Credit: imago images/camera4+ - Scanpix
Credit imago images/camera4+ - Scanpix

With the first five rounds of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague already in the books, it’s time to look at some of the players that had a good start of the season, sometimes in a surprising way compared to what were the expectations at first.

Elie Okobo

Elie  Okobo
Elie  Okobo
MIN: 27.02
PTS: 18.2 (62.32%)
REB: 3.8
As: 4.2
ST: 1.2
BL: 0
TO: 4.6
GM: 5

Most of the names are rookies in the competition, but despite their lack of experience in EuroLeague, they’re producing at a very high level so far. The hope for their teams is that they’ll maintain this level of production for the coming weeks. 

Elie Okobo (PG, ASVEL)

ASVEL strongly started the season, winning 3 out of 5 games at the beginning of the season. They beat EuroLeague reigning champions Anadolu Efes in Round 3 and forced last season’s final-four team AX Armani Exchange Milan to a very contested game. 

One of the main reasons behind these wins is the contribution of French point guard Elie Okobo. In the first five games, Okobo averages 18.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting an astonishing 57.9% from three-point.

He had 23 points in his EuroLeague debut against Zalgiris Kaunas and matched that in the last game against Maccabi Tel Aviv. Against Olimpia Milan, he scored 25 points, improving his career-high in EuroLeague.

After a not-great experience in the NBA, now it looks like Okobo has found the perfect environment for him to shine. His addition was probably underestimated a bit over the summer, but his numbers shouldn’t surprise that much.

Before leaving for the NBA, Okobo had a breakout season with Pau Orthez in 2017-2018, when he averaged 13 points, 4.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds while shooting almost 40% from three-point.

He’s currently in the top 10 for Index Rating, sitting at the 7th place behind Mike James and Toko Shengelia. TJ Parker can be very happy, and Okobo is not going to be the only ASVEL player in this article. 

Oscar Da Silva (PF, ALBA Berlin)

Elie Okobo

Elie  Okobo
Team: LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
Position: PG
Age: 24
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Birth place: France

Probably the biggest surprise of this beginning of the season. The young German forward, who signed with ALBA in the final part of the transfer season, averages 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 71% from two points.

A Stanford alumn, Da Silva returned to Germany in March and joined MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.

He averaged 7.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game during the final part of the regular season. Despite having a great senior year at Stanford, he went undrafted in this year’s draft, averaging 18.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game.

Despite having joined the team only recently, Da Silva looked completely comfortable in coach Gonzalez’s system, offering different solutions offensively and showing a great level of activity.

In ALBA’s win against Fenerbahce, Da Silva was simply unstoppable, especially in the second half, finishing with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.

The power forward signed a three-year deal, and ALBA can look at the future of this player with a good level of optimism, especially after this strong start. 

Donta Hall (C, AS Monaco)

I was probably one of the first people to start the Donta Hall hype train even before the first EuroLeague game. And his impact in the competition has only confirmed my expectations. Hall is averaging 9.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.

His energy and physicality are all over the place, he doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands often to produce and give a great contribution to the team on both ends of the court. He has already built great chemistry on lobs and pick & roll situations with Mike James.

After spending time in the NBA between the Detroit Pistons, the Orlando Magic, and the Brooklyn Nets, Hall is adjusting quickly to EuroLeague basketball, and it looks like he fits perfectly coach Mitrovic’s system.

He had his best game in the win against UNICS, finishing with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal, being a key factor in the game.

Monaco is currently at two wins and two losses in the first four games and looked like a team that could fight against every single opponent out there, even the top contenders. So if you want to jump on board Donta Hall’s hype train, this might be a good moment. 

Chris Jones (PG/SG, ASVEL)

Another ASVEL member and definitely a player who started the season really strong from the very beginning. After a season filled with ups and downs with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Jones has been a key factor for ASVEL so far, fitting in right away in coach TJ Parker’s system.

The 28-year-old averages 16 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 53% from three-point, creating an impressive backcourt combination with Elie Okobo. He had his career-high in EuroLeague in the game against ALBA Berlin with 24 points and 2 rebounds.

Chris Jones and his backcourt partner are scoring very efficiently in one-on-one situations, and ASVEL as a whole is shooting 71% in effective field goal percentage in iso, per EuroLeague.

Offensively, Jones has a much bigger role than the one he had in Maccabi, and so far, it’s paying off for ASVEL. If he and Okobo keep these numbers, the playoffs might be a possibility for the French club. 

Devon Hall (G/SF, AX Armani Exchange Milan)

After the first five rounds of the season, Armani Exchange are still unbeaten, and among the new faces of the team, Devon Hall was one of the most impressive.

Arrived from Bamberg, Hall quickly transitioned to EuroLeague basketball, instantly becoming an important element of coach Ettore Messina’s rotation.

A solid three-point shooter with good defensive skills, Hall can also create off the dribble and help with his secondary playmaking skills, an all-around piece that has been extremely effective for Milan so far.

In the first four rounds of the season, Hall is averaging 11.2 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 1 assist per game while shooting an excellent 50% from three-point.

Hall’s contribution in the backcourt gives Milan even more depth, and with the contemporary presence of Jerian Grant, both Sergio Rodriguez and Malcolm Delaney can take some breath from time to time without worrying too much that the team will go down in their absence, which was one of Milan’s main issues in the past season.

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