04/12/2017
News

What Next for Telekom Baskets Bonn

9 Julian Gamble (GER), 8 Nemanja Djurisic (GER)
9 Julian Gamble (GER) - 8 Nemanja Djurisic (GER)

LONDON (Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider) - Telekom Baskets Bonn, came into the Basketball Champions League off the back of a semi-final and 3rd place finish in the FIBA Europe Cup. They have a beautiful stadium, passionate fan base to fill that stadium and having reached the German BBL Final Four, 9 times in 17 seasons – including 5 trips to the finals – Bonn are firmly positioned as one of Germany’s most successful clubs.

They have put together a talented roster for this campaign and in his first season after returning to the club, Coach Pedrag Krunic, guided the club to 7th in the BBL and a quarter-final of the German Cup to go with the aforementioned Europe Cup semi-final. This season – despite last night’s loss to Bamberg - they are also 7th in the BBL with a 6-5 record, 1 place above EWE Baskets Oldenburg (current holders of the best Offensive Rating in the Champions League) So…… The question stands:

HOW ON EARTH ARE TELEKOM BASKETS BONN A 1-5 TEAM?

A question it seems, the club are also struggling to answer…

The hard truth is that the stats don’t make for easy reading. Bonn are struggling to generate efficient shots and haven’t found a consistent way to stop teams on the defensive end either. A 46.4 Effective Field % is 30th out of 32 teams. To compound that, Bonn have an Offensive Rebound % of 21.5, meaning they are pulling 21.5% of their misses, which is also good for 30th out of 32. Straight off the bat, if you are missing a lot and not getting 2nd chance points, the 1-5 record starts to come into focus. Effective Field Goal % considers the extra value of 3 Point shooting and to understand why Bonn aren’t creating efficient shots, that’s a good place to start. They are taking a high volume at 24.8 3PA (11th) but shooting them at 30% (28th). All of this together gives them an Offensive Rating of 98 (28th). A Defensive Rating of 104 might be right around the League Average but if you are looking at the stats alone, the 1-5 record comes firmly into frame, crystal clear focus, 120 megapixels, super HD.

So, that’s how Telekom Baskets Bonn are a 1-5 team!

Wrong.

Looking at stats alone is never a good idea. Stats do however, generate useful questions and reasons to go into the video for answers.

It doesn’t take a deep dive to see that Bonn have a lot going for them. Julian Gamble at 6’10” (2.08m) has long arms, runs the floor, alters shots, can face up and go by a lot of centers and finishes well over his right shoulder. Gamble shooting 55% from the floor is certainly a good source of efficient offense when they get him the right touches.

Bonn are over-reliant on Gamble at times. Possessions like this next one, are definitely an area where the plan could use a tweak. Bonn get the ball across the half and then 6 dribbles on the spot later, they have got nothing from their ‘Floppy’ actions and Hill sets a cross screen for Gamble to catch it on the block. This may have been what they wanted anyway but what happens next is the problem. You can see Coach Krunic gesturing to his players to space out and get out of the way, which does make sense to surround Gamble with shooters, especially as he’s a decent passer. The problem is that it’s very stagnant and against the better defences like Besiktas, backing down a defender, from a stand-still, then shooting a contested shot, isn’t going to generate efficient shots.

Malcom Hill is also a major plus. Almost indubitably, Hill is the best Rookie in the Basketball Champions League this year. 22 Years old, 6’6” (1.98m) and able to score from catch and shoot (55 3P%), able to finish at the rim and able to create his own off the bounce. Hill is top scoring for Bonn, from the bench.

Whether Hill getting the start, might help to jump start Bonn’s offense is an interesting question. In the video above, you can see Hill’s ability to provide instant offense. You can also see that Hill likes to take and make, high difficulty shots. The ability to drive left and finish over his right shoulder, with his right hand, off glass, is a high level shot that will serve Hill and Bonn well. The contested 2’s off the dribble are tough shots though. If Bonn did decide to start Hill, they may want to look at generating more shots like this; in rhythm, created by offense and open. He may also be asked to produce more on the glass to take the starters minutes from Bartolo as well.

The issue of 3 Point shooting may not be such a difficult fix. To go into the Nick Galis Hall and win, is a feat that not many will achieve this season and that’s exactly what Bonn did on game-day 3 vs Aris. On that occasion Bonn were much more selective, only taking 17 3PA but making 44%. Most of the better looks they got were in transition, which are shots they should be able to get all season. The other notable shooting performance was against Besiktas, where they came out and shot 5/6 from 3, to start the game and all of them were good looks. Josh Mayo leads the team in attempts with 6.8 3PA at 35% but the 44% he’s shooting in the BBL suggests that % might peak a bit yet. Bonn might be better served by the shots they generate for him off screens than the contested off the bounce 3’s.

Nemanja Djurisic also found his flow in the Besiktas game and as he grows into the season, it’s easy to see a scenario where Bonn’s Offensive Rating gets a bit of an uptick as a result. Again, its selection with Djurisic. Pick and pop or catch and shoot situations where he can attack closeouts and get to the rack, make Djurisic a tough assignment and are definitely a source of easier points.

Defensively there are also still questions that need answering. From game to game, we might see very different pick and roll coverages and it seems that defensive schemes are very much a work in progress for Coach Krunic. The next 3 clips are all from the 1st Quarter vs Aris. In all 3 Bonn are playing ‘Down’ on the ball screen, dropping Gamble back to take away the drive, until the on-ball defender can get over the screen and back in position. In all 3 clips, Aris take advantage of the indecision between Gamble and the on-ball defender to get straight to the rim. On the 2nd clip the frustration is there for all to see in Gamble’s reaction and the 3rd clip they compound the frustration by ball watching and allowing a back door cut.

There is no doubt that Telekom Baskets Bonn are a club well capable of making these tweaks and if they do find the solutions, they would be a team nobody wants to play in the playoffs. Getting to the playoffs from 1-5 remains a very tough ask.

What’s next?

Group D is probably the toughest collection of teams in the competition and things don’t get any easier in the short term for Telekom Baskets Bonn. Up next is Sidigas Avellino, with their big man Hamady Ndiaye. For a team that generates its’ best shot’s through their post player, it's possible there isn’t a worse match up for Telekom Baskets Bonn in the Basketball Champions League. Coach Krunic will need to be creative to find a way to get a win against the Italians, especially in Italy. After that comes Telenet Oostende, Stelmet Zielona Gora and CEZ Nymburk. It’s a huge ask to find their flow in time to make the playoffs but for them to have a chance, they will need to win at least 3 of the next 4 and more than likely, CEZ Nymburk and Avellino will need to be 2 of those 3 wins. Even then, it may be too late. The international break will have taken teams out of their rhythm though and if the Baskets can come out of the traps quickly, there is no doubt there is a better team in there than the 1-5 record they currently own.

Diccon Lloyd-Smeath
Basketball Champions League

The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.

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