Oct 15, 2014 1:48 PM EDT
As the 14-15 Euroleague season begins, RealGM presents the positional rankings of the league's best players. In the second edition, we ranked the elite power forwards from one to ten.
1. Viktor Khryapa (CSKA, Russia)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 6.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
Victor Khryapa, winner of the RealGM Euroleague MVP award for the 2012-13 season, had a notable step-back season. After averaging 10.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game in 12-13, all his numbers including all shooting percentages went down significantly (apart from assists). Also, Khryapa was no longer one of the main options of CSKA on offense as his shot attempts per game dropped from 8.1 to 5.3. Despite the setback, Khryapa remains the most versatile power forward in the Euroleague and that secures him the number one spot in our rankings for the second consecutive time.
2. Georgios Printezis (Olympiacos, Greece)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Georgios Printezis, who will always be remembered for his game-wining shot in the Euroelague title game, recently agreed to stay with Olympiacos until 2017 and together with Bryant Dunston anchor one of the Euroleague's best frontcourt. Last season, Printezis was solid throughout regular season and Top 16 but disappeared in the playoffs series against Real Madrid. In five games, Printezis combined for only 39 points and 11 rebounds. Printezis scored four points, grabbed two boards and collected season-low minus one performance index rating (PIR) points in game five of the series, while back-to-back Euroleague champions Olympiacos were eliminated from the competition.
3. Linas Kleiza (EA7 Emporio Armani, Italy)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.1 points (92% FT) and 3.5 rebounds.
Linas Kleiza's transition from the NBA to Europe was not as smooth as expected and the Lithuanian forward did not become a dominant force straightaway. Due to previous knee injury Kleiza seemed to be slower and more inconsistent than ever before. Despite that, Kleiza occasionally demonstrated his skill and leadership, for example, in a 26-points game against his current team EA7 Emporio Armani, 21-points game versus Olympiacos or 22-points scored against FC Barcelona. Kleiza decided to rest this summer and did not join Lithuanian national team in 2014 FIBA World Cup. Good preparation for the season should help Kleiza, who is still 29-year-old, to have a much better season than the previous one.
4. Felipe Reyes (Real, Spain)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 9.1 points (86% FT) and 4.8 rebounds.
Despite being 34 years old, Real Madrid captain Felipe Reyes remains an elite player and important piece on a championship-caliber team. Reyes’ role, as it became expected since 11-12, was limited last season as he played 16 minutes a game. Still, Reyes managed to average 9.1 points, most since 08-09, and 4.8 rebounds after coming off the bench in every of 30 Euroleague games. In the 2014 Euroleague Final Four, Reyes was one of four Real players who scored in double-digits in both semifinal and final game. Nothing should change for Reyes in the 14-15 season, his 11th with Real Madrid.
5. Jan Vesely (Fenerbahce Ulker, Turkey)
Statistics in 2013-14 (NBA): 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds.
It has been four years since Jan Vesely last played in Euroleague. In 2011, the 21-year-old Vesely was one of the most intriguing international prospects, a 6-foot-11 guy who can run the fast break. Four years later it seems that Vesely did not improve his game much, but he should still be good enough to be one of the Top 5 power forwards in the league. After playing just 2,455 minutes over three NBA seasons, Vesely is back in Europe where he is expected to revive his career and help Fenerbahce Ulker reach the Euroleague Final Four.
6. Dario Saric (Anadolu Efes, Turkey)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Eurocup): 12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
It seems that the transition from youth basketball to the elite level was super quick for Dario Saric and it is just a matter of time until he becomes an MVP contender in the strongest European basketball league. In only his second offseason with the Croatian national team, the 20-year-old big man demonstrated maturity as he played 26 minutes a game and averaged 8.7 shots in 2014 FIBA World Cup. It is going to be interesting to see how Saric fits along Euroleague veterans Nenad Krstic, Stephane Lasme and Milko Bjelica and how much playing time he will receive from head coach Dusan Ivkovic.
