Euroleague 2023-2024: Road to the Playoffs - Team analysis.

Euroleague 2023-2024: Road to the Playoffs – Team analysis.

The Regular Season of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague has concluded, and now we are entering the playoffs and, of course, the finals that will determine the Euroleague champion. This year, we witnessed a high and competitive level among the participating teams, with the final standings revealing the significant challenge of maintaining balance. Consider that Panathinaikos, in 2nd place, is just one win away from Olympiacos in 5th place, highlighting how crucial every result was this year. In this article, we will analyze the top 10 teams as they stand at the end of the season and find themselves in the play-in and playoffs. Who will emerge as the winner of the 2023-2024 Euroleague? It remains to be seen as we assess their strengths and weaknesses and predict which team possesses the necessary qualities to be crowned the champion.

1. Real Madrid – The top contender for the Euroleague.

The leader in the standings and undoubtedly the undisputed favorite to win the Euroleague 2023-2024 is Real Madrid. They boast quality players at every position capable of carrying the team’s weight and leading it to victory. In the frontline, W. Tavares and V. Poirier, along with G. Yabusele, create a dynamic core based on physical advantage. These three formidable players can outmatch any opponent both physically and with their agility.

Real Madrid’s strength lies not only in physical prowess but also in technical skill. With players like D. Musa, M. Hezonja, and F. Campazzo, they possess a blend of physical and technical abilities, showcasing intelligence and ease in perimeter scoring.

However, it’s worth noting that C. Mateo may not be the best coach in the Euroleague. Real Madrid, despite their dominance, is not undefeated. They’ve faced defeats at home against teams like Panathinaikos, Fenerbahce, and Baskonia, highlighting their vulnerabilities. Real Madrid’s challenge arises when facing opponents who possess similar strengths in their team composition. Teams that combine physical strength with talent and technique, or those proficient in containing them defensively, may pose a threat and potentially overcome them.

2. Panathinaikos – The surprise of this year’s Euroleague.

Panathinaikos finished 17th in last year’s Euroleague, ranking among the weakest teams in the competition. However, significant investments were made in the roster and coaching staff, and within a short period, the team found its rhythm and gained consistency. In my opinion, they are the second favorite to win the Euroleague, which would mark a historic achievement, going from 17th place to champions. The team has had some weaknesses, particularly in the frontline, but they are now one of the best defensive teams in the Euroleague and have added players who were previously unavailable.

Panathinaikos can be considered one of the most well-rounded teams in the Euroleague. They boast an outstanding frontline, anchored by the best center, M. Lessort, along with a highly competitive lineup featuring players like J. Hernangomez and D. Mitoglou. In the guard positions, the rapid improvement in performance of K. Nunn and K. Sloukas, known for their explosiveness, complements M. Grigonis’ scoring ability and J. Grant’s defensive prowess, providing Panathinaikos with a comprehensive skill set necessary for a Euroleague title. E. Ataman, one of the best coaches in the Euroleague, has previously won the title twice with Efes in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, demonstrating his clear goal to achieve similar success with Panathinaikos.

Panathinaikos typically encounters difficulties when M. Lessort is limited or when K. Nunn underperforms. These challenges often stem from the team’s youthfulness and occasional inconsistency, but they have shown significant improvement in this regard.

3. Monaco – The team’s MVP player.

Monaco currently holds the 3rd place in the Euroleague standings, and this position is no coincidence. They are a team of considerable strength, boasting the most probable MVP of this year’s Euroleague, M. James. While their game may revolve around this highly esteemed player and rely heavily on him, the team is well-rounded with players who fulfill their roles effectively. Their style of play is predominantly power-based, complemented by M. James’ explosiveness and scoring ability. In the guard positions, Monaco benefits from the scoring prowess of J. Loyd and E. Okobo, who contribute with equal ease, providing a significant boost to the team.

In the frontline, Monaco fields players like D. Motiejunas and D. Hall, supported by A. Diallo and J. Blossomgame, who offer solid defensive and offensive solutions. While they may not be star players, they consistently execute their roles effectively.

Under the guidance of Sasa Obradovic, a remarkable and capable coach, Monaco’s roster is managed exceptionally well. However, Monaco does have several weaknesses, primarily exposed when opponents successfully contain M. James and dominate the rebounding battle. Defensively, they struggle against teams proficient in perimeter scoring.

