April 23, 2022
EuroLeague 2022 year in review: Part I
Which WNBA imports performed the best in the 2022 EuroLeague season?
Wasn’t that quick!? It feels like no time has passed since the 2022 EuroLeague season tipped off, yet here we are looking at it from the rearview mirror. So much so, that runner-up Fenerbahçe already fired head coach Victor Lapeña on April 19, just a week after failing to win the championship on its home court.
Over the next two weeks, we will put the final touches on the 2022 campaign, and we will continue to cover everything related to overseas/European basketball throughout the offseason. In this post, I’m bringing you an interactive dashboard to visualize the EuroLeague season along with individual player breakdowns for half of the 38 players linked to WNBA franchises who played in at least one EuroLeague game. (The rest are coming next week!)
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2022 EuroLeague interactive dashboard
To wit: Every single bit of the 2022 EuroLeague competition in a tidy dashboard for you to explore and enjoy! Click here to access it. (It’s best viewed from a computer due to the size of the visualizations.)
You will see three tabs at the top of the dashboard: Team/Game Schedule, Weekly Gamelog and Stats/G. Each section presents the same information in different ways and from different points of view, so you can access it however you find it most interesting, or depending on which questions you’re trying to answer.
Breaking down the WNBA imports’ performances
And now, for the one-by-one breakdowns! I have ordered the players by their 2021 WNBA franchise (or the franchise they were most recently linked to before that) and then by per-game efficiency, so expect the better EuroLeague players to appear first for each WNBA team. This week’s post addresses the first 19 players, including WNBA imports from the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings and Indiana Fever.
I am keeping things simple in this section with just a couple of sentences per player. If you want a full breakdown of their individual seasons and game-by-game stats, you can use the interactive dashboard to dig deeper!
- Elizabeth Williams (20.7 efficiency): Williams was crowned Defensive Player of the Year after putting up 12.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game to go with a league-leading 2.3 blocks per game. She was one of only six imports with an efficiency above 20—while playing the most games (18) among those six.
- Kahleah Copper (18.2): The WNBA Finals MVP arrived a bit later than some of her fellow WNBA players (reasonable) but hit the ground running and snatched another MVP award for her regular-season contributions for Avenida in Spain. Scoring 21.4 points per game while shooting 46% from the field, 37% from beyond the arc and 78% from the charity stripe over 14 games was all Copper needed to get the trophy.
- Allie Quigley (17.4): Quigley (along with Astou Ndour) played the second-most EuroLeague games among Sky players, with 10 for UMMC Ekaterinburg. She helped the Russians finish at the top of Group A by averaging 16.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Too bad her team couldn’t participate in the postseason, though, as it cut Quigley’s impressive run short.
- Courtney Vandersloot (15.5): Sloot could only play four games in the EuroLeague, but she showed glimpses of true greatness. She was one of three players league-wide (minimum 100 minutes played) averaging three-plus rebounds and assists per game and one of only two adding two-plus steals per game.
- Astou Ndour (14.2): It was a good season for the second-unit Sky forward. Ndour played over 26 minutes per game for Umana Reyer and contributed numbers all across the board. She finished the year averaging at least one of each per-game statistical category, including steals and blocks. Only four players did it in the 2022 EuroLeague season, with Ndour posting the third-highest efficiency among them.
- Diamond DeShields (11.6): DeShields got overshadowed by an impressive campaign by team leader Sandrine Gruda, but DeShields was a bona fide performer on a daily basis and posted arguably the second-best per-game stats among players from Famila Schio in her nine games. Only 11 other EuroLeague players matched DeShields by averaging of over 11 points, six rebounds and two assists per game.
- Dana Evans (8.0): Evans’s two-game stint with KSC didn’t allow her to do a lot, but her per-game numbers (in a tiny sample of just 60 total minutes played) were ridiculous: 11.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game. That was probably not going to hold for long, but when Evans heard her name called, she stepped up to the challenge.