7. Kyle Hines (CSKA, Russia)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 7.6 points, and 4.5 rebounds.
For the first time in his Euroleague career, Kyle Hines was no longer a candidate for RealGM’s Sixth Man of the Year Award as he started in a career-high 12 games last season with CSKA Moscow. The Euroleague version of Charles Barley, Kyle Hines was super efficient in the regular season, where he averaged 9.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 block while playing his familiar sixth man role but then the numbers started to drop in later stages. The playoffs series against Panathinaikos Athens was the worst in Hines’ career. After scoring 15 points and grabbed eight boards in the first game, then he combined for only 10 points and nine rebounds in the next four matches of the series.
8. Dusko Savanovic (Bayern, Germany)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Dusko Savanovic, a stretch four who does not spend that much time inside the paint, moved from Turkey where he has joined German champions Bayern Munich. Savanovic is one of the most active bigs around three-point line as around a third of his shot attempts have been threes last season. As key player Malcolm Delaney left Bayern, Savanovic should demonstrate the leadership and partially compensate the absence. In his Euroleague career, Savanovic has never made it to the Euroleague Final Four and if he wants to do that within next two years with Bayern, he needs to be as productive as never before.
9. Paulius Jankunas (Zalgiris, Lithuania)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 8.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
After Zalgiris started to face financial troubles and had to cut down their expenses on players, captain of the team Paulius Jankunas was the one that young newcomers of Zalgiris could trust and follow. The 30-year-old forward already has 11 years of Euroleague experience under his belt and his knowledge for younger players, including young star Arturas Gudaitis, will be priceless. However, Jankunas’ biggest moment of 13-14 season happened outside Euroleague competition. Last season, Jankunas recorded a triple-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists - the first triple-double in the history of Lithuanian basketball league finals.
10. Milko Bjelica (Anadolu Efes, Turkey)
Statistics in 2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.6 points (93% FT), 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
There are not many big men in Euroleague who averaged over 10 points per game in four out of the five past seasons. Bjelica is one of them, as after a disappointing second year with Laboral Kutxa he made a successful move to Anadolu Efes where he once again averaged more than 10 points and three rebounds per game. Bjelica was also the most reliable free throw shooter in the league last season as he made 93 percent of his attempts from the line.
Previous Edition: Centers
Sep 05, 2014 9:17 PM EDT
The 2014 FIBA World Cup group stage didn't bring too many surprises, with the quite predictable result of all favorites reaching the quarterfinals and will continue to fight for the gold in Madrid and Barcelona, while Iran, Egypt, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Ukraine, Finland, Angola and South Korea head home early.
After all of the teams played five games and got ready for the playoffs, RealGM took a look at some of players, who despite their team success struggled to reach expectations, and others, who unexpectedly were very productive.
- Aron Baynes (Australia): 17.2 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Best performance: 21 points (8-for-13 on FG) and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes against Slovenia.
Aron Baynes continues to build his confidence which now turned him into one of the best centers in FIBA World Cup. Baynes more than doubled his statistical numbers from 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 2012 Olympics to 17.2 points and 7 rebounds in FIBA World Cup group stage. Considering that Baynes is 27-year-old, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, two surprises of 2012 Olympics, both are 26, in 2019 FIBA World Cup Australia will be no less than a medal contender.
- Andray Blatche (Philippines): 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.
Best performance: 25 points (9-for-16 on FG) and 14 rebounds in 37 minutes against Puerto Rico.
The best rebounder of FIBA World Cup, Andray Blatche made his name known on the international scene. It was obvious that Blatche would be the key piece of Philippines national team, but very few expected that he would record a double-double in every single match he played in Spain. In five games, Blatche scored no less than 14 points and collected no less than 12 rebounds in each of them, helping the Phillipines achieve their first World Cup victory in 40 years.
- Dario Saric (Croatia): 13.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Best performance: 15 points (6-for-9 on FG), 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 28 minutes against Senegal.
Transitioninig from youth basketball to the highest levels of the world - Dario Saric never heard about it. It’s been only the second offseason that the 20-year-old big man joined the Croatian national team, but Saric has became one of the key players almost instantly. Same as Baynes, Saric doubled his statistical numbers compared with 2013 EuroBasket and was unexpectedly consistent - Saric scored in double-digits in every of five games he played.
