While Euroleague is on a short break, here are our Top 10 Euroleague's Most Improved Players Ranking. With the season halfway over, RealGM ranked players who have taken the next step in their Euroleague careers and contribute more in 13-14 season than they have been in recent years.
- All records and stats through Game 6 of Top-16.
10. Nik Caner-Medley (Unicaja Malaga, Spain)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds in 28 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 4 points (46% 3FG), 2.9 rebounds in 14 minutes
Before making his Euroleague debut, Nik Caner-Medley proved he could lead a team in both Eurocup and Spain championships. However, Caner-Medley’s first Euroleague experience didn't go as well as expected. Caner-Medley didn’t get many chances to demonstrate his capabilities while playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but that changed once he returned to Spain. The forward became Unicaja’s leader on offense straight away, as Malaga scores 13 points more per 100 possessions with Caner-Medley on the court. The big man would be ranked higher if not for poor performances in first three Top 16 games in which Caner-Medley couldn’t find his range.
9. Sergio Rodriguez (Real Madrid, Spain)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 13.8 points (51% 3FG), 2.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals in 22 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 7.5 points (30% 3FG), 1.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists in 18 minutes
Of course, Sergio Rodriguez had big Euroleague games before the 13-14 season and his role with Real Madrid has always been important. But more importantly, stories of how Rodriguez played this season might end up in European basketball history books. Rodriguez, despite not starting a single Euroleague game, was one of the key reasons why Real started the season with a 31-0 overall record. Speed, quickness, decision-making, scoring abilities and locking his opponents down on defense - Rodriguez has it all to be called as currently best point guard in the league. Moreover, so far Real looks like one of the best teams in modern Euroleague history and that wouldn’t be possible without Rodriguez, who might also become an eight member of 50-40-90 Euroleague club. Following the fifth round of the Top 16 stage, Rodriguez's percentages are 56 from close range, 51 from beyond the arc and 93 from the free throw line.
8. Zoran Erceg (Galatasaray Istanbul, Turkey)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.1 points (88% FT), 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 26 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 6.2 points (30% 3FG), 2.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists in 14 minutes
Throughout his career, Zoran Erceg had a chance to play for two elite European teams, CSKA Moscow and Piraeus Olympiakos. But at that time, Erceg was more of a Euroleague prospect than a big man who can be productive right away. Well, that has changed in Turkey. Erceg was able to use the right situation - Galatasaray players’ injuries and Pops Mensah-Bosnu suspension - and all of the sudden he became one of the leaders of Galatasaray. For the first time in his Euroleague career, Ercen plays a major role and puts big numbers in Top 16 stage - 16 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
7. Emir Preldzic (Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, Turkey)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists in 29 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 8.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists in 23 minutes
Emir Preldzic’s numbers this season didn’t increase as much as other members of the ranking but despite the increased level of talent in Fenerbahce Ulker, Preldzic became the most important player in Zeljko Obradovic’s team. While Linas Kleiza and Bojan Bogdanovic are trying to find a way to become more consistent, Preldzic brings his “A” game on a daily basis. Preldzic, who’s one of the most versatile players in the Euroleague, adapts his game every time as if he cannot find ways to score, he can still be a valuable facilitator or a solid rebounder due to his length and skill set. In 13-14 Preldzic finished game only once without collecting at least four boards and he’s also one of two players who managed to dish out at least four assists in every Euroleague regular season game.
6. Joffrey Lauvergne (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.1 points, 8.6 rebounds in 33 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 6.6 points, 3.6 rebounds in 16 minutes
Looking back at the final of EuroBasket 2013, it seems that it would have been unrealistic to see France losing against Lithuania. Tony Parker, Nicola Batum and other NBA players from France have had a great season while Alexis Ajinca, who was one of the most dominating bigs in the Euroleague, has taken the next step in his career and was invited back to the NBA as well. The 22-year-old Joffrey Lauvergne is no exception as he became the main big man of Partizan Belgrade. Lauverge usually had to face more experienced Euroleague players but that didn’t stop him from doing great job inside the paint. Lauverge grabbed 13 rebounds against Real, 13 and 12 versus FC Barcelona and 12 facing CSKA. No surprise, solid performances helped Lauvergne to be the most minutes played, already almost 500, in the Euroleague.