- Stefanie Dolson (4.3): Yes, Dolson only played four games with Sopron, but she was key for the Hungarian side to lift the EuroLeague trophy. Her minutes were low at just 17 per game and her numbers weren’t gaudy (2.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game), but her presence in the paint played a huge part in Sopron’s dominant defense.
- Brionna Jones (23.6): If efficiency was a counting stat, then Connecticut would have had by far the highest combined mark among all WNBA teams sending imports to EuroLeague teams. That’s how incredible Brionna Jones, Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and Briann January were this season. Brionna posted the highest average efficiency of the four, averaging over 20 points and eight rebounds per game to go along with nearly two assists, two steals and one block per game.
- Jonquel Jones (23.5): The only things stopping Jonquel Jones from getting the MVP were probably the small 11-game sample and the fact that she was part of the postseason-removed UMMC squad. Other than that, Jones was as good as advertised in her short time in Russia: She averaged more than 17 points, nine boards, a couple of assists and one block in just 24.6 minutes per game.
- Alyssa Thomas (20.6): Thomas was my EuroLeague MVP pick, and I’m still standing by that. Thomas carried Praha to the semifinals (with the help of Brionna Jones, of course) while setting on fire anyone who dared to challenge her. No other EuroLeague player put up 13-plus points, nine-plus rebounds and two-plus steals per game this year, but Thomas did that and added a phenomenal 5.9 assists per game because she is just that good. Amazing campaign.
- Briann January (9.5): January was not the best of the Sun imports to log minutes in the EuroLeague this season, but she was a champ when all was said and done. January had to give way to better players in Gabby Williams and Bernadett Hatar while playing for Sopron, but she was impressive, playing tons of minutes (31.7 minutes per game) and contributing across the board with over 10 points, four assists, two boards and one steal per game.
- Satou Sabally (18.3): If you don’t believe in Sabally yet for some reason, well, let me tell you she has arrived for good. Injuries cut Sabally’s first two WNBA seasons short, but in 12 games of EuroLeague ball, she was the best Dallas Wing in the competition. Her ridiculous do-it-all game included an efficient stat line of 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game. Her shooting was sublime: 47.0/45.6/77.5 from the field, 3-point distance and the free-throw line.
- Arike Ogunbowale (13.5): Gunslinger Ogunbowale! Nobody is going to be surprised to find out that Ogunbowale hoisted 5.8 3-point shots per game even though her shooting percentage wasn’t that good (24.2%). That said, her volume made up for the mistakes, and she still finished the season averaging 16 points per game in 12 games.
- Kayla Thornton (12.1): Thornton played 14 games but never found great production for Umana Reyer. Her 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game were good, but in the 29.8 minutes per game she played, she should have done at least a bit more.
- Charli Collier (8.8): Collier played only six games before injuring her knee in December. (She should be good and available when the WNBA campaign tips off, no worries.) The small sample was promising, though, with Collier hitting 10-plus points in three of those games and averaging 7.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on the season with nice shooting numbers.
- Bella Alarie (8.2): Alarie will sit out the 2022 WNBA season, but she was quite good for Avenida in a secondary role throughout the EuroLeague season and the Spaniards’ run to a third-place finish. Alarie was the only player in the competition getting fewer than 16 minutes per game who posted at least four points and four rebounds per game. She was also tied for the most games played with 19.
- Chelsea Dungee (0.5): A forgettable stint in Galatasaray for Dungee, who got cut after playing just four games for the Turkish side without doing that much for them nor to help herself for the upcoming WNBA season. She competed in Australia for the remainder of the offseason.
- Bernadett Hatar (17.7): Was there a more dominant player in the EuroLeague last year, mostly because of her physical presence? Hard to pick against Hatar, if you ask me. Hatar patrolled Sopron’s paint with incredible gusto through the regular season and the playoffs on the way to winning the title. Yes, she had a height advantage against all of her opponents, but that doesn’t take away from her averages of 13.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in a rather large 450-minute sample across 18 games.