04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Tactics Board: previewing the Final


MALAGA (Spain) -  Sunday's Basketball Champions League Final is not only a first for Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem and Telekom Baskets Bonn, but also the first time a German or Israeli club reaches the Final of the competition.

In light of that, we won't attempt to tell you what will happen, only where to look in case it does. Whatever that may be. 


On paper, this seems to be a classic battle between a great offensive team  and a great defensive team.  Jerusalem have the second-best defensive record in the BCL, conceding just 100.9 points per 100 possessions, behind only Unicaja on 100.5. Bonn score at the second-highest rate in the league at 116 points per 100 possessions, behind only Hapoel Holon at 116.6.

The Player Impact Estimate (PIE)* chart below shows you which players to watch for. Of course, there are players that impact the game outside the boxscore that can have a huge impact on winning, especially in a one-off situation like a final. 


We have to start with TJ Shorts, who comes in the Final fresh off winning the season MVP award on Saturday. After seeing Jerusalem head coach Aleksandar Dzikic put Or Cornelius on Marcelinho Huertas from the start of the Semi-Final on Friday, it's a reasonable prediction to say that they will use his length to try and disturb Shorts' ability to dictate the game.

We may also see Jerusalem use aggressive pick-and-roll coverages to force the ball out of his hands and create an environment where Bonn's other players take more responsibility.

This was the type of coverage we saw Dzikic use later on in the Semi-Final against Tenerife. Whenever teams throw aggressive coverages at good pick-and-roll players, they risk opening themselves up and allowing passes to the short roll with a numbers advantage behind the action.

Watch below how Jerusalem negated that threat with clever positioning and using their length to help from other positions and recover to shooters.

If Jerusalem do elect, or if Bonn can force them into using more conservative coverages, watch for the way that Bonn's guards and bigs (Shorts and Leon Kratzer especially) use 'Gortat' screens to add a second block from any help on the ball-handler as they get closer to the rim.

On the defensive end, Bonn head coach Tuomas Iisalo has often elected to start Shorts matched up with their opponent's small forwards, or even power forwards.

This allows them to put Tyson Ward in a defensive matchup with the opposition point guard and allows him to disrupt pick-and-rolls or dribble-drive attacks.

As we saw against Unicaja in the Semi-Final, this often tempts teams into believing they have a mismatch advantage and attacking in the post. Bonn will instantly drop into a zone-like scheme and fill the paint with extra help.

Should they choose this tactic against Jerusalem, they will find Levi Randolph at the small forward position.

As we have seen all season, Randolph is one of the premier post scorers in the BCL and his ability to hit the fadeaway could mean he doesn't need to engage those extra help defenders in the paint.

Perhaps we will see Bonn put Shorts on Jerusalem's power forward instead but should that be Siim-Sander Vene he's no slouch in the post either. Also keep an eye out for Dzikic possibly moving Khadeen Carrington into the starting lineup and going small with Randolph at the four. 

The chances of that move become possibly even more likely when you understand that Bonn have also gained huge advantages from using the likes of Finn Delany at the power forward position in their own smaller lineups.



The most obvious choice for Jerusalem would be Khadeen Carrington, after his heroics in the Semi-Final,  and his matchup with Javontae Hawkins, who had a quiet but brilliantly efficient 13 points for Bonn on Friday.

However, the X-Factor for both teams may well end up being inside. Zach Hankins has won almost every matchup against a center this season. Most notably AEK's star lineup man, Akil Mitchell in the decisive Game 3 of the Quarter-Finals.


Bonn's Leon Kratzer may be the most underrated player in the Final, and his ability to get behind for lobs in the pick-and-roll could be huge and he has the strength and size to not be offset by the length that Jerusalem's defense will throw at him in the paint.

The ability to finish over the top and also use his strength the defend Hankins in the post could give Bonn a major lift if they can get him engaged in the game.


 Will any of these factors be decisive, who knows? We will have to wait and see. After all, there is a first time for everything.

*PIE uses box score stats to create a single metric that calculates a player's total actions that impact the stats sheet to estimate their impact on the game.

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.