Everyone knows that Real Madrid possesses one of the competition's greatest natural leaders in Sergio Llull, the dynamic backcourt inspiration who was named the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in 2016-17.
Thursday night's impressive 94-78 home victory over Olympiacos Piraeus, however, underlined the growing sensation that Madrid can call upon another equally important backcourt leader when needed. Facundo Campazzo registered 13 points and a team-high 5 assists in the victory, showing that he has become an increasingly integral member of Pablo Laso's team.
Campazzo has been on the scene for a while, first arriving in Madrid in 2014 from his native Argentina and playing a limited role in the team’s title-winning triumph that season. He spent the following two years gaining greater experience of European basketball with UCAM Murcia, before returning to the Spanish capital at the start of last season, where he played an important role in deputising for the injured Llull.
In the last few months, though, Campazzo has really taken a big step forward to become a key player in his own right, not just as cover for an unavailable colleague. Not only has he played in every game so far this season, he has also spent more time on the floor – by a long way – than any of his teammates, playing a total of 419 minutes at 23:17 per game (Anthony Randolph is next with 393 minutes, 21:52 per game).
Campazzo leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game, ahead of Llull’s 3.9, and is among the leading scorers with an average 9.8 points – again, very similar to Llull who has netted 10.3 points per game. And despite his small stature he is a key figure on defense, claiming 1.5 steals per game – the third best in the league, only behind Jan Vesely and Nick Calathes.
That all adds up to a performance index rating of 12.6 per game, the third-highest on the Madrid roster and the best out of all its backcourt players. And although Llull is clearly still a fundamental fixture for Los Blancos, perhaps it’s now time to also start regarding Facundo Campazzo among the elite players in the competition.