Mirror, mirror on the wall: Which NBA team are you?
MIES (Switzerland) - Our teams are enjoying some time off in February, allowing the domestic cups and the national teams to take center stage and steal all the headlines. That leaves us with some time to do some thinking, but as Anderson .Paak said, "the idle mind is a dangerous place to be left in."
That's why somebody else said, "hey, why don't we have the same kind of column that we had a couple of years ago, when you compared the NBA teams with the BCL teams?"
All of a sudden, instead of chilling and enjoying the aforementioned break, here I am, explaining why Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem are the New York Knicks of the Basketball Champions League, and coming up with rules to make the pick a bit more obvious. See, breaks aren't good for us. Idle minds are fine, but somehow end up with somebody saying "this should be a column."
Then again... this has to be the best job in the world. Adding "good in explaining why Aleksandar Dzikic is the BCL's version of Tom Thibodeau" to my LinkedIn profile!
First, let's set up some ground rules:
Rule #1: The Jersey Rule
We don't have the Hereda San Pablo Burgos jersey to make the comparison with the Utah Jazz anymore. Also, the fact that every team has like 30 different jersey combinations these days makes everything plausible here, I could literally go and say the Jersey Rule applies to the Timberwolves and Surne Bilbao, because you're pretty sure you saw a black-green-white jersey on KAT and Ant, aren't you? And it definitely had some tree pattern on it, right?
Yeah, the jerseys are too much for a 36-year-old who grew up in that "home team white, road team dark" era. But anyway, we have the jersey rule, because some teams have similar colors here and there.
Rule #2: The Court Rule
This one is not jersey-related, it's more of a game-related comparison. There are certain teams that play fast basketball, powered by their left-handed potential MVP engine in the backcourt, and there are certain teams that have three high-scoring guards surrounded by big-haired dudes and all-rounders in the front court.
Rule #3: The Attitude Rule
It's more about what kind of energy a team emits than about the way they play, or how their jerseys look. Some guys are loud, some guys are calm, some guys are winners no matter what.
Rule #4: The One Man Rule
This is for those cases where we find a similarity in just a single star. Some would argue these are superstars, but we don't hand out "super" that easily around here.
(This is a super-lie and you super-know it, you super-fan!)
Rule #5: The It's My Column and Some Of These Just Don't Have a Valid Explanation Rule
Let's do this.
SIG Strasbourg = Memphis Grizzlies
The Attitude Rule applies, because these guys are good, really good, fighting for top spot in their part of the standings, and they are loud, like J Cole shouting "Out of the concrete was a rose and WINTERS WAS COOOOLD!" on that a m a r i song, that kind of loud.
SIG Strasbourg aren't gonna stay silent if they don't like the Power Rankings, or if they hit a big shot down the stretch in a road game in Jerusalem. They love that "us against everybody" mentality, even though they are probably imaging it and actually have the respect of the rest of the League, more respect than most of the teams.
📈 @Marcus3Keene wasn't too happy about @sigstrasbourg's 11th place in our #BasketballCL 𝗣𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗥𝗮𝗻𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀...— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) January 24, 2023
No doubt a big game vs Holon, behind his 10pts in the first quarter, could help them move up a few spots 👀 pic.twitter.com/3M1MYvU0JB
Hapoel Atsmon Holon = LA Lakers
If you've been around the BCL long enough, you probably heard that Holon are the Lakers of Israeli basketball, because a big LA Lakers fan donated to them some purple and gold jerseys way back when, making them the rare Hapoel that's not red-white, red-black or red-white-black.
So the Jersey Rule works here. But, there's more to it. An absolute legend of the League is breaking all sorts of records in his 30s, while carrying the entire team on his shoulders and trying to somehow power them into the Play-Offs, despite their losing record and a number of close defeats that could've gone their way.
Wow, this worked out better than I imagined...
Telekom Baskets Bonn = Sacramento Kings
They won their first couple of games, and all of us were like, "that's fine, it'll balance out, they will be back to .500 in no time." But then they won more games, and everybody was like, "okay, this isn't exactly like them."
Next thing you know , they were leading the League in all sorts of advanced metrics, especially on the offensive end, doing it all with a 25-year-old lefty engine in the backcourt to break the speed limits all over the world. So if De'Aaron Fox is TJ Shorts' NBA version, and a club that's not used to winning trophies and awards is now a serious contender, then this comparison makes all the sense in the world. Let's put it under the Court Rule.
Also, Mike Brown is probably second in the running for Coach of the Year in the NBA, behind Joe Mazzulla. Tuomas Iisalo is probably right up there in the BCL, too. Maybe even a step ahead of Brown in the NBA.
