Where we left off: Turk Telekom
ANKARA (Turkey) - Turk Telekom take on French side JDA Dijon in the opening clash of the Quarter-Finals, with the winner advancing to the Semi-Finals of the Athens Final Eight - here's everything you need to refresh your memory on how the Ankara club got to this point:
What Did Turk Telekom's Play Look Like Before the Hiatus?
- Turk Telekom underwent a major change three weeks before the end of the Regular Season as RJ Hunter, the sharp-shooter who was attempting almost seven three-pointers per game as the team's second-leading scorer, parted ways with the club.
- That departure changed Turk Telekom's offensive balance but didn't influence so much what Kyle Wiltjer was doing on the floor, and the Canadian international led the team in scoring with 17.9 points per game, while his frontcourt partner Moustapha Fall was the team's most efficient player (average PER 20.5), averaging 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds.
- Turk Telekom had the sixth-best offense in the league in absolute figures (averaging 84.1 points per game) and the third-highest offensive rating (115.7 points per 100 possessions) up until the hiatus.
- There are no prizes for guessing the main driver of the Turkish team's offensive prowess: they led the league in three-point field goal percentage, converting a remarkable 40.4 percent of their shots from behind the arc. And it's not because they took few threes, in fact they attempted 25 triples per game. This was excellent long-range shooting, plain and simple.
- Of course that three-point accuracy alone would not be sufficient for such excellent offense. Turk Telekom had to find the open looks and moved the ball well to achieve just that, as they had an assist ratio of 20 (tied with Tenerife for second among the 16 teams in the Play-Offs) and averaged 20.4 assists per game (8th-highest among all 32 teams in the league).
- As for the defensive end, Turk Telekom were tied with Filou Oostende for 7th in defensive rating among the 16 teams in the Play-Offs, allowing a very decent 104.7 points per 100 possessions. Interestingly for a team that shot the ball so well from beyond the arc, they didn't fare so well in defending their own three-point line, as the allowed opponents to shoot 35.3 percent from downtown.
What Had Turk Telekom Achieved Up Until March?
Turk Telekom finished tied with Dinamo Sassari at 11-3 but claimed top spot in Group A courtesy of their better head-to-head point differential with the Italian team. The Turkish team enjoyed the widest margin of victory, 22 points, in an 95-73 win over Polski Cukier Torun in Poland. Interestingly, they are yet to lose a BCL game by a double-digit margin.
Round of 16
Turk Telekom completed a 2-0 series sweep against fellow Turkish side Besiktas. They prevailed 89-78 in Game 1 in Ankara after leading for almost the entire night, as T.J. Campbell went off for 27 points on 6 of 9 three-point shooting and added 8 assists for a near double-double. In Game 2 in Istanbul, Turk Telekom pulled away after halftime and reached an 84-66 win as their other starting guard, Nick Johnson, came up with an identical statline to that of Campbell's a week earlier, and finished with 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the floor and 8 assists.
What Will Stay the Same? What's New?
There have been several changes to the roster, but Turk Telekom will crucially have Burak Goren on their bench for yet another year, with the head coach entering the third year of his tenure at the Ankara club.
Kyle Wiltjer, who led the team in scoring up until the 2019-20 hiatus, is back for another season and his versatility as a 'stretch-4' presents Turk Telekom with a wealth of offensive options. Meanwhile Muhammed Baygul, who stole the limelight with his performances in the BCL and averaged 11.4 points per game is a reliable solution on the wing.
There are no less than nine new faces on the team, including some truly intriguing additions such as Keifer Sykes, the holder of the BCL record for most points scored in a single game, or former Houston Rocket Sam Dekker, who had a year to acclimatize to European hoops after playing for Lokomotiv Kuban last season.
Dekker should provide a boost at the small forward spot while Kamar Baldwin and Tyler Ennis will pair up at the point guard spot, replacing TJ Campbell and Nick Johnson. Michael Eric, fresh off winning the Spanish Liga Endesa title with Baskonia in June, will assume the challenging task of replacing the contribution of Moustapha Fall at center.