Barcelona’s worst offense ever in EuroLeague leads to playoffs elimination

2017-03-20T17:52:02+00:00 2017-03-21T10:22:45+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

20/Mar/17 17:52

Barcelona has close to zero chances of advancing to the EuroLeague playoffs and one of the main reasons is that it has reached the bottom of the barrel on offense.

By Antonis Stroggylakis/

Barcelona hasn’t been the most successful team in EuroLeague chronicles but can certainly be labelled as the most consistent one. Sure, it’s an unofficial title that might not come with any trophies or grand amounts of prestige. Still, for such an organization it’s important to maintain a continuous presence at a certain top level of competitiveness.

We are talking about the only club with a permanent presence in the playoffs every single year since 2005-2006. While many other, highly decorated franchises (even CSKA Moscow, that didn’t go further than the regular season in 2010/2011) have sometimes lost the train to the quarterfinals, Barcelona made sure to always reach that destination.

Alas, this most likely won’t be the case this year. That is unless something earth-shattering happens.

With four games remaining for the regular season to be concluded, Barcelona is currently ranked 11th in the standings with a 10 – 16 record. Meanwhile, eighth Anadolu Efes is 14 – 12, ninth Darussafaka Dogus 13 – 13 and 10th Zalgiris Kaunas 12 – 14. The “Blaugrana” need something close to a miracle in order to advance, as one can easily understand.

No need to sugarcoat this. Considering its budget, roster quality (although this can be disputed) Barcelona has royally failed in EuroLeague this season. Agreed, there was a never-ending streak of injuries that hindered coach Giorgos Bartzokas’ job of creating an efficient squad, building chemistry and ultimately presenting an outfit capable of game-winning basketball . But while this injury plague can definitely be considered as a serious cause for the team not reaching its potential, it’s doesn’t provide an excuse for some utterly horrid performances, previously unheard of in the recent history of the club.

The fans’ usually infallible instinct has recognized the absence of an alibi for repeated “crimes against basketball” Barcelona has committed on the court. And they have vividly expressed their frustration to both the management and the coach/players in numerous occasions.

It’s not only the victories drought, but mainly the often grotesque spectacle they are watching, that probably makes them want to stick needles on their eyes. Small wonder, since they are witnessing their favorite team having its worst offensive season ever in EuroLeague (post 2001) history.

Barcelona has hit rock-bottom in its scoring output by averaging 71.7 points in 16 games. Never before in the last 17 years did it produce less than 74.3 points, which was the average number in 2007-2008.

Season Points AVG. Off. ranking among EuroLeague Teams
2001-2002 85.5 6th
2000-2001 85.3 3rd
2008-2009 81,7 2nd
2014-2015 81.6 4th
   2009-2010* 79.4 3rd
2013-2014 79.3 5th
  2002-2003* 79 11th
2015-2016 78.9 7th
2006-2007 78.7 7th
2012-2013 77.4 7th
2004-2005 76.7 12th
2010-2011 76.6 6th
2003-2004 76.6 16th
2005-2006 76.4 9th
2011-2012 74.9 12th
2007-2008 74.3 17th
2016-2017 71.7 16th

Even Crvena Zvezda, the team with the smallest budget in EuroLeague, manages more (74.8 p.p.g.) than the disappointing Barcelona, being second to last in the related list.

It’s not coincidental that the Spanish team reached a historical low in points scored during a single game this season. In the loss by Olympiacos in Piraeus for the teams’ first leg match, Barcelona suffered its least productive match in EuroLeague history, putting together only 52 (!) points. It was during a period when the injury problems ran rampant, but this number remains unjustifiable.

“We mutilated basketball tonight,” Barcelona forward Stratos Perperoglou had told me after that match.

Last week, Barcelona also failed to reach the 60-point mark, losing 67 – 56 to David Blatt’s Darussafaka Dogus in Istanbul. That’s the fourth lowest scoring output in the post-2001 European history of the franchise. And this time, the team played at almost full strength.

One of the of the reasons behind the bucket-making woes of the Blaugrana can be traced to the many turnovers they commit in every game. Yes, you’ve probably guessed right, no team makes more TOs than them in EuroLeague.

Despite rarely operating in a fast-paced, and possibly turnover prone, rhythm, but preferring to attack in half-court, 5 vs 5 situations, Barcelona players average 14.7 TOs per game. Second in the list is Maccabi Tel Aviv with 14.3. But the Israelis utilize much more up tempo offense and they execute their plans quickly, borderline hastily perhaps.

“Defense wins titles”, many say and history has shown that it’s true. At least to an extent that allows this quote to be constantly reminded by coaches, players or journalists. Barcelona succeeds in allowing 75.5 points per game in EuroLeague, being the fourth best defensive team in the competition. Still, their insufficient offense is particularly striking, especially at a time when squads are becoming more and more prolific in scoring, the game gets faster, and strategies that produce many 3-pointers are greatly popularized among coaches.

Defense alone doesn’t cut it, as Barcelona’s upcoming elimination from the playoffs shows.