Round 22 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague featured a few especially interesting matchups, including what could very well be an early Final Four preview between Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow—the competition’s third-and fourth-most efficient offensive teams. On a night when it was bested in the possession battle 78 to 90, CSKA’s efficiency is what helped it to victory and Nando De Colo led that charge by pouring in 21 points over 16 possessions for the victors according to Synergy Sports Technology. For Real Madrid, Anthony Randolph scored 20 points over just 11 possessions in one of the season’s most efficient individual efforts. Though both performances stood out and helped the game more than live up to expectations, neither was particularly surprising.
Most efficient offensive players
The table above separates the EuroLeague's most efficient scorers into two groups: one with a low-usage threshold to include most of the competition's rotation players and another featuring high-usage scorers. With around three-quarters of the season in the books, this group figures to play a key role in the playoff hopes of their respective teams down the stretch.
One player of note was excluded from the table above for sample size purposes: James Nunnally, who has picked up where he left off in the EuroLeague scoring 31 points over 25 possessions for AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. His history at the top of this list suggests he’ll likely finish the season somewhere near the top of it once he gets a few more games in to qualify for inclusion.
Randolph’s performance against CSKA has been representative of the type of year he’s had overall. On pace for one of the most efficient offensive seasons in EuroLeague history, Randolph’s level of play has continued to rise through the middle part of the season. Scoring on spot-ups, post-ups, cuts, and off-screen opportunities with near league-best efficiency, Randolph’s numbers are made even more impressive by just how many different ways he’s punished opposing defenses this season as he’s emerged as one of the best shooting big men in basketball.
De Colo and Cory Higgins have both spent their fair share of time towards the top of these rankings in recent seasons and together rank as the last pair of teammates standing this season following Anthony Gill’s season-ending back injury. Gill and Jordan Mickey had been among the most potent inside-outside big man pairings in the EuroLeague for Khimki Moscow Region this season.
Among the remaining contenders to Randolph to finish the season as the league’s most efficient offensive players, Jan Vesely is the most logical candidate. Sitting atop this list for much of the season already, the Fenerbahce Beko Instabul big man may not surge to the top of the list, but has been very steady all season and could recapture the pole position should Randolph falter.
Goga Bitadze—at only 19 years of age—is perhaps the biggest threat to make up ground on Randolph given he’s only made eight appearances in the EuroLeague this point. Even if his low sample of games to this point is part of the reason he could turn the dial so quickly, his placement on this list at his age is truly exemplary.
On the other side of the list, Melih Mahmutoglu has been exceptionally accurate from the perimeter all year, but has not used enough possessions to meet the listed minimum prior to a couple big mid-season performances. Whether he plays a big role on any given night or not, Mahmutoglu’s ability to heat up off the bench makes him a very useful role player. He’ll vie for the lead in three-point percentage with Dairis Bertans, Cory Higgins, and Marko Guduric over the final rounds of the EuroLeague regular season.
Arturas Gudaitis has ranked among the most efficient qualified players for the better part of two seasons, but his recent knee injury will hold him out of action for the foreseeable future. On the other end of the spectrum, Nikola Milutinov is a recent addition to these rankings following a stellar series of games in January. There are always a few hyper-efficient scoring centers in the EuroLeague every season and Gudaitis and Milutinov have been two of the best recent examples.
There’s no shortage of storylines to follow as the EuroLeague season winds down, but perhaps the most interesting one from a statistical perspective is Randolph’s trek towards the competition’s most efficient offensive season for a volume scorer since Nenad Krstic averaged 1.27 points per possession during the 2011-12 campaign.