1 points and 5 rebounds.

While playing for three different Italian teams since 2010 (with a break in 12-13), James White was undoubtedly the best scorer in Legabasket Serie A. White, who averaged no less than 17 points per game in each of those three seasons, comes to Euroleague after winning EuroChallenge trophy with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia, where he was also the most efficient player on the team. The 32-year-old forward averaged 15.8 points, 4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, including his 17 points on 5-of-8 from the floor, four rebounds and two assists performance in the final game. After White registered a double-double in his Euroleague opening game, it seems that the new leader of Unics has ambitions to be make it into the Euroleague MVP conversation too.

10. Stratos Perperoglou (Anadolu Efes, Turkey)

Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 9.9 points (46% 3FG) and 2.8 rebounds. 

Stratos Perperoglou had a career year last season after successfully taking advantage of playing some minutes at power forward due to the injury Georgios Printezis. When Printezis was out, Perperoglou played his career game against FC Bayern, scoring 25 points, grabbing four boards and finishing the game with 28 PIR points. Perperoglou collected 20 or more PIR points in four Euroleague games last season and solid performance helped him to secure a new two-year deal in Turkey with Anadolu Efes. Perpreroglou is reunited with Dusan Ivkovic again and as Anadolu Efes frontcourt is loaded with talent, Perperoglou should be again Ivkovic’s main option at small forward position.

Euroleague Power Rankings (End Of October Edition)

As Euroleague hits Week 3 of its regular season, RealGM presents the Euroleague Power Rankings. We evaluated and ranked the performance of all 24 Euroleague teams over their first two games and their perspective in future battles.

The number in brackets shows position in preseason ranking.

1. (3) Real Madrid 2-0

The champions of Spain, Real Madrid has started the season with two easy wins and demonstrated strong discipline on defense. Real has the best defensive rating (DRtg) in the league so far, allowing their opponents to score only 81.8 points per 100 possessions.

2. (5) Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 2-0

Fenerbahce Ulker was behind Budivelnik in the third quarter of Week 1’s game,  but scored 31 points in last ten minutes and showed their capabilities to blow any mediocre team out in just one quarter. Now they have defeated FC Barcelona and proved that their horrible last season is already forgotten.

3. (1) CSKA Moscow 2-0

Despite awful shooting from beyond the arc (25 percent), CSKA managed to steal wins in both weeks in France and Ukraine. It seems that CSKA is still in experimental mode and trying to find ways to win games by using nine star players. The real strength of CSKA will be seen in next two weeks when the Russians face two Top 5 teams in Fenerbahce Ulker and FC Barcelona.

4. (2) Olympiacos Piraeus 2-0

Even without Kostas Papanikolaou, now with FC Barcelona, Olympiacos remains the best three-point shooting team in the league (44 percent). Once again, Olympiacos demonstrates the same style as in both games with Unicaja and Galatasaray, the reds were down in the third quarter but found ways to bounce back and grab those wins.

5. (4) FC Barcelona 1-1

The newcomers Papanikolou and Maciej Lampe are two out of three players who get most playing time in FC Barcelona this season (the third is Marcelinho Huertas). No surprise, FC Barcelona will need more time to glue the core as they struggled for 30 minutes to beat Partizan and couldn’t impose their style of play to Fenerbahce Ulker in the previous game.

6. (6) Panathinaikos Athens 1-1

After a surprising loss in Vilnius, Panathinaikos successfully bounced back and beat Laboral Luxa at home as they also matched the Euroleague assists record (31). Panathinaikos was the only Euroleague team this offseason that maintained their whole starting five, therefore the core of the team that stayed together for a few years should be among the leaders in assists all season long.

7. (9) Anadolu Efes Istanbul 2-0

Anadolu Efes had to put more effort to beat Strasbourg IG in last week’s game than it was expected, but the Turkish club still started the season with two wins under their belt. Moreover, Anadolu Efes found a new leader, Scotty Hopson, who has been playing like an MVP candidate, averaging 21 points and 5 rebounds per game.

