With six games in the books, the 7DAYS EuroCup's team offensive and defensive efficiency leaderboards are beginning to take shape.
Most Efficient Offenses
The 2018-19 EuroCup season has been the league's most efficient offensive campaign in recent history, according to Synergy Sports Technology. The average EuroCup possession has hovered between 0.92 and 0.96 points per possession (ppp.) for the last decade before rising to 0.96 in each of the last two seasons. This season, that number has held steady at 0.97 due in large part to the relatively high number of especially efficient offensive teams compared to previous seasons.
Though there are eight teams averaging over 1.00 points per possession in the EuroCup this season, 2017 champion Unicaja Malaga is off to an especially strong start thanks to its tremendous play inside. Through six games, Unicaja is shooting 70% finishing around the rim in half-court sets and 66% on post-ups. Both marks are well above the respective league averages of 59% and 48%, respectively. The Spanish club's big men have imposed their will on opposing frontcourts as the team has looked to establish a presence inside early and often. A league-high 19.3% of Unicaja's possessions have been used or created by passes out of the post, comfortably the highest mark since back-to-the-basket play began to decline steadily several seasons ago.
Tofas Bursa sits as the competition's second-most efficient offensive team, which is interesting for several reasons. First, Tofas led the EuroCup in scoring efficiency last season by recording one of the top marks in recent history, 1.03 points per possession. Second, they are the only team on this list which allows more points per possession than they score. Regardless, they have emerged as one of the competition's most potent offenses, scoring out of pick-and-rolls and isolations at an extremely high level.
In terms of overall efficiency, Zenit St Petersburg and Valencia Basket are very similar on paper, but have achieved that level of success playing quite different styles. Zenit ranks among the more balanced offensive teams in this year's competition. The Russian club has scored spot-ups, transition opportunities, and rolls to the rim at a strong rate. Valencia, in contrast, has scored at a terrific rate in the post, as well as on cuts and put-backs. The two teams make shots, draw fouls, and turn the ball over at similar rates, but share little in common in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
2018 EuroCup runner up Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar shares several similarities with Unicaja offensively. Lokomotiv converts post-ups at a record-setting rate of 1.19 points per possession and ranks third with 64% shooting around the rim in half-court sets. Moving further down this list, it is notable that, in an era when three-point shots are in vogue, some of the EuroCup's most effective teams are doing their best work around the rim.
ALBA Berlin is this season's most potent offense, embracing a progressive style of play. ALBA's overall success may not look much different than its peers in the top six of the table above, but digging deeper into its profile, this team stands out in a few key areas. The German club leads the competition in transition points per game, takes the fewest pull-up jump shots within the half-court offense, and relies very heavily on spacing the floor and making jumpers. Ranking second in points per jump shot, but second-to-last in points per finishing opportunity within half-court sets, ALBA can put points on the board in bunches on the nights they have multiple shooters running hot.
Most Efficient Defenses
Though EuroCup offensive efficiency appears to be on the rise, elite defensive has emerged as a prerequisite for postseason success in recent seasons. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade has been the competition's gold standard on the defensive end thus far, separating itself from the rest of the field with its work on the perimeter. Allowing just 0.82 points per possession on opportunities used or created by passes out of the pick-and-roll, the Serbian club is on pace to set several records with the way they have limited ball handlers and closed out on three-point shooters. Despite the league-wide rise in scoring efficiency, at its current pace, Crvena Zvezda would finish the season ranked as one of the top three EuroCup defenses of the last five years.
The only team to appear in both tables above, Lokomotiv, has sustained its defensive success from last season, when it led the EuroCup by allowing only 0.86 points per possession. With few significant weaknesses, Lokomotiv is not limiting shooters to the record-setting field goal percentage marks the team posted last year, but has made major strides in transition defense and is forcing more turnovers than any team in the league. That sustained defensive success despite dramatic change in its strengths from last season is a testament to Lokomotiv's team culture.
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne has been the EuroCup's stingiest defense in points allowed thanks to its combination of pace, turnover rate, and rim protection. No team has faced fewer possessions this season than ASVEL, which even at a plodding pace has been very disruptive forcing turnovers on almost a third of the pick-and-roll possessions by opponents, some 10% above the league average. Allowing a EuroCup-best 53% shooting in finishing situations in half-court sets, ASVEL's distinct strengths has carried it to an impressive start.
Not unlike ASVEL, Cedevita Zagreb's placement on this list is rooted in a couple of key characteristics. First, Cedevita leads the EuroCup in post-up efficiency allowed, forcing turnovers on a third of the possessions its defenders have faced, mainly by making aggressive rotations to challenge back-to-the-basket scorers. Second, opposing teams are scoring just 0.79 points per open catch-and-shoot jump shot against them. EuroCup teams are scoring 1.23 points per open catch-and-shoot jumpers overall, so Cedevita has benefitted from some favorable bounces thus far when leaving opposing shooters open on the perimeter.
AS Monaco is perhaps the most balanced team on this list, not excelling in any one area in terms of efficiency. Perhaps the team's most distinct trait is how effectively they have prevented highly efficient catch-and-shoot jump shots. Only 24% of the shots attempted against its set defense have been jumpers off the catch, the lowest mark in the EuroCup. Monaco may not contest shots more effectively than other teams, but prevents certain shots from being taken in a manner that benefits the defense's overall efficiency.
Turk Telekom Ankara is one of just two EuroCup teams allowing under 30% shooting from beyond the arc in half-court sets. When they can set up, Turk Telekom's defenders do a good job extending back out to the shooters, but they hold their own in one-on-one situations, as well.