Panathinaikos Athens is determined to break with his recent past in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and return to its glory days. Panathinaikos won five of its six EuroLeague titles in the 2000s, more than any other club, but its last continental crown came in 2011 and the Greens have not made it to the Final Four since 2012. The club brought in head coach Ergin Ataman, as well as a good number of elite players to make sure it is competitive again as a first step to fill OAKA Altion with a sea of green, noisy fans.
2023-24 Roster Rundown: Panathinaikos Athens
Coach Ataman likes to play with several point guards and Panathinaikos signed three elite playmakers to give him plenty of options. Three-time EuroLeague champion Kostas Sloukas arrives right at the prime of his career from archrival Olympiacos Piraeus. A pass-first guard with elite clutch skills, Sloukas is a true floor general, able to make things happen for himself or his teammates. Luca Vildoza is a tall playmaker with unlimited range, a perfect fit for Coach Ataman's up-tempo game due to his high basketball IQ and ballhandling skill. Jerian Grant, the 2022-23 BKT EuroCup MVP, returns to the EuroLeague ready to showcase his one-on-one skills, poise and athleticism.
With so many generators ready to share the ball, Panathinaikos needs shooting specialists to diversify its offense. Kyle Guy arrives to pull the trigger from downtown, especially in crunch time. Marius Grigonis is equally dangerous from beyond the three-point arc and the foul line, but he has developed his game to be much more than a pure shooter. Panagiotis Kalaitzakis is a talented player always ready to go in transition, and his energy should help Panathinaikos at both ends. Dimitris Moraitis has a good chance to learn from the Greens's starting playmakers and fight for playing time during the season.
Ioannis Papapetrou and Juancho Hernangomez are set to see most playing time at both forward positions. Papapetrou is back for a second stint with the Greens. He is an all-around player able to attack the rim, find advantages in the low post, and rebound well. Hernangomez is also very versatile due to his size, speed and ballhandling. He has a really high basketball IQ and knows how to read the defense to find the best way to score, either from three-point range or around the basket. Dinos Mitoglou is a very valuable addition due to his game knowledge, post skills, rebounding and effective mid-range shots. Neoklis Avdalas and Lefteris Mantzoukas should make the most out of their playing time to become more and more important in the team's rotation.
Mathias Lessort is another marquee addition at center, following a breakout season in which he was chosen to the 2022-23 All-EuroLeague First Team. Lessort was a dominant force in the paint, mainly because of his unmatched intensity and power. His connection with Panathinaikos fans should be special. Olek Balcerowski is an interesting addition, a mobile big man who can play above the rim, bury the long-distance shot and run the court like a small forward. Kostas Antetokoumpo remains one of the most athletic players on the continent, and elite prospect Alexandros Samontourov has been promoted to the team's first roster. He should see quality playing time very soon.
PLAYER TO WATCH
All eyes with be on Sloukas since the very beginning of the season, especially considering that Panathinaikos hosts Olympiacos in Round 1. Sloukas had a stellar role for Olympiacos in the last two seasons, coming off the bench in all but one game. He will probably have a similar role for the Greens, coming off the bench to make things happen. No other EuroLeague player has buried more critical shots in recent years, which makes Sloukas one of the most dangerous guards in competition history. His list of accomplishments says it all: nine Final Four appearances, seven EuroLeague Championship Games, three continental titles. Make no mistake: Sloukas is here to lead Panathinaikos to a new golden age.
Panathinaikos has all it takes to challenge for the EuroLeague Final Four: excellent point guards, reliable shooters, a lot of versatility, plenty of frontcourt power and a two-time EuroLeague winning coach running the show. Turning OAKA into an impenetrable fortress is its first goal, and Panathinaikos relies on its legion of fans to help in that process. With so many new players, it may take a while to see the Greens at their best but once Panathinaikos gets there, it should be a dangerous opponent able to beat anyone, anywhere.