Each of the EuroLeague’s five most efficient offensive teams are headed to the postseason, but every qualified team finished among the top nine in defensive efficiency during the regular season. This year’s final eight all have their share of distinct strengths and weaknesses worth keeping an eye on as the 2018 playoffs begin.
CSKA Moscow: 1.091 Points Per Possession
CSKA Moscow is in the midst of one of the most efficient offensive seasons in modern EuroLeague history, currently tied for the top mark in points per possession over the last decade with the club’s 2015-2016 group, which captured the EuroLeague trophy. Their success this season has been predicated on stellar jump shooting, as they not only space the floor at an elite level but have multiple players who can make shots with great consistency off the dribble in one-on-one and pick-and-roll situations. Nando De Colo and Sergio Rodriguez have been two of the best all-around jump shooters in the EuroLeague this season while Cory Higgins and Nikita Kurbanov have shot the lights out in transition.
Khimki Moscow Region: 1.287 Points Per Finishing Opportunity in the Half-Court
No team in the EuroLeague this season has been as consistent around the basket as Khimki Moscow Region this season. They rank in the middle of the pack in terms of the number of shots they generate around the rim, but lead the competition in efficiency on those attempts. EuroLeague scoring leader Alexey Shved has been very opportunistic around the rim while Malcolm Thomas, Anthony Gill, and James Anderson all finished at a strong rate during the regular season.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul: 1.109 Points Per Possession Created out of the Pick-and-Roll
On pace to become the second most efficient pick-and-roll offense in the last five years, Fenerbahce ranks second in the EuroLeague in scoring efficiency on possessions used by their ball-handlers and first in efficiency on possessions those players create with their passes. Both Brad Wanamaker and Kostas Sloukas have scored and passed at a very high level this season, and Fenerbahce’s shooters and roll men—especially Jan Vesely—have made the most of the shots that pair has created for them.
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz: 70.2% Effective Field Goal Percentage on Unguarded Spot-Up Jumpers in the Half-Court
Few teams in all of Europe in any competition have capitalized on open jump shots as consistently as Baskonia has this season. They lead the EuroLeague by a comfortable margin in shot-making consistency on unguarded catch-and-shoot jump shots making opposing defenses pay dearly for their mistakes on the perimeter. Rodrigue Beaubois, Janis Timma, Matt Janning, Johannes Voigtmann and Jayson Granger have all made open jump shots at an elite clip in EuroLeague play and demand defensive attention as this team has no shortage of dangerous shooters.
Olympiacos Piraeus: +0.1 Points Per Possession Margin at Home
In road games this season, Olympiacos is being outscored by their opponent by 0.06 points per possession, but they are outscoring their opponents by a remarkable 0.1 point per possession at home. Olympiacos looks like a different team in the confines of Peace and Friendship Stadium on both ends of the court. They are particularly impressive offensively in Piraeus, and that starts with Vassilis Spanoulis, who seems to feed off the atmosphere.
Zalgiris Kaunas: 0.755 Points Allowed Per Pick & Roll Ball Handler Possession
No team in the EuroLeague defends opposing ball-handlers in on pick-and-rolls as well as Zalgiris. They concede some good shots when opposing guards can find the open man, but load up on the ball to force mistakes and try to take teams out of their comfort zone.
Panathinaikos: .933 Points Per Possession Allowed in Home Games
Arguably the most well-rounded defensive team in the EuroLeague this season, Panathinaikos is particularly formidable in Olympic Sports Center Athens. They force turnovers at a high rate overall with Nick Calathes and Mike James leading that charge, but do a particularly good job pestering ball-handlers at their home arena playing with a sense of urgency that has made them extremely difficult to beat in Athens.
Real Madrid: 54% Shooting Allowed on Finishing Opportunities in the Half-Court
As impressive as Real Madrid has been offensively this season, they’ve done some of their best work protecting the rim defensively. Walter Tavares is obviously a game-changer with his ability to not just block shots, but also alter them around the rim. But Real Madrid has still held up fairly well inside even when he is off the floor, especially against opposing back-to-the-basket scorers.