8. (8) Laboral-Kutxa Vitoria 1-1

Fernando San Emeterio’s injury revealed how important he is to Laboral Kutxa. While the Spaniard was still on the squad, Laboral Kutxa grabbed a win against same-level Maccabi, but without San Emeterio, Vitoria was simply destroyed in Athens versus Panathinaikos.

9. (7) Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-1

Maccabi, which doesn’t have as much talent as it use to in 2004-2010 seasons, has been facing problems in the least expected place - inside the paint. Tibor Pleiss and Lamont Hamilton of Laboral Kutxa combined for 38 Euroleague rating points in the first week’s game against Maccabi, while Ivan Radenovic and Boban Marjanovic of Crvena Zvezda, both collected 49 (!) rating points in the last match versus Maccabi.

10. (12) Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar 2-0

No doubt, Lokomotiv-Kuban will be one of the fastest teams in Euroleague that will be hard to stop in transition. Once Lokomotiv-Kuban play small ball, opponents find it very difficult to catch up with Krasnodar’s pace as their fast frontcourt, Derrick Brown and Richard Hendrix, was dominant in the first two weeks.

11. (14) Bayern Munich 2-0

Bayern was lucky enough to get lower-caliber opponents in the opening weeks and they used this chance by beating them both. Led by Nihad Djedovic, Munich looked very solid as they allowed their opponents to only record 2.5 steals per game (best result in the Euroleague).

12. (11) Stambulo “Galatasaray” 1-1

Last week, Galatasay was ahead at the 29th minute of the game against Olympiacos, but Carlos Arroyo failed to deliver the win to Galatasaray fans. It seems that the Istanbul team’s results will depend on Arroyo’s performance throughout the season as the guard set the tone scoring 21 points in the opening game and led the team in most important moments against Montepaschi.

13. (15) Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 1-1

Despite Lietuvos Rytas taking a lot of long range shots, it fails to fight for offensive rebounds and they are the worst Euroleague team in that area. Lietuvos Rytas lost the battle of rebounds in both weeks and in order to go throughout the next round, they definitely need to improve this aspect.

14. (13) Unicaja Malaga 1-1

Unicaja was the most mysterious Euroleague team at preseason stage and most of the questions remain unanswered. Malaga’s club seems to be a mid-level team, which is still a step behind the elite, but the upcoming games with Galatasaray and Bayern should reveal the real strength of Juan Plaza’s team.

15. (18) Budivelnik Kyiv 0-2

Even without a win after the first two rounds, Budivelnik is still a team with potential to play in Top 16. The Ukrainian team had to face two elite Euroleague clubs, Fenerbahce Ulker and CSKA, and they didn’t fail despite the two losses. Budivelnik was ahead at the 34th minute versus Fenerbahce Ulker and the 27th minute against CSKA, proving they can compete with the best.

16. (10) EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 1-1

Milan changes its name every season, but the results remain the disappointing same. EA7 Emporio Armani seems to have one of the best backcourts in Euroleague on paper, but the Italians were destroyed by Anadolu Efes and wasted an 18-point advantage against Zalgiris (still won the game).

17. (19) Partizan Belgrade 1-1

If a most improved player had to be selected today, Dragan Milosavljevic of Partizan would be among contenders to win this award. As Vladimir Lucic left Partizan this offseason, the 24-year-old Milosavljevic stepped up and became a true leader of the team, averaging 20.5 points (55 percent on three-pointers) and five boards per game.

18. (21) Crvena Zvezda Belgrade 0-2

Crvena Zvezda creates more problems for its opponents than was expected and the main man behind that is Boban Marjanovic. Despite playing against top big men in the league - Shawn James, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Derrick Brown and others - the 7-foot-3 center averaged 15 points and 11.5 rebounds. Marjanovic is on his way to becoming a new star of Euroleague.

19. (16) Zalgiris Kaunas 0-2

Zalgiris is about to face their main competitors in the fight for Top 16, Strasbourg IG and Brose Baskets, but before that their new head coach has to find a way to fill the defensive gaps of Sarunas Jasikevicius. The opponents of Zalgiris score 34.2 points more per 100 possessions when the oldest Euroleague player is on the court.

