This season has seen an impressive wave of talent from all over the world join Turkish Airlines EuroLeague teams. While many of those signees are familiar faces returning to Europe’s premier competition, there are many others stepping up to play in the EuroLeague for the first time. EuroLeague newcomers have been known to have big impact on the competition in the past; just last season, four of the top 20 players in terms of average performance index rating were in their first EuroLeague seasons: Derrick Williams with FC Bayern Munich, Jordan Mickey with Khimki Moscow Region, Jeremy Evans with Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul and Tarik Black of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. All four of those players are back this season. Here is a list of 10 of the top players set to make their EuroLeague debuts in the 2019-20 season.
10. Amine Noua, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
He is everything that a coach looks for in a modern big man, Noua is long, athletic and a great shooter. Plus, he’s only 22 years of age. Noua’s game has improved in each of his four seasons with ASVEL as he has become a building block for the freshly crowned French champs. This season ASVEL will give Noua the opportunity to take his game to another level in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Noua plays with great energy, finishes well at the basket and can open the floor with his outside shooting; he’s a career 40.5% three-point shooter in the 7DAYS EuroCup in two seasons as a starter. He has all the skills to become one of the best power forwards in Europe.
9. Jonas Jerebko, Khimki Moscow Region
After more than a decade overseas, the Swedish power forward is taking his game to Europe’s brightest stage. Jerebko is widely respected for his hustle and grit. Those characteristics go hand in hand with his winning mentality, which he used to help his respective teams reach the NBA playoffs in each of his last five seasons. On the floor, Jerebko is an excellent rebounder and a strong three-point shooter. Jerebko began his career in his native Sweden, where he helped Plannja to the league title in 2007 before moving to Italy for two seasons with Angelico Biella. Khimki will be his first European club since then and there is little doubt that his playing style and experience will help him make a big impact in Moscow.
8. Shelvin Mack, AX Armani Exchange Milan
Mack walks into an exciting situation in the fashion capital after playing parts of eight seasons in the NBA. With Milan, he will share minutes in the backcourt with fellow combo-guards Sergio Rodriguez and Nemanja Nedovic and Coach Ettore Messina should have creative ways to use them all. Mack is a heady point guard who does everything well. He's tough, a good defender, an above-average shooter and possesses a floater that is hard to stop. Mack is very strong for a point guard, too. Sometimes American point guards struggle to adjust to European basketball in their first season, but Mack is in an ideal situation where he can play alongside other ball handlers and make the most of his talents under a coaching legend.
7. Quincy Acy, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Throughout his seven seasons of professional basketball in the NBA, Acy was widely beloved by fans and respected by teammates for his neverending effort. A 2.01-meter power forward, Acy makes up for what he lacks in size through his combination of great leaping ability and tenacious fighting spirit. He even spent time at center over the previous two seasons. Acy has improved his outside shooting greatly throughout his career; after making a total of 3 during four college season with Baylor University, he netted 102 with Brooklyn in the NBA two seasons ago. Maccabi fans should be delighted to get to see Acy whose high-energy style keeps him active all over the court, whether blocking shots to protect his rim, attacking the hoop at the other end and everything in between.
6. Rokas Giedraitis, ALBA Berlin
An All-EuroCup First Team selection last season, Giedraitis helped ALBA reach that competition’s finals and will now - after four consecutive campaigns in the EuroCup, he’ll get his first shot at the EuroLeague. The 27-year-old small forward is a classic do-it-all player, who is a great scorer, a lethal three-point shooter and a certified ball thief on defense. Giedraitis's father, Robertas, was an accomplished point guard in Lithuania and later coached his son, helping to bring out the maximum of his considerable talents. In his second season with ALBA, Giedraitis can be counted on to contribute in all areas as one of the team's pillars. Giedraitis was hard at work over the summer, too, as a member of the Lithuanian national team at the Basketball World Cup in China.
5. Nigel Hayes, Zalgiris Kaunas
Hayes made his European debut with Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul an explosive one last season as he posted a 50/40/90 shooting campaign and ranked among the top 10 in the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season in scoring and performance index rating. He was also second on his team in rebounds, third in steals and fourth in assists. Hayes joined the Lithuanian champs this summer knowing that playing in the EuroLeague will be an even bigger challenge and one that he is up for. Aside from his technical skills, Hayes has the speed and shooting to be a classic small forward and the size and strength to play the ’4’, which makes him a mismatch candidate that Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius will surely make use of. The 24-year-old promised to leave a big impact in his maiden EuroLeague run.
4. Kosta Koufos, CSKA Moscow
Reigning EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow will have a different look with Koufos in the middle this season. The veteran center has the imposing size and low-post game of an old school center as well as passing skills and mid-range shot to keep defenses on their toes. During his 11 seasons in the NBA, he proved to be an excellent offensive rebounder and a quality shot-blocker. Koufos has also spent many summers representing the Greek national team and medalled at EuroBasket 2009, so his adjustment period to the European style of play should be brief. On a team as deep as CSKA, Koufos may not become an instant stat stuffer, however, his vast skill set, basketball IQ, experience and leadership will all be important as the team sets out to defend the continental crown.
3. Greg Monroe, FC Bayern Munich
In an era where many teams are moving towards smaller, quicker centers, Bayern decided to go against the trend by signing the experienced Monroe, who is a tower of power in the paint for the German champs. Monroe comes to the EuroLeague after nine seasons in the NBA, mostly as a starter who regularly ranked among the league leaders in rebounding. A classic back-to-the-basket player, Monroe does his damage almost exclusively in the paint, where he can overpower most defenders. However, when double-teamed, Monroe is a skilled passer who can find the open man, which the Bayern shooters will be grateful for. After reaching the NBA playoffs in each of the past three seasons, Monroe will be eager to take Bayern to new heights in the EuroLeague as one of the team's focal points.
2. Luke Sikma, ALBA Berlin
The reigning 7DAYS EuroCup MVP, Sikma has found his place in the German capital over the past two seasons under the tutelage of Coach Aito Garcia Reneses. After capturing the German League’s top individual award in 2018, Sikma’s all-around game was a major reason ALBA reached the EuroCup Finals last season; he ranked among the league’s top 10 in performance index rating, rebounding and steals and was 11th in assists, which was most among forwards in the competition. The son of seven-time NBA All-Star Jack Sikma, Luke helped Valencia Basket win the Spanish league in 2017 and knows what to expect from the EuroLeague level of play. His many talents allow Sikma to take over a game when needed or quietly make his team better, which has been a recipe for ALBA success and should continue in Europe's premier competition.
1. Jimmer Fredette, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
As one of the most electric scorers to join the EuroLeague in years, Fredette becomes an instant challenger for the Alphonso Ford EuroLeague Top Scorer Trophy and a guarantee to supply many memorable moments along the way. Fredette spent most of the past three seasons in China, where he was twice the CBA’s scoring champ and the 2017 league MVP. Affectionately known as "The Jimmer", he burst onto the scene as an All-America selection at Brigham Young University from 2007 through 2011 and has been stuffing baskets around the world ever since. Panathinaikos will be his first club in Europe, but his elite scoring skills should translate well, especially with the aid of All-EuroLeague playmaker Nick Calathes at his side. He has already provided glimpses of that in the preseason, so the rest of Europe is now on notice.