Only one team, Partizan NIS Belgrade, remains undefeated after Round 5. Here's a review of the current 7DAYS EuroCup landscape through the lens of statistics.
There were three games between teams sitting 3-1 in the standings heading into Round 5. Segafredo Virtus Bologna claimed a victory over AS Monaco in Group A, UNICS Kazan beat Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul in Group C, and Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul topped Asseco Arka Gydnia in Group D. Decided by a total of 9 points, those games more than lived up to expectations.
In perhaps the week's most interesting matchup on paper, UNICS's top-ranked offense bested Darussafaka's top ranked defense in Istanbul. Scoring 0.95 points per possession against a team that had allowed just 0.78 coming into the game, UNICS found a way to get the job done in unconventional fashion. Darussafaka did an impressive job holding Errick McCollum and Jamar Smith to just 19 points combined – well off the remarkable 38.5 points over just 31 possessions they were averaging coming in. McCollum came through in the final seconds with the game-winner, but Alex Tyus and Raymar Morgan picked up the slack throughout the contest to help UNICS score 27 points off cuts and post-up possessions – a significant jump from the team's 12.6 point average before that.
Adjusting well to still perform at a high level, UNICS aced one of its biggest regular season showdowns but relinquished the top spot in the offensive efficiency rankings to Promitheas Patras, at 1.04 points per possession.
Among the most pleasant surprises of the new season, 7DAYS EuroCup debutant Promitheas Patras has shined offensively thanks in large part to its pick-and-roll. Utilizing multiple ball handlers distributing to several shooters, Promitheas has presented a difficult puzzle to solve for opposing defenses.
Promitheas's success starts with Langston Hall, who is creating 22 points per game by scoring and passing with nearly unprecedented efficiency out of ball-screen actions. Hall alone would rank 22nd among teams in pick-and-roll points created, but benefits from the scoring ability of Chris Babb and the passing ability of Robert Lowery.
Much of Hall's success can be traced to his supporting cast. Octavius Ellis is shooting 80% rolling to the rim while Oleksandr Lypovyy has shot an eFG% of 86% in spot-up situations. Indeed, Promitheas has several players operating at the extremes of scoring efficiency in several key areas.
Early Efficiency Leaders
Through the end of Round 5, 58 players have used over 12 possessions per game – a bit above the norm at this point in the season. The average efficiency of those players varies wildly. Several sit below 0.70 points per possession, but an impressive 21 are averaging more than 1.00 points per possession – the gold standard for both team and individual efficiency. Two players have eclipsed 1.20 points per possession.
Jamar Smith and Justin Knox have scored with astounding consistency, while EuroCup newcomer Sam Dekker leads the next tier of players. Smith's exploits as a jump shooter for UNICS are well-documented; he's a stellar fit for the modern, perimeter-oriented game. But Knox gets the job done the old-fashioned way. The 30-year-old big man has been a force inside for Dolomiti Energia Trento, shooting 54% on one-on-one post opportunities and 80% on cuts and rolls to the rim. A veteran who has always scored wherever he has played, an opportunistic style is serving Knox particularly well in his first EuroCup campaign.
Dekker could easily close the gap on Smith and Knox if he can pick and choose his spots more effectively in transition. He's scored spot ups and cuts at a strong rate, emerging as a viable inside-outside threat off the ball for Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
Looking Ahead to Round 6
There are two matchups between teams sitting 3-2 and 2-3 in the Group C and D – which have the largest packs of teams hovering around a coveted fourth and final spot worth a Top 16 berth. Nanterre 92 heads to Joventut Badalona while EWE Baskets Oldenburg visits Asseco Arka Gdynia. Each of those teams has a chance to create a degree of separation from its opponent and further define – or disrupt – the postseason picture within its group.