Top 16 analysis, Group E

Dec 24, 2013 by Print
Top 16 analysis, Group E
Fenerbahce Ulker
Olympiacos Piraeus
EA7 - Emporio Armani Milano
Laboral Kutxa
FC Barcelona
Anadolu Efes
Panathinaikos Athens
Bojan Bogdanovic - Fenerbahce Ulker - EB13_51726
It’s only fitting that Bojan Bogdanovic enters the Top 16 as the competition’s leading scorer, since no Euroleague player has averaged more points since the 2010-11 season than the 24-year-old swingman. Possessing an array of weapons, the skills to generate offense from the low post or from long range and the ability to score with his right or left hand, Bogdanovic has become one of Europe’s most prolific scorers. As Fenerbahce Ulker targets its first ever trip to the Final Four, look for Bogdanovic to continue carrying the biggest load.
Gasper Vidmar - Fenerbahce Ulker - EB13_51426
The big man is not necessarily a go-to-guy in Coach Zeljko Obradovic’s star-studded lineup, but Gasper Vidmar, back with Fenerbahce Ulker after a one-year absence, is one of the leading offensive rebounders in the competition. With the injury to Fenerbahce’s other power player Oguz Savas, a lot has fallen on to Vidmar’s shoulders. Besides rocking the rim with monster dunks, the 26-year old has stood out on defense and used his plentiful experience to shoulder an important role in the paint.
Zeljko Obradovic and Bo McCalebb - Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul vs. Oklahoma City - NBA Global Games 2013 (photo

Head coach Zeljko Obradovic holds a record eight Euroleague titles with four different clubs – Partizan Belgrade, Joventut Badalona, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos Athens. In his first season with all of the aforementioned clubs, Obradovic won the Euroleague title. This season he turned underachieving Fenerbahce team into a Final Four contender with its best-ever regular season. Sights are set high on the Asian side of Istanbul, especially with Obradovic doing the magic in his first year on the Fenerbahce bench.
Vassilis Spanoulis - Olympiacos Piraeus - EB13_52803
Three-time Euroleague champion and the reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague MVP is having another season that meets his highest standards. Vassilis Spanoulis took Round 8 bwin MVP honors, a weekly title he claimed only once before – in 2005 – and is averaging 15.8 points per game, shooting above 40% on his three-point shots, and resides among league’s top 10 in assists. Being at his best again, while focused on making a historic run with the Reds, Spanoulis’s impact on every game is virtually unmatched.
Bryant Dunston - Olympiacos Piraeus - EB13_52837
Despite being a rookie, Bryant Dunston did not need long to adjust at the elite Euroleague level; he earned weekly bwin MVP honors in his third career game with performance index ranking 33 in Round 3 against Bayern Munich. The 27-year old power forward leads the competition with 1.7 blocks and is tied for his team’s best performance index ranking (16.4 per game). Dunston has already proved to be a steal of a summer signing, and Olympiacos will count on his dominant inside presence the rest of the way.
Olympiacos Piraeus Media Day 2013

The two-time defending champ looks to become just the third team to win three consecutive continental crowns since European club competitions started back in 1958. ASK Riga took the first three titles, and Jugoplastika Split accomplished that feat in 1989-91. Since then, only Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv was in the position Olympiacos is now. Entering the Top 16 with a club record-tying 10 wins in a row for their best-ever start to the season, the Reds again have something brewing in Piraeus.
Keith Langford - EA7 Emporio Armani - EB13_52581
In his second season in Milan, Keith Langford has emerged as his team's go-to guy. Not only is Langford one of the best scorers in the competition, he can do it in many ways - off the dribble, in transition or getting to the foul line often. Langford is in his fifth consecutive Euroleague season and now has the experience alongside his tremendous talent to lead Milan to bigger heights in this very special season for the club.
Gani Lawal - EA7 Emporio Armani
He arrived to Milan midway through the season and Gani Lawal soon started to deliver. He showed flashes of greatness late in the regular season and could take it up a notch in the Top 16. An explosive big man, Lawal has great timing to block shots and rebound and is also really effective with an array of post moves around the basket. After playing in China, USA, France, Latvia and Poland, Lawal has found a new home in Milan as a reference down low.
Nicolo Melli celebrates - EA7 Emporio Armani - EB13

The 2014 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four will be played at Mediolanum Forum and no other team will be more motivated than EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, for obvious reasons. Only two of its players - C.J. Wallace and David Moss - have previous Final Four experience and the chance to play the big event in their arena will have players, coaches, staff, fans and everyone in Milan ready to work in the same direction - getting there no matter what!
Pure character and commitment, Andres Nocioni has adapted to a new position and is playing better than ever. Nocioni switched to power forward full-time this season and has lived up to the challenge by leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocks, fouls drawn and performance index rating. In his fifth Euroleague season – all with Vitoria – Nocioni can be expected to keep displaying his great talent, intensity and leadership to try to take his team to the playoffs – and even beyond.
Tibor Pleiss - Caja Laboral Vitoria - EB12
A big man who keeps improving every season, center Tibor Pleiss will be critical to Laboral Kutxa's success in the competition. Despite stepping on court less than 19 minutes per night, Pleiss has been highly effective. He has nearly doubled last season's scoring (9.6 ppg.) and performance index rating (11.6 per game) averages. Pleiss has hit 90% of his free throws (18 of 20), which is critical for a center. Pleiss looks as ready as ever to battle against the best big men in Europe in the Top 16.
Walter Hodge - Laboral Kutxa - EB13_53108

