05 October, 2021
15 May, 2022
Who is the best one-on-one player in the Basketball Champions League?
Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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Who is the best one-on-one player in the Basketball Champions League?

ZAGREB (Croatia) - There's no "I" in "team," but there is an "I" in "I want to see this guy go 1v1 every time down the floor." We went through the eye test and the numbers to find out who are the best one-on-one players in the Basketball Champions League.

The motivation was quite simple, with all the crazy numbers in the NBA over the last couple of weeks. A tweet by Rob Perez got us talking in our BCL chats, trying to think who is the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of our competition.

First, a disclaimer. We're only looking for the fourth best one-on-one player in the League. Why? Because Lavrio Megabolt happened this season, and coach Christos Serelis loves his isolations more than the next guy. Tyson Carter had the best ISO numbers against single coverage, Jerry Smith got the most points per possession in isolations, and don't forget that Dimitrios Kaklamanakis is among the leaders in the post-up situations.

But with Carter gone from the League, and Lavrio eliminated in the Play-In series, it's time to give the crown to somebody else. Who would take on Jesus Shuttlesworth 1v1 on the playground under the street lights and get him to commit to Big State college, or score at least five points on him like Denzel Washington did back in 1998?

(He Got Game is an awesome movie.)

Levi Randolph (Filou Oostende)

This man being good is no news. We've seen him around the BCL for years now, we've seen him climb above defenses and we've seen him shooting lights out, but now that he's met coach Dario Gjergja's system, it seems like we're seeing the best of Levi Randolph.

Take for instance Game 3 against Igokea m:tel on the road. Home team opened up a 12-point lead late in the third quarter, but then Randolph became a Michael Jordan "and it became personal to me" meme and did this:

Igokea 54-42
Levi two-pointer
Levi assist, Bratanovic two-pointer
Levi two-pointer
Conger two-pointer
Bratanovic two-pointer
Levi three-pointer
Levi assist, Djordjevic three-pointer
Levi assist, Bratanovic two-pointer
Igokea's lead trimmed to 61-60

Levi is amazing. Isolates 21.8 percent of the time on the floor, gets 0.931 points per possession in isolation, and 1.176 in post-ups per Synergy, which makes him a perfect partner in crime to Phil Booth.

He scored in double digits in all his BCL games this season, averaging 17.9 points to send the Belgian champs to Round of 16. If Jesus Shuttlesworth allowed him to post-up on the left block, he'd get five points easily.

John Roberson (SIG Strasbourg)

Another man who scores in double digits all season long, Strasbourg's point guard has 17.6 points per game, while hitting 45.1 percent of his seven attempts from three-point range per game.

Advanced statistics don't see him isolate that much, mainly because of Lassi Tuovi's well oiled machine which turned into the second best offense of the BCL this season (trailing only Galatasaray Nef), and isolations aren't really a thing over there.

But look at these clips up here. When he gets hot, you can just walk the other way, because he's not missing. If Jesus Shuttlesworth allowed him to heat up (like Denzel did), he'd be a Big State player before the 1v1 game ended.

Jalen Adams (Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem)

This one is a bit peculiar. Because Jalen Adams isn't the only one who isolates - he does it 11.6 percent of time while he's on the floor, Retin Obasohan 11.5 percent. But Adams is way more efficient, getting 0.769 points per possession, compared to Retin's 0.267.

(To be fair to Retin, he usually has to fight the shot clock, hence the low number there.)

Adams is Jerusalem's killer. Coach Yotam Halperin has no problem with Obasohan bringing up the ball and setting up offense, and allowing Adams to go to work in the half court. 

He's got double digits in all games this season, averages 17.4 points and 2.3 ankles broken* per game, so yeah, we can assume he'd score five or more in He Got Game.


*not an official stat.

Patrick Richard (U-BT Cluj Napoca)

There has to be one factor to guarantee that Patrick Richard scores five or more against Jesus Shuttlesworth - there has to be a game clock or a shot clock that's expiring because that brings out the best out of Cluj's leader.

You know by now that he scored in double figures in all games this season, and he also had a flirt with triple-double back in the game against Holon that saw him score 17 points with 8 rebounds and 8 assists.

But once he isolates, which happens 12.3 percent of time when he's on the floor, he will probably get Cluj a point or two or three. His 0.9 points per possession in isolation are a reason why coach Mihai Silvasan calls his number with games on the line.

