The Turkish Airways EuroLeague has had no scarcity of superlative performers via the primary quarter of the season, and it comes as no shock that the highest two groups within the standings, FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich, have greater than their justifiable share.
The EuroLeague’s two most effective defensive groups went head-to-head in Spherical eight as Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul travelled to Spain to tackle FC Barcelona. That pair had been this season’s gold normal on the defensive finish, heading into the sport permitting 0.05 factors per possession lower than the third-ranked defensive crew via Spherical 7. Whereas that won’t look like a big hole, 0.05 factors per possession was the distinction between the fourth- and 15th-ranked defenses heading into the competition.
In a 97-55 win, FC Barcelona managed the motion all through as Nando De Colo’s absence was clearly a think about Fenerbahce’s struggles offensively. On the identical time, Barcelona’s offensive efficiency in opposition to what was the EuroLeague’s top-ranked protection coming into the night time shouldn’t be diminished.
Barcelona’s Elite 4
It’s no secret that Barcelona has been the category of the EuroLeague up to now as they sit atop the standings and personal by far the competitors’s finest level differential. A lot of their success, each in opposition to Fenerbahce and on the 12 months could be traced to some particular lineups. On the 12 months, the mix of Nikola Mirotic, Cory Higgins, Nick Calathes, and Alex Abrines has been on the courtroom for 18% of Barcelona’s possessions however account for over half of the crew’s prime ranked plus-97 level differential. Whether or not it has been Brandon Davies or Pierre Oriola manning the middle spot with that group, these items have been dominant for stretches of a number of video games up to now this season.
It’s a little early to dive too deep into lineup knowledge since many groups are nonetheless rounding into kind and solidifying their rotations, however it is going to be value monitoring Barcelona’s key group to see if they will maintain their success transferring ahead.
Vladimir Lucic off to a terrific begin
Against this, it’s not too early to dive into the play of Vladimir Lucic and what he was meant to FC Bayern Munich. Scoring 22 factors over solely 12 possessions final week, he led Bayern to a house win over Valencia and was earned the MVP of the Week honor. This was not Lucic’s first exceptional efficiency of the season. He has performed a key function in serving to Bayern to a 6-2 begin, however it’s tough to understate simply how beneficial he has been to a membership that figures to comfortably exceed the eight wins it tallied all final season earlier than the calendar even turns to 2021.
By eight video games, Lucic has rating 127 factors over solely 77 possessions to rank fourth in scoring regardless of solely rating 29th in possessions used. Only a 12 months faraway from Shane Larkin breaking the EuroLeague offensive effectivity file scoring an absurd 1.30 factors per possession, Lucic has averaged 1.65 factors per possession via the primary quarter of the season. The EuroLeague has had a number of dozen gamers be a part of the 50-40-90 membership – usually thought-about the top of environment friendly taking pictures in fashionable basketball – however Lucic is taking pictures an unheard-of 75-58-90 up to now this season.
The 31-year-old ahead has lengthy been a dependable shot-maker, however he is been completely lethal from the perimeter this season. Three-quarters of his photographs in half-court conditions have been soar photographs. He is discovered daylight in a wide range of methods by spacing the ground at a excessive degree, sprinting into photographs off screens and hand offs, and moving into pull-up jumpers when defenders shut him out too aggressively. On prime of that, he is drawn free throws on an unimaginable 31% of his possessions, discovering contact at a relentless charge when he places the ball on the ground.
Forcing subsequent to nothing, Lucic’s effectivity has pushed Bayern’s success – significantly in shut video games. Bayern ranks ninth in offensive effectivity this season, scoring at precisely the EuroLeague common of 0.97 factors per possession. Subtracting Lucic from their totals would place them in a tie for eighteenth at 0.89 factors per possession. As a substitute, his distinctive mixture of effectivity and consistency has made Bayern very formidable within the early going. Given how a lot of the season there’s but to play, it is going to be fascinating to see how Lucic’s 12 months continues and what meaning for Bayern, given how spectacular he has been up to now.
Waiting for Spherical 9
Spherical 9 could wind up being the most effective that the EuroLeague has to supply on paper to this point. With three matchups between groups within the prime eight, this week ought to present a wonderful measuring stick for a number of of the season’s early standouts as they shut out of the primary quarter of their common season schedules. With Olympiacos Piraeus on the highway in Barcelona, CSKA Moscow heading to Lithuania to tackle Zalgiris, and FC Bayern Munich dealing with Anadolu Efes Istanbul, there isn’t any scarcity of fantastic video games to observe.