Pick-and-roll play continues to drive the offenses of the 7DAYS EuroCup, which features no shortage of dynamic shot-creators this season.
Most Efficient Scorers
Though the conclusion of Round 8, 41% of all half-court offensive possessions in the EuroCup this season have been created out of a pick-and-roll actions. Those possessions have been converted for an average of 0.95 points, making possessions originating from the pick-and-roll marginally more effective than those that have not. There's little disputing the importance of pick-and-roll play in modern basketball at this stage, especially in the EuroCup. Tofas Bursa leads all clubs this season by generating 39.6 points per game and by averaging 1.09 points per possession on plays using or created out of the pick-and-roll, the highest rates in modern EuroCup history. Teams are relying more than ever on their ball-handlers to manipulate opposing defenses by using ball screens to create good shots for their teammates or to put points in themselves.
Several players have stood out with their consistency and efficiency as scorers using ball screens thus far. Joe Ragland of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade has been the league's most prolific pick-and-roll scorer by a comfortable margin. Among the EuroCup's most aggressive slashing guards, when Ragland decides to drive downhill, he has been difficult to stop. Ragland attacks the rim in ball screen situations 61% of the time and has scored 20 points rejecting ball screens and driving to the rim, some 14 points more than the next highest scorer. Despite his early success, Ragland will face stiff competition to finish as the EuroCup's top pick-and-roll scorer from late-comers like Bobby Brown and Jacob Pullen, who have scored in bunches in their limited appearances this season.
In stark contrast to Ragland, Justin Cobbs of Cedevita Zagreb does much of his damage away from the basket. Fully 80% of Cobbs's shots off pick-and-rolls are dribble jumpers or floaters as he prefers to take the midrange spaces that defenses give him. Aaron Harrison of Galatasaray Istanbul is similarly ambitious in rising for dribble-generated jump shots, but unlike Cobbs, who prefers to attack the elbows, nearly all of Harrison's perimeter shots out of pick-and-rolls come from beyond the arc. When Harrison has attacked the rim, he's done a great job drawing contact, hence his remarkable points-per-possession mark.
Veteran guard Sammy Mejia has played a big role in Tofas's pick-and-roll efficiency, and though he plays at his own pace, the 35-year-old has shot the lights out from beyond the arc in ball-screen situations. Josh Bostic of Arka Gdynia has shared Sammy Mejia's penchant for drilling jumpers when opposing defenses go under screens, but he has been a bit too aggressive probing the lane at times, inflating his turnover rate by comparison.
Bryon Allen, who rounds out the top six, excels at finding creative ways to use his preferred left hand to both attack the rim and set up his step-back jumper. Allen's points-per-possession mark may not stand out relative to the other players at the top of the leaderboard above, but this group is truly the cream of the crop, operating at a level well beyond the EuroCup average of 0.80 points per pick-and-roll when the ball-handler keeps possession.
On average, possessions created by passes out of the pick-and-roll have been converted for 0.94 points per possession this season, because passes from ball-screen actions tend to be significantly more efficient than those used by a ball handler. Through eight rounds, Mantas Kalnietis of LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne has set the curve for making plays for others out of the pick-and-roll, ranking in the EuroCup's top three in points generated via passes to spot-up shooters, cutters and "roll men" – the guys setting all the pick-and-roll screens. A well-rounded passer who does not make many mistakes, Kalnietis has great vision and steadily makes the easy play.
Andrew Albicy of MoraBanc Andorra has done a terrific job drawing the defense and kicking the ball to the open man, generating 1.29 points per possession, as noted above. MoraBanc, averaging 0.94 points per possession in their half-court offense overall, is at its best when Albicy gets into the teeth of the defense and forces defensive rotations before finding the open man.
Among the EuroCup's most dynamic offensive players, Diante Garrett is a dynamic slasher who is also adept at starting and stopping deceptively to freeze defenders and create space for his teammates. Garrett's prolific passing ability makes him a nice compliment to Sammy Mejia and a key to Tofas's early pick-and-roll success.
EuroCup rookies Marcus Paige of Partizan NIS Belgrade and Tai Webster of Galatasaray Istanbul have each shown some unique characteristics as passers out of the pick-and-roll. Paige has impressive timing to find cutters inside while Webster is particularly good at passing out to open spot-up shooters. Both young guards have room to cut down on their turnovers, but their unselfishness has shined nonetheless.
TJ Campbell rounds out to the top six and finds the screener or "roll man" for scoring chances more often than almost any other EuroCup guard. All elite pick-and-roll passers need to be able to make basic reads, but each of the league's top playmakers have some characteristics that separate them from their peers.