As a busy January comes to its end with another double-round week, one player who has clearly raised his level of performances at the start of 2021 is Zalgiris Kaunas center Joffrey Lauvergne. In his sixth EuroLeague season, Lauvergne posted the best game of his career and almost doubled his numbers generally in recent weeks, making a big impact for Zalgiris.
Lauvergne is coming off a 21-point, 7-rebound performance in a stunning come-from-behind win over Olympiacos Piraeus. But that performance was just a continuation of a hot streak he's been on for five games. Over that span, Zalgiris center is averaging 16.2 point, 6.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists for a performance index rating of 20.0 per game.
It is a massive increase in scoring and overall production for Lauvergne, who averaged 9.9 points and a PIR 10.6 prior to Round 17. Since then, only three players have accumulated a higher index rating in the last five rounds than Lauvergne.
The 29-year old center has put together three of his four highest-scoring performances of the season during this stretch. Those include scoring 16 points on 8-for-13 two-point shooting at ALBA Berlin, a game in which he also had 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
He followed that with a personal-best performance against Khimki Moscow Region in which Lauvergne had career highs of 29 points and 38 PIR to earn his first-ever weekly MVP honor. In that Round 18 win against Khimki, a team he had played with for part of a season earlier in his career, Lauvergne converted 13 of his 14 field goal tries, the second-highest number of two-pointers with just one miss in EuroLeague history. Only Luis Scola had scored more two-pointers with just one missed shot, making 15 of 16 for Tau Ceramica in the 2005 EuroLeague Playoffs.
In his 15 appearances before Round 17, Lauvergne attempted 108 two-point shots at 60.2% accuracy, pulled down 79 rebounds and dished 16 assists. However, his production since Round 17 has exploded.
After attempting 7.2 shots per game before, in the last five games Lauvergne has tried a total of 53, or 10.6 per game. Despite the higher volume, he improved his accuracy by almost 10 percent, making 69.8% of those recent two-pointers. That includes last week when he made 9 of 12 shots against Olympiacos.
Lauvergne now heads into back-to-back road games, first at another of his former clubs, Valencia Basket, and then at TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, poised to keep up his enhanced level of performances to help Zalgiris in its playoff push.