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.
Ηere you can read the first part of our feature:
Here you can read the second part of our feature:
Part 3: Centers
In the third and last part of this feature, we are going to be dealing with the “rocks” of every team. Those who are a source of fear for the rival offense, move close to the basket and who can – more easily than anyone, thanks to their build – get the ball through the hoop. We are talking about centers. With the completion of 21 of the 30 games of 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 big men positions (3-4).
1st Step: First of all, we gathered the centers 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 credits collected by every center in the ranking system (PIR) and then divided the result by the total of games of every big man on the team. This is how we calculated the average ranking (PIR) of the frontline for each of the competition’s 16 gladiators. In this way, the stats of ALL the players who play in the 5 position of a team are presented as if they were ONE player.
It makes sense that teams that have two big men occupy the top spots, one of who (or both) is the best of their kind. As is the case in the top four positions. In contrast, at the tail end of the ranking we find either units with centers that, despite playing a lot are having a mediocre season, or teams that don’t rely heavily on their big men. Let’s analyze the findings for each team separately…
1 Fenerbahce (PIR: 17,4)
The 5 position in Fenerbahce belongs almost exclusively to Ekpe Udoh, who is the best center so far in the EuroLeague and who leads in blocks. For the few minutes he spends off the court in games (10’ on average) he’s replaced either by Jan Vesely (he mostly plays in the 4 position) or by Ahmet Duverioglu. Even though the Turkish big man has gathered only a few credits in the ranking, he counts only five appearances and so isn’t really disrupting the amazing crop of his American teammate.
2 Crvena Zvezda (PIR: 13,6)
A similar situation exists in Crvena Zvezda with Ognjen Kuzmic, who monopolizes the… interest in the center position in the Serbian team. He is the best rebounder in the competition (8 on average) and third best big man in terms of the PIR. The other center of Zvezda is Deon Thompson who became a Belgrade resident a short time ago, which means that he has only made a few appearances in red and white.
3 Panathinaikos (PIR: 12,3)
Panathinaikos have two excellent big men in the 5 position and this helps the Greens to be very high in our special ranking system. An important fact is that both of them have played in all the games so far, with very good performance levels, especially Chris Singleton.
4 Real Madrid (PIR: 11,9)
Close behind we find Real Madrid, with Gustavo Ayon and Othello Hunter. The Queen’s two centers have reached high performance standards in all of the Madrilenos’ games (the Mexican being slightly better), a fact that gives Real the fourth place.
5 Barcelona (PIR: 10,8)
The main reason that Barcelona are so high on our list goes by the name of Ante Tomic. The Croatian center is by far the team’s best big man, followed by the – now ex… Catalan – Joey Dorsey. An important fact is that the… rookie, Vitor Faverani, has had a solid presence in his four appearances with the Blaugrana (a PIR of 17,25 on average).
|4||Joey Dorsey *||17||93||34/62||107||5||30||137|
6 Galatasaray (PIR: 10,2)
The Turkish team might be at the bottom of the table in the EuroLeague, but they still have two top-class centers. We’re talking about the explosive Alex Tyus and the giant Tibor Pleiss, who collect more than 200 credits each in the ranking. Ex-Galatasaray player, Deon Thompson, strikes a discordant note since he now plays for Crvena Zvezda.
|3||Deon Thompson *||13||55||24/48||27||5||6||57|
7 Unics Kazan (PIR: 10,1)
Artsiom Parakhouski is having an excellent season in Kazan, with Latavious Williams being the Ukrainian’s support, even though he doesn’t reach the same kind of performance levels. The trio of centers is completed by Artem Klimenko, who has a complementary role in coach Evgeniy Pashutin’s rotation. This is how Unics are found in the middle of our special ranking system.
8 Armani Milan (PIR: 9,4)
Armani Milan’s roster contains two talented big men, but some weaknesses in their game don’t allow the collection of more credits in the ranking, even though both of them have played in almost all of the games.
9 Baskonia (PIR: 8,7)
Vitoria’s team has three big men on their roster. Despite this, only one of them has high performance levels. That is Johannes Voigtmann, who is second in the PIR in the EuroLeague. The other two have accumulated a small number in the ranking, having played in many games, and as a result Baskonia are in ninth place.
10 Efes (PIR: 8,2)
Bryant Dunston is the only center for Efes who is having a really good season. Alen Omic could not keep up with him and is now history for Istanbul, while the Turks’ signing, Alex Kirk, is not that different from his Slovenian predecessor based on the sample of his first four appearances in Efes’s games.
|3||Alen Omic *||17||50||22/40||26||0||9||41|
11 CSKA Moscow (PIR: 7,5)
Pretty good but not superior based on the stats. This is the image that the European champions’ line of big men presents. Kyle Hines and James Augustine are having a mediocre for their class season, while Joel Freeland has a limited role in his few – due to an injury – appearances. Jeff Ayres was fairly positive, but he departed after four appearances in the EuroLeague.
|4||Jeff Ayres *||4||24||5/10||19||3||1||42|
12 Olympiacos (PIR: 7,4)
Khem Birch is the revelation of the year in Olympiacos’s line of centers, as he was acquired as a substitute for Patric Young and has turned into a key member. In contrast, his compatriot hasn’t fully recovered from his injury and this is reflected in his stats as well, while Nikola Milutinov seems mediocre based on the numbers, although in recent games he’s been making a lot of progress.
13 Maccabi Tel Aviv (PIR: 7,4)
Maccabi Tel Aviv have the same average PIR as Olympiacos. Colton Iverson is quite positive, the stats of now… ex-Maccabi player Maik Zirbes were lower than expected, while Joe Alexander hasn’t showed that he can be of great help in the ten games he has appeared so far.
|3||Mike Zirbes *||15||122||45/66||45||2||21||121|
14 Bamberg (PIR: 6,3)
Bamberg are a team with a high degree of cohesion and teamwork, but among the centers, aside from Daniel Theis, they don’t have another big man with a similar statistical image. Vladimir Veremeenko hasn’t helped out enough and of course the German champions will make do with 14th place of our special rankings.
15 Zalgiris Kaunas (PIR: 4,9)
Zalgiris’s centers don’t have the talent or class of big men that are on the rosters of other teams in the EuroLeague. Despite this, Augusto Lima’s crop is satisfactory. On the other hand, Antanas Kavaliauskas presents a mediocre image, while the contribution of veteran Robertas Javtokas can be characterized as poor.
16 Darussafaka (PIR: 4,6)
The fact that newcomer Ante Zizic is at the top of Darussafaka’s overall PIR, highlights the Turkish team’s problematic image along their line of centers and justifies their presence in last place. Let us remind you that David Blatt’s unit often plays with small line-ups in which the role of the center is taken on by a power forward.
|4||Semih Erden *||10||40||16/32||31||6||9||28|