1 - Real Madrid
The Euroleague champions start the season at a near-perfect point and currently look the strongest of them all. The releases were on the margins, most of the group continues, and the only acquisition is a huge power increase. Last season's most problematic position is backed up in a big way: Facundo Campazzo.
Central axis Wally Tavares, the most significant player in the Euroleague for years, remains with the team despite NBA talk, alongside the great talent of Dezanan Musa and Mario Zugna and the experience of Sergio Yui and Rudy Fernandes.
Tavares (left). Staying in Madrid, photo: AP
2 - Monaco
Last season, which was its second overall in the Euroleague, the team from the principality reached the Final Four. This season she has left all her foundation and strengthened in both the amount of talent and depth that was her weak point last season. The terrific outside line that included Mike James, Eli Okubo and Jordan Lloyd got the shiny and surprising boost of the summer, straight in the NBA - Kemba Walker.
3 - Olympiacos
True, it lost two anchors: Kostas Slokas and Sasha Vozenkov, but despite this, the team that reached the Euroleague finals last season will remain very strong. Apart from the two departing, the Greek retained most of the squad. She puts the most size in the chin position with Mustafa Pal and Nikola Milutinov. Reinforcement from recent days: Ignas Brazdeikis from Zalgiris Kaunas, and may not be the last.
4 - Panathinaikos
There is a gamble here. Building the Galaticus group, with the big question being how it will connect. If Ergin Othman replicates his construction and achievements at Anadolu Efes, Pau should return to its glory days. Owner Dimitris Yanakopoulos returned to invest in a big way, bringing in 11 new players, most of them from Europe's elite. The acquisition is headed by Kostas Slokas, who stunned and crossed the road from Olympiacos, and France's Mathias Lasur, who jumped for Partizan Belgrade to the top of the centers on the continent.
Slokas. Great expectations from Pana, photo: Panathinaikos, official site
5 - Armani Milano
If not now, when. For years they have been doing everything and investing big money, but beyond one Final Four sweep not much happened with the Italians, when last season was a major failure in the Euroleague. This time the group went for the biggest merchandise on the market, and after a long summer Nikola Mirotic landed in the fashion capital. With such acquisitions, Ettore Messina's goal is nothing less than a Final Four. The big star came with a peak motivation to prove his strength after being left by Barcelona.
Mirotic, photo: Armani Milano, official site
6 - Barcelona
Last season was considered good for the Catalans, but their upcoming Euroleague season can be described as an enigma, after the big upheaval - the release of coach Sharonas Jaskevicius and superstar Nikola Mirotic. With inexperienced coach Roger Grimeau, former NBA star Jabari Parker, Willy Hernangomez returning to Europe and local acquisitions from the top, Joel Parra and Dario Brizuela, Barca will try to prove that not only has it not weakened but even strengthened.
7 - Partizan Belgrade
Last season, the renewed debut in the Euroleague, was very successful for the Serbs, and had it not been for the farce of the series against Real Madrid they would have reached the Final Four. Above all, it is clear that this team has a tremendous influence from coach Želimir Obradović, along with the strengths of the Stark Arena crowd. After an excellent season, her players were in demand, yet she managed to keep two anchors: Kevin Panther and Zach Liddy.
8 - Maccabi Tel Aviv
Last season's lineup was enough for the Yellowjackets to come within touching distance of the Final Four. What can inspire optimism ahead of this season is their continuity and leading duo, considered by many to be the best in Europe. Maccabi managed to retain no less than eight players from last season, and its biggest acquisition was actually extending the contracts of the two most prominent guards, Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown. She's a playoff contender this season as well, but there's still doubt about more than that.
Baldwin. Maccabi will make a leap forward?, Photo: Danny Maron
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No one would be surprised if at least one of the next three teams made the top eight at the end of the regular season. These include Fenerbahce, Anadolu Efes who have made a major turnaround and Red Star Belgrade, whose star Nemanja Nedovic described their squad as "the best in the history of the club".
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