A four-game slide late in the season cost Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade a chance at a late playoff push. Nevertheless, the 2021-22 season featured plenty of highlights in the Serbian capital.
Season in review: Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Zvezda's home court is traditionally one of the toughest in the EuroLeague. Every season Zvezda produces some resounding home wins and big upsets and it was no different this campaign. Zvezda's largest win came against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in early November. Zvezda's 81-48 drubbing was an impressive display of energy, which resulted in the biggest EuroLeague loss in Panathinaikos history. Another impressive display by Zvezda came during its late-season playoff push when it edged eventual runner-up Real Madrid 65-62. Zvezda won the game despite making just 4 triples and being outrebounded 32-47. Thanks to its grit and a defensive effort that forced 17 turnovers, it pulled out a marquee win.
Painful German losses
In late February and early March, Zvezda had a four-game winning streak that put it in a favorable position for a late-season playoff run only to lose two games on German soil and find itself eliminated. First came a 74-70 defeat in Berlin against ALBA and then a week later in Munich against Bayern. Zvezda was still in a position to decide its own playoff destiny ahead of those two fixtures and even after a loss against ALBA, Zvezda had a chance to sweep Bayern and hold pole position for the eighth place. But Bayern crushed Zvezda 82-57, which was not only the team's biggest loss of the season, but ended its playoff hopes which were so high just a week earlier.
Kalinic embraced leadership role
Zvezda has two strong voices in the locker room in team captain Branko Lazic and former team captain Luka Mitrovic, who are both huge fan favorites. But this season there was also Nikola Kalinic, a EuroLeague champion with Fenerbahce in 2017, who took on a role as a vocal leader and also led with his on-court performances. Kalinic fully embraced a role bigger than ever before in his career and used it to produce his best season in the competition. He set his single-season career-highs with 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists while playing 30:03 minutes per game. The latter was not only his career-high but made him one of only seven players this season to play more than 30 minutes per game. Known as one of the elite defenders in the competition, Kalinic delivered offensively throughout the season as well.
Dobric’s breakout year
After having his role slightly increase in each of the previous four EuroLeague seasons after he made his debut in 2016, small forward Ognjen Dobric enjoyed a big season. He ranked third on the team in scoring with 10.3 points, which was the first time in his career he averaged double digits in the EuroLeague scoring. Dobric also ranked third on the team in average minutes (22:35 mpg.) despite starting only 13 games. Dobric established himself as a legitimate long-range threat, sinking at least one three-pointer in 26 of his 29 games and in each of his last 16 appearances, but still made more two-pointers (63) than triples (45) during the season. Dobric was far from unknown, but now the expectations are only bigger for him in the seasons to come.