- Gorgui Dieng (Senegal): 18 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Best performance: 27 points (8-for-14 on FG), 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 40 minutes against Croatia.
The 24-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves’ big could be called not just a surprise, but a true sensation of the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Dieng helped his team win two group games and advance to the playoffs, while averaging 18 points and 11.4 rebounds. The 27-point performance against Croatia has sparked the U.S. media to talk about why Dieng will be a future All-Star and why Timberwolves should now move Nikola Pekovic.
- Miroslav Raduljica (Serbia): 14.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Best performance: 21 points (8-for-13 on FG) and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes against France.
Recently waived by the Los Angeles Clippers, Miroslav Raduljica has definitely raised his stock after a very solid performance in FIBA World Cup group stage. The 26-year-old Raduljica didn’t score more than 14 points in a single game last season, while in this championship the Serbian big man averages 14.2 points after scoring in double-digits in every of five games he took part in. It seems that Raduljica is not ready to give up his NBA dreams, but in case that happens, he is now one of the most wanted big men in the European market.
- Derrick Rose (USA): 5.4 points, 2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Worst performance: 2 points (0-for-4 on FG), 0 assists, 2 turnovers in 17 minutes against Turkey.
So far the recent videos demonstrating Derrick Rose’s incredible physical capabilities has not turned into reality. Even though the US has been dominant, Rose struggle to score as he made only eight out of his 32 field goal attempts and has missed nine of 10 3-point attempts. However, Rose and Team USA coaching staff do not seem to be surprised as missed shots and turnovers normally comes with not playing for two years.
- Mickael Gelabale (France): 5.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
Worst performance: 4 points and 1 rebound in 24 minutes against Spain.
Mickael Gelabale, currently a free agent, recently received interest from European powerhouses and NBA teams, which planned to watch Gelabale perform in FIBA World Cup. So far the experienced 31-year-old forward has been struggling to find ways to score as Gelabale averages career-low 5.8 points per game. In his first five games, Gelabale did not had a single double-digit scoring game and went to the free throw line only twice.
- Nenad Krstic (Serbia): 4.7 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Worst performance: 2 points, 1 rebound in 6 minutes against Spain.
Nenad Krstic has been in decline over the past few seasons but his role with the Serbian national team has changed even more dramatically. Krstic’s playing time was limited due to his poor conditioning, which was mainly caused by a knee injury. It is uncertain if Krstic, who averaged 15.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 2013 EuroBasket, will get in shape soon, but for now he remains overshadowed by Raduljica and spends most of the time off the court supporting his teammates.
- Nicolas Batum (France): 9.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Worst performance: 11 points (5-for-15 on FG), 1 rebound and 2 assists in 29 minutes against Spain.
Nicolas Batum was unstoppable in 2012 Olympics and was a big piece of gold-winning French national team in 2013 EuroBasket. After Tony Parker announced his decision to have rest this summer, Batum was expected to step up once again and carry this team on his back. So far, Batum is averaging career-low 9.2 points per game, shooting only 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. If France has intentions to go any further than quarterfinals, they definitely need bigger contribution from their leader Batum.
Renaldo Balkman (Puerto Rico): 12.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Worst performance: 2 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 20 minutes against Philippines.
As Carlos Arroyo was sidelined for the most part of FIBA World Cup group stage, Renaldo Balkman had a chance to put up MVP-worth numbers as he did in 2013 FIBA Americans where he averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds per game. However, after putting 23 points and five rebounds performance against Greece, later Balkman scored just two points in a win against Philippines and just six points in a do-or-die type of game versus Croatia. That was not enough to beat Croatia and advance; therefore Balkman together with Puerto Rico had to go home early.
Aug 25, 2014 1:20 PM EDT
After twisting his left ankle six times last season and making the Phoenix Suns nervous, Goran Dragic is still not going to have a break this summer and disappoint his people in Slovenia as he prepares for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, the third in his career.
Dragic, a national hero of Slovenia, will be the face and the leader of a younger national team, which will compete in group D with Angola, Australia, Lithuania, Mexico and South Korea. The 28-year-old point guard is coming to the World Cup after having a career season as he averaged 20.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
RealGM caught up with Dragic in Europe to talk about the Suns’ offseason, Slovenian basketball, what is it like to play with his brother and much more.