20. (20) Brose Baskets Bamberg 1-1

In the first week game, Strasbourg IG’s Alexis Ajinca got into foul trouble, Brose Baskets had a 19-1 run and made a small step towards the Top 16. However, Bamberg’s defense hasn’t been reliable and that might be the main reason preventing Germans from having a long run in Euroleague.

21. (23) Strasbourg IG 0-2

Despite Strasbourg IG’s poor results, Alexis Ajinca has been one of the most valuable players in the Euroleague. Ajinca averaged 18.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in two games and now it’s clear that the French big man is worth a spot on the roster of a top Euroleague team, or maybe even a second chance in the NBA.

22. (17) Montepaschi Siena 0-2

Montepaschi’s effort to find a new Bobby Brown or Bo McCalebb hasn’t produced any results as the Italians lost both games and none of newcomers from America seem to have enough talent to take the lead. If the situation won’t change for Siena, Galatasaray and Bayern will leave Montepaschi behind in the race for the Top 16.

23. (22) JSF Nanterre 0-2

JSF Naterre made their name heard in its first game against CSKA but totally collapsed in week two versus Partizan. The French team scored only 43 points and two free throws. JSF Nanterre’s Sergiy Gladyr, who had a successful EuroBasket 2013, made only two field goals out of 14 and committed more turnovers (6) than scored points (5) in those two games.

24. (24) Stelmet Zielona Gora 0-2

As expected, Stelmet is this year’s Euroleague’s tourist, enjoying a chance to play against teams like Unicaja or Olympiacos. Stelmet’s defense has been terrible over its last two games, as they allowed their opponents to score 97.5 per game and forced opponents to commit just 7.5 turnovers. These are the worst results in the Euroleague and most likely Stelmet won’t feel the taste of victory this season.

Euroleague Power Rankings: Centers

RealGM presents the ultimate positional rankings of the Euroleague's best players. In this fifth edition, RealGM ranked the elite centers from one to ten.

Centers

1. Nenad Krstic (CSKA Moscow, Russia)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 14.2 points, 5.5 rebounds.

Nenad Krstic's return to Russia made CSKA Moscow a dominant power in the Euroleague last season. Krstic was barely stoppable on the offensive end, averaging an impressive 14.2 points per game. As the centerpiece of CSKA, Andrei Kirilenko gone, Krstic role is even more important as he's been very consistent so far this season. Two very successful seasons with CSKA will make Krstic the number one center in Europe on the open market in the summer.

2. Erazem Lorbek (FC Barcelona Regal, Spain)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 13 points, 4.6 rebounds.

Erazem Lorbek's past couple of career years serves a reminder of his inconsistencies. After a rusty 2010-11 season, Lorbek demonstrated an MVP worth game during his contract year and played his way into a new three-year deal with FC Barcelona Regal. However, as Lorbek secured his future until 2015, his numbers went down along with his impact on team results.

3. Ioannis Bourousis (EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Italy)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 9 points, 6.4 rebounds.

You can call it bad karma or simply being unlucky, but there is something special with Ioannis Bourousis. After spending five seasons in Piraeus, Bourousis left Olympiakos right before the reds won the title. Olympiakos remains among the elite, while Bourousis continues to struggle with EA7 Emporio Armani, which stayed out of Top 16 stage. The 29-year-old center had his best season in his career and averaged 14 points and 8.3 rebounds. Still, impressive play by Bourousis wasn't enough to extend EA7 Emporio Armani's season in the Euroleague.

4. Nikola Mirotic (Real Madrid, Spain)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds.

Despite his young age, Nikola Mirotic has been starting as Real Madrid's center for a second consecutive year. Mirotic is already able to take big shots and makes a huge contribution to Real's offense, which is the second best in the Euroleague. However, the fact that Mirotic will likely stay in Spain until 2016-17 should leave the Bulls wishing he would come to the NBA. On the other hand, the NBA fans will miss Mirotic development process, but might see him playing at his peak, at the age of 26.

5. Darjus Lavrinovic (Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuania)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds.

