19 September, 2017
06 May, 2018
Damjan Rudez (FRA)
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Top 5 Play-Offs Transfers so far

LONDON (Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider) - Having secured a place in the round of 16, it makes sense that some teams would spin the needle and try to make one last roster tweak, for the Play-Offs push. The right piece could be enough to decide the balance of a tie and build momentum going into the Quarter-Finals and beyond. There is however, some jeopardy in these decisions. To have made the Play-Offs already, coaches and teams will have built chemistry and an understanding – a balance in the locker room as well. Adding another personality and skill set, requires flexibility from the entire team. The coach needs to find minutes in the rotation for the new man. Incumbent players need to sacrifice some of their own minutes and in some cases, lose a favoured team-mate altogether. Everyone needs to buy in to the value the new player is bringing. The new man is also instantly under pressure, to prove that value and start producing with minimal time to adjust.

Not all team's will see the need to take the risk. For context, the Champions Iberostar Tenerife, had some changes due to injury last season – primarily the injury to Javier Beiran – but by the time the Play-Offs came around, their roster and rotations remained as consistent as tactically possible. The continuity of personnel, was a better fit for their ball and player movement style, than any new star player could ever have been. The added benefit of sticking over twisting, can also be the opportunity for players already on the roster, to step up and expand their role when the situation dictates.

Mamadou Niang produced his best performance on the biggest stage

Having watched the first round of games, five players have already caught the eye with their ability to plug straight in and play. These five may not end up the most impactful transfers when all is said and done but they have already started to make meaningful contributions. (In no order or ranking)

Kevin Punter - AEK

AEK pulled off a smash and grab to get into the Play-Offs and they have pulled off another smash and grab here. In the Regular Season, AEK were top ten offensively, scoring 82 PPG, with an Offensive Rating of 112 points per 100 possessions. They have now added the tournament’s top scorer to come off their bench. Kevin Punter averaged 21 PPG for Rosa Radom as a high volume scorer in Poland and he was up to all his usual tricks for AEK vs CEZ Nymburk. Punter scored 18 Points on 50% from the field. Dragan Sakota's men already had a top ten bench in terms of PPG but their opposition CEZ Nymburk, have been one of, if not the best team in the competition when it comes to bench production. Adding a prolific scorer like Punter off the bench, not only makes them even more competitive against CEZ Nymburk. His ability to attack and create advantage in 1v1's, is also great fit for the way they play, if they were to get through. Whilst AEK have a minor mountain to climb in Prague, having lost by 10 in Athens - Punter in top form, might give them a chance. After being part of an early turnover and miscommunication with Mavroeidis, Punter settled in well. He contributed in transition and made plays in the half court as well. When AEK were down big early, it was a Punter coast-to-coast that ignited a bit of fire and made it a game again. Kendrick Ray won the battle of the benches with 30 of his own but the rematch will be one to watch next week.

Jacob Wiley - MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg

When it comes to recruiting players to fit a model, Ludwigsburg and Coach Patrick are almost on a level of their own and it looks like they might have done it again.

  • Long and athletic – Check

  • Foot speed and ability to guard – Check

  •  Aggression and hustle to pressure full court – Check

  •  Nose for offensive rebounds - Check

  •  Multi-Skilled – Check

  •  Young and/or hungry – Check

In his first game in Europe, Wiley looked at home straight away - then again, that’s not unusual at MHP either. At 2.03m (6’8”) Wiley played the 4 or 5 but had the foot speed of any wing on court. He already has the trademark use of wingspan and active hands on D, that Ludwigsburg take so much pride in. And his apparent ability to knock down open threes, attack closeouts and hustle after offensive rebounds, was reminiscent of the kind of junkyard-dog mentality, that Matt Barnes played with (LA Clippers et al). One game is a small sample size but the score that Ludwigsburg put on a seemingly, defenseless EWE Baskets, means there is a good chance we will get a few more opportunities to judge what kind of impact Wiley might have. Losing Johannes Thiemann was terrible news for Ludwigsburg and the Basketball Champions League but 9 Pts and 3 Reb in 10 Minutes, suggests that Jacob Wiley might have the chops to step into those shoes for the Germans. It was certainly a good start.

