As the Euroleague Qualifying Rounds tip off tonight, enthusiasts will definitely want to check out Team Spain/BC Khimki Moscow Region coach Sergio Scariolo breaking down what the new court means on a practical, strategic level.
Yes, it’s true. NBA-rules supremacists finally get their way as Euroleague basketball has adopted the longer three-point shot arc and has dispatched with the trapezoid key. (Sigh. BallinEurope loved the trapezoid.) The new dimensions were actually tested in the Spanish second-division league LEB Gold during the 2009-10 season, so Scariolo and other followers have a decent idea of how the European club game might be changed.
The numbers say that 4.7 fewer points per game were scoring and shooting percentages were down 1.5% to 2.0%, but this is likely a temporary condition, as Scariolo explains.
To watch the clip, click here. Start at about 2:30 in for some whiteboard goodness from the coach; though BiE wasn’t particularly impressed with the Scariolo’s scouting prowess during the 2010 FIBA World Championship, he may just get BiE’s nomination for coolest Euroleague coach – he’s pimping the European Pat Riley look!
The new Euroleague rules may be read here but on the court, here’s what to look for in 2010-11 and beyond, as Scariolo sees it:
• Eventually the rule changes will result in more opportunity for offenses with spacing to their advantage in halfcourt offenses; however, immediately defenses will adapt quicker because “it is easier to destroy than to build.”
• Beyond the arc, defenders will not be playing as tightly on potential shooters and will probably be playing a step back (call it the Rondo Defense) from the outside man. This will have the added effect of reducing one-on-one attacks by guards.
• Power forwards will be far less likely to take three pointers than ever both because of the greater distance of the NBA arc and more room to work with inside
• The common offensive set of four outside/one inside in the European game will essentially disappear completely as teams become obliged to put two men in or near the paint.
• Less maneuverability in the corners due to the wider arc will present the biggest challenge for outside shooters. Scariolo notes that with the introduction of the court in LEB Gold, players unused to the new shape habitually stepped out of bounds during screen plays. In the short term, Scariolo reckons that the narrowest spaces on the outside will essentially disappear as an option for shooters, thus reducing the field of play for offenses even more.
• The greatest positive effect may be felt on offense in the low post. The low post on the weak side automatically becomes much more of a weapon simply because he’s positioning closer to the basket than ever before – without changing one whit of strategy or game plan!
• Ball handlers in the paint will find it much easier to pass underneath, again because of the instantly closer positions of the 4 and 5 to the hoop, as opposed to defending big men hoping to assist on any double teams who suddenly have a greater distance to cover.
• Offensive rebounding could be easier under the new rules, again due to any weak side post player having a closer (and clearer, typically) path to the basket after the shot. Positioning for the offensive rebound, especially on the baseline, will be easier in Scariolo’s view.
• In fact, power forwards in particular will have to learn how to exploit the baseline effectively for positioning on the offensive rebound.
What does this mean for your Euroleague team? Well, as the man said, prepare for all scoring to be down this year. BiE’d guess that, should your guys be bringing a beefy frontcourt and/or a wily coach, you’re loving life. (CSKA Moscow, rejoice!) And take a good long look at your power forward: He’ll be receiving exaggerated importance on both sides of the floor this season. Meanwhile, both the pick-and-roll and screen-heavy play of the Spanish teams may require adaptation. New-look Maccabi Tel Aviv in the finals, anyone…?