Olympiacos head coach David Blatt has seriously renovated his roster, with EuroLeague experience arriving in the form of former Anadolu Efes Istanbul swingman Brandon Paul, experienced Lithuanian forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas and big man Augustine Rubit from Brose Bamberg. There is also a heavy dose of emerging talent to bring down the average age of the roster, with shooting guard Kevin Punter joining from Virtus Bologna and playmaker Antonis Koniaris signing on from PAOK, while point guard Wade Baldwin and center Ethan Happ have headed across the Atlantic. Teenage swingman Aleksey Pukusevski has been promoted from the youth ranks to complete the roster.
The undoubted leader of the Reds – and the extension of Blatt on the floor – is Vassilis Spanoulis, who is heading into his 10th season at Olympiacos with as much hunger as ever. He will be ably supported by new signing Baldwin, who made 50+ NBA appearances for Memphis and Portland over the past couple of years. Punter was named the FIBA Champions League Final Four MVP last season after averaging 16 points per game during the competition, and is already familiar with Greek basketball after an earlier spell with AEK Athens. Koniaris is an excellent three-point shooter, and defensive specialist Will Cherry returns after joining the club in April. Paul is another solid defender and a long-range shooting threat, scoring the majority of his 8.6 points per game with Efes in 2016-17 from beyond the perimeter.
Olympiacos is fortunate enough to boast one of the most dominant big men in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in Nikola Milutinov, who averaged 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season. He will receive plenty of athletic support from new signings Happ and Rubit, while Kuzminskas and versatile Sasha Vezenkov are also capable of both attacking and defending the basket. Two key players, without any doubt, are the long-serving duo of savvy veteran forward Georgios Printezis and all-action Kostas Papanikolaou, who along with Spanoulis very much form the heart and soul of the team.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Milutinov has got better and better throughout his four seasons with Olympiacos, seeing his points per game average rise from 3.7 to 4.4 to 8.8 to last season's 11.7, while his rebounding has also experienced a similarly notable year-on-year improvement. The Serbian big man can count himself highly unfortunate not to have made last season's All-EuroLeague teams, especially after amassing the competition's second-best PIR (20.0). If he continues heading in the same direction, he could leave the judges with no doubt this time around.
In truth, the scale of changes to the roster at Peace and Friendship Stadium make it difficult to predict how far Olympiacos can go this season. The tried and trusted trio of Spanoulis, Printezis and Papanikolaou will make sure the Reds play with fire in their eyes, and if the newly arrived support crew can quickly live up to expectations it could prove a potent combination. Playing five of its first eight home games at home provides a chance for early confidence to be gained, and a lot may ride on the outcome of those early-season contests.