Terran Petteway - PAOK

The Play-Offs are no place for sentiment. It’s about winning now. If you get the opportunity to strengthen your own hand and weaken another team in the round of 16, you would be crazy not to take that opportunity. It looks like PAOK aren’t crazy - as they have taken Terran Petteway from Nanterre 92 and done exactly that. PAOK have been on a roll for a while now and this move – like many they have made recently – seems another very logical one. PAOK are another team that has relied on bench production this season. 34 PPG from the bench, has been good for top five in the Basketball Champions League and they have strengthened their bench again here. Petteway played 15-20 MPG and scored 8-10 PPG for Nanterre. In his first game for PAOK, Petteway played 15 Minutes and scored 9 Points. Reliable production is invaluable in the knock-outs and it looks like that’s exactly what you get from Terran Petteway. Interestingly, after PAOK caused Pinar Karsiyaka all kinds of problems in Thessaloniki, Karsiyaka Head Coach Trifunovic, spoke in the post-game presser, about the way PAOK used their line-up rotations to stay aggressive defensively and how his team struggled to match that aggression. Trifunonic also referenced the number of fouls (30) PAOK committed. Four Personal Fouls in 15 Minutes for Petteway, possibly reflects the defensive aggression that Trifunovic spoke of.

Kevin Jones - Nanterre 92

Although the Parisians lost Terran Petteway, it was their own new recruit, that had the biggest impact, in the first leg of the Round of 16. Space is king for Nanterre. They want space to shoot, teams want to take that space away and get tight. If it sounds like I have over-simplified that, it’s because I have. None-the-less, looking at how closely teams guard the likes of Shuler, Schaffartzik and Invernizzi off ball and in the pick-and-roll, is always a good place to start when you watch a Nanterre game. Sasa Filipovski could be heard in almost every timeout, demanding that his team get closer. Specifically, Banvit seemed determined to take away any room to shoot or turn the corner on pick-and-roll – hedging hard every time they could. This seemed to play to Kevin Jones’ strengths. Jones was excellent at slipping screens to get position in the paint or pop for open threes. Banvit's bigs, Vidmar and Kulig certainly have their strengths but they aren’t the fleetest of foot. Time and again, they struggled to get high on the pick-and-roll and then recover in time to Jones. The outcome was 18 Points in 24 Minutes on 53% from the field (including 50% from 3). Jones has a big enough body to bang around defensively and create space down for himself offensively but also needs no second invitation to let it fly from behind the arc - very much a Nanterre player. 

More than that – without Jones' contribution, this game was probably a blow-out win for the Turkish team. The lead was double figures more than once and if Banvit had come out of Paris with the 14 Point lead they held at one point, it would have been mission impossible in Bandirma for Nanterre. 8 Points is still a big ask on the road but the variance that Nanterre get from the volume and % of their 3-Point shooting, means they always have a punchers chance. Nanterre even took the lead in the 3rd and got within one in the 4th. Jones was present in four of their five most Efficient* line-ups. It was the line-up at the top of this list that did the heavy pulling, when they dragged themselves back into the game.

# Lineup Team Efficiency PTS MIN
PANSA Jean-Marc - JONES Kevin
Nanterre 92 33 30 13
AMINU Alade - JONES Kevin
Nanterre 92 6 5 1
AMINU Alade - JONES Kevin
Nanterre 92 6 7 3
AMINU Alade - PANSA Jean-Marc
Nanterre 92 5 9 6
PANSA Jean-Marc - JONES Kevin
Nanterre 92 2 3 1

Bryon Allen - Pinar Karsiyaka

Yes, I know this wasn’t a Play-Offs transfer but Bryon Allen has been out with a broken foot, ever since his transfer from EWE Baskets to Pinar Karsiyaka. Reports in Turkey are suggesting that Allen could be fit to return in time for the Fenerbahce game in the TBL. By that logic, Allen would be fit to make his debut in the return leg against PAOK. That could be a game-changer for Pinar Karsiyaka, in a tie that they have already come back from the dead once. Working him into a rotation that keeps Dominic Waters and Berk Urgulu happy is no easy task for Coach Trifunovic but guarding a line-up with Waters, Allen, DJ Kennedy, Jared Jones and Scott Wood or Metin Turen, might be an impossible task for PAOK. It’s all ifs-and-but’s until he actually steps on court but Pinar Karsiyaka fans shouldn’t need reminding of what Bryon Allen can do for them offensively. If they do, his MVP of Gameday 3, where they were on the receiving end, should be enough to re-fresh the memory. 

Honourable Mentions

Damjan Rudez - AS Monaco

Augusto Lima - UCAM Murcia 

* Line-up Efficiency measures the total contribution of any five man line-up whilst on court.(PTS+DRB+ORB+ASS+ST+BS+DF-3Pa+3Pm-2Pa+2Pm-Fta+FTm-TOV-PF-SR)

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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Diccon Lloyd-Smeath

Diccon Lloyd-Smeath

Diccon is a basketball coach and analyst living in Madrid. Constantly digging in the crates of box scores and clicking through hours of game footage. Diccon is on the hunt for the stories within the stories. If you like to get a closer look at what’s going in the Basketball Champions League, you have found it.