RealGM: First of all, have you been following Suns’ offseason moves closely? How do you like your new assets?
Dragic: Of course. It is going to be a different team than last year. We lost Channing Frye, who was a big piece of our starting lineup. But they brought in new players, Isiah Thomas at the point guard, Anthony Tolliver who will play at four. I believe we will have the same structure as the last year. It is going to be an exciting season. Jeff [Hornacek] is a great coach and it is going to be his second year as a head coach. I think we will grow, we will be better and hopefully we will make the playoffs.
RealGM: What is your regular routine when you find out about new players coming to the Suns?
Dragic: All the players in the NBA, we know each other. If they play a lot, every time you have a game against them you have to prepare yourself, how you are going to defend. Basically, you know them well. But I do check rookies who come from college. I do not watch college games, therefore I have to check them out, go to YouTube and see some highlights. But of course, sometimes highlights might be tricky. At the same time, we have a great group of new guys and every new addition is welcome and hopefully we will be a better team.
RealGM: Do you stay in touch with Eric Bledsoe? Do you receive information about his situation and do you pay attention to it?
Dragic: I follow him on Twitter. I talked with Jeff couple of weeks ago and they still didn’t know if they are going to offer him a contract. We are waiting for his decision. But I think he is a big part of this team. He was great last year and we played together well. I hope he will sign for the next year.
RealGM: After you saw the Suns' moves this offseason, do you feel your team has potential to win more than 48 games next season?
Dragic: Yeah, why not? I’m always very optimistic. It is going to be hard, of course. But playing in the West is so tough. Last season we won 48 games and if we were in the East, we had been the third seed. That’s basketball. I would take fewer minutes if we make it to the playoffs. Minutes don’t matter for me as long as team is playing well. The main goal is to make it to the playoffs because two seasons ago we were losing a lot, last year we won 48 games and now we are in the different situation.
RealGM: I heard about the restrictions from the Suns for you to play five international friendly games under 25 minutes in each. What is your opinion about some of NBA GMs intentions to prohibit their players to play for their national teams?
Dragic: I understand them. They pay me a lot of money and they are scared. Last year I had many troubles with my ankles. I twisted my left ankle six times. They are a little bit nervous but at the end, it is always nice to play for the national team. Every organization has a different opinion. Me and the Suns, we made an agreement and that was great.
RealGM: Is it difficult to negotiate with an NBA team on the terms of playing for the national team?
Dragic: It is difficult because on one side you have an organization that is paying you and on the other side, you have your people. I always like to play for my people, the national team and it is tough. But I think if you sit down and you talk with them, you can make an agreement. That’s why I’m really happy and grateful for the Phoenix Suns. They allowed me to play and I think I can gain more experience here. Also I can get in better shape for the next year.
RealGM: What is it like to play with your brother on the same team? Do you spend much time together?
Dragic: He plays in Malaga [Unicaja] and I play in the NBA, therefore I do not see him a lot. It is very nice when you play together for the same country. When we were kids, we were always close, always together. It is a special moment when we are together on the court. I wish that he could be even in the NBA if that’s possible. He is improving, he had a great year in Malaga and I’m waiting for him in the NBA.
RealGM: Last season you won the NBA Most Improved Player Award. In your opinion, what was more influential for your game, your improvement physically or mentally?
Dragic: I think I just got more chances. I was always like that. It was hard for me in Phoenix because I was behind Steve [Nash]. He’s the best point guard in the league, all the expectations and everything… Usually I got 15 minutes in the game and it is very difficult to do something in that time. I think trading me to Houston was a very good thing for me because I got more playing time. It is difficult to explain, but in those 15 minutes you usually rush to do something good because you want to prove that you can do good. But when you get more minutes, you are relaxed, you are not rushing and you’re waiting for game to come to you. I think that was the main difference.
RealGM: Talking about the Slovenian national team, how does the preparation go so far?
