Roster rundown: Khimki Moscow Region
There are nearly a dozen new faces at Khimki at the disposal of Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis for the new season. Khimki's backcourt will feature vested Turkish Airlines EuroLeague veterans in the single-game record holder in assists, Stefan Jovic, and sharpshooter Dairis Bertans, in addition to a pair of EuroLeague debutants, Chris Kramer and Sergey Karasev. The two biggest frontcourt arrivals are center Timofey Mozgov, who will be making his EuroLeague return after a decade away, and Jonas Jerebko. Two other veteran big men, Devin Booker and Jeremy Evans, arrive after successful EuroLeague debuts last season, while center Andrei Desyatnikov and forward Evgeny Valiev will compete in the competition for the first time.
Everything on the perimeter starts with Alexey Shved whose unlimited range and scoring ability draws all the attention of the opposing defenses. He is not the only potent scoring guard on the team anymore not that the team brought in Sergey Karasev, who has yet to play a EuroLeague game but could make for a lethal one-two scoring punch. Khimki surrounded that duo with an elite pass-first point guard in Stefan Jovic, and another playmaker in Chris Kramer, who has had plenty of success playing under coach Kurtinaitis in the past. Khimki ranked in the bottom half in three-point shooting percentages the past two seasons and the arrival of sharpshooter Dairis Bertans should help improve those numbers. Veteran Egor Vialtsev, in his ninth season with the club, and Vyacheslav Zaytsev provide nice depth.
There will be no shortage of size and experience in Khimki's brand new frontcourt. It will all start with Timofey Mozgov, a dominant presence in the paint his whole career who returns to Khimki after seven successful seasons overseas. Even at 2.16 meters, Mozgov is not the biggest man on Khimki's roster. That distinction belongs to Andrei Desyatnikov, a 25-year old EuroLeague newcomer at 2.20 meters. What Mozgov and Desyatnikov have in size, Devin Booker and Jeremy Evans have in athleticism. Booker has a unique combination of strength and leaping ability, while Evans ranked second in the EuroLeague in blocked shots last season. Alongside Anthony Gill, who missed much of last season, this group will be as big and deep as any in the competition. Jerebko will play a key role in stretching the floor and helping on the boards, as will the versatile Janis Timma. Veteran Sergey Monia, in his 10th season with the club, is a glue guy on and off the court, while Petr Gubanov and Valiev complete the frontcourt.
Dairis Bertans — Khimki Moscow Region in preseason (photo Khimki) — EB19
PLAYER TO WATCH:
Alexey Shved has been the focal point of Khimki's offense and will remain so this season, too. In the 2017-18 season, Shved was the EuroLeague’s runaway scoring leader with 21.8 points per game and has shattered the single-season record by making 107 three-point shots, but still managed to dish 5.2 assists. Last season the Khimki guard went on to average 23.3 points per game and also delivered 6.6 assists, however, he appeared in only 14 games due to injuries. With all the new offensive weapons the team now has, it will be interesting to see what the new season holds for Shved, who could easily target several EuroLeague records.
After making history in 2017-18 when it reached the EuroLeague Playoffs, Khimki is determined to put an injury-filled last season behind it and compete for glory this season again. Khimki's roster looks deeper than ever, which should help lift some of the load from Shved's shoulders. In the past two years, the team depended a lot on Shved, but now Khimki surrounded its star guard with plenty of weapons, both on the perimeter and inside the paint. There are not many teams that have the size and experience of Khimki and that could make Shved and co. more dangerous than ever this season. The expectations for this team will rightfully be high.