New LKL Season 2023 – What Are The Expectations?
It seemed like the previous LKL (Lithuanian Basketball League) season just ended but the new 2023-2024 LKL season just begins. What 12 LKl basketball teams have to offer this year? Who will end at the top of the list in standings? Let’s find out more in this article about New LKL Season 2023.
The main favourite to finish in the first place in the regular season is of course Zalgiris. This team won the last LKL championship, and it seems will not reduce revs. Despite at the beginning of the season Zalgiris lost one of their key players Ignas Brazdeikis they will find a good replacement soon. Zalgiris still got good players like Keenan Evans, Lukas Lekavicius, Rolands Smits, Arnas Butkevicius, Edgaras Ulanovas. New player forward Brady Manek also joined this season to the team. All in all, they are in a good shape.
Last year’s second place winner is Rytas. They will definitely try to take away the LKL title from Zalgiris this year and so far proving that they are still string in the court. They have strong players like Margiris Normantas, Justin Gorham, Keith Hornsby, Gytis Radzevicius, Lukas Uleckas, Martynas Echodas, Gytis Masiulis, Oskaras Pleikys who will be tough for any team in the LKL.
The most intriguing season awaits the second Vilnius team Wolves with renewed ASG arena in Vilnius. They started the season poorly in the first debut game with Siauliai only winning by two points 68-66 but proved unstoppable in the second game with Gargzdai beating them 104-68. Keeping in mind that the Wolves did not play with their top 4 players in the first game and still won the first match shows just how strong this team really is. The key players are Vaidas Kariniauskas, Arturs Zagars, Dorde Gagic, Jefferey Taylor, Tre’shawn Thurman, Rasheed Sulaimon and Christian Mekowulu. The team roster looks great this year and all they need to do is to prove the good game in the basketball court. They should be fighting in the top 3 spots at the end of the regular season.
We are introducing the league’s debutants Mazeikiai M Basket-Delamode. This team won national championships in the national basketball league last year and pushed Prienai Labas Gas team out of the LKL league. The start of the regular season is not great so far, but with hard work this team may achieve some great results. They have got strong players like Chauncey Collins, Caleb Huffman, Martynas Paliukenas, Tadas Pazera, Kay Bruhnke, Arturas Jomantas, Giedrius Staniulis. However, they will likely not advance among top 8 LKL teams in the regular season unless they will strengthen the roster.
Neptunas team this year started off very good beating 7bet-Lietkabelis 91-81. But that was short-joyed victory because in the second game they lost to Siauliai 90-82. The roster seems quite strong this season but reminds a lot from the last season. The main key players are Sterling Gibbs, Zygimantas Janavicius, Tim Lambrecht, Deividas Gailius, Thomas Rutherford, Ignas Sargiunas, Zsombor Maronka. We predict that Neptunas will be fighting for the top 8th LKL team at the end of the regular season like in the last year’s regular season.
Coming up next is Siauliai. This team will be the main rivals of Neptunas to advance between top 8 best LKL teams in the regular season. They started quite well this season and only lost by two points against Wolves 68-66. In the second game they won against Neptunas 90-82. This team had huge changes this year. They changed the coach Antanas Sireika. The new coach is Nikolajs Mazurs from Latvia. Martynas Varnas and Donatas Sabeckis left the team and joined 7bet-Lietkabelis. They have good players like Leonard Thorpe, Karolis Giedraitis, Jonathan Davis (temporary contract unless will be extended), Jokubas Rubinas, Tomas Pavelka, Dovydas Romancenko, Paulius Danusevicius. However, this team will need a lot to improve if they want to advance among top 8 in the regular season.