Also, he's a family man, so he'd do anything to see a man reunited with his father, so yeah, he's winning the game to free Denzel from prison and send him back to Jesus' life.

D'Angelo Harrison (Prometey)

Yeah, of course Dee is in. Weird part is him not isolating all that much, but you know Harrison will always be a candidate to win the top scorer of any league award, and you know he's a good option if you need points in a hurry.

He averages 15.3 points per game this season, and the thing about him is that he's so crafty. You literally don't know what's happening next, because he can pull up from way beyond the arc, he can get to his spots in midrange, and he's strong enough to get to the painted area, staying low on his drives and punishing you any way that he wants.

To be fair, he's in here because we made him a walking bucket last season, and any opportunity to bring back this edit is a good opportunity.


Melo Trimble (Galatasaray Nef)

Come on. You don't need me to write anything other than 33 points in 27 minutes, that's his stat line from the game against ERA Nymburk to start the season.

He didn't keep it up the rest of the season, and there's also a factor where the guy who plays one-on-one the most in this team is Sadik Kabaca, who posts up (and scores) a lot, while Dee Bost, DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Melo Trimble get just a tad over three isolation possessions per game. Combined!

He'd get eight against Jesus Shuttlesworth, all done from behind the arc of course.

DeWayne Russell (Nutribullet Treviso)

Get this, DeWayne Russell scores on 52.4 percent of his isolations, and gets 1.143 points per such possession, putting him among the statistical leaders in the entire BCL.

But, getting points from isolation isn't his forte. He likes to create for others, 5.6 assists per game puts him in Top 10 in BCL, and he's a perfect fit for the three-headed monster with Henry Sims and Tomas Dimsa. 

Joe Thomasson (BAXI Manresa)

Numbers are there to make a case for Joe Thomasson being the best 1v1 player in the BCL, because he isolates 12.7 percent of the time and scores 0.75 points per possession, which are better numbers than Sylvain Francisco's 26.3 percent of time isolating and scoring 0.65 points per possession.

But honestly. He's here just because it's a chance to have our own Iso Joe. And Iso Joe guys don't lose 1v1 matchups, ever.


Ron Curry (VEF Riga)

Not only would he be a good enough matchup against Jesus Shuttlesworth, he'd probably have a dunk or two that would make the crew stop shooting the movie, like they actually did when Denzel started scoring more than the planned 11-0 score.

Curry isolates a massive 21 percent of time when he's on the floor, and 0.81 points per possession can justify it because VEF Riga have their stretches where they need somebody to go crazy. 

It's usually Curry or Jalen Riley. But Curry does more one-on-one stuff here, just to complement his highlight dunks and blocks.

Speedy Smith (Rytas Vilnius)

Here is a tricky one. Speedy Smith's job isn't really to go 1v1. With 5.3 assists per game, he's a pass first guard, he's been that way throughout his career, and he's helped Rytas Vilnius win 14 straight games in all competitions, and go 19-1 through their last 20 games.

However, numbers suggest Smith isolates 18.3 percent of time and gets 1.231 points per possession, which is way above BCL average. That's kinda ideal. A great one-on-one player, who loves getting others involved.

Sinan Guler (Darussafaka)

Before you go, "wait what, a 38-year-old!?" on me, hear me out, because (1) Darussafaka made it to the Round of 16, (2) got there over the two-time defending champions Hereda San Pablo Burgos, and (3) are in the hunt for #1 seed in the Turkish League, which are all strong factors to have a mention here.

I thought I'd see Troy Caupain have the best numbers in terms of isolation when I got to the white, green and black team from Istanbul. But Guler gets the most isolation plays, 12.2 percent of the time while he's on the floor, scores on 55.6 percent of his isolations and gets 1.111 points per possession in isolations.

Those are elite numbers. Especially for a 38-year-old. I can already see him driving left against Shuttlesworth and finding all the bizarre angles on his bank shots and layups. Five points in He Got Game, easily. Even more if he's allowed to call timeouts every two minutes.

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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Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic is a Basketball Champions League writer and editor since day one of the competition, specializing in Power Rankings and his Takeaways on Gamedays. When he's not covering basketball, he's probably watching a Hajduk Split game somewhere.