Credit: BNS, Imago Images - Scanpix | BasketNews iliustracija/A.Zaikauskas
Credit BNS, Imago Images - Scanpix | BasketNews iliustracija/A.Zaikauskas

After Thursday's Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match in Kaunas, there will definitely be one team less that has not experienced the taste of victory this season. Zalgiris Kaunas (0-4) will face the winless FC Bayern Munich (0-4) at home, whose start does not reflect the real capability.

2-pointers this season

49%
14,8
Points made: 14,8
Accuracy: 48,8%
Place in standings: 18
Record max: 22
Record min: 9
Most made 2FGs: Deshaun Thomas

There are very objective reasons for the defeats of Andrea Trinchieri's squad. The German powerhouse is still without long-term leader Vladimir Lucic and last season's important rotation players - Paul Zipser and Leon Radosevic.

Despite the losses, Bayern played solidly in all four matches. Scottie Wilbekin rescued Maccabi in Tel Aviv (69-68), Bayern ran after FC Barcelona at the end of the match in Munich (72-80), and lost two close games in Russia. They dropped to UNICS Kazan (70-73) and Zenit St Petersburg (71-79).

BasketNews invite you to take a closer look at Bayern's game and roster changes and explain why you shouldn't draw hasty conclusions from Bavarians' EuroLeague record.

Less gamble and more solidity

Credit BasketNews/Begum Unal

The Bavarians have replaced more than half of the team in the off-season, and although it sounds crazy, Bayern, which entered the playoffs last season with a limited budget, shaped their roster even smarter.

In the past summer, 9 players left the team, but only five of them regularly took part in the rotation - D.J. Seeley, JaJuan Johnson, James Gist, Wade Baldwin, and Jalen Reynolds. The latter two were team leaders.

Trinchieri did not grieve for the departures and replaced them with basketball players who showed their class earlier in the EuroLeague competition - Darrun Hilliard, Corey Walden, Deshaun Thomas, Othello Hunter, and Augustine Rubit.

Unlike last year, Trinchieri doesn't have as unpredictable player as Wade Baldwin, and here with Walden is the biggest offensive change.

Bayern often ran into fast breaks last year and held 70.4 attacks per game (8th place). This season, we see very long positional attacks, and the German club is playing one of the slowest EuroLeague basketball (66.5 attacks, 17th place).

In a positional offense, we can see Bayern play a number of Flex combinations that were introduced in the 1970s. It has many different outcome options and its essence - each player is involved in the attack, whether by holding the ball in his hands or by setting a screen, and the completion of the combination usually takes over 20 seconds.

Of course, there is transition offense now as well, but it is better weighed with the potential risks, and, usually, only absolutely free shots are chosen in quick attacks.

Last season, Bayern, with Baldwin at the forefront, was the EuroLeague's leader in mid-range shots' attempts.

This season, it has changed dramatically, and at least at the beginning of the season, the German powerhouse is the least two-pointers shooting team - just 30.3 per match (18th place).

The changing play style is mainly influenced by the newcomers with their exceptional abilities. Andrea Trinchieri is obviously trying to use his players' strengths on the court.

Influence of newcomers

Credit imago images - Scanpix

We've already talked about Walden's more mature game and better control of the attacks, compared to the situation alongside Baldwin. Now, the most important man in Bayern's offense is Hilliard.

The American athlete spends 29 minutes on the court, during which he scores 16 points and collects 15 PIR.

Representing CSKA Moscow, Hilliard played little time with the ball in his hands, and his responsibilities were three-pointers and defense. But in Germany, the role of the 28-year-old is reminiscent of Baskonia Vitoria times.

In Trinchieri’s team, Hilliard is a real offensive leader, and here he controls the ball a lot. When the team’s attack gets stuck, the American is simply left to play in isolation, where he’s really dangerous because of his height, wide arsenal of movements, and sudden shot.

There are also two very important additions in the big men's department - Thomas and Rubit.

Thomas, who returned to the EuroLeague after a year in Japan, is gluing Bayern's player and is trusted by Trinchieri.

As long as there are no Lucic and Zipser, the 30-year-old mainly plays in the fourth position, although he is one rare EuroLeague player who can play equally successfully in both forwards' positions. In the future, we will see him playing more often on the perimeter.

The 2.01-meter athlete is extremely strong physically and is equally dangerous both on the low post, where he is often brought out against a direct opponent, and when playing Pick-and-Pops, attacking from different ranges.

3-pointers' realization is stalled at the beginning of the season (3 out of 13), but his career indicators (about 40%) testify to the fact that the left-hander will not shoot poorly throughout the season.

Rubit, who returned to Germany from Zalgiris, is exploited much more universally in Munich.

The American has to play in both the fourth and the fifth positions. When he plays as a center, Trinchieri uses Pick-and-Pops, while playing at 4, the Italian mastermind creates situations for Rubit on a low post.

Ognjen Jaramaz should not be written off either. The former Partizan player has not shone in the EuroLeague yet (4 points in 16 minutes), but in the German Bundesliga, he registers an average of 14.7 points and is a really interesting guard.

Defense potential and fortune

Credit Imago Images – Scanpix

Last season Bayern had a second defense rating in the EuroLeague (108.2 points per 100 attacks). This distinguishing feature should be on the ground this year as well.

The players of the Bavarian club stand out with their physicality in every position. For example, Walden, Nick Weiler-Babb, Jaramaz, Thomas, and Hilliard are very solid players in their positions defensively, while Hunter is still quite mobile.

Trinchieri often uses switch all defense. After the switches, players try to rotate hasty, thus reducing the opponents’ advantages. Although this does not always work, defense mistakes occur due to communication that has not been fully developed yet.

So far, Bayern's defense rating is only 11th (113.2 points per 100 attacks), but the lower numbers indicate that the Germans are forced to play with three guards on the perimeter line.

Obviously, the return of such important players as Lucic and Zipser will make it easier for other athletes to adapt to their tasks, and they will not have to compete outside their positions.

Another thing, last season, Bayern won as many as 14 matches out of 19 when the teams were differed by no more than 6 points.

Last year, the fortune was definitely on the Trinchieri's squad side. This year, at the start of the season, Bayern have suffered painful defeats, which have led to unpleasant numbers in the standings so far.

Certainly, the current balance of wins and losses does not reflect Bayern's power, which does not look less solid than last year. With the return of injured players, the Bavarian mechanism should raise major problems for the league favorites.

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