By Stelios Toromanidis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The main subject of much discussion and analysis in various basketball hangouts throughout Europe is the comparison between the best teams of the Old Continent with regard to the completeness and effectiveness in the three main positions of the sport. Those of the backcourt (positions 1-2), the forwards (positions 3-4), and the centers (position 5). Which team is superior and where, which position makes all the difference in the end and which players are barometers for each unit throughout the season in the EuroLeague?
Trying to give some answers to the above questions, Eurohoops looked at the stats of all the players in the competition and presents to you the best backcourts, forwards and big men so far in the competition, based on the numbers.
PART 2: Small/Power Forwards
In the second of three parts of this special, we are going to deal with the backbone of every team. They might be neither “small” nor “big,” but especially in modern basketball their performance is key to the effectiveness of the whole.
We are talking about forwards. With the completion of 20 of the 30 games in the regular season, we have a sufficient statistical sample that allows us to highlight the best but also lower ranked teams with regard to the forward positions (3-4).
1st Step: First of all, we gathered the forwards of each team separately and made 16 tables, one for every unit in this year’s EuroLeague.
2nd Step: On each team’s table, we added the points collected by every forward in the ranking system (PIR) and then divided the result by the total of games of every forward on the team. This is how we calculated the average ranking (PIR) of the line of forwards for each of the competition’s 16 gladiators. In this way, the stats of ALL the players who play in a team’s 3 and 4 positions are presented as if they were ONE player.
Results: Brown, Honeycutt and Osman’s Efes are at the top, Zalgiris are second, while in sixth place we find Olympiacos. CSKA, Real and Panathinaikos are not even in the top ten
The teams that are tied at the top in the standings (CSKA, Real) are pretty far behind in the battle for the best line of forwards in the EuroLeague for reasons that are analyzed above each team’s table. In contrast, Efes, a team that is not even in the top eight in the regular standings have the best team in the 3 and 4 positions, followed by Zalgiris, Galatasaray and Armani Milan, with Printezis and Lojeski’s Olympiacos closing out the top six. Lastly, Panathinaikos are 15th, ahead only of Unics Kazan who are bringing up the rear. But let’s look at each team separately…
1 Efes (PIR: 10,7)
Efes’s lead is not really… surprising when one considers the names that occupy the 3 and 4 positions in coach Perasovic’s team. The “secret,” though, is the small number of forwards they have (only four), in combination with the very good performance levels of all four of them. Derrick Brown and Tyler Honeycutt are two of the best players in the competition in their position, while the talented Cedi Osman and the “executioner” Deshaun Thomas are excellent solutions.
2 Zalgiris Kaunas (PIR: 10,6)
The same goes for the Lithuanian champions as well, who, aside from the 19-year-old Hartenstein who counts very few appearances, have a small but… effective line of forwards. The best of them is none other than the leader and veteran, Paulius Jankunas, while alongside him the Australian Brock Motum is also having a very good season. The quartet is complemented with the only pure small forward in Zalgiris, Edgaras Ulanovas.
3 Galatasaray (PIR: 9,8)
If you’re wondering how it is possible for a team that has two players with an overall ranking of 1 and -1 to be in third place, the answer is that, due to their small number of appearances (the two of them count only three) they don’t disturb the overall excellent image. Even though Gala are bringing up the rear in the EuroLeague, the team’s forwards are nevertheless doing a good job based on the numbers, as Schilb and Micov count more than 200 points in the PIR each, while Daye and Preldzic, who have missed several games, had full stats whenever they played.
4 Armani Milano (PIR: 9,1)
Armani Milan don’t have the most quality forwards in the competition. Besides, neither of them is a starter except for the ex-Milanese, Alessandro Gentile, who was among the top options at the beginning of the season. Why are they ranked so high? Due to the small number of forwards in combination with their effectiveness whenever they play. It’s one of those cases where numbers don’t tell the whole truth.
|5||Alessandro Gentile *||9||97||35/69||3/14||27||20||93|
5 Brose amberg (PIR: 8,8)
Andrea Trinchieri’s team has in its ranks the best forward in the competition, Nicolo Melli, who does everything on the court, and they also have one of the best Americans in the EuroLeague, Darius Miller. They are the reason they are placed fifth. As for the complementary players Radosevic, Heckmann and Harris, they do what is absolutely necessary whenever they’re on the court, presenting a positive image whenever they are needed.