Laboral Kutxa has had an injury-plagued regular season, but that didn't prevent the team from reaching the Top 16. The club managed to bring aboard good players, like Thomas Kelati and Rimas Kaukenas, to short-term deals and survived injuries from reference players Andres Nocioni, Fernando San Emeterio, Lamont Hamilton and Fabien Causeur. Only three players – Tibor Pleiss, Walter Hodge and David Jelinek – have played in every regular season game. If healthy, Laboral Kutxa will be even more dangerous.
Ante Tomic - FC Barcelona - EB13_52899
All-Euroleague center Ante Tomic remains FC Barcelona's main reference in the paint and figures to be instrumental in its future success. Tomic can be a dominant player down low with his great basketball IQ and post moves, highlighted by his trademark, high-release jump hook. Tomic also helps on the boards, is passing the ball (2.2 apg.) better than ever and contributes in many other ways, evidenced by his being one of the competition's top players in PIR per minute.
Kostas Papanikolaou - FC Barcelona - EB13
Intangibles like winning spirit and great character cannot be measured and that is exactly what Kostas Papanikolaou brings to the table. A two-time Euroleague champion as a starting small forward and Rising Star Award winner, Papanikolaou has adapted well to Barcelona's playing style, doing a little bit of everything to help his team at both ends. At age 23, Papanikolaou will continue doing what he does best – standing out as the ultimate team player on a Euroleague team with several stars.
Brad Oleson - FC Barcelona - EB13

Injuries have not allowed Barcelona to play at full power this season - seven-time All-Euroleague guard Juan Carlos Navarro needed an adjustment period after recovering throughout the summer, while Brad Oleson and All-Euroleague big man Erazem Lorbek only returned late in the regular season. With these two players back in action, Barcelona has a deep, versatile roster full of experienced, talented players ready to face anyone, anywhere, and should be more dangerous than ever in the Top 16.
Nik Caner-Medley - Unicaja Malaga - EB13_53029
The pillar of Unicaja’s high intensity defense, Nik Caner-Medley has also scored in double figures in his last eight regular season games. The 30-year old forward leads Unicaja in scoring (15.9 ppg.), rebounds (5.4 rpg.) and performance index rating (17.4 per game). He highlighted his regular season with a career-high 20 points plus 10 rebounds for an index rating of 29 that earned him Round 2 bwin MVP honors. His leave-it-all on the floor approach makes him a fan favorite, and the face of Unicaja’s success.
Not only is he the man who’s improbable buzzer-beater against Montepaschi Siena lifted Unicaja into the Top 16, but a week earlier he fueled Unicaja’s rally and an 18-4 run in the final seven minutes of the come-from-behind win over Bayern Munich. Mostly coming off the bench, the 24-year old rookie guard has had an up-and-down season just like the team, but he came through when it mattered most, and has grown into his role as the season progressed.
Unicaja Malaga celebrates top 16 - EB13

Unlike last year when it needed only seven games to mathematically qualify for the Top 16, Unicaja left it as late as possible to punch the ticket for the Top 16 this season. However, Granger’s off-balance floater in the last second of the last game of the regular season could very well turn into a momentum builder for a team that is built to give fits to any opponent with its high-energy, athleticism, size, and willingness to play hard-nosed defense.
Jamon Gordon - Anadolu Efes - EB13
One of the best perimeter defenders in the competition, no player since his Euroleague debut in 2009 has more steals than Jamon Gordon. So it’s no surprise he is this season’s season steals leader (2.1 per game). In addition to reading the game, and players, so well, Gordon is a glue guy for his team. His on-court leadership, durability in terms of minutes played, and assists, are of great value and importance to Efes, which will need Gordon’s all-around contributions the rest of the way.
Scotty Hopson - Anadolu Efes - EB13_52618
One of the best Euroleague summer signings, rookie swingman Scotty Hopson is Efes’s leading scorer (15.5 ppg) and second best in rebounds (4.2 rpg) and steals (1.2 spg). It did not take him long to become the go-to-guy for Efes; Hopson averaged exactly 20 points per game in the team’s four wins. As the club makes a push for its second consecutive playoff appearance, it is clear that it will rely heavily on Hopson and his offensive production.
Vangelis Angelou

After a quick start to the season, Efes lost five of the last six games, before sneaking into the Top 16 with some big help from Zalgiris Kaunas. But neither wins nor impressions carry over to the next stage, and that’s good news for this team. New coach Vangelis Angelou inherits an experienced roster with seven players aged 27 or older, many of whom know how to win at this level. Together they have a real shot at making something happen this season.
Dimitris Diamantidis - Panathinaikos Athens - EB13_52629
Almost as if he doesn’t age, the 33-year-old Diamantidis remains at the top of his game and is averaging more assists (7.3 apg.) this season than at any point in his illustrious career. The six-time Euroleague Best Defender award winner is a nightmare for opponents at both ends of the floor, punishing foes with his steals, passing and three-pointers. Moreover, Diamantidis has proven over the years to be at his best in big games, something all opponents must be weary of.
James Gist - Panathinaikos Athens - EB13_53051
On a frontline stocked with dynamic players, James Gist may be the most exciting. Now in his fourth Euroleague season, Gist has proven to be a thorough game-changer with his explosive and momentum-building slam dunks and blocked shots and his well-timed three-pointers. He plays his best basketball in front of the passionate fans in Athens, which adds to Panathinaikos’s already daunting home-court advantage. Gist at the top of his game is a nightmare for the rest of the league!
Roko Ukic - Panathinaikos Athens - EB13_52342

Panathinaikos led the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season with 25.5 three-pointers attempted per game, which is among the highest in competition history and the most in club history. However the Greens are ranked only 10th in three-point accuracy at 36.1%. For a team that lost three games so far by 3 points or less, every basket counts. There are plenty of reasons for optimism; four players with a green light – Diamatidis, Fotsis, Gist and Ukic – are shooting below their career averages.