After a strong campaign in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, Cedevita retooled over the summer and added little bit of everything to the squad. Playmaking will be in the hands of point guard David Stockton and combo guard Ra’ashad James will help out in that department, too. However, Cedevita’s go-to guy will be scoring swingman Scotty Hopson. And while the addition of guard Filip Kruslin and forward Duje Dukan should add depth to team’s perimeter, it is veteran big man Mirza Begic who will give Cedevita’s interior a significant lift on both ends of the floor.
Cedevita reshaped its backcourt with the additions of Stockton, James and Hopson. Each of the three gives Cedevita a serious offensive threat, as they join swingman Luka Babic, who is expected to carry a significant load this season. Babic is arguably the team’s best defender, while promising teenager Dzanan Musa has been developing quickly and could soon become team’s most versatile player. Backup point guard Toni Katic got his first taste of elite opposition thanks to his EuroLeague appearances last season, and the addition of Kruslin gives the team another reliable deep threat, a solid defender and a man who can also create with the ball.
The front line starts with centers Miro Bilan and Begic, who could very well turn into the most- dangerous combination of big men in the competition. Bilan’s craftiness and Begic’s experience and rim-intimidation will be big factors in the team’s potential success. Cedevita has its bruiser and hustler in power forward Karlo Zganec, who at age 21 already has two full EuroLeague seasons under his belt. The other two big forwards - Marko Arapovic and Duje Dukan - have loads of versatility and range to stretch the floor. Arapovic showed flashes of brilliance last season and the hope is that Dukan can show that this season, which will be his rookie campaign on European soil.
PLAYER TO WATCH
As he gets ready for his fifth season with the club, big things are expected in the Croatian capital from lefty swingman Luka Babic. Long considered Cedevita’s best perimeter defender and usually in charge of guarding the most dangerous opposing scorers, Babic displayed the ability last season to take over games and score in bunches. Cedevita has more offensive talent around him this season, but Babic has an opportunity to build on what he has quietly accomplished and showed in the past 12 months during which his stock has risen very high. With the additional confidence gained for his significant role with Croatia at the Olympic Games, Babic is set to deliver this season.
Cedevita has kept some of its pillars from the last few seasons and surrounded them with playmakers and scorers. It is a pretty young team, but not one that lacks experience. Moreover, several young talents are now a year older and have some EuroLeague seasons under their belts, which certainly gives head coach Veljko Mrsic plenty to choose from. With such a deep and versatile squad, the three-time Croatian champions do not hide their ambitions to battle with the best and stay in the competition as long as possible.