The EuroLeague, which is also known as the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, is the European-wide top-tier level professional basketball club competition. The association includes 16 teams from all over Europe. The last years, there have been made some changes, in the structure of the competition, that improved the level of play, attracted players and made it more interesting and spectacular for the fans.
The competition also features some incredible young talents from historical teams, that could end up next year playing in the NBA. This article will discuss three different players from this year’s EuroLeague who have stood out and made themselves known, and analyze their style of play and how they can be successful in the NBA.
Milos Teodosic - Los Angeles Clippers
An experienced point guard, and a European legend at the age of 30, Milos Teodosic is one of the top 3 point guards in the EuroLeague last season and led his team CSKA Moscow to the Final 4 in Istanbul, after also leading them to a title in 2016. He was undrafted in the 2009 NBA draft, but Teodosic finally started in the early months of 2017 that he might want to try out the NBA journey, for a team that will utilize him properly, and due to the Chris Paul trade, the Clippers is that team that he officially signed with this summer.
A fearless competitor, a great scorer and a fantastic playmaker said the following four months ago: ‘I want to travel to the States, play in the NBA and compete against the best players in the world. Maybe now I am more ready mentally and also on the court.’ In 2016-2017 season with CSKA he averaged 16.2 PPG and 7 APG while shooting 44.2% from the field and 37.5% on threes, on a much slower tempo and in a different environment, showing his experience and unique talent.
He is known for his incredible court vision skills, knocking down mid-range jumpers as well as three point shots. As he stated, he wants to play for a team, where he could have a significant role, play meaningful minutes, and lead the team to wins, and this summer his wish came true. The Clippers lost Chris Paul to a trade that sent him to the Rockets, and so the Clippers signed Milos Teodosic
to a two-year deal.
Luka Doncic - Real Madrid
One of the most talented prospects ever, at the age of 18 Luka Doncic will declare for next year’s NBA draft (2018). He is currently projected to go #2 overall in the 2018 NBA draft, and is already something special, with a full reach potential, incredible skills and talent. He is a hard working young man, and with this combination, the right coaching system and team, Doncic could be one of the best prospects the league has ever seen.
At the age of 18, playing next to Sergio Jull in Real Madrid, he has emerged as the second best player in his team. At 6ft 7in he has a solid frame, can handle the ball like a legit NBA point guard, and make incredible passes with his full court vision. He can create penetration off the dribble, finish inside the paint or kick the ball to open shooters. His LeBron likewise vision is what makes him so outstanding on the offensive side of the floor.
He is shooting 39.5 % from deep this season and has a great stroke, which is something that will help him a lot in the NBA. With his sturdy frame and height, Doncic has the ability to post up and bully some smaller guards, with a smaller size. He is perfect in the pick and roll situation and can break down a defense with just one pass. The other unique thing about the 18year old Slovenian is the ability he has to make his teammates better, by making them shoot open jumpers, filling the lane perfectly and understanding the pace of the team, whether in an open court situation or in breaking down a well defensive team. The way he uses the pick and roll to perfection reminds of LeBron James and James Harden.
On the defensive side of the floor, he has shown the ability and the skill to be an on-ball good defender, and use his size to get in the opponent’s way. The potential he has is there, for him to become an elite defender in the NBA, learn to use his size, become quicker in off-ball situations and stop fast break attempts. Luka, however, has to learn to shoot the mid-range jumper coming off the pick and roll, must become quicker in some situations, on the defensive side of the floor and especially while guarding an off-ball defender. With a good coaching system, and help from his more experienced teammates Doncic can be a star in the NBA in year's to come.
A spectacular player to watch, a smart and young player with a full reach potential to be one of the greats, and possibly one of the best if not the best young prospect to travel overseas and play in the NBA. This sums up how Doncic plays, his unusual talents, his potential, and also the parts where his game has to get better and will be as time advances.
