EA7 Emporio Armani Milan gave a significant facelift to its team with the addition of seven new players. Former EuroLeague champion and combo guard Ricky Hickman arrived to help with his playmaking and swingman Zoran Dragic will be an important factor on both ends of the floor, but especially with his defense, while big man Miroslav Raduljica is the new big man in the fashion capital. In addition, Davide Pascolo as a stretch four, swingman Awudu Abass and forward Simone Fontecchio give the team more size, depth and versatility across the board.
Milan will have one of the deepest backcourts in the competition. It is no secret that Alessandro Gentile is the team’s top scoring option, but he will have a lot of help around him on the perimeter. Hickman, Mantas Kalnietis and Andrea Cinciarini will be mostly responsible for playmaking duties, but each of them is a capable scorer, too. Krunoslav Simon possesses versatility that allows coaches to use him at either guard position or as a small forward, while Rakim Sanders and Abass have plenty of athleticism and scoring ability as well. In addition to them, swingmen Dragic and Bruno Cerella are known for their perimeter defense, giving this backcourt plenty of options against any opponent and for any matchup.
Milan’s big men from last season, Milan Macvan and Jamel McLean, have company under the rims this summer in Raduljica – who is the only true center on Milan’s roster – and a stretch four in Davide Pascolo. Raduljica and Macvan got a great boost of confidence over the summer as they helped Serbia win an Olympic silver medal. A big plus with the two players is the history they share and the familiarity of playing with one another for Serbia and for Partizan Belgrade five seasons ago. Last season, Raduljica established himself as one of the most productive big men in the competition, as did McLean who has become a big presence in the paint too. All-EuroCup forward Pascolo will be a EuroLeague rookie, just like young Simone Fontecchio, but the players in this group seem to complement each other perfectly, giving Coach Jasmin Repesa plenty of options inside.
Milan’s roster looks deeper than ever, and with plenty of firepower both on the outside and close to the rims. Many of the players in the backcourt are proven scorers, and if they get it going, the big men inside will have more than enough room to operate. However, the new players will have to fit in quickly and Milan will immediately learn how it fares with some of the historically best teams in the competition, because it faces Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus and Real Madrid all before the end of October.
PLAYER TO WATCH
EA7 Milan’s roster is loaded with players who can put the ball through the rim, which leads to the conclusion that Milan could be an offensive machine if the play of its point guards consistently creates and opens up things for Alessandro Gentile and the team’s big men. Enter Mantas Kalnietis, a fast and athletic guard coming into his 10th EuroLeague season. Kalnietis plays at both guard positions, but on a roster loaded with scorers, his ability to dish the ball could be of a far greater importance. The man just turned 30 years of age, enters arguably the prime years for point guards and is certainly capable of playing at a high level in the EuroLeague. He starts the season 13 assists shy of entering the select group of players with at least 400 assists in competition history! A big playmaking year from Kalnietis would likely allow Milan to do big things this season.