After an exciting playoffs run fell short last spring, FC Bayern Munich has replaced more than half of its regular contributors in order to try again in the upcoming 2019-20 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season. The newcomers arrive at every position, but leading the pack is center Greg Monroe, a seasoned NBA player in the prime of his career. He'll be flanked by up-and-coming big man Matthias Lessort and forward Paul Zipser, who returns to Munich. On the perimeter, three players making their EuroLeague debuts – Josh Huestis, T.J. Bray and Diego Flaccadori – will get help from veteran DeMarcus Nelson, offering a mix of talent and experience throughout the lineup to head coach Dejan Radonjic.
Bayern's longest-serving player, Nihad Dedovic, will continue to lead this backcourt as a go-to source of points and energy. In his second season in Munich, a large measure of leadership duties will fall to veteran guard Petteri Koponen, whose combination of playmaking and shooting skills are matched by few. Bray arrives with a reputation for assist-making as well as scoring and will team up with speedy holdover Maodo Lo at the point. Flaccadori is another promising young player who will make his EuroLeague debut far from his native Italy. Bridging the front and back will be Huestis, a defensive ace making his first steps in Europe. Another long-time fan favorite, Alex King, will add to that defensive attitude whenever he is on the floor.
Monroe was one of the signature signings in the entire EuroLeague over the summer, and will be counted on as a pillar in the middle of the paint at both ends of the floor. Bayern doubled up on sizeable talent with the arrival of Lessort, a high-flying floor runner who already has EuroLeague experience from two seasons ago. They join a ready-made inside duo with workhorse power forward Danilo Barthel and experienced center Leon Radosevic. Heady Vladimir Lucic is back to float between forward spots, but is dangerous at both of them. Joining him on the low wing will be Zipser, who spent a couple of years in the NBA since his first, three-season stint with Bayern. Both can stick threes to keep defenses honest and change Bayern's look as needed.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Much like Bayern made a splash by signing Derrick Williams last season, the arrival of Greg Monroe for his first European experience surely has the fans in Munich very expectant. In his prime at 29 years old, the 2.11-meter big man very nearly averaged a double-double (13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds) in his more than 650 NBA games over the last nine seasons. Monroe has also shown nice passing for a big man, which would help a lot in his adjustment to European basketball. Almost two-thirds of those games were as a starter, and Monroe is almost sure to get those kinds of minutes in the EuroLeague. Every team wants an anchor under the baskets, a player who can be counted on for both presence and numbers, and if his experience translates on the court, Bayern will certainly have, in Monroe, its man in the middle.
Much as Monroe should be at the center of what Bayern does, new perimeter choices Bray, Flaccadori and Huestis will have the ball and a lot of decisions in their hands. How they all adjust to the competition and pace of the EuroLeague will tell whether Bayern comes together sooner or later. But come together it will, and when that happens, there's plenty to be excited about. With Nelson, Koponen, Lucic, Barthel and Monroe, Bayern can count on solid half-court basketball. With Lo, Dedovic, Huestis, Zipser and Lessort, this team can pick up the pace with the best of them. And that's not to mention Bray, Flaccadori, Radosevic and King, which proves that this team will go deep. Indeed, it may be the deepest team Radonjic has coached in the EuroLeague, and he's done quite well until now, which means that Bayern fans have plenty to be hopeful about as a new decade dawns.