Sergio Llull - Real Madrid
One of EuroLeague’s best players, Sergio Llull at the pick of his career, suffered an ACL injury last month. A former MVP in the EuroLeague competition and champion with Real Madrid who is well known as a leader, an experienced scorer, a true point guard, with unbelievable shooting skills, will miss the EuroBasket and the EuroLeague season, and his career in the NBA is in jeopardy. Before his injury, Llull was one of the most respected players in Europe who had a lot of success, individually and on a team level and had many teams in the NBA talking and discussing a deal.
Lull was selected by the Nuggets in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, but the Rockets bought his rights from Denver. And so, the Rockets, have been eyeing to bring Llull to the NBA for a long time now, but have never had the big opportunity to do it. He was one of the best non-NBA players in the world. In the EuroLeague this season, Llull averaged 16.3 points and 5.6 assists per game, in a year that saw him winning the Most Valuable Player Award for 2016-2017. Moreover, his knee injury puts his career in the NBA in jeopardy as the Rockets will not be 100% sure to sign for Llull. Before the injury, the Houston Rockets and Daryl Morry had been trying to persuade him to come to Houston, but the EuroLeague star kept on saying no.
The Rockets front office had continuously stated that he would not be a role player but a key part of the Rockets’ success this upcoming season. With Chris Paul’s addition and Llull’s injury the Rockets seem to not want to risk a signing for a player in his 30’s after an ACL injury on his knee.
To conclude, Llull had been one of the best (if not the best player in the EuroLeague) the last two seasons and could be really good in the NBA and help the Rockets if the ACL injury did not occur, in early August.
Nando De Colo - CSKA
A talented and pure scorer, and one of the best players in the EuroLeague, De Colo has found himself in many rumors about his career possibly ending up in the NBA. Already in his career, he has played for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, but his journey in the United States was short-lived, as he could not find a stable role in a great San Antonio team. Many teams have had interest on De Colo but unfortunately, no one has made an offer to the French star. With CSKA this year in the EuroLeague he averaged 19.1 points per game on 55.4% (!) shooting. So as one can understand, he has the potential and the skills to score the basketball.
With his length, De Colo can finish at the rim, knock down mid-range jumpers, post up smaller defenders and knock down the deep three-pointer. He is also really talented and has a unique talent in reading and breaking down the opponents defense.
In the NBA, he would be a really good fit for the Thunder, the Spurs, or even the Bucks who want a true point guard to help Giannis Antetokounmpo offensively. With their length, the Bucks would be scary if they added another tall and long point guard to help the Greek Freak.
Finally, unfortunately, De Colo does not seem so interested in joining an NBA team soon, even though he is at his absolute prime right now.
Bogdan Bogdanovic - Sacramento Kings
Bogdanovic was signed to a three-year deal with the Sacramento Kings. A very talented young man, who plays with passion in every game, and has become the best player on his team in Turkey (Fenerbahce), leading his team to a second straight Final 4 appearance in Istanbul. He was drafted in 2014, by the Phoenix Suns as the #27, but his pick was traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2016, who finally signed him this summer. He has played in Turkey since 2014 and has shown the world he has the talent of becoming an exceptional player in the NBA.
In the EuroLeague last season, Bogdanovic averaged14.5 points per game and 4 assists, on 43.2% from the three point line, and 51% from the field. In the playoffs in a very hostile environment in Athens, Bogdanovic led his team to two straight victories against Panathinaikos scoring 23 and 25 points and being named the MVP of the series and finally leading his team to the EuroLeague title. As a 24-year-old, young and upcoming talent he has shown the skills and personality in tight situations, by being mature and leading his team to important and very significant victories on the road.
With his height, he can create separation from the defender and knock down long three-pointers, behind the screen. He is perfect in pick and roll situations and can read the opponent’s defense and structure. His defense is something that needs improvement, but all around offensively he is unstoppable, especially when the team needs him to step up. Especially in the NBA, Bogdanovic has to be good in all games and this is something that is missing from him. Bogdanovic has the weakness of playing two great games and disappearing the next couple of games. This is something that he has to work on at Sacramento.
Out of these five players, only Bogdanovic and Teodosic, are already in the NBA, but who do you think out of these five EuroLeague stars would have the better career in the NBA?