AEK = Philadelphia 76ers
Imagine having a big guy who's so dominant, you can't even remember the last time he scored in single digits. Imagine having a center so strong, you can just get the ball to the low post and watch him go to work, getting two points or drawing a foul.
Imagine having a five-man so athletic he's cleaning all the boards on both ends of the floor, getting double-doubles at will. Imagine changing the entire roster after a couple of not-so-good seasons, and now seeing one man carrying you back to those heights of the 2018 record-breaking season, the best one the club has had in nearly 20 years, since the early 2000s.
Imagine all of that, just because you have such a reliable center in the frontcourt.
Or, if you can't imagine any of that, just imagine you have Joel Embiid, because I was talking about Akil Mitchell all along. One Man Rule.
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Unicaja = Boston Celtics
Bleeding green. Jersey Rule. The trophy-winning pedigree also helps.
Rytas Vilnius = Dallas Mavericks
The two best players are their two ball-dominant guards, and in Marcus Foster they have a legit MVP candidate, putting up insane numbers and making this team look like they belong in the Play-Offs, while they would probably already be out of contention without him.
Also, role players. Amazing, team first, no nonsense role players. Everybody knows what to do on the court, everybody loves taking one for the team, everybody is willing to sacrifice their body for a greater cause. The Court Rule.
Also, over here in Europe we're used to wild crowds, but watching from afar, don't you think the Mavericks have just that one bit crazier home crowd than a random NBA team? You know, not being the wildest and loudest, but they have their way of just standing on their feet around the court when something special is happening. Kind of like Vilnius in that regard.
UCAM Murcia = Portland Trail Blazers
Ah yes, nothing but a team stuck in the middle or just above it, led by their Bubble MVP hitting shots from way beyond the arc and trying to create something from nothing. The usual, let's get that eight seed and try to upset the one seed in the Play-Offs.
Thad McFadden is UCAM Murcia's Damian Lillard. The leader, the long range shooter, the game-winner trying to recreate his 2020 form when he was voted the MVP of the Bubble event during the pandemic. Lillard was the one who won it in the NBA Bubble, McFadden picked up a similar award in the Athens Bubble when he led Hereda San Pablo Burgos to the title.
One Man Rule. Maybe this comparison gets Thad to shoot a jumpshot from halfcourt next time around.
Lenovo Tenerife = Golden State Warriors
The defending champs. The eternal triangle of guard - shooting guard - center that's been so dominant for years now. The vibe of taking the court against them and feeling like there's just no way they could lose a big Play-Offs series, just no way.
Especially not when the guard is a reigning Finals MVP, the shooting guard is the best catch-and-shoot man on the continent, and the center gives them so much balance it's like a walk in the park for all the other guys to fit in with this squad.
The Attitude of defending champs is there. And as Rudy Tomjanovich said, "don't ever underestimate the heart of a Champion!"
Galatasaray Nef = Cleveland Cavaliers
The Court Rule. Because, sure, you can find teams with one ball dominant guards, you can find teams with two of them, but THREE of them!? Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Caris LeVert are Dylan Ennis, Daron Russell and Tyrus McGee.
Jarrett Allen is Sadik Emir Kabaca, with that big hairdo. Angelo Caloiaro is Evan Mobley with that do-it-all approach, collecting a bit of every stat. And both teams have a Turkish guy as their longest tenured player, Cedi Osman and Goksenin Koksal.
Bonus - both teams have gone through the whole rebuilding phase and are now looking capable of winning their first big silverware since 2016. That's when the Cavs won the NBA championship, while Galatasaray lifted the EuroCup trophy.
Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem = New York Knicks
First of all, I'm gonna stop you from saying anything because the It's My Column Rule applies. Okay? Okay. Now let me sell this one to you.
Don't you feel like the Knicks played the most clutch games this season? Don't you feel they won more of them than they lost? Don't you feel the left handed guard hit some daggers down the stretch?
Yeah, so if Jerusalem are 4-0 in single-possession games in the BCL this season, that's why they give you a feel like they are the Knicks, because the Knicks are 8-4 in games decided by three points of less this season.
Jalen Brunson is that dude with the lefty daggers. So is Khadeen Carrington.
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The crowd in Jerusalem is just about as eager to win stuff as the one in New York, and they don't tolerate second places and good Play-Off runs.
And the best part, don't you feel like there's a bit of Aleksandar Dzikic in Tom Thibodeau's coaching? Vice versa? The old school kind of approach, the "I'm too old for this s***" mentality like they are chiefs of police in an action movie from the 1990s, the all-business, no-smiling style, but with so much wit to them.
Did I sell it? Yeah? No? Don't care. That's why I made the It's My Column Rule, deal with it.
The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.
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