Only three teams remained undefeated after Round 3. Here's a review of the current 7DAYS EuroCup landscape through the lens of statistics.
In the Round 3 matchup between the Eurocup's most efficient offensive and defensive units through the end of Round 2, Galatasaray Doga Sigotra Istanbul's offense won the battle on that end of the floor, but that did not stop Unicaja from winning the game to remain unbeaten.
In a breakout offensive performance, Unicaja averaged 1.14 points per possession in Round 3, up from its 0.87 average over the previous two games. Unicaja was able to overcome spotty shooting with stellar defense in Rounds 1 and 2, but came alive from the perimeter against Galatasaray, going 12 for 27 from beyond the arc. Axel Toupane alone made 5 of 8 three-pointers in his EuroCup season debut to score 22 points in only 13 possessions.
Despite losing, Galatasaray had another impressive showing offensively – particularly in the pick-and-roll. The Turks now lead the EuroCup by using pick-and-rolls 47% of the time and scoring 1.21 points per possession on those opportunities. Against a talented Unicaja defense, the visitors created a spectacular 55 points out of 39 possessions originating with ball screens, with Aaron Harrison showing the strides he's made as both a shooter and playmaker in his second year in Istanbul. A big guard with a strong frame, the 24-year-old American used screens to penetrate before finding open men or scoring himself. Harrison, who had a team-high 20 points, has some room to grow as a shooter, but already ranks second in the EuroCup on points created on pick-and-rolls.
Virtus's shot selection
The EuroCup team with the highest point differential, unbeaten Segafredo Virtus Bologna, has fared well on both ends of the floor. Much of its offensive success can be attributed to shot selection. Through three games, 91% of Virtus's field goal attempts have come from the paint or beyond the arc. The Italian team leads the EuroCup in half-court scoring efficiency, averaging 1.04 points per possession, thanks to great shot-making that tracks back to solid play execution, which limits low-percentage shot attempts.
That execution leads to a high number of catch-and-scoring opportunities. Virtus is one of just five teams averaging more than 10 points from cuts, while also ranking fourth in catch-and-shoot jump shots attempted. It helps a lot that role players Gianpaolo Ricci and Fillippo Baldi Rossi have been extremely effective from the perimeter so far as Virtus appears to be one of this season's most balanced offensive teams.
Rasid Mahalbasic on the block
Professional basketball has trended away from post play over the years, due in large part to the lack of efficiency of post touches relative to other actions. Some big men, however, still produce efficiently from down low, giving their teams an increasingly unique option. Rasid Mahalbasic of EWE Baskets Oldenburg has provided the best example of how a team can benefit from an exception to that trend.
Mahalbasic has both scored and passed at a high level for Oldenburg and is on pace to become one of the best EuroCup players this decade generating points out of the post. The 2.11-meter 28-year-old from Austria combines sound footwork and impressive vision with wide body for creating space inside, backing down opposing defenders to finish with a soft touch over either shoulder. Perhaps more impressive has been his passing. Finding weakside shooters or cutters with equally great timing, Mahalbasic is creating 7 points per game for others from the post, more than the 6.3 he is scoring himself. The 13.3 points per game he generates down low is more than any other entire team this season! What's more, only seven other teams have generated more offense down low in the last five years.
Mahalbasic's impressive efforts inside have not earned Oldenburg a win to this point, but there is something to be said for his novelty in modern basketball. Averaging 1.29 points per possession created out of the post, he is showing that there is still a place for back-to-the-basket play in the EuroCup.
Looking ahead to Round 4
There are several marquee games this week, but the most intriguing on paper will be between Partizan NIS Belgrade vs. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in Group B. Partizan has been terrific defensively so far, but will face a unique test inside from Lokomotiv, which has scored a league-leading 31.3 points per game in finishing situations within the half-court offense on 60% shooting.