Versatility defines many of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague’s top scorers this season, with plenty of indicators to distinguish between those who are deadly at catching and shooting as compared to others who create their own shots.
Shooters vs. Shot-Makers
Nemanja Nedovic earned the latest MVP of the Week honor by scoring 33 points over 23 possessions – including 11 on six off-screen possessions alone – in Panathinaikos OPAP Athens’s Round 19 win against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. That was a strong, if not entirely unexpected, performance from the veteran guard. Averaging 16.4 points per game this season with a previous single-game high of 28 points that he set in Round 5, Nedovic has shown the ability to score in bunches in his best moments. His productivity running off screens also fits his scouting report as Nedovic currently leads the EuroLeague in scoring 3.8 points per game on such shots.
Recording 6 assists in that game, Nedovic spent time playing both on and off the ball. On the year, some 38% of his possessions have come in pick-and-roll and isolation situations, as he creates quite a bit for himself and others off the dribble, but another 36% have come off the ball in off-screen or spot-up situations.
The graph above displays every player in the EuroLeague based on the number of points they have scored on jump shots off the catch versus off the dribble. As the graph suggests, far more players provide spacing with their ability to catch and shoot than create their own offense off the dribble. Fully 48% of all shots in half-court situations are jumpers. Of those, 61% are catch-and-shoot attempts, which are converted for 1.15 points per attempt. By comparison, all other jump shots – whether they come off one dribble, multiple dribbles or jab-fakes – are converted for 0.91 points per attempt. That difference sheds some light on the distinction between shooters in the conventional sense – whom defenses communicate to identify – and shot-makers, who can make something out of nothing on the perimeter.
It also provides some context for Nedovic’s placement among the league’s more prolific jump shooters this season. He ranks fourth among all players in points scored and has the unique distinction of doing more damage off the catch than his peers in that group: Alexey Shved, Mike James and Scottie Wilbekin, who is the season’s most balanced jump shooter. It also puts Kyle Kuric’s season in perspective as he’s scored a massive 1.76 points per jump shot in half-court situations despite doing quite a bit of damage off the dribble.
Among the players sitting on the extremes, Alex Abrines has been this season’s most dangerous shooter in a conventional sense, leading the EuroLeague in points scored on catch-and-shoot jumpers by a significant margin. Ranking second behind Nedovic in off-screen scoring, Abrines provides spacing within FC Barcelona’s offense, but is also the target of many of their designed actions on the ball. That ability to not just make spot up jumpers, but make them on the move, is an important distinction between the outliers and the average floor-spacer on that end of the spectrum. Abrines has scored a massive 1.42 points per jump shot when running off screens, joining Jarell Eddie and Kyle Kuric among this season’s most efficient weapons of that kind.
On the other side of the graph, Sergio Rodriguez’s growth into not just a great jump shooter over the course of his career, but one who stands out even at the highest levels, is impressive. Scoring 1.14 points per pull-up jump shot, Rodriguez’s ability to make shots with elite efficiency off the dribble makes him one of the more unique guards in the EuroLeague. In terms of volume, Wade Baldwin’s 142 pull-up jump shots leads all players this season and is some 20-plus more than Valencia Basket has attempted this season as a team. Though Rodriguez leans heavily on pull-up jumpers, he does an excellent job picking and choosing his spots, blurring the lines between shooter and shot-maker even moreso than players filling balanced roles like Nemanja Nedovic and Scottie Wilbekin.
Looking Ahead to Round 21
With the playoff picture beginning to materialize, there is one game with obvious implications for the crowded middle of the table, which extends from an 11-win team seeded seventh to a nine-win team in 13th place. Olympiacos Piraeus, 10-9 before its rescheduled road game with LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Tuesday, travels to Lithuania on Friday looking for revenge against 11-9 Zalgiris Kaunas for the Reds’ one-point home loss in the season opener.