6 Olympiacos (PIR: 8,7)
Olympiacos follow closely behind, with Lojeski, Printezis and Papanikolaou (who is currently going through an in-form period) playing first fiddles in the forward positions. Perhaps the Red-and-whites would have been higher if their second in command hadn’t missed one-fifth of games.
7 Baskonia (PIR: 8,6)
Baskonia also present an excellent image in the forward positions. First of all, Hungarian Adam Hanga, but also Tornike Shengelia and Kim Tillie (who mostly share the 4 position), are the main pillars in the Basques’ game, while Chase Budinger provides valuable solutions since he was acquired (after the start of the season).
8 Maccabi Tel Aviv (PIR: 8,4)
Talent is plentiful in the “people’s team” and their line of forwards. Victor Rudd, Sonny Weems (who is now a thing of the past) and Devin Smith maintain a consistently good statistical image that keeps the Israelis in first place, even though Maccabi haven’t managed to present a cohesive whole for yet another year.
|5||Sonny Weems *||19||221||72/123||17/52||63||58||211|
9 Fenerbahce (PIR: 7,7)
The plethora of players in the 3 and 4 positions does not allow Fenerbahce to be in a better position in our special ranking system. Vesely, Datome, Nunnally and Kalinic yield from good to excellent results, but from there on down the image of the forwards is rather mediocre.
10 Darussafaka Dogus (PIR: 7,3)
The trio of Clyburn, Moerman and Anderson is moving along a very good statistical level, but the very next trio in line (Harangody, Slaughter and Batuk) hasn’t been performing as well as they could have so far, and as a result David Blatt’s line of forwards is only in tenth place.
11 Real Madrid (PIR: 7,2)
Real’s line of forwards is truly… awe inspiring. Despite this, it’s not possible for everyone to be a protagonist and as a result, players like Maciulis, Taylor, Reyes and Nocioni have a secondary role in coach Laso’s rotation and their statistical image is mediocre considering their worth as players. So, the Queen has to settle for eleventh place.
12 Barcelona (PIR: 7)
The numerous injuries have disrupted Barcelona’s entire function as a team, since only Vezenkov has been able to play in every game. This is one of the reasons why Barca are ranked so low, although the Catalans’ position in the overall rankings in the EuroLeague isn’t much better.
13 Crvena Zvezda (PIR: 6)
Simonovic and Bjelica are the most stable pillars among Crvena Zvezda’s forwards. But Mitrovic and Dangubic present a mediocre image based on numbers, even though they’ve played in most games. So, the Serbs are forced to… make do with 13th place.
14 CSKA Moscow (PIR: 5,8)
The European champions are a team that is built around the amazing guard duo of Teodosic and De Colo, while they often play with small line-ups that use backcourt players in the 3 position (Higgins, Jackson, Fridzon). This is the main reason that players like Kurbanov and Antonov aren’t allowed to fill up their statistical harvest even further, while Vorontsevich and Khryapa are important in the rotation but don’t really play first fiddles.
15 Panathinaikos (PIR: 4,6)
Gist’s injury and the many rearrangements in the roster with players that were added after the start of the season (Gabriel, Gentile) haven’t allowed Panathinaikos’s forwards to have (at least so far) clear roles in the team, and as a result all of them are mediocre in terms of stats.
16 Unics Kazan (PIR: 4,4)
Last place for Unics Kazan, and in their hierarchy something similar to that of CSKA applies. The guards (Langford, Colom etc.) are the protagonists, and as a result the performance of the forwards as represented in the stats is low.