EuroLeague Stats Review: Round 6

Nov 12, 2018 by Print
EuroLeague Stats Review: Round 6

The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague is undergoing an offensive renaissance and several of the competition's elite playmakers are posting especially gaudy numbers as a result.

Points created per game leaders

The rise of pick-and-roll play as the dominant source of offense in the EuroLeague over the last decade has heightened the importance of every team's primary ball handlers not just as passers, but as scorers as well. This season, the EuroLeague has no shortage of high-level shot creators of all varieties from legendary floor generals like Vassilis Spanoulis to extremely prolific assist-men like Nick Calathes and dynamic scoring combo guards like Alexey Shved and Mike James.

Synergy Sports Technology generates a "points created" statistic that aims to capture all the ways that a player can contribute to his team's point total. Combining points scored, points assisted, and points derived – those generated when a ball-handler collapses the defense and finds the open man only for the defense to react and the scoring chance to come after an additional pass—the metric is fairly comprehensive. Early in this 2018-19 EuroLeague campaign, several players are producing points for their respective teams at truly remarkable rates.

As the table above shows, many EuroLeague guards have posted gaudy numbers both as scorers and passers in the early going, but Alexey Shved stands a notch above the rest. The 29-year-old combo guard highlights this list creating a staggering 48.9 of Khimki Moscow Region's 80.3 points per game despite playing only 32.5 minutes per contest. Carrying an unprecedented burden for the competition's sixth most efficient offensive team, Shved has scored with impressive efficiency in one of the biggest scoring roles in EuroLeague history, he ranks second in points generated from assists and regularly draws the attention of opposing defenses in a way that takes the pressure off of his teammates. He's been especially productive in the pick-and-roll creating 20.7 points per game to lead the EuroLeague. For historical reference, that mark would have ranked third among teams during the 2009-2010 season. A dangerous pull-up jump shooter with great range who can find the open man creatively and calmly handles double-teams, Shved is setting the bar high for what it means to carry a EuroLeague offense.

As much as Shved finds himself in a tier of his own, so too does Mike James of AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. Often lauded for his ability to create separation at will and heat up from the perimeter to put points on the board in a hurry in impressive fashion, James's production this season has been driven by his improvement as a passer. Posting EuroLeague career-best assist numbers, James remains one of the competition's most dynamic shot makers, but he's also channeling his creativity more consistently to find the open man out of pick-and-roll and isolation situations. He has never had a hard time finding angles and putting pressure on weak-side defenders, but he's using his tools to set up his teammates far more often than in the past.

Panathinaikos OPAP Athens's Nick Calathes may not be quite as prolific scoring the ball as Shved or James, but the EuroLeague's single-season assist king continues to live up to his reputation and is currently on pace for another record-breaking season. Sitting 11th on the all-time EuroLeague assist chart, Calathes will likely work his way past Pablo Prigioni, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Nikos Zisis this season thanks in large part to his knack for finding the open man for shots inside either in transition or off of basket cuts in the half court. Nearly two-thirds of Calathes's assists result in makes within 5 feet of the basket like few players in EuroLeague history have been able to weave the ball through traffic to the open man with pinpoint accuracy as consistently as the 29-year-old.

Nate Wolters of Zalgiris Kaunas and Kostas Sloukas of Fenerbahce Istanbul have posted similar numbers in terms of productivity and share several characteristics increasingly common among modern EuroLeague guards: both have recorded strong efficiency numbers scoring on and off the ball allowing them to blend into several roles, both pick and choose their spots at a high level when finishing and creating, and each can use their combination of size and vision to find the open man consistently making the easy, unselfish play. Always appearing under control and playing with patience, Wolters and Sloukas are prototypical of the guards ushering in an era of unprecedented offensive efficiency in the EuroLeague.

Thomas Heurtel is one of the most interesting names on the list due to how many points he generates in the two-man game finding his screener. Heurtel leads the EuroLeague by a comfortable margin generating 7.7 points per game finding FC Barcelona Lassa's roll men. For comparison, only three other teams are getting more points per game from their roll men than Heurtel is creating himself in 21.7 minutes per game as he manipulates ball screens to free up his rollers with great savvy. As the importance of the pick-and-roll has expanded, so too has the number of ways players can stand out in the two-man game.