Coming back to a place where you were unstoppable is always a good idea. A dominant performance with Zalgiris Kaunas in the 2005-06 season led Darjus Lavrinovic to massive paydays in Spain, Turkey and Russia, but now Lavrinovic is back in Kaunas, where he is as productive as before. Rejoining forces with his twin brother Ksystof helped to transform Zalgiris into a winning team, capable of going all the way to the Final Four.

6. Sofoklis Schorstanitis (Panathinaikos Athens, Greece)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 8.7 points, 3 rebounds.

Due to his size, Panathinaikos newcomer Sofoklis Schorstanitis has always been a very productive player, who was able to play limited minutes. No surprise, Schorstanitis leads the Euroleague in points per 28 minutes with 21 and usually gets double teamed every time he has the ball in the paint. However, fatigue and quick fouls limit Schorstanitis' playing time as he has never played more than 20 minutes per game in his seven-year Euroleague career. His playing time in the 2012-13 season is even more limited as he never started a single game and plays only 13 minutes per game.

7. David Andersen (Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, Turkey)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 11.7 points, 6.2 rebounds. 

After a first successful season in Italy since coming back from the NBA, together with Simone Pianigiani, David Andersen decided to go to Istanbul. As things didn't go as well as expected, Andersen had to face bench player role in first few games, in which he finished with negative player index rating. Later, things got back to normal as Andersen received more playing time and again became a productive starting center. Nevertheless, a big rotation will prevent Andersen from posting MVP worthy numbers in every Euroleague game, but he will surely remain among the elite centers in the Euroleague.

8. Ante Tomic (FC Barcelona Regal, Spain)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Euroleague): 6.7 points, 3.7 rebounds.

Moving from Real Madrid to its biggest rival definitely helped Ante Tomic get out of Nikola Mirotic's shadow and also receive more playing time. Tomic is the starting center for arguably the best Euroleague team right now, but still struggles to become a player who could put big numbers every night. Inconsistency is what keeps Tomic from being higher in this ranking.

9. Aron Baynes (Union Olimpija Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Statistics in 2011-12 (Greek league): 13.6 points, 9 rebounds.

Aron Baynes is easily the biggest success story in this Euroleague season. Seven double doubles and helping a team with one million euro budget get three wins is more than impressive and more than enough to attract attention of European biggest teams. Baynes, who led the league in rebounding (9.8 per game) this season, established himself in the Euroleague and might stay here for a long time.

10. Shelden Williams (Elan Chalon, France)

Statistics in 2011-12 (NBA): 4.6 points, 6 rebounds.

Signing Shelden Williams was a risky move for Elan Chalon, but it paid off in a big way. In his debut season, Williams averaged 11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 23 minutes of action and was more reminiscent of a Euroleague veteran than a former NBA player, who needed time to adjust to European game. It didn't take long for Williams to get noticed by elite Euroleague teams as the latest reports link him to Fenerbahce Ulker. The former Duke star's French adventure might end soon and we'll see what Williams is capable to do on a winning team.

Euroleague Power Rankings: Shooting Guards

The shooting guard position in Euroleague is headlined by Vassilis Spanoulis, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Fernando San Emeterio, Jaycee Carroll and Keith Langford.

Euroleague Player Rankings: Point Guards

With Bo McCalebb, Dimitris Diamantidis, Milos Teodosic, Jordan Farmar, Marcelinho Huertas and Sergio Rodriguez, the point guard position has a lot of high quality talent in Europe.

Preseason Euroleague Power Rankings

The 2012-13 Euroleague regular season will begin on October 19th and here are RealGM's preseason power rankings with CSKA, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Ulker and Olympiacos comprising the top-five.

Top-5 Storylines Of Euroleague's Top-16 Stage

With 16 teams left, RealGM presents the Top Five storylines of Euroleague to keep an eye with teams like CSKA, Zalgiris, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos look to advance.

Euroleague Power Rankings Ahead Of Top-16 Stage

Barcelona, CSKA, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos and Montepaschi Siena headline our objective Euroleague Power Rankings.

Season Preview: Italian Basketball (Lega Basket Serie A)

Italian basketball has struggled over since the turn of the century, both in terms of club teams and their national squad. But Montepaschi Siena continues to thrive behind the likes of Bo McCalebb.
 

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