Best Euroleague players’ Impacts
Welcome back on Hack a Stat! In today’s article, I will show you the best Euroleague players’ Impacts. Let’s go!
I’ve always been a lover of Impacts. Impacts are the team’s and opponents’ stats calculated while a player is on the floor. The most used Impact stats are the team’s ratings, which give a quite good estimation about how a player affects his team’s offensive and defensive phases. They can indeed be tricky, but if observed carefully, they give interesting information on the players’ impact on the field.
As a corollary to this premise, it is important to remember that the Impacts are calculated starting from the line-up data: it is easy to understand how, at times, the influence of one or more players with whom the one being analyzed goes (or does not go) on the court, can be misleading. That said, let’s start by looking at the Offensive Ratings, and then move on to Defensive and Net Rating.
In the table above you can find the top 20 players with at least 150 minutes played, sorted by the ON-OFF difference of the Offensive Rating. In the first position, we find one of the best point guards in Europe, Nick Calathes. His +21.5 shows how his abilities change Barcelona’s offensive phase. Surely, the lack of a second pointguard in the roster has helped to inflate that number. Coach Jasi’s team has in fact only recently added Westermann, who has taken the place of Heurtel (who did not play too much). This fact, therefore, has increased Barca’s offensive difficulties when Calathes was not on the floor.
Just below we find two CSKA players: Mike James and Nikola Milutinov. The Muscovite team is currently without both players: Itoudis will have tough times in the next games. In fact, James is the offensive leader of CSKA and managed a large number of possessions. Of course, Itoudis has other options, but clearly, the distribution of possessions and the most common sets will have to be reviewed. The center instead was, among other things, an offensive rebound factor; it generated a high number of second possessions (CKSA’s OR% while Milutinov was on the floor was 42%). It is easy to think that this big amount of second-chance points will no longer be available for CSKA.
At the fifth spot, we find Guduric: the Serbian wing has come back to overturn the Fenerbahce’s season. It can be said that he has succeeded. All the games before Marko’s arrival are included in the OFF minutes: that difference, therefore, shows how his impact was fundamental for the Turkish team’s offensive plays. In addition to being a very reliable scorer both beyond the arc and near the rim, Guduric is helping the Fenerbahce’s attack by creating for the others too: his drives to the basket, as well as his 3-point efficiency, attract the defense (the concept of gravity) allowing Marko to find unguarded teammates (85th percentile in Ast%). He is a creator who uses the PNR just enough (63rd percentile in the whole competition, 2/3 pick and roll per game), but rather takes advantage of his gravity.
The last name I want to point out is in twentieth place: Ponitka is proving to be a key player for the Zenit. The Russian team does not have a good second pointguard behind Pangos; this lack could have been critical for Pasqual, who then adapted Ponitka as a ball handler. Ponitka’s Advanced Role, Secondary Shot Creator, confirms this role within the Zenit offensive game.
Ponitka, however, remains an adapted player to this role: the percentiles of PNR and ISO played remain low, but are in any case essential to balance the line-ups. The Ast% is undoubtedly high, confirming that the Polish wing is trying to involve his teammates. These assists mostly come from drives to the basket not finalized with a shot but with a pass, usually to the teammate in the corner left free for defensive rotations.
If from the previous table you filter only the players with more minutes on the field than on the bench, you get this situation:
Among the “newcomers”, Hines, Bryant, Abalde, and Peters certainly stand out. These players are all fundamental to their teams, each thanks to their characteristics. Hines is the second playmaker for Milan; Bryant is a solid sidekick (and only real alternative in creation) of Wilbekin; Abalde, since Campazzo left Madrid, is taking on more responsibility than I expected; finally, Peters is Baskonia’s first offensive terminal. Thanks to his skills in shooting from the three-point line and in post-up situations (he uses post-ups especially when guarded by a shorter player), he turns out to be a key factor in a team where the offensive ability is not among the highest in Europe.
Switching instead to the defensive phase, I don’t think you should be surprised at Tavares‘ first place and, more generally, at the number of centers present in this particular ranking. Good rim protection is in fact the basis of a good defense and, therefore, centers stand out in this ranking. Furthermore, there is Guduric again, who is already known as a high-level defender. However, I would not remain too much on these names and would immediately move on to the table with the players with the most minutes on the floor.
In this second table, we find practically all the best perimeter defenders in the Euroleague: Bryant, Kalinic, Hayes, Ponitka, Kurbanov, Weiler-Babb, Calathes. However, unusual names also stand out: Shved, for example. The Russian player is an anomaly in the rankings, as his Defensive Rating ON is 119.5 (a very negative value). However, the fact that his teammates do worse while he is sitting on the bench generates a difference that brings him to fifteenth place; however, this does not ennoble him among the good defenders of the Euroleague.
The best on the two half-courts
The last step relating to the comparisons of the Impacts is obviously the Net Rating. Therefore, by subtracting the Defensive Rating from the Offensive Rating, it is possible to notice how much the player’s presence on the field is more or less good for the team. When the Net Rating ON is negative, the player’s impact will also be negative, as the points granted are greater than those scored. The difference between Net Rating ON and OFF, therefore, makes you understand not only the player’s impact on the court, but also when the team feels the absence of him on the floor or not.
Let’s first look at the ranking for all players with at least 150 minutes played: behind Tavares, we find Marko Guduric one more time. Once again the numbers confirm how the Serbian wing’s come-back has changed the Fenerbahce’s season. His impact is almost equal to plus 30 points per 100 possessions. Although the sample on which these data are calculated is small, Guduric’s Impact is still impressive. A factor both offensively and defensively, as mentioned earlier.
Then, if you filter further, selecting only the players with minutes played greater than those not played, the situation is the following:
The first thing to note is that only Calathes is present in this ranking if you took into account the players of the three top teams. CSKA and Milan do not have players with high Impact values; it must be considered that these three teams have had several injuries that have inevitably affected the minutes of the various players. Also, the rotations of the coaches allow their players not to play too much. In other words, if you scroll beyond the twentieth place, you would only find Hines, Leday, Shields, and Delaney for Milan and Kurbanov, Shengelia, James, and Hillard for CSKA. Lastly, for Barca, in addition to the aforementioned Calathes, only Higgins would appear. I can say that for players who play in teams with shorter rotations it is “easier” to enter this special ranking.
Looking at the ranking, we find Sikma and Granger. The two are top-level players and when they are on the court their impact is always tangible. Actually, however, looking at their Net Ratings ON, we see that they are negative. However, the difference between the ON and OFF Net Ratings is positive because their teammates do worse than the two. This does not mean that the two Aito’s players are not very effective on the roster, but instead that the presence of two good/excellent players is not always enough to obtain positive Net Ratings. The entire roster and rotations still affect individual players’ Impacts.
From this final list, we can therefore understand who are the most impactful players in the Euroleague. Aside from some surprising names (however we have motivated their presence anyway), the players in the ranking are undoubtedly important pieces in their respective teams.