The 2015 Euroleague Final Four in 4 maps

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By Fernando Martín @fmartinBasket

The Euroleague Final Four is here. After a challenging 30-games season four teams will battle in just three days to become the new European champion. Too exciting to miss it.

To me it was also the perfect excuse to use that wonderful utility called Carto DB to put the focus on certain aspects of this year’s edition. Take a look at the following maps.

How many countries are represented in the F4?

Players from fifteen countries will compete in Madrid this weekend. The following map shows where do they all come from. The main contributor, as you may have already guessed, is the USA with 15 (25% of the total). Next is Greece with 12 ballers (represented in 3 of the 4 teams), followed by Turkey and Russia with 8.

*I am aware some players hold dual citizenship, like, for instance, Jaycee Carroll (USA and Azerbayan) and Matt Lojeski (USA and Belgium). To elaborate this map I’ve only taken into account the nationality featured in their Euroleague.net bios.

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Ryan Toolson on pace for historic shooting season

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By Fernando Martín @fmartinBasket

In the NBA it is known as the 50-40-90 Club, the apex of individual shooting: to finish an entire regular season at or above 50% for field goals, 40% for three-pointers and 90% for free throws while meeting the minimum requirements for shots taken in each category to qualify. This rare feat has been achieved by only six NBA players since the three-point line was adopted for the 1979-1980 campaign: Steve Nash (in four different seasons), Larry Bird (in two), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.

In European basketball, such a team-oriented environment, individual milestones like that one often go overlooked. The best example is Ryan Toolson.

The American shooting guard is Unicaja’s main offensive threat and the team’s top scorer in the ACB (13.4 points per game; 4th best in the league). But this article is not about the sum of points he’s producing, but about his deadly accuracy.

After 28 league games Toolson leads the ACB in three-point shooting with an astonishing 54.6% and ranks 4th in free throw shooting (92.9%), hitting also a good 52.3% from the field. An awesome all-around shooting performance.

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La histórica temporada de tiro de Ryan Toolson

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Por Fernando Martín @fmartinBasket

En la NBA se conoce como el Club 50-40-90. Acreditar durante una temporada completa al menos un 50% en tiros de campo, un 40% en triples y un 90% en tiros libres. Es el nirvana para un tirador. El súmmum de la eficiencia. Y un logro tan esquivo que desde que se instauró la línea de tres en la NBA (1979) solo lo han conseguido seis jugadores: Steve Nash (en cuatro ocasiones) Larry Bird (en dos), Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Dirk Nowitzki y Kevin Durant.

En Europa, donde lo primero es el rendimiento colectivo y la consecución de objetivos globales –no es una crítica, que conste–, este tipo de logros estadísticos no suelen tener tanta relevancia. Muchas veces pasan incluso desapercibidos. El mejor ejemplo es Ryan Toolson.

El escolta del Unicaja se ha asentado como máximo anotador del equipo malagueño y uno de los mejores de toda la Liga Endesa (4º con una media de 13.4 tantos por encuentro). Pero el mérito no está tanto en los puntos que suma sino en el porcentaje con el que los está consiguiendo.

Tras 28 jornadas Toolson lidera la ACB en porcentaje de triples con un alucinante 54.6%, es cuarto en tiros libres (92.9%) y añade además un 52.3% en tiros de campo (cómputo de tiros de dos y de tres); realmente bueno para un escolta. Para añadirle dificultad, Toolson ha llegado a estos guarismos con una distribución desigual de minutos y tiros a lo largo de la temporada. Su efectividad, en cambio, ha permanecido constante.

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Prospects to watch in the Copa del Rey ACB

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ACB Photo

By Fernando Martín @fmartinBasket

Mario Hezonja (SF, 2.02 m., 19 years old)

2014-15 averages with FC Barcelona: 5.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, 44% 3pt in 15 minutes

All eyes will be on him. Could be a lottery pick (or even a Top 10) in the next NBA Draft. Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traveled to Barcelona last week to see him play, though he’s not getting plenty of minutes due to FC Barcelona’s deep roster. Two weeks ago ‘SuperMario’ tied the ACB record for most three pointers without a miss in a single game (8). A unique talent with good athleticism. In 2012 Hezonja signed a seven-year contract with a buyout clause after the current season.

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Marko Todorovic. A sleeping giant awakens

ACB Photo

ACB Photo

By Fernando Martín @fmartinBasket

From playing sparingly for four years to being arguably the best big man in the ACB 2014-15 so far. Marko Todorovic’s breakout season proves the only thing he needed to blossom into a star was just more playing time.

He couldn’t get enough minutes to show his true potential neither at Joventut Badalona, the team that brought him to Spain in 2008 at age 16, nor at FC Barcelona, the club that signed him in 2012 and still owns his rights. Now he’s making the most of every chance he gets as Bilbao Basket starting center.

Todorovic averages 11.2 points (62% FG), 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in under 26 minutes on the court. A rare combination of size (2.08 m.), skills and basketball IQ, the 22-year-old Montenegrin ranks 3rd in the ACB in efficiency (16.7) and has already collected a league-best three ‘Player of the Week’ honors.

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1-on-1 with Edy Tavares: “Atlanta wanted me to stay one more year in the ACB”

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ACB Photo

By Fernando Martín @fmartinBasket

Walter ‘Big Edy’ Tavares will be one of the most exciting players to watch in Liga Endesa 2014-15. The 7-foot-3 young man from Cape Verde comes off a pretty good season. He should now climb another step and establish himself as the most dominant center in the league. From what we’ve seen so far, he’s moving in the right direction.

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