European Basketball Analysis

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Eurobasket: Top performers

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Pau: More efficient than ever before
MVP frontrunners

  • Pau Gasol: Spain is a monster with Pau, top quality but well beatable without him. He’s easily the most effective player in the tournament, leading in points per 28 minutes (pace-adjusted) ahead of Ante Tomic and Emir Preldzic. Scoring rate is phenomenal. Well on course for most efficient tournament performance in Spanish national team history since ’94, and he already occupies seven of the ten top places in that category.
  • Tony Parker: Parker led France in spectacular fashion over the first three games, but this is not a one-man-team. He’s enjoying plenty of support from Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw in particular. Even so, this is Parker’s team and there’s little doubt he is taking MVP honours if France is to win the gold medal.

Also on course (in no particular order)

  • Emir Preldzic: The revelation of the tournament, but considering his advanced Euroleague numbers, it isn’t coming out of nowhere. Preldzic is third in per-minute-efficiency, posting 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.9 steals per 28 minutes, but just as in his Euroleague season with Fenerbahce, limited minutes keep him away from major exposure.
  • Milos Teodosic: Let’s not make the mistake of letting his remarkably off-target shooting get into the way of understanding the obvious: Teodosic is the heart of this Serbian team and again directing the offense masterfully, currently nearly on 10-5-7 course (10.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and a tournament-high 7.6 assists per game). By the way: Here are all six players in the database (’94 OG, WC and EC till present) that were able to achieve a 5-5-5.
  • Andrei Kirlenko: Off the radar due to Russia’s placement in “the other tournament”, but again he’s filling out the statsheet, scoring (16.4/28m) and rebounding (6.0/28m) the basketball while leading the tournament in steals (2.8/28m).
  • Nicolas Batum: Excelling as Parker’s sidekick, Batum is a threat coming off the screen and particularly in transition. His high minutes (33.4 per game, tied for sixth in the tournament) and thus comparably high per-game numbers hide the fact that he is playing at a moderate usage rate (18.2 USG%), picking his spots expertly. 2.4 steals per 28 minutes is good enough for second in the tournament.
  • Antonis Fotsis: His outside shooting is often a difference maker on club and national team level, but this Greece might well lack the talent to go past the top eight. Fotsis is silently shooting 73.8 eFG% while adding 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per 28 minutes. And that is only a small part of his defensive performance.
  • Bo McCalebb: FYR of Macedonia has three of the tournament’s top seven in minutes per game, and McCalebb, at 33.6MPG, is one of them. Naturally a player who is fifth in points per game (at 20.6) will get the lion share of attention, even if he’s doing it at a rather mediocre 46.2 eFG%.

Defensive difference makers
Ömer Asik’s defensive fourth quarter performance against Spain, as Turkey held the Pau-less tournament favourites scoreless for the last 8:40, was exceptional. His Chicago Bulls colleague Joakim Noah did a nice job limiting Chris Kaman in France’s matchup with Germany, while Nicolas Batum’s length impacted Milos Teodosic’s scoring performance in yesterday’s nailbiter. Antonis Fotsis, as usual, is everywhere.

As usual, the numbers we have don’t give us a good enough picture and with the limited number of games that are even possible to watch, things remain vague here.

Scoring performance and usage
This chart is about scoring. Allround performance has nothing to do with it.

The x-axis has usage percentage, the percentage of team possessions a player, in his time on the floor, finishes by either shooting (field goals, free throws) or turning the ball over. Read: Dirk Nowitzki is finishing close to 34% of Germany’s possessions while he’s on the floor. Kobe Bryant, at 35.1 USG% last season for the Lakers, would fall off the right end of the chart, which is even more baffling considering the big man talent (Gasol, Bynum, Odom) around him.

Y-axis: True shooting percentage, an attempt of unifying field goal- and free throw shooting, also considering the fact that a three-pointer counts more than a two-pointer.

A player in the top right is taking a lot responsibility during his time on the floor, while also scoring at a great percentage. A player in the bottom left is very passive offensively, and if he shoots, he usually misses.

Click to enlarge

The extremes are the interesting parts. Some observations:

  • Germany has two players with 30+ USG% in Nowitzki and Kaman. Nowitzi is averaging 27.4 minutes a game, Kaman 23.2. Dirk is finally scoring better than 50 eFG% in this tournament (he hadn’t done so in the last six tournaments prior to Eurobasket 2011), primarily on midrange jumpshots.
  • Notice the short distance between Jonas Valanciunas and … Enes Kanter.
  • The 10-20 USG% and 75+ TS% area has six players who are making significant contributions at a low to moderate usage: Antonis Fotsis, Vitaly Fridzon, Marko Keselj, Mickael Gelabale, Simas Jasaitis and Rimantas Kaukenas, the latter at a ridiculous 94.4 TS%. Nicolas Batum is close by, but he’s seeing major minutes while none of the aforementioned veterans is getting past 25.4 MPG.
  • Marco Carraretto, Johannes Herber and Florent Pietrus are all defensive role players, but Kostas Papanikolaou? Not justifying the minutes so far. The problem: he’s the only real small forward on the roster.

Still using the tall guys
There are major differences between NBA and Euroleague as far as shot distribution goes. Unsurprisingly, Eurobasket is looking more similar to the Euroleague than to the NBA. PF and C combine for 43.9% of all shot attempts.

Meanwhile, the wings have been very effective scoring-wise in this tournament, almost reaching the true shooting percentage of centers.

NBA EL Euro’11
TS% % of att TS% % of att TS% % of att
PG 52.8 22.0 54.5 17.3 50.3 21.4
SG 54.2 21.7 52.1 20.8 56.7 17.6
SF 53.6 20.2 52.9 19.7 56.5 17.1
PF 54.1 24.5 53.9 20.2 53.3 22.9
C 55.2 11.6 58.4 22.1 57.1 21.0

Formula for attempts: FGA + 0.47*FTA

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Written by sJacas

September 6th, 2011 at 4:53 pm