5. Daniel Hackett (EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Italy)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 12.4 points (41% 3FG), 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists in 31 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 7.2 points (31% 3FG), 2.3 rebounds, 3 assists in 22 minutes
First of all, Daniel Hackett made this ranking for what he did while with Montepaschi. With Bobby Brown gone, Montepaschi became less competitive, but Hackett carried his team on his shoulders and helped them get three regular season wins. Hackett finished four regular season games with 24 performance index rating (PIR) points or more and was an absolute Euroleague leader in drawn fouls. After joining EA7 Emporio Armani, Hackett’s role decreased, but he took over Curtis Jerrells’ spot in the starting five and remains one of the most productive guards in the league.
4. Boban Marjanovic (Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, Serbia)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds in 20 minutes
2010-11 (Euroleague): 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds in 12 minutes
Different from previous years, Boban Marjanovic was a super tall, unskilled big man who could spend no more than 15 minutes on the court per game. While playing for Crvena Zvezda, Marjanovic was more aggressive and more coordinated than ever before. Head coach Dejan Radonjic fit Crvena Zvezda’s game around Marjanovic, who was a decisive factor in some games. The Serbian center was one of the best rebounders in the Euroleague and was the only player who had three double-doubles in the regular season. More importantly, Marjanovic leads the Euroleague in total rebound percentage (23.4), which means almost one out of four rebounds ends up in Marjanovic’s hands.
3. Zoran Dragic (Unicaja Malaga, Spain)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 12.3 points (42% 3FG), 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 24 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 4.5 points (13% 3FG), 3 rebounds, 0.5 assists in 16 minutes
Compared with previous seasons, both brothers Goran and Zoran Dragic, made big steps forward in their careers. While Goran demonstrate All-Star Game worthy results in the NBA, his brother Zoran played like an MVP candidate in Euroleague. Once Joan Plaza became head coach of Unicaja, Dragic’s role increased dramatically as he starts more games than last season, more often has the ball in his hands and he’s not afraid to lead in crucial moments. However, the biggest change happened in Dragic’s three-point shooting accuracy, which last season was absolutely horrible. In 12-13 Dragic made only four out of 31 attempts, while this season his shooting percentage increased to an impressive 42 percent.
2. Alessandro Gentile (EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Italy)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists in 26 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 6.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists in 13 minutes
Alessandro Gentile, just 21 years old, led the Italian national team, which had two NBA players in its squad, in scoring at EuroBasket 2013. It is therefore no surprise that Gentile used this experience in Euroleague as well. Despite huge competition between second line players, Gentile gets plenty of playing time and successfully uses those opportunities. Different from last season, Gentile became a member of EA7 Emporio Armani’s starting five and despite his age the Italian talent is not afraid to take responsibility in big moments. Gentile almost doubled his statistical numbers this season and don’t be surprised if he continues to grow as a player next year as well.
1. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia)
2013-14 (Euroleague): 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists in 31 minutes
2012-13 (Euroleague): 5 points (20% 3FG), 1.8 rebounds, 1 assist in 18 minutes
With the season halfway over, it is pretty much clear who is a top contender to win the Euroleague Rising Star award. The 21-year-old Bogdan Bogdanovic has became a true Euroleague star under coach Dusko Vujosevic. Last season, Bogdanovic scored more than four points only once, while it’s a completely different story this season. Bogdanovic collected 24 or more points three times already, having an outstanding offensive performances against teams such as CSKA and FC Barcelona. As Partizan currently deals with injures, Bogdanovic took advantage of the situation and successfully became a leader in Top 16. In the second round Bogdanovic averages 19.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists, which are amazing numbers without mentioning his age.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Ingles, Maccabi; Stratos Perperoglou, Olympiakos; Przemyslaw Zamojski, Stelmet;, David Jelinek, Laboral Kutxa.