All you need to understand about how much passing has become trendy in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague is to know that the number of assists per game has risen from record to record in five of the last seven seasons, all of which were higher than any other before them this century.
So far in this one, that trend is continuing, with the 35.41 assists seen in an average EuroLeague game, slightly topping the record of 35.38 of the 2017-18 season.
That trend is being pulled by four teams this season who currently rank in the top 13 all-time in average assists. They are Valencia Basket ranked fourth, with 20.21 assists per game; ALBA Berlin (sixth, 20.18 apg.); TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (eighth, 19.9 apg.); and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (13th, 19.6 apg.).
What makes Valencia unique among all the teams this season and in the top 20 all-time in assists is that it has no player averaging at least 4.0 assists individually.
Valencia’s top passer this season, point guard Sam Van Rossom, is making 3.6 assists per game. He ranks 23rd in the league with that average. ALBA has three players ranked above him, while Baskonia and Fenerbahce have two each.
Indeed, Van Rossom’s is the lowest-ranked top assist-maker on any team that ranks in the top 20 for average assists this century. Interestingly, the second-lowest ranking for any top passer on one of those teams belongs to Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce this season; his 4.2 assists are 14th-best right now.
Other than Valencia and Fenerbahce this season, only one other team in the top 20 all-time has a best passer with fewer than 5.0 assists per game. That is the 2017-18 title team from Real Madrid, for whom Facundo Campazzo averaged 4.5 assists, quickly followed by Luka Doncic with 4.3.
What that all adds up to is a Valencia passing game that is as team-oriented as any seen in the Euroleague this century.
Van Rossom has two more teammates, fellow point guard Martin Hermannsson (3.3) and forward Nikola Kalinic (3.2), above the 3.0 mark, but together they account for just half of Valencia’s total. Among the other main contributors to Valencia’s passing success are guards Klemen Prepelic (2.8) and Guillem Vives (2.3) and center Bojan Dubljevic (2.4). Kalinic and Dubljevic make Valencia the only team with a forward dishing more than 3 assists and a center more than 2 per game.
With all that ball movement and unselfishness, Valencia is in a virtual tie with Anadolu Efes Istanbul for second in scoring this season, with 82.2 points per game, and ranks third in team performance index rating at 93.1 per game.
Both are Valencia club records in the competition and evidence, if anyone needed more, that team basketball is not only alive and well, but also being perfected in the EuroLeague.
Seen at: Euroleague.net