04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
Hitmen - The best shooters in the BCL
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Hitmen - The best shooters in the BCL

MIES (Switzerland) - Newsflash! The 3-point shot is becoming more and more important. Like stocks in Dutch Tulips in the 1630's (bet you weren't expecting to read that when you clicked this link), or the Dotcom Bubble in the 90's, when it comes to 3-point shots attempted by basketball teams, it really is "Up Only". And unlike tulips or pointless web companies, we aren't likely to see a crash in teams attempting to splash the cash from deep any time soon. If we take this season in the BCL as our most recent example of "Number Go Up", teams are attempting 42 percent of all their shots from behind the arc, which is the highest it's ever been. Last season was 40 percent, the season before 39 percent, and Season 1 was 36 percent. The trend isn't hard to analyze. 

With that in mind, it stands to reason that shooters are some of the most important players on the market. Every team is looking for shooting in as many positions as possible but there is a big difference between the ability to shoot and being a shooter. A shooter only needs the smallest window of opportunity to hurt you, give them more than one shot and they can kill the entire game. They are the assassins on the team, the hired hitmen that can do what they do, anywhere, anytime, against anyone. Here is our list of season seven's most savage slayers. 

Sasu Salin AKA Hawkeye

The best shooter in the short history of the BCL isn't slowing down anytime soon. The Fin attempts over 80 percent of his shots from deep and is shooting over 50 percent on those eight attempts per game. That is enough to make him one of the most efficient half-court players in the league despite attempting less than two shots per game anywhere near the rim. In fact, at 1.2 points per possession used (per Synergy) in the half-court, Salin is ranked fourth in the BCL, above this season's sensation T.J. Shorts and the highest-ranked guard in the league. 

If you have watched Tenerife at all in the last three seasons you will have seen the action below. It has become known as "Tenerife Action" but in truth, it could just as easily be "Salin Action". The set looks like a Spanish pick-and-roll with Salin setting a back screen for the roller but instead, Salin slips out of the action early and uses the roller as a screen himself. Not every shooter can move at that speed in a sideways direction then stop on a dime and hit a shot. Salin does it as well as anyone and as you hear from Josh Bett on commentary when he does catch the ball, he's an absolute assassin.


The thing that makes Salin especially lethal is the amount of space he needs - or to be precise, the amount of space he doesn't need - to get his shot off. The two clip below are from Tenerife's loss to Rytas before Christmas but pay attention to the simplicity of the action in both clips. One screen away from the ball, one sprint to catch and shoot from Salin. On both plays, the defense chases him over the screen and hedges at the ball from the next defender - this is the exact scheme you would choose against an elite shooter - but it makes no difference, as long as Salin has nobody in his cylinder when he draws back the arrow, it's hitting the target every time. Neither shot even touched the rim.


Jalen Riley AKA John Wick

If Jalen Riley does have a dog, you are probably better off leaving it well alone. When you lead your team on scoring, whilst shooting 53.8 percent from two-point range and 44.4 percent from deep, on eight attempts, you are a bad man. When you are doing that and also hitting daggers, off the dribble, inside the last minute of the fourth quarter, with enemies coming at you from all angles, you are a killer.


There have been three John Wick movies already, with a fourth scheduled for 2023. Riley had 17 and 19 points in PAOK's two wins of the Regular Season and hit big shots down the stretch of both games. If the men from Thessaloniki are going to get past Rytas, they will need another two sequels from their own hitman in a black and white suit.  

Dario Brizuela and Tyson Carter AKA Vincent and Jules

Usually, hitmen operate alone but in the case of Unicaja, they have a whole squad of assassins. However, when it comes to taking shots from range they have a deadly duo that has been striking down upon teams with great vengeance and furious anger(That is a Pulp Fiction reference for those 90's kids amongst you). Fresh off the back of becoming Eurobasket champion, Dario Brizuela is putting up shooting numbers in the BCL that can only be described as absurd; 53 percent overall, 55 percent from three, and 91 percent from the line. His partner in crime, Tyson Carter, isn't far behind him either at 54 percent overall, 54 percent from deep, and 67 percent from the stripe.

When you have the nickname "Basque Mamba" you had better be a cold-hearted killer with the ball in your hands. Just as well that is exactly what Dario Brizuela is. Off the dribble, side step, step back, whatever, whenever, minimal space needed to inflict maximum damage.


If you haven't seen the way that Tyson Carter is playing this season then check the clip below... drag back, cross back behind the back, drive, draw and kick, then relocate and splash in front of the opponent's bench. 


Jamar Smith AKA Leon (The Professional)

So, you thought we might run out of impressive shooting numbers? How about 41.5 percent from three on 6.8 attempts per game whilst guiding your team to the Play-Ins during their first season in the BCL? Especially when you add the context that a lot of those attempts have been tough shots, either off the dribble, or off balance, and often at the end of the quarter.

If you have seen the movie "Leon: The Professional" you will understand what we mean when we say that Jamar Smith is Bahcesehir's " Cleaner". Is the game on the line? Do you have a slim lead against a BCL rival in a vital game and it's about to get messy? You had better call the number of your cleaner. Luckily for Erhan Ernak, he can call on his #15, Jamar Smith. 




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.