No teams remain undefeated after Round 6. Here's a review of the current 7DAYS EuroCup landscape through the lens of statistics.
There were two matchups between teams sitting 3-2 and 2-3 in Group C and Group D, which currently have the largest packs in striking distance of the coveted top four spots in the standings. Joventut Badalona's late decision over visiting Nanterre 92 was good for its fourth victory and a degree of separation in Group C while EWE Baskets Oldenburg came up big on the road against Asseco Arka Gdynia to make Group D even more crowded.
Joventut got a standout performance from Nenad Dimitrijevic, who scored 23 points over 15 possessions. He hit several jump shots but did most of his damage attacking the rim. Joventut has excelled thus far in attacking off the dribble, leading the EuroCup in combined pick-and-roll and isolation scoring efficiency. On Wednesday, 21-year-old Dimitrijevic led the charge with the best effort yet of his young EuroLeague career.
Oldenburg found unexpected success by scoring 12 points in transition – nearly double the team's season average – while holding the same Arka team that won their Round 1 opener in Germany to just 6 fourth-quarter points on its own floor. Getting 40 points from the frontcourt trio of Rasid Mahalbasic, Justin Sears and Nathan Boothe while playing a pesky style of defense that has served the team well in recent weeks, Oldenburg rattled off a third straight victory to get into the thick of things in Group D.
There is a sense of urgency to every game of the EuroCup regular season, but several middle-of-the-pack teams appear to be peaking at the moment, which in a 10-game format can make all the difference.
With the mid-point of the season in the books, the teams setting the curve in the league defensively this season have separated themselves from the pack.
Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul has been the EuroCup's best defensive team by a comfortable margin due to extreme effectiveness in stifling pick-and-rolls. Allowing just 16 points per game on shots created out from such actions, Darussafaka is on pace to become the best pick-and-roll defense in modern history – and by a comfortable margin. It has also been effective stopping shots around the rim thanks in part to Jonathan Hamilton, whose size and athleticism deter teams looking to probe the lane.
Promitheas Patras is a balanced defensive team that regularly deploys an effective full-court press, runs shooters off the three-point line, and forces opponents into quite a bit of one-on-one play. Promitheas limits easy scoring opportunities like few teams in the EuroCup.
The EuroCup's top shot-blocking team, Partizan NIS Belgrade, has a pair of intimidating rim protectors in William Moseley and Rashawn Thomas, but also excels in transition and on-the-ball defense. Allowing a EuroCup-best 0.58 points per possession when opposing ball handlers use the pick-and-roll is one of Partizan's distinct defensive strengths.
Alex Hamilton in Transition
Maccabi Rishon LeZion has had ups and downs in its maiden EuroCup voyage, but Alex Hamilton has a been a bright spot. Ranking sixth in possessions used per game and third in scoring efficiency among the competition's 10 highest-usage players, Hamilton has thrived in one key area: transition offense.
Through the end of Round 6, Hamilton is scoring or assisting on 7.6 points per game in transition, which not only leads all EuroCup players, but ranks ahead of four entire teams. It is not hard to see, on first glance, what makes Hamilton special in the open court: his end-to-end speed is extremely impressive. Often simply running past defenders to finish emphatically above the rim, Hamilton's 74% shooting in transition is a good reflection of his difference-making explosiveness.
In half-court sets, the 26-year-old guard does a nice job putting pressure on the rim but has room to grow as a jump shooter, which is intriguing given that he is already a quite efficient volume scorer.
Looking Ahead to Round 7
Group B is the EuroCup's most competitive group at this point, with the bottom three teams each boasting two wins. Two of those teams face off in Round 7 in a game with clear playoff implications. Limoges CSP travels to take on Rytas Vilnius at Siemens Arena in the Lithuanian capital. Defense has been Limoges's strength this season while Rytas ranks in the middle of the pack on both sides of the ball. Limoges scored a 21-point home win when these teams faced off in Round 2. With two home games to follow, the visitors could stake their claim to a coveted top-four spot in the standings with another win over Rytas.