EuroLeague tips off week 20 without fans
EuroLeague week 20 (of 34) tipped off on Thursday as the 18-team, European basketball competition continues its mostly fanless campaign.
The big picture: Europe has long been a landing spot for Americans who can't quite stick in the NBA, as well as a launchpad for future stars. EuroLeague — basketball's equivalent of the Champions League — thus comprises the deepest well of talent outside the association.
- As basketball's global footprint continues to grow, EuroLeague's popularity and clout should rise in lockstep.
- EuroLeague alums: In 2018, 19-year-old Luka Dončić became the youngest EuroLeague MVP; before joining the Timberwolves in 2011, Ricky Rubio led Barcelona to the 2010 EuroLeague Championship; Hawks G/F Bogdan Bogdanović was selected to the 2010-20 EuroLeague All-Decade Team.
The state of play: Today's slate boasts some of the season's best games, as No. 1 CSKA Moscow hosts No. 2 Barcelona and No. 4 Bayern Munich hosts No. 3 Real Madrid — showcasing a handful of familiar names in the process.
- CSKA: Darrun Hilliard (Villanova 2011-15); Mike James (Suns 2017-18; current EuroLeague scoring leader)
- Barcelona: Leandro Bolmaro (No. 23 pick in 2020 NBA draft); Álex Abrines (Thunder 2016-19); Nikola Mirotić (Bulls/Pelicans 2014-19)
- Real Madrid: Rudy Fernández (2009 NBA dunk contest); Anthony Randolph (six-year NBA career)
- Bayern: Jalen Reynolds (Xavier 2012-16); Paul Zipser (Bulls 2016-18); JaJuan Johnson (Purdue 2007-11)
Elsewhere: The rest of the league features a veritable who's who of our collective NCAA and NBA memory:
- Scottie Wilbekin: Now — Tel Aviv; then — Florida
- Shane Larkin: Anadolu Efes; Miami
- Norris Cole: Lyon-Villeurbanne; Heat
- Kevin Pangos: Zenit; Gonzaga
- Jan Veselý: Fenerbahçe; Wizards
- Jonas Jerebko: Khimki; 10-year NBA career
- Ante Žižić: Tel Aviv; Cavaliers
- Alex Poythress: Zenit; Kentucky
- Peyton Siva: Alba Berlin; Louisville
- Shelvin Mack: Panathinaikos; Butler, eight-year NBA career
- Luke Sikma: Alba Berlin; son of Hall of Famer Jack
Go deeper: Stat leaders (EuroLeague)