test

Panathinaikos Blog: Will the “Greens” return to playoff contention?

After possibly the worst season of Panathinaikos BC history, the club seems to try a much-needed restart.

The newly-signed agreement for the exclusive use of the OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall and the return of Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos, in combination with recent transfer moves, are a strong indicator of a return to a smoother and more ambitious way of operating compared to the chaos and introversion of the past two years.

For such a prestigious club like the 6-time EuroLeague champions, the goal always was to compete for a spot in the EuroLeague Final Four.

Yet, the management and the recent financial problems mean that a great starting point for Panathinaikos should be to return to playoff contention by upgrading the coaching staff and the team’s roster.

Bayern Munich Panathinaikos-EuroLeague
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

The Coaching Staff – Tactics

- Advertisement -

This new era started with the appointment of Dejan Radonjić as the head coach of Panathinaikos BC and Argyris Pedoulakis as the technical director of the club.

The former coach of Crvena Zvezda seems the right choice for the club as he is great at working for low-budget squads that look to overachieve through toughness, defense-first mentality and fighting spirit, features that were missing from Panathinaikos in previous years as indicated by the club’s 17th place between 18 clubs in DRtg (Defensive Rating) for the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 Euroleague seasons.

More specifically, Radonjić’s teams tend to bring pressure on defense through continuously pressing the ball by trapping and recovering, a tactic that when executed well brings deflections and steals {Crvena Zvezda was 8th at DRtg and 4th in STL% (Steal Percentage) for the previous Euroleague season}.

Considering this, Ioannis Papapetrou’s departure may not turn out to be negative overall. Despite being a quality player, he has shown weaknesses throughout his career at close-out and recovery defense.

Offensively, Radonjić’s Crvena Zvezda counted on 5-out offensive sets and Pick & Roll variations last season, which could be very beneficial with the skillset of Giorgos Papagiannis, as he possesses quick drops to the basket as the PnR screener and an effective mid-range game.

The Players – The Key and the Gamble

After Nick Calathes left Panathinaikos in the summer of 2020, the club struggled to find a quality player to cover the point guard position.

After many failed signings, this role was mainly covered by Howard Sant-Roos. However, the Cuban point forward did not possess the same qualities as his predecessors, which definitely had an impact on the club’s results over the last two years.

Therefore, it’s fair to say that the key player for Panathinaikos this season will be the newly-acquired point guard Nate Wolters.

The 31-year-old playmaker seems to be a safe choice as he was the starting point guard for Radonjić’s Crvena Zvezda last season (10.9 ppg and 3.6 assists in 31 EuroLeague games), meaning a much-needed (especially for a point guard) coach-player chemistry already exists.

Nate Wolters Nikola Mirotic FC Barcelona Crvena Zvezda
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

Furthermore, Wolters has already played in the EuroLeague for four seasons, meaning that he is already proven and experienced at this level of basketball.

Additionally, the American guard is a reliable on-ball defender (18th amongst all point guards in DRtg last season) that can attack the basket aggressively and effectively (55.3% in 2 pointers last season, 53.6% through his EuroLeague career), while being a decent 3pt shooter (35.8% EuroLeague career average).

However, Wolters cannot be considered an elite EuroLeague point guard, especially in the playmaking area.

On the contrary, Derrick William’s signing seems a gamble, as the player’s nomadic career indicates that no team felt that he could be more than a temporary addition to a roster.

Regarding his skillset, the 31-year-old forward’s commitment on the defensive end (and especially on off-ball defense) seems questionable, something not compatible with the constant trapping and high-pressure defensive schemes of coach Radonjić.

Furthermore, as a power forward, Williams is a below average rebounder, especially on the offensive end (0.6 offensive rebounds per game through his Euroleague career, 0.2 last season).

However, Williams’ rich offensive skillset and athleticism can definitely help even if the American’s per-game statlines indicate offensive inconsistency between games.

Another gamble is Andrew Andrews. The 29-year-old American combo guard comes from a fantastic season with Bursaspor, where he led the team to the Eurocup Finals (14 ppg and 4.2 assists in 20 Eurocup games and 14.4 ppg and 4.0 assists in BSL at 25 games).

As with every player that transitions to the EuroLeague, Andrews has to adjust to the athletic level and speed of a EuroLeague game and prove that can produce points efficiently in a roster that seems to have limited individual offensive qualities.

Derrick Williams vs Panathinaikos
Photo; EuroLeague Basketball

Further needs

As of now, Panathinaikos needs some more additions to be able to smoothly conclude its roster and present balanced capabilities on both sides of the court.

First and foremost, a quality 3-and-D power forward with high motor and solid rebounding seems an important necessity to cover the squad’s lackluster rebounding and post defense at the small forward and power forward positions.

Also, ideally, a quality player on the small forward position that possesses reliable shot creation and above average defense would make wonders and add another offensive option to the team, as Panagiotis Kalaitzakis may be too green to have an important role consistently.

Conclusion

To conclude, in my opinion, what the fans have the absolute need to see at first is the reformation of Panathinaikos to a well-structured, fighting spirited team that can win anyone at home and possibly hunt a playoff place at a what seems to be one of the most competitive EuroLeague seasons of all time.

The recruitment of Dejan Radonjić and the signing of quality and experienced players indicate that Panathinaikos is moving in this direction.

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles

Transfers and Rosters

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.