For just the second time this decade, no teams are undefeated or winless after six rounds. Here's a review of the key statistics in an increasingly competitive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague landscape.
AX Armani Exchange Milan crashed the party at the top of the standings by handing FC Barcelona its first loss of the season at Mediolanum Forum. Following a 14-point loss to open the season while shooting 4 for 22 from three-point range, Milan has rattled off five wins in a row by shooting nearly 50% from beyond the arc within their half-court offense. As much as its shooters have been the difference over that stretch, Milan was especially potent against one of the EuroLeague's top defenses. Sergio Rodriguez led the charge for Ettore Messina's team, but seven players made at least 1 triple to get the job done. After that misstep in Round 1, Milan is now surging towards the top of the league in scoring efficiency. The ability to space the floor and get hot from beyond the arc has Milan looking like one of the league's most explosive offensive teams coming out of the double-round.
Two-Way Transition Teams
Just 11% of all EuroLeague possessions come in transition as teams generally do not look to push the ball too often. One would assume that aggressiveness scoring in transition would cost a team on the defensive end, but several teams this season are getting the job done at both ends. Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv leads ranks first in transition scoring and second in transition points allowed, outscoring opponents by 9.2 points per game in the open floor. That's a massive number considering the relatively low frequency of transition play this season. KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz ranks second with a differential of 6.7 and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens is the only other team with a differential higher than 4.0 per game. How hard it is to both score opportunistically and prevent easy baskets in transition for opponents? Well, it says plenty that 12 other EuroLeague teams trying to do the same thing have negative differentials in transition play.
Early Efficiency Leaders
Through the end of Round 6, a total of 26 EuroLeague players have used more than 12 possessions per game, which is on par with the count from the last several years. Their average efficiency varies wildly, with several sitting near the 0.75 points-per-possession mark, however 15 of them average more than 1.00 point per possession – the – gold standard for both team and individual efficiency. Four players in that group have eclipsed the 1.10 points per possession mark.
Jimmer Fredette and Nando De Colo have been scoring with astounding consistency so far, with Tornike Shengelia leading the next tier of players. Fredette has acclimated quickly to the style of play in his first season in Europe, and though he may not play as big of a role as his counterparts in the top three, he has settled for few mid-range shots, made the most of his finishing opportunities around the rim, and limited turnovers to bolster his efficiency. On pace to join a 60-40-90-club of high-percentage shooters that has only four members, Fredette gotten off to a promising start.
Despite playing a significantly larger role for Fenerbahce, Nando De Colo doesn't lag far behind. De Colo's play off the ball has driven his efficiency. Shooting an absurd eFG% of 81% on catch-and-shoot jumpers, De Colo is among the league's most-accurate shooters even when he doesn't have the ball in his hands to create.
Shengelia is interesting because he does a little bit of everything offensively. Often operating one-on-one from the perimeter or in the post, Shengelia scores plenty without relying on three-pointers. The much was apparent as he poured in 19 points on just 10 field goal attempts to earn the Round 6 MVP honor.
Looking Ahead to Round 7
Coincidentally, each of the 5-1 teams atop the standings will face a team with a 3-3 record: CSKA heads to France to play LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, FC Barcelona will go to Zalgiris Kaunas, and AX Armani Exchange Milan will welcome KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. With six teams sitting at 3-3, any team that can steal a win from one of the league's tri-leaders will gain some welcome separation from the pack in the middle of the standings.