Dragic: So far it has been awesome. We have a very young team, a lot of young guys. It is different from the last year. Our two important players have retired, Jaka Lakovic and Bostjan Nachbar. But at the same time, I feel we have young legs. We can run, we can defend. Hopefully we will build that chemistry that we need and we will get good result at the world championship.
RealGM: It seems that Slovenia always struggles to have the best possible players on their roster. Have you ever thought what if Slovenia would have avoided all the drama?
Dragic: All the time. All the time. You’re dreaming someday to win a medal, doesn’t matter what kind, bronze, gold or silver. I think we had a great team for that but we always had some other issues. Every time we try do bring all the players, we fail. That was our biggest problem. However, every player is the owner of his body, therefore it’s up to him to decide whether he wants to play or not.
RealGM: Do you see yourself finishing career in Europe? Do you miss European basketball?
Dragic: Yeah, why not? For the second part, I wouldn’t say I miss European basketball. I’m not that kind of player anymore. This will be my seventh year in the NBA and I’m really enjoying every moment. It’s players’ league, you have one practice everyday and a lot of games. I don’t want to say that I will never comeback to Europe but probably if I have a chance, I will retire in the NBA.
Aug 07, 2014
RealGM caught up with Martynas Pocius in Kaunas during the Lithuanian national team training camp to talk about being raised in sportsmen family, development of young players, 2014 FIBA World, future with Galatasaray and more.
May 23, 2014
Tyrese Rice is one of those players who had to advance through his basketball career the hard way, but he's now been named the MVP at the second best club championship competition in the world.
May 01, 2014
Sergio Rodriguez is the winner of the RealGM Euroleague MVP award and was joined on the All-Euroleague Firest Team by Keith Langford, Sonny Weems, Nikola Mirotic and Ante Tomic.
Apr 18, 2014
With less than a month remaining until the Euroleague Final Four in Milan, RealGM presents a list of ten young (21-year-old or younger) Euroleague players that had the most success in 13-14 season.
Mar 31, 2014
RealGM caught up with Justin Dentmon in Panevezys, Lithuania during the Lithuanian cup Final Four event to talk about the current crisis in Zalgiris, his personal game, life in Kaunas and more
Jan 23, 2014
RealGM caught up with Malcolm Delaney in Europe to talk about Bayernís performance in the Euroleague, the teamís affiliation with the soccer program, his future plans and much more.
Dec 23, 2013
RealGM caught up with Luke Harangody to talk about his experience in Russia, playing under foreigner coach, NBA and more.
Dec 10, 2013
With less than two weeks remaining until the end of its regular season, RealGM presents the Euroleague Power Rankings. We evaluated and ranked all 24 teams' performance over their first eight games and their perspective for the next rounds.
Nov 19, 2013
RealGM spoke with Alexis Ajinca to talk about the restart of his career, his plans to get back to the NBA, France's national team and much more.
Nov 12, 2013
Fenerbahce Ulker, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Anadolu Efes and CSKA are at the top of RealGM's Euroleague rankings.
Oct 28, 2013
While Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Ulker, CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos are at the top of the table and our rankings, Alexis Ajinca has been playing like an MVP candidate.
Oct 03, 2013
Jonas Valanciunas, Nikola Vucevic, Hedo Turkoglu and Georgios Printezis were amongst the 10 most disappointing performance of EuroBasket 2013 for a variety of reasons.
Sep 19, 2013
RealGM caught up with Jeremy Pargo to talk about his time in the NBA, his decision to join CSKA, the upcoming season in Russia and more.
Sep 04, 2013
Right before the tip-off of EuroBasket 2013, Petteri Koponen talked with RealGM about Finish basketball, his NBA dream, first season with Khimki and much more.
Aug 29, 2013
RealGM caught up with Jan Vesely to talk about the challenges he faces in the NBA, his transition period, the Czech Republic national team and more.
Aug 12, 2013
Compared with previous tournaments, EuroBasket 2013 will be a weaker competition in terms of talent, as a lot of stars for various reasons won't suit up for the championship. But the tournament will still have many top players from the NBA and Euroleague.
Jul 17, 2013
Nikola Mirotic, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Trajan Langdon are amongst the Euroleague players that have shot better than 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line.
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