The 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 has included a few stellar performances from the league's most improved players.
The retention rate of players from one season to the next varies wildly in the EuroCup for a variety of reasons, but many of the league's returnees have played a critical role in the success of their respective teams in the Top 16.
Points Per Game Improvement
Through two rounds of the EuroCup Top 16, just three undefeated teams remain: Valencia Basket, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and MoraBanc Andorra. The list above features the six EuroCup players who have made the biggest jump in points per game from last season among those on teams in the Top 16, offering some insight into what has driven the success of the last of those clubs.
EuroCup retention may not be particularly high from last season with around one-third of all players returning, but all three of MoraBanc's top scorers were with the team last season and rank among the most competition's most improved players in points per game.
David Jelinek has been one of the EuroCup's most pleasant surprises and a big reason why MoraBanc was able to advance to the Top 16. After scoring 0.90 points per spot-up possession last season, Jelinek has scored a remarkable 1.51 points per spot-up possession this season following a move to play almost exclusively off the ball. Among the top jump shooters in the competition thus far, Jelinek has and will continue to miss some time with a knee injury.
In his absence, Andrew Albicy has stepped up to guide MoraBanc to their 2-0 start in the Top 16. Already having shown considerable improvement during the regular season, Albicy has been even better as the competition has heated up. He has created, assisted on or scored a Top 16-best 76 points through two games. Shooting the ball at an improved clip from the perimeter, picking and choosing his spots better as a finisher, and operating more effectively out of the pick-and-roll as a passer, Albicy has made one of the biggest jumps in efficiency of any rotation player in recent EuroCup history.
John Shurna already ranked in the top 15% of EuroCup players in scoring efficiency last season. This season, however, his tremendous 70% effective field goal rate on jump shots has propelled him into the 97th percentile. Helping space the floor at an elite level for MoraBanc, Shurna has been another key reason the club has more than doubled its regular season win total from a year ago.
Among players from other Top 16 teams, Maurice Ndour finishes second on the list above and has done so despite taking on a far more challenging offensive role. Playing primarily off the ball last season, Ndour's niche in UNICS Kazan's offense has expanded to include more opportunities for him to create with his back to the basket. Despite the added burden, Ndour has made shots far more consistently inside.
One of Ndour's teammate from last season, Vladislav Trushkin, has shown marked improvement as a shooter to find his comfort level with a new team, Zenit St Petersburg. Trushkin has scored efficiently in the post each of the last two EuroCup seasons but has emerged as much more viable floor spacer this year.
Not unlike John Shurna, Niels Giffey has found his range for ALBA Berlin during the 2018-19 campaign. Shooting 52% on wing three-point attempts, Giffey is having his most prolific shooting season in his five years as a pro, all of which he's spent with ALBA. However, he's also shooting 69% finishing around the rim, breaking out as one of the EuroCup's most opportunistic scorers by finding a variety of ways to contribute off the ball.
Overall, almost two-thirds of all returning EuroCup players are scoring more efficiently than they were a year ago, as continuity and familiarity seems to be a net positive for the teams that were able to foster roster retention this season.