After a slow start, scoring efficiency is up in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Let’s see which players are the most efficient so far this season.
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and FC Bayern Munich won their domestic derbies in an eventful Round 24, but it was LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne coming out ahead of AX Armani Exchange Milan that was the week’s most interesting matchup. While LDLC entered the game slotted 14th in the standings with just nine wins, it was riding a three-game winning streak that has seen it seemingly turn a corner.
As has been the case throughout that streak, Norris Cole and David Lighty led the way scoring 28 points over just 24 possessions.
That duo has keyed the team’s recent run by averaging 1.19 points per possession over 25.8 points per game in their winning streak compared to 0.91 points per possession over 23.6 possessions per game prior to that point. ASVEL is the hottest team in the EuroLeague thanks in large part to the play of its veteran guards.
Offensive Efficiency Leaders
It is that kind of efficiency that can pull a team into the playoff picture or propel it to a better seed. Due to the circumstances leading into this season, efficiency is up from the early part of the season and the 0.99 points per possession teams have scored this season has now surpassed the 0.98 points per possession they averaged a year ago.
The table above lists the EuroLeague’s most efficient scorers among those using over 12 possessions per game and those using between 5 and 12 per game. It reflects the growth in efficiency since the one-third mark of the season. Rarely do EuroLeague players tend to get meaningfully more efficient as a season wears on past a certain point, but that has been the case this season. After Round 12 the line to crack the high-volume list sat at just 0.94 points per possession as finding a rhythm has been a more gradual process this year.
Nikola Mirotic of FC Barcelona ranked as the most efficient scorer after Round 12 and finds himself even further away from the pack after Round 24. Shooting 73% inside of two meters and finding his range from the perimeter more regularly as the season has gone on, Mirotic has keyed Barcelona to the top of the standings.
The second tier on this list behind Mirotic has a familiar face in Zalgiris Kaunas guard Marius Grigonis who is in the midst of a breakout season, but hit the ground running out of the gates, quickly emerging as one of the league’s steadiest perimeter scorers. The season of Kevin Punter from AX Armani Exchange Milan has followed a similar pattern after he debuted in Round 6. In contrast, Jalen Reynolds of FC Bayern Munich has seen his efficiency blossom in recent weeks. Not only is he a terrific finisher, but he has also solidified himself as one of the very best free-throw shooting big men anywhere, producing at a very high level after playing a much smaller role in his first EuroLeague campaign a year ago.
The drop off to the next tier of high-volume scorers is significant, but that group includes three of the EuroLeague’s biggest stars in Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, Mike James of CSKA Moscow and Shane Larkin of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, each of whom has lived up to his reputation this season. James in particular has been impressive as he is on pace for one of the most efficient seasons in modern EuroLeague history for a player averaging over 20 possessions per game.
On the other side of the ledger, Kyle Kuric has been this season’s most consistent sharpshooter, edging his Barcelona teammate Alex Abrines and Jaycee Carroll of Real Madrid among the league’s top floor spacers. ASVEL’s William Howard is the most recent addition to this list. After a breakout year in the EuroCup two seasons ago, he has solidified himself as a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat with deep range this year.
The inclusion of center Artuas Gudaitis also warrants mention. A staple of these lists before his knee injury, the Lithuanian center has rounded back into form as the season has worn on having some of his best performances of the last three years in the last two months for Zenit St Petersburg.
Looking ahead to Round 25
The stretch run is here. With only 10 games remaining, it is make-or-break time for teams in the middle of the pack. Interestingly, this is quite likely the last round of the season where no two teams currently in the playoff picture will go head-to-head. Every team in the current top eight will play a team on the outside looking in, creating an interesting opportunity for the chaos that makes the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season so exciting!