4. Barcelona – The team of high technique.

Barcelona is a team that heavily relies on its technique, which serves as both its greatest advantage and disadvantage, particularly when matches escalate into intense phases and physical battles. Nevertheless, they remain a formidable team on the court, boasting effective solutions both in their frontline and on the perimeter. In the guard positions, they feature the excellent N. Laprovittola, R. Rubio, and T. Satoransky, while in the frontline, J. Vesely and W. Hernangomez pose challenges for opposing defenses.

Roger Grimau, although an experienced and noteworthy coach, lacks experience, especially in the Euroleague. It is perhaps due to this lack of experience that he may struggle to lead Barcelona to the final or secure a Euroleague victory. The team’s weaknesses become apparent when they face intense pressure, leading to persistent errors and providing opponents with opportunities to capitalize.

5. Olympiacos – Last year’s finalist.

Olympiacos has been weakened this year following the departure of A. Vezenkov, who is now playing in the NBA. Additionally, they encountered some challenges throughout the season due to injuries, particularly to their starting center N. Milutinov, which contributed to their 5th place finish. They are set to face Barcelona in the playoffs, but they are now fully fit and in good shape. The cornerstone of their game primarily revolves around their robust frontline, where they currently excel as the most well-rounded team, boasting three competitive centers. N. Milutinov, M. Fall, and M. Wright form a formidable trio for Olympiacos, capable of causing problems for any opponent.

Olympiacos’ potential weakness lies in their guard positions. Players like I. Canaan, T. Walkup, and N. Williams-Goss exhibit occasional bursts of performance but lack consistency. Nevertheless, Olympiacos benefits from the expertise of G. Bartzokas, one of the premier coaches in the Euroleague, who has consistently led the team with tactical prowess over the years. This is evident in Olympiacos’ matches, where their strategic approach often secures crucial victories, rendering them highly competitive.

However, Olympiacos may face challenges against technically proficient teams capable of unlocking opposing defenses and scoring effectively from mid-range. Therefore, their upcoming match against Barcelona will be particularly intriguing, as it will test their ability to address this potential weakness.

6 Fenerbahce – The team with many personalities.

Fenerbahce, with N. Hayes-Davis, achieved something remarkable this year in the Euroleague competition by setting a new record. N. Hayes-Davis scored 50 points in a single game. However, beyond this record, Sarunas Jasikevicius’ team boasts a diverse array of personalities capable of performing at a high level. Fenerbahce possesses experience, talent, and technical skills, although they may lack physical strength in certain areas. Among their top players is undoubtedly one of the best forwards in the Euroleague, N. Hayes-Davis, who, alongside J. Motley, forms an outstanding frontline. In the guard positions, players like N. Calathes, S. Wilbekin, and M. Guduric excel as excellent shooters with high stamina and experience.

Personally, I consider Sarunas Jasikevicius one of the best coaches in this Euroleague, alongside E. Ataman and G. Bartzokas (I would also include Z. Obradovic, but unfortunately, his team is out of the playoffs). Jasikevicius has demonstrated his ability to transform the Fenerbahce team into the highly competitive force it is today. However, Fenerbahce may face challenges against defensive-minded teams with exceptional stamina and strength. Therefore, their upcoming match against Monaco in the playoffs will be particularly intriguing.

7. Maccabi Tel Aviv – A team unfairly ranked by the standings.

Maccabi Tel Aviv, due to the war in Israel, played on neutral ground during this year’s Euroleague, without the presence of fans. However, they achieved an impressive home winning percentage with 13 wins and only 4 losses. Offensively, they are arguably the strongest team, boasting the exceptional guard W. Baldwin, who is in excellent form. Nevertheless, Maccabi Tel Aviv faces a significant defensive challenge, ranking second only to Alba Berlin in points conceded, which stands as their major disadvantage.

Under the leadership of Katash Oded, the team has performed admirably, showcasing a comprehensive offensive strategy. With players like W. Baldwin, J. Nebo, B. Colson, and L. Brown, they pose a threat to any opponent. However, their vulnerability arises when confronted with teams boasting solid defenses, potentially limiting their offensive prowess. It will be intriguing to see if they secure 7th place after the play-in and face Panathinaikos in the playoffs, providing an opportunity to address this issue.

