If you are looking to see two elite scorers square off this week, look no further than the clash between Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. While the hosts roll out this season’s third-ranked scorer in Scottie Wilbekin, who puts up 17.6 points per game, Zvezda features Jordan Loyd, whose average of 18.4 points ranks second in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this season.
Wilbekin, 27, is playing his fifth EuroLeague campaign and his third with Maccabi. Since he joined the Israeli champs in 2018, no player has made more three-pointers than Wilbekin’s 190, while his 985 points scored are third-most in the league over that time. Loyd, who is younger than Wilbekin by three and a half months, debuted in the EuroLeague with Valencia Basket last season. He has experience with Israeli hoops after spending the 2017-18 campaign, his first in Europe, with Hapoel Eilat.
This season, the two have posted remarkably similar numbers in several offensive categories. Loyd’s 64 shots made and 157 shots attempted are just 1 more than Wilbekin in each category, making his 40.8% field-goal percentage a shade better than the Maccabi star’s. Wilbekin has fired up 30 more three-point tries than Loyd and his 34.7% conversion rate is stronger.
Loyd, however, leads the competition in fouls drawn (63) and is second with 53 free throws made, which he has converted at an astounding 94.6% from the line. Wilbekin creates more for his teammates with 4.1 assists per game to Loyd’s 3.0. The two also appear on the leader boards for steals this season, with Loyd swiping 1.5 and Wilbekin 1.4 on average – a difference of a single steal through 11 games.
The fact that the two are high-volume producers and that neither has missed a game all season has them both ranked high on the performance index rating table, too. Loyd’s total PIR of 196 is second-highest in the EuroLeague and Wilbekin is fourth at 182.
This game will be the second head-to-head meeting between the two guards, and both played well in the first. That game was early last season, in Round 4, and Maccabi bested Loyd’s Valencia 76-63. Wilbekin paced the Maccabi attack with 14 points on 4-for-9 three-point shooting plus 4 assists, while Loyd scored 17 points in 22 minutes off the bench in defeat. Loyd made 3 of 6 three-pointers and was perfect in 6 trips to the free-throw line.
This week’s clash of traditional powers led by dynamic guards should be exciting. With Wilbekin and Loyd each enjoying the finest season of their career to date, their head-to-head matchup could well be what decides this game.