We expected a lot more from 7bet-Lietkabelis this season. However, 7bet-Lietkabelis managed to lose by 10 points in the first regular season game against Neptunas. The second game was only won by 3 points against Pieno Zvaigzdes. All of these results do not look promising at the start of the season. It could be related to changes in the head coach. Long-time coach Nenad Canak left the team. The new coach is Roberts Štelmahers from Latvia as well. The team made new contracts with Donatas Sabeckis, Dovis Bickauskis, Martynas Varnas, Paulius Valinskas, Deividas Sirvydis. The key players are Gediminas Orelik, Vytenis Lipkevicius, Gabrielius Maldunas, Paulius Valinskas, Nikola Popovic. So far Donatas Sabeckis and Martynas Varnas from Siauliai do not demonstrate a good game. They may improve as the season progresses. But only time will tell. This season 7bet-Lietkabelis looks a little-bit weak and will need to put a lot of efforts if wants to play at the top 4-5 LKl teams at the end of the regular season.
Jonava CBet team this year shows good results at the beginning of the season as well. They started off beating Kedainiai Nevezis–Optibet 94-77 and Mazeikiai M Basket-Delamode 82-79. This team lost a good rate of players, and the roster does not seem promising this year. However, the team has its 6th player the coach Virginijus Seskus who can bring great victories to the team. Jonava CBet will be fighting for 4-6 places in this regular season and take whatever they can to stay higher in the standings. Despite the roster looks weaker than it was last year this team still can be dangerous and unpredictable to any rival in the LKL. The key players are Michael Lewis, Michael Hughes and Edvinas Seskus.
Uniclub Casino-Juventus team has always been characterized as a team of fighters. This year they have already beaten Mazeikiai M Basket-Delamode 81-74 and started the season well. But there is still a struggle trying to improve the game and break the 3-6 places in the regular season. The main players are Ryan Taylor, Dayshon Smith, Ernestas Sederevicius, Sarunas Beniusis, Zygimantas Skucas, Marius Valinskas. If the team shows the huge focus, it can go as high as 4th place in the regular season.
The next is team is Kedainiai Nevezis–Optibet. This team showed a good fight last year and eliminated Siauliai from the 8th best place in the regular season. The team has a good coach Gediminas Petrauskas who is almost like the 6th player in the court. Kedainiai Nevezis–Optibet lost their two games in a row against Jonava CBet 94-77 and Rytas 97-85. But they showed that they are seriously prepared to get a higher place in the regular season this year as well. We predict that this team will be fighting until the end for the 8-9th best place in the LKL in the regular season. The key players are Brevin Galloway, Lovre Basic, Justinas Marcinkevicius, Zane Waterman, Robertas Keliacius and Viny Okouo.
This season the team Gargzdai reminds their last season achievements. The start of the season was cold, and they got totally wiped out by Zalgiris 107-55 and Wolves 104-68. This team can demonstrate a good game but lacks consistency in the regular season. Therefore, they may end at the bottom of the standings this season as well between 10-12 places. The main players are Jaylon Scott, Boris Mbala, Ernestas Jonkus, Justas Furmanavicius, Julius Jucikas, Ivan Gavrilovic and Malik Toppin.
The last team we want to mention in the LKL is Pasvalys Pieno Zvaigzdes. The last season this team was an outsider and ended low in standings in the regular season. It does not seem that anything will change dramatically in this year’s season as well for this team. We predict 9-12 places at the end of the regular season for them. It is very likely that they share places with other teams like Gargzdai, M Basket-Delamode and Kedainiai Nevezis–Optibet at the bottom of the standings. They lost both games so far against Rytas 106-90 and 7bet-Lietkabelis 95-92, respectively. The core players are Jordan Watson, Brandon Tabb, Simas Jarumbauskas, Deante Johnson and Kadeem Jack.
Taking everything into account it is not easy to predict the standing of teams at the very beginning of the season but the standings after the regular season should be the following:
- Uniclub Casino-Juventus.
- Jonava CBet.
- Kedainiai Nevezis–Optibet.
- Pasvalys Pieno zvaigzdes.
- Mazeikiai M Basket-Delamode.
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