Free Agency Winners
MIES (Switzerland) – After a short summer of consolidation, the Basketball Champions League is back and ready to hit some all-time highs (all-time highs happen every season in the BCL, partly because it’s still a young competition but mostly because that’s just how things work around here). The first game of the season is just around the corner and teams are still looking to make the right free agency investments. It’s always a wild ride in the BCL transfer market but this summer above all has been a raging bull market - and we aren’t done yet. With that said, let’s have a look at the big winners so far.
Pinar Karsiyaka - Big Green Candles
You don’t reach the Final of the BCL then add Bonzie Colson the league MVP without hitting the top of the free agency rankings. The story doesn’t end there either. You can see the full story of their transfer watch here but in short, they traded Raymar Morgan, DJ Kennedy, and Sek Henry for Akil Mitchell, Bonzie Colson, and James Blackmon. They also retained Tony Taylor as the quant running the calculations from the point guard position and Amath M’Baye doing everything from everywhere. The likes of Can Korkmaz and Berkan Durmaz coming in may not draw the same headlines but are going to be just as important for coach Ufuk Sarica.
Karsiyaka play in red and green and as with all teams there was bound to be some red on the chart with outgoing players but if you zoom out and look at the outlook for the season in Izmir, all you see is green candles, big green candles.
Prometey - The Unicorn
Buy low, sell high. That’s the main idea when it comes to investing and if you’d bought Prometey stocks earlier in the summer you could be forgiven for thinking you had found your Unicorn - only it’s not time to start selling yet. Not even in their wildest predictions could Prometey fans have expected their club to put together a free agency like this. It started with recruiting Ronen Ginzburg, the coach responsible for laying the foundations underneath all the success they are enjoying in Nymburk. Then followed wave after wave of good news. D’Angelo Harrison looked set for a well-earned chance at an NBA training camp and then all of a sudden he was joining DJ Stephens, Sean Evans, Chris Dowe, and Oleksandr Lypovyy to power Prometey through the Qualifiers.
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Then came the second wave. In the space of 24 hours, Prometey added Miro Bilan, DJ Kennedy, and Ukraine national team point guard Olexandr Mishula. Outrageous behavior in Dnipro. The outcome is that the startup you invested in at the start of the summer has just joined the ranks of the blue-chip stocks. Prometey looks set to make some real noise in the BCL this season.
Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem - Going Long
Talking of blue-chip stocks, you always know you will get dividends from Hapoel Jerusalem. Every season they have produced a team capable of winning the league. However, if there was ever a season where it makes sense to go long on their chances of winning the whole thing, it might just be this season. After bringing in the 2020 BCL Coach of the Year Oren Amiel, going long is exactly what Jerusalem have done in free agency. Literally and metaphorically. How else could you describe the recruitment of a player like seven-footer Thon Maker?
If you want to gain the complete picture of Jerusalem’s free agency, check the full story here. I strongly recommend you do. However, in short, they have signed three NBA players, including former number one pick Anthony Bennett and Sean Kilpatrick, Retin Obasohan, Jalen Adams, and Willy Workman. Then to put the cherry on the top they picked up a human highlight reel and sharpshooter Kaiser Gates for his rookie season in Europe. This is almost certainly the most stacked roster in the BCL this season. It may take some time to gel but who better than Oren Amiel to help that happen.
Lenovo Tenerife - HODL
Time in the market is often better than trying to time the market and sometimes the best tactic is just to buy and hold or as the cryptocurrency community likes to say “HODL”. Since Txus Vidorreta combined with Aniano Cabrera in the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a stock that has been must hold for every European basketball fan. And when we look at the roster for this season HODL is exactly what the club has done. The core of the team is back again with Huertas, Shermadini, Salin, Fitipaldo, Doornekamp, Sulejmanovic, and Guerra. Dejan Todorovic is also back after a heavily disrupted season last year.
Elegido el quinteto ideal de la @BasketballCL— Gigantes del Basket (@GIGANTESbasket) May 5, 2021
🌟 CJ HARRIS @cjharris11
🌟 JUWAN SHEPHERD @juwanshepherd
🌟 BONZIE COLSON @Bcolson_35
🌟 RAYMAR MORGAN @raymarmorgan2
🌟 GIO SHERMADINI @gioshermadini pic.twitter.com/WULHwz1s03
Joining them is Canadian scoring machine Kyle Wiltjer who will fit the Tenerife style so well we almost didn’t even need to imagine what it will be like with him running pick-and-pops with Marcelinho Huertas. Also coming in is Spanish national team wing Joan Sastre and Swedish marksman, Tobias Borg, back again. Also, a name to keep an eye on is Sean Smith. The American born in Madrid comes in from Leb Oro and could be one of the most intriguing signings of the BCL season.
Tofas Bursa - S&P 500
Why S&P 500? Well, because Kasey Shepherd and Pako Cruz might just be the best guard combo in the league this season. Shepherd was the Play-Offs MVP last season and very possibly the biggest breakout star of the season. Pako Cruz’s last season in the BCL with Fuenlabrada resulted in averages of 13 points and 3 assists on 43 percent shooting from deep and 51 percent shooting overall. He also led the Turkish league in scoring last season with over 19 points per game for Ayfon and was responsible for one of the most memorable game-winning buzzer-beaters we have seen in the BCL. With these two on the floor, expect fireworks every week.
Of course, Cruz and Shepherd aren’t the only weapons in Hakan Demir’s arsenal. Jeremy Simmons and Tomislav Zubcic are back and joined by Elgin Cook in the frontcourt. Berk Ugurlu is also back to run point This Tofas roster may not be the deepest in the BCL this season but it might be one of the most entertaining.