There’s no defending some players in spot-up situations. Some are too dangerous on jumpers and can blow by closing out defenders. Let’s take a deeper look.

High-Gravity Matchup

The matchups between Zenit St Peterburg and Valencia Basket and the derby featuring Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Anadolu Efes Istanbul were supposed to help clear up some of the gridlock in the middle of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings, but with both of the lower-ranked teams in the standings winning, they just created more chaos.

Vasilije Micic played a significant role in Efes’s win scoring an absurd 1.95 points per possession over 19 possessions en route to 37 points. Pouring in 17 points over 6 spot-up possessions alone, Micic did much of his damage off the ball despite creating 16 points out of ball screens.

Spot-up Scoring Splits

Micic’s versatility as an off-ball weapon was on full display against Fenerbahce as it has for much of the season. Micic ranks 19th in the EuroLeague in spot-up scoring, but is also among the five most efficient spot scorers among volume shooters.

Spot-ups have an important place in every team’s offense as they tend to be rooted in their ability to put opposing defenses in rotation to create close-out situations. Whether it is driving and kicking to the open man on the weakside or keeping the ball moving on the perimeter, spot-ups tend to be the payoff for running a good offense. They account for 26% of all possessions and are converted for 1.08 points per possession, making them the main source of offense for every team in the EuroLeague – often by a significant margin.

Though spot-ups are commonly associated with jump shots, there’s a bit more nuance to them than that. Is it true that 66% of all spot-ups result in a catch-and-shoot jump shot, but the other 34% result in drives. This is an important distinction as spot-up jumpers result in 1.20 points per possession while drives result in just 0.85 – a massive gap. The graph above plots every player in the EuroLeague based on how many points they have scored on spot-up jump shots compared to spot-up drives.

As one would assume, there is a heavy contingent of players who seldom opt to put the ball on the floor and often defer quickly even when they do. High-level shooting forwards like Trey Thompkins of Real Madrid, Rokas Giedraitis of TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz and Olympiacos Piraeus’s Sasha Vezenkov certainly fit that mold, but, among higher volume spot-up threats, there are players across the drive-shoot spectrum.

Though only a handful of players look to drive spot-ups more often than they take catch-and-shoot jump shots, the names on that list are interesting. The group of just a half-dozen players includes Real sharpshooter Jaycee Carroll, who defenders make every effort to deny catch-and-shoot opportunities. Opposing defenses are so dogged in that effort that Carroll scores more off the dribble than off the catch when spotting up, basically taking a defender out of the play as he moves off the ball on the perimeter. Efes’s Kruoslav Simon and Valencia’s Nikola Kalinic do not command the same gravity, but share a similar drive-shoot ratio.

Shavon Shields of Milan has been the most prolific pull-up shooter in spot-up situations in the EuroLeague this season with David Lighty of LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne leading the competition in points scored driving to finish at the rim and Zalgiris Kaunas forward Nigel Hayes leading by a comfortable margin in overall points. While that group owns the superlatives, there is a strong argument to be made that Micic, who spends a lot of time playing on the ball, ranking seventh in points created with passes out the pick-and-roll, is the most dangerous spot-up weapon in the EuroLeague. Scoring 1.70 points per spot-up jumper, but 1.17 points per drive, Micic not only demands urgent defensive attention when he catches on the perimeter, but still scores with elite efficiency even when defenders are in a position to force him to put the ball on the floor as his first step and craftiness make him a versatile threat against a scrambling defense.

Looking ahead to Rounds 27 and 28

ASVEL is indisputably the hottest team in the EuroLeague at this point after notching its sixth straight victory on the road over first place FC Barcelona. It will have a chance to determine its own fate in the double-round when it hosts Fenerbahce and Zalgiris, who sit just ahead in the standings.

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