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Odds on Danish Basketball League

Who wins Danish Basketball League 2017/2018?

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Danish basketball league – season 2017/18

Despite lack of any significant club or national success, basketball in Denmark has a long tradition. The first professional basketball league in Denmark was established in 1957. However, Denmark’s national team played at most minor role on international competitions. Basketball in Denmark is in rise of popularity, but still not near the level of football and handball.

Since 1998, Danish national basketball league has become known as Basketligaen, and it represents highest professional competition in the country. The league changed its format and structure several times since then.

Up until 2000/01 season, the winner was decided after regular season games, without playoffs. Since 2000/01 playoff system is included, but it also changed over the years. The first three years champion was decided in best-of-three final series. Then, in the next four seasons the best-of-five series was included, and since 2007/08 season, finalists compete in best-of-seven series.

Also, since 2012/13 season, the finals MVP award is included, with Denmark’s Chris Christoffersen as the first MVP, and three American players with one Irish being the other award winners. Speaking of American players, they are the ones that bring the deciding quality to the teams.

Looking at the best lineup in Basketligaen for 2016/17, you will see that all five players are from the USA. Foreign players bring the most difference in quality, and tradition and recognition of top two teams in the league allows then to bring the best foreigners possible. The reason why Bakken Bears and Horsens are dominant in the past several seasons is precisely this.

As long as these teams continue to maintain their systems and player and staff core, it is almost impossible to imagine any other team to jeopardize Bakken and Horsens. Even these two teams are unable to hold their best players for long, since most of them, after successful season with the club, are looking for some more lucrative and competitive leagues.

Since 2015/16 season, the league has become sort of a big tournament, with eight teams participating in 4-round cycle in regular season, playing 28 games during the campaign, and then head into playoffs. This competition system is closed, meaning there is no relegation to lower leagues. Although this concept might seem unfair to teams in second division, long term it could benefit Danish basketball, as teams could attract better players for a longer period of time because of certainty of playing in first division.

Nevertheless, looking at potential champions for 2017/18 season, one doesn’t need to look further than two teams that were dominating the league in the past decade or so.

So the champions for 2017/18 season will be…

1. Bakken Bears

The best team in Denmark for 2016/17 season was a dominant figure in national basketball league in the past 20 years. In fact, in the last 21 seasons of national championship, team from Aarhus was a champion on 14 occasions. After last two seasons where they were defeated in finals against Horsens, Bakken were dominant in the league this year, finishing regular season with 24-4 score, and then went 10-1 in playoffs, with dominant performance in fourth consecutive clash with Horsens in the finals.

Bakken is without any doubt the best basketball team in Denmark, and the only one with some experience in European competitions. They past qualifications for 2016/17 FIBA Champions League, where they finished group stage with 1-13 record, making fourth straight year for the Bears in European competitions.

The Bears are the most efficient team in the league, with average of 96.3 points per game. They play modern type of basketball, with a lot of pick&roll and 3 point shooting. They led the league in 3 point attempts this season with 27.5 per game, and they were the most efficient in this category too, with 39%. The Bears play team basketball, as they were averaging league high in assists by a far margin, with 21.3 assists per game.

The core of their team revolves around DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, a 23 year old guard from the USA. As the season was progressing, his scoring abilities went to great heights, as he was team’s top scorer in 24 out of 30 games played.

Although it is questionable if DeVaughn Akoon will be Bears player next season, the team has a strong core and staff with established system and tradition. Looking at the next season, it’s hard to imagine the Bears not winning the title again.

2. Horsens IC

2015 and 2016 champions gave away the crown this season, but they still remain the force in Danish basketball. Horsens had a good season, playing in both league and national cup finals, but losing both of them. With the loss of Marquis Addison, who was their best player and scorer in the last two championship seasons, the team faced decline in productivity and efficiency.

Horsens was also faced with decrease in fans and audience, since they had 30% decrease in attendance this season, the largest decrease from any team in the league. Horsens also tried to change a bit their playing style, with experiments of faster paced basketball, but it hasn’t showed good results, as their recognizable defensive efficiency suffered.

In their two championship seasons, Horsens had the best defense in the league by a far margin, but this season they managed to concede 77.5 points per game, which is a big change from their 73.2 average in championship seasons. So if they want to reclaim their title back from Bakken, Horsens need to tight the defense and bring quality players for the next season. It is unlikely that they will succeed however.

Others…

Bakken and Horsens are the only two teams with less than 10 defeats in the season for the past two seasons. It is very unlikely that any other team can compete against them, and given that Denmark in still not the place where good players are running to play, and given that Denmark’s school of basketball is not at the top level, it is unlikely that any other team could present a threat to these two teams in 2017/18 season.