We come off a very, very interesting round in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. First things first: Zalgiris Kaunas recorded its biggest EuroLeague road win this century, 62-94 in Milan. If you ask me, Sarunas Jasikevicius will have it tough to duplicate his success as a player – four-time EuroLeague champion, rare back-to-back-to-back champ, first to win the EuroLeague with three different teams – but he is already a terrific coach, young and smart, who will be around for a long, long time and win a good number of titles. We also saw Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens down Olympiacos Piraeus on the road in the Greek derby. I was in Palau Blaugrana when Anadolu Efes Istanbul topped FC Barcelona Lassa behind an outstanding performance from Vladimir Stimac, MVP of Round 6. He has been underestimated for many years but Stimac has persevered and is in the best moment of his career right now. Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv downed Real Madrid 90-83 in an exciting game in which the hosts pulled down 53 rebounds. The game between Khimki Moscow Region and Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz was very exciting, with a lot of ups and downs.
Of course, we saw Nando De Colo's best as he led CSKA Moscow to a big win against his former team, Valencia Basket. He was my team captain and despite sitting out in the fourth quarter, De Colo finished with a PIR of 28 in the win. That translated into 61.6 fantasy points, which is, of course, great. Luka Doncic of Real Madrid had 30 points and despite getting so-so contributions from Erick Green of Valencia Basket (3) and Dorell Wright of Brose Bamberg (5), my team scored 167.3 points. That allowed me to reach the Top 1,000, ranking 788th overall with 1,010.8 points. The goal is to keep going and try to reach the Top 500 as my next milestone. I will tell you what I will do in Round 7, the first of a double-round week. In between Rounds 7 and 8, I will add my trades in an extra graph at the bottom of this blog entry. But first, as always, here are my five recommendations this week.
1.- MALCOLM THOMAS/THOMAS ROBINSON, KHIMKI MOSCOW REGION. Not only is Khimki Moscow Region is playing fun-to-watch, fast-paced basketball which usually leads to high PIRs, but one of its big men, Anthony Gill, is expected to be sidelined for at least three weeks. That means extended playing time for Malcolm Thomas and Thomas Robinson, both of whom have had huge starts to the season. Expect them to have even better numbers from now on. Thomas is cheaper, Robinson a bit more reliable.
2- CHRIS SINGLETON, PANATHINAIKOS SUPERFOODS ATHENS. At the same time, Panathinaikos needs to match Khimki's physicality in order to compete well against the Russian powerhouse. In that sense, Singleton is set to play a critical role at center, as he is not only more experienced than Robinson and Thomas, but also a physical player able to battle with them under the basket.
3.- RICKY LEDO, ANADOLU EFES ISTANBUL. He had a troubled start to the season, battling personal issues. Entering last week's game, Ledo averaged just 25% inside the arc, hitting just 8 of 32 shots. Things changed against Barcelona, as Ledo played a very solid game, leading his team to a big win with 21 points, 5 rebounds and a PIR of 20. A very cheap, very good option at just €790,000!
4.- MATHIAS LESSORT, CRVENA ZVEZDA MTS BELGRADE. One of the most impressive rookies this season, Lessort is averaging 10.2 points and a league-best 4 offensive rebounds per game. He is also shooting with great effectiveness (63.4%). Moreover, Zvezda plays at home against CSKA Moscow and a wild atmosphere could boost Lessort even higher.
5.- NEMANJA NEDOVIC, UNICAJA MALAGA. He already played very well against Zvezda, finishing the game with 17 points off the bench. Nedovic averages 14.2 points overall, but this average has gone up to 18.7 points in the last three games. Remember, only the last five games count for a player to go up or down. It is a great time to sign Nedovic, right here, right now.
Analyzing my team Gancedato, I have to say I am pretty happy with the players I have, so I am only making adjustments. Doncic and De Colo are must-have players who will stay on my team no matter what. I am tempted to sell Erick Green of Valencia Basket, but his team plays at home against AX Armani Exchange Milan and I expect a big shootout against Andrew Goudelock: that, my friends, will be a fun-to-watch battle. Will Clyburn of CSKA, Alex Tyus of Maccabi and Alexey Shved of Khimki also stay. I have some doubts about Shved, but decided to keep him anyway, just in case. So I am selling Anthony Randolph of Real Madrid because of his poor performance in the Spanish League, finishing with a 0 index against Barcelona this weekend. Instead, I am buying Singleton because like I said, I expect a big game from him. I am also selling Dorell Wright of Brose Bamberg but don't have enough money to buy Thomas Robinson of Khimki.
Or do I?
This is why you have backup players, I guess. I can sell Maodo Lo of Bamberg to sign a cheaper player, getting enough money to buy Robinson. This is what I do: sign Vassilis Toliopoulos of Olympiacos to replace Lo, and then get Robinson instead of Wright. Therefore, my team looks like this before Round 7.
Luka Doncic, Real Madrid (PG).- He is dominating the EuroLeague with an iron fist. His fantasy value is €2.82m, so there is no chance I will even consider selling Doncic. No way.
Erick Green, Valencia Basket (SG).- Thought about getting rid of him, but his matchup with Andrew Goudelock is very promising. For both players. And for fans, too.
Will Clyburn, CSKA Moscow (SF).- Comes off a so-so game, but Clyburn has been outstanding until now. It is very hard to let a player like that go just like that.
Thomas Robinson, Khimki Moscow Region (PF).- A per-minute PIR machine? With extended playing time due to the circumstances? Please, bring him on. Welcome back, Thomas!
Alex Tyus, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (C).- A great rebounder and shot blocker, Maccabi will need him to stop Vladimir Stimac and Bryant Dunston down low. Recommended.
Nando De Colo, CSKA Moscow (G).- In the best moment of the season, and he just got started. 28 PIR in the EuroLeague, 39 in the VTB League. Nando is in shape, buy him before it's too late!
Chris Singleton, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens (F).- Physical, experienced, ready and his team plays at home. Singleton looks like the perfect match against a tough team like Khimki.
Alexey Shved, Khimki Moscow Region (U).- Not completely convinced about him this week, but truth to be told, Shved helps Khimki in many ways: three-pointers, steals, assists, rebounds.
Bench: Vassilis Toliopoulos, Olympiacos Piraeus (G), Egehan Arna (F) and Melih Mahmutoglu (U), Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul, Jake Cohen, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (C).
Remember to check this blog entry for updates on my team between Rounds 7 and 8. Good luck and enjoy a very intense Turkish Airlines EuroLeague week that only gets better with EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!
UPDATE: I decided to make some moves, as my team did not do very well in Round 7. I signed Vladimir Stimac of Anadolu Efes, brought back Dorell Wright of Brose Bamberg and also inked Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris. Alex Tyus, Thomas Robinson and Will Clyburn were sold. Plus I made Doncic team captain again. Good luck, everyone!