Avengers: Khimki Plots Revolution

Avengers: Khimki Plots Revolution

Khimki’s goal at the start of every season is to end CSKA’s reign and compete for a European championship. For years, Khimki has met with limited success. Sport24 takes a look at the new faces brought in to help Alexey Shved in the upcoming season.

Arrived: Dee Bost (Strasbourg, France), Tony Crocker (Tofas, Turkey), Casey Prather (Promitheas Patras, Greece), Jordan Mickey (Miami Heat, NBA), Petr Gubanov (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia)
Departed: James Anderson (Anadolu Efes, Turkey), Ruslan Pateev (Legia, Poland), Thomas Robinson, Marko Todorovic, Dmitry Sokolov (free agents)

Khimki has been Russia’s second-most successful team in recent years. The club only has one title at CSKA’s expense, thanks to a victory in the 2011 VTB League final. But the Moscow Region underdogs never give up and look to improve every summer. The most recent offseason haul has Khimki poised to challenge the Army Men and advance deep in the EuroLeague. Let’s take a closer look at what they did to improve. 

Ball movement
Khimki won’t need to worry about ball movement. They’ve added American guard Dee Bost, whom head coach Georgios Bartzokas wanted to sign back when he coached Barcelona. Bost is equally comfortable running a halfcourt offense as well as pushing the tempo in transition. Plus, he’s dependable on defense. 

He averaged almost six assists per game last season against tough competition in France. The American newcomer won’t be the only player capable of handling the ball in Khimki. The team also boasts star playmaker Alexey Shved and former Serbian national team point guard Stefan Markovic. 

Versatility
Tony Crocker will replace James Anderson. A former NBA and EuroLeague star, the temperamental Anderson never found his groove last season. By all accounts, the ambitious (and younger) Crocker should adapt more quickly. Khimki’s summer campaign is noteworthy for the number of low-profile, hard-nosed players signed who are ready to get dirty in exchange for a step up in competition. Crocker can play two positions, takes pride in his defense and shoots more than 45% from beyond the arc. He also played at the University of Oklahoma in college, where he spent two seasons with NBA superstar Blake Griffin.

Another check in the win column tonight.. #tofaş 🏀

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Nearly everything written about Crocker could be said about Casey Prather, a multi-position guard/forward with power, drive and energy. That’s what Khimki’s coaching staff expects from Prather. See for yourself why scouts were drooling over him this summer. 

Athleticism
Jordan Mickey was Khimki’s biggest signing. He was drafted by the Celtics in 2015, but wasn’t able to stick in the NBA. Like many NBA emigres, Mickey can wow with athleticism. But he’s capable of much more. The American is a skilled rebounder, ferocious shot-blocker, has a high game IQ and shares the ball. He’s good in pick-and-rolls, too: Watch out for the Mickey-Shved combo this season. He’s also a responsible, hard worker. Remember this name: Jordan Mickey could be the breakout player of the year and a new star in Europe. 

Depth
Petr Gubanov turned back the clock in Nizhny Novgorod, earning an invite to the Russian national team. Most Russian teams tried to sign him over the summer, but he choose the EuroLeague and Khimki. Gubanov averaged 11.7 points with an efficiency rating of 11.7 in the VTB League in 2017-18. Now he will try to make Moscow Region better.

It’s fitting that you could build two very competitive five-man lineups from Khimki’s roster. With the exception of Mickey, Khimki focused on adding depth over the summer. The club now has a versatile squad, with both stars and complementary role players. 

Vision
After nearly every summer signing, coach Bartzokas admitted that he had followed this particular player for a long time and always wanted the chance to work together. Khimki put complete faith in his decisions and only signed players on Bartzokas’s wish list. The Greek knows what he’s doing. He won the EuroLeague with Olympiacos and led Lokomotiv-Kuban to the Final Four. Any Bartzokas-coached team is dangerous. 

One year ago Khimki hired one of Europe’s most effective coaches, then went on a massive shopping spree. This summer, the team once again made a lot of moves, but the circumstances are much different. Last season, the club was building a new roster. This time around, newcomers will be asked to complement an already strong core. Khimki has the potential for two dangerous lineups, which is virtually a requirement for any EuroLeague team. The Yellow-Blue campaign is largely focused on the EuroLeague, where the team made it to the postseason for the first time this spring. They would love to go further next spring. The roster depth is Khimki’s biggest offseason achievement and will minimize the likelihood of a long losing streak, while keeping the team fresh for the biggest games of the season.

Khimki continues to build its model around Alexey Shved, trusting him to run the offense. When your star leads EuroBasket, EuroLeague and VTB United League in scoring, you know you’re in good shape. The Russian superstar is complemented by a deep team under the leadership of one of Europe’s best coaches.

It’s time for Khimki to get rid of the underdog label once and for all. 

Source: Sport24