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Barcelona Struggling Early On
by: Kristian Hohnjec - Balkan Correspondent
September 25, 2006
After not enjoying any major success last season, Barcelona gave their General manager Zoran Savic even more money to operate with in order to get their hands on either the Euroleague or Spanish ACB title. On first glance, Savic was able to snatch some of the finest players on the market - Mario Kasun (Orlando Magic), Jaka Lakovic (Panathinaikos) and Roko Leni Ukic (Tau Ceramica) - but how will they fit into the roster is another story.

They were blown out of the gym by Tau Ceramica in a Supercopa game this past weekend. More concerning than a loss in what essentially amounts to a friendly game is the way they looked out on the floor.

Sure, they can find a pretty reasonable excuse in the fact that more or less all or their main players participated in international competitions this summer. But, it is more than just a lack of fitness and team-cooperation.

There are some major holes in a way this team was built:

- Playmaking - Jaka Lakovic and Roko Leni Ukic were brought in under the assumption that they would take care of the playmaking duties. As we could clearly see in the World Championships, Lakovic is many things, but not a reliable and steady organizer. He is classy scorer, but almost duplicates the abilities of the teamís star Juan Carlos Navarro. It will be very interesting to see how the two will coexist on the floor at the same time. Roko Leni Ukic is closest to being a real point guard for this team, as his playmaking ability is improving steadily. Still, he has a ways to go as a distributor, and we are not sure if Ivanovic feels comfortable putting his team in the hands of a 21-year old that averaged just 4 points and 2 assists in the Euroleague last season.

- Backcourt size and defense - The guard rotation will be formed by 6-foot-5 Roko Leni Ukic, 6-3 Juan Carlos Navarro, 6-3 Gianluca Basile and 6-2 Jaka Lakovic. None of these players are known as being good defenders, as their offensive games are considerably more advanced.

- Small forward - Rodrigo De La Fuente was a useful rotational player for Barcelona in the past few years, and now he is projected as the starting small forward. And while he will provide hustle and some good defense, he is fairly limited. Michalis Kakiouzis can play some minutes at the wing, but his natural position is Power Forward.

- Low post scoring - 7-foot-1 NBA reject Mario Kasun should give them a good presence in the middle and on the boards, but his post game is unpolished and he lacks some serious touch. Italian veteran Denis Marconato will rarely score in double figures, and his back to the basket game is surprisingly poor for someone of his size and strength. Orlando Magic draftee Fran Vazquez might be the best option on the active roster, but he hasnít proven himself as a consistent scoring threat in Girona last season. The irony is that the most skilled low post scorer that FC Barcelona possessed, Marc Gasol, was sent on loan to rivals Girona (who beat them by 22 point the other day).

Given all the shortcomings Barcelonaís roster has, they are clearly a step behind elite Euroleague teams such as CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos and Tau Ceramica. Because of the tradition, fans and having the highest budget in all of Europe, Barcelona will be expected to challenge for all the trophies available. Itís unclear whether they capable of doing that in the current situation. Multiple sources around Barcelona confirmed to us these past few weeks that bringing in Detroit Piston Carlos Delfino is a top priority for them; this would obviously be a step in the right direction. The problem is thatófrom what weíve been told--Detroit has very little interest in letting him go.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to kristian.hohnjec@fthm.hr .

 

Mario Kasun
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 7' 1"
Weight: 260 lbs.
Birthday: 04/05/1980
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #12 in 2002 Draft
by the Clippers
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
6.2 Pts, 3.4 Rebs, 0.2 Asts


Juan Carlos Navarro
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 175 lbs.
Birthday: 06/13/1980
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Barcelona , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #11 in 2002 Draft
by the Wizards
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
10.8 Pts, 2.2 Rebs, 3.1 Asts


Fran Vazquez
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 229 lbs.
Birthday: 05/02/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Barcelona , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #11 in 2005 Draft
by the Magic
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: PF/C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
6.5 Pts, 4.5 Rebs, 0.6 Asts


Marc Gasol
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 7' 1"
Weight: 265 lbs.
Birthday: 01/29/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Girona , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #18 in 2007 Draft
by the Lakers
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
14.6 Pts, 7.2 Rebs, 3.7 Asts


Carlos Delfino
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 08/29/1982
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #25 in 2003 Draft
by the Pistons
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: SG,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
Pts, Rebs, Asts


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