Just two weeks after six teams were tied for first place, Round 11 ended with an exclusive leader. Here's a review of the key statistics on the competitive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague landscape.
Shane Larkin's Record-Breaking Night
Pouring in 49 points in Anadolu Efes Istanbul's 104-75 win over FC Bayern Munich at the Sinan Erdem Dome, Shane Larkin established his place in EuroLeague lore by shattering the previous single-game scoring of 41 points held by Bobby Brown, Kaspars Kambala, Alphonso Ford and Carlton Myers. By creating or assisting on another 11 points, Larkin contributed to a total of 60 points in just 31 minutes of action – a pace of 77.4 points per 40 minutes – for one of the most dominant individual performances in recent basketball history.
Digging deeper into Larkin's performance, his shot-making efficiency was off the charts. He went 4 for 5 on catch-and-shoot jump shots and scored 22 points on just 10 pull-up jumpers. Shooting an effective field goal percentage of 83% on 15 perimeter attempts, Larkin's versatility as a jump shooter shined, just as it has all season. Pouring in 20 points in pick-and-roll situations alone, Larkin's ability to rise and fire with range and accuracy was integral to his record-breaking performance and has been a key factor in Efes being among the most prolific pick-and-roll offenses in modern basketball.
It's also the main reason he is the most efficient high-volume scorer in the EuroLeague. The graph above plots every EuroLeague player by the number of possessions per game they have used within their respective offensive roles against the number of points per possession they have scored. The most notable trend this graph reveals is how fierce the competition has been for the title of the EuroLeague's most efficient high-volume scorer. Five of the six players labelled in the graph as averaging over 16 possessions per game are scoring above 1.00 points per possession – a count that matches the previous eight seasons combined! Larkin's current pace of 1.26 points per possession would eviscerate every modern EuroLeague record for scoring efficiency as his record-breaking performance only added to a trend of efficient play from the competition's very best players.
Round 11 featured an interesting matchup between CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona that saw the visitors score a 29-point win at Palau Blaugrana. Barcelona was coming off a stellar offensive showing in the previous double-round but could not find its footing on the perimeter. What's more, its top-ranked defense fell victim to an all-around effort from CSKA that saw eight players score 8 or more points. CSKA scored 1.16 points per possession – a massive jump from the 0.87 points per possession Barcelona had allowed at home prior to that point – by moving the ball extremely well to generate 44 points over 28 possession featuring spot-ups or cuts to the basket. Shaking off consecutive losses in the double-round week, CSKA moved up to a four-way tie for fourth place in the standings at 7-4 with a victory that other teams will have a trouble matching in Barcelona.
Looking Ahead to Round 12
With Efes sitting atop of the standings, its fortunes are worth monitoring, especially when matching up with other potential playoff opponents. The leaders will travel to take on a KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz team that is looking to rebound from a 32-point loss to Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in Round 11. Allowing 0.79 points per possession in wins but 1.07 points per possession in losses, Baskonia has been dramatically better on the defensive end depending on the night. That will make it interesting to see if they can challenge an Efes offense that has been held under 1.00 points per possession only three times this season.