8. Baskonia – The most enthusiastic team in the Euroleague.

If there’s a club deserving the award for the most enthusiastic team in the Euroleague this year, it’s undoubtedly Baskonia. Particularly in their recent games, they’ve displayed incredible passion and energy on the court, making a strong case for their place in the playoffs. Even if they face defeat against Maccabi in the play-in, I believe they will outperform Efes, who seem weakened on the road, securing the 8th spot. M. Howard is enjoying an exceptional season, as evidenced by his performances against Real and Virtus Bologna. Additionally, Baskonia boasts one of the best forwards in the Euroleague, C. Moneke. Undoubtedly, Baskonia is an excellent team. Players like M. Costello and C. Miller-Mcintyre have shown promising form, and the return of T. Sedekerskis will undoubtedly bolster their lineup.

With Dusko Ivanovic at the helm, an experienced coach with a successful track record in the Euroleague, Baskonia is well-equipped for success. However, if one were to identify Baskonia’s weaknesses, they primarily lie in the frontline. M. Kotsar hasn’t delivered the expected performances this season, leaving them vulnerable in rebound battles, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage against their opponents.

9. Efes – The big comeback.

Under the leadership of Head Coach Tomislav Mijatovij, Efes has undergone a remarkable transformation, emerging as a highly competitive team and defying all predictions by securing the 9th position in the standings. They boast a formidable home ground, which undoubtedly provides them with an advantage, particularly in the first match against Virtus Bologna. However, their performance away from home leaves much to be desired, constituting their biggest disadvantage. Thus, whether they face Baskonia or Maccabi next, their journey may come to an end. Nevertheless, Efes should not be underestimated, as they possess significant star power with players like S. Larkin and W. Clyburn, who have the ability to dismantle any opponent. However, they do have their flaws and weaknesses, particularly on the defensive end.

It’s worth noting that they have won 8 out of their last 10 games, rendering them a formidable opponent for any team. However, they struggle against teams that can match their strength and execute effective perimeter scoring.

10. Virtus Bologna – Currently facing the most challenging situation.

Virtus Bologna had maintained a top position in the standings for quite some time, achieving significant results both on the road and at home with their momentum. However, this momentum gradually waned, and their recent performances have warranted their exclusion from the top 10. Despite securing a crucial victory against Baskonia at home last week, finishing in 8th place, they faltered once again, suffering a 91-95 defeat. While they boast quality players, evident gaps have surfaced, resulting in the loss of 8 of their last 10 games. Personally, I believe they are likely to suffer a defeat at home against Efes in the play-in, unless significant changes are made within the next 24 hours.

Luca Banchi, not being a highly experienced coach, has struggled to effectively manage the roster, impacting Virtus Bologna’s Euroleague ranking. The team possesses several weaknesses, notably in speed. While they feature perimeter scorers like M. Belinelli and strong players in the frontline like T. Shengelia, their overall quality is limited, with inconsistent performances from the rest of the team depending on their mood.

Euroleague 2023-2024: Which teams will reach the Final Four?

Based on my observations of the teams thus far and how they have navigated challenges, I predict the following teams will reach the Final Four in the Euroleague 2023-2024:

  • Real Madrid: With a strong roster, including solutions at all positions and quality players both in the starting lineup and on the bench, Real Madrid is undeniably one of the top contenders to win the Euroleague again this year, having secured victory in 2022-2023.
  • Panathinaikos: With an experienced coach leading the team, coupled with enthusiasm and a passion for both individual and collective excellence, Panathinaikos showcases strong defense and excellent offense, making them a formidable contender.
  • Fenerbahce: This multi-faceted team, under the guidance of an excellent coach, demonstrates momentum and is undoubtedly in great shape. Combining experience and talent, Fenerbahce poses a significant threat in the competition.
  • Barcelona: With exceptional charisma, consistency, and a high level of technique, Barcelona stands out as a team to watch in the Euroleague, displaying qualities that could lead them to the Final Four.

Who will win the Euroleague in 2023-2024?

Panathinaikos possesses all the elements necessary to clinch this year’s Euroleague title. With E. Ataman at the helm, arguably the best coach in Europe at present, they are well-positioned for success. The team exhibits a hunger for distinction, boasts players capable of competing with any opponent, possesses experience, implements a strong defensive scheme, and offers effective offensive solutions. If they replicate the performance they delivered against Real Madrid, they will undoubtedly have no opponent to fear. This is my prediction for the Euroleague winner.

Best wishes to all teams. I anticipate witnessing high-level finals and exciting moments throughout the tournament.

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