Oct 28, 2014 12:12 AM EDT
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.
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
RealGM caught up with Goran Dragic in Europe to talk about the Sunsí offseason, Slovenian basketball, what is it like to play with his brother and much more.
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.
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