Midseason Review: CSKA Tops On Offense And Defense; Oktyabr Leads In Tempo

With a few exceptions, most teams in the league have played at least 15 games, making this the perfect time for our midseason review. VTB-League.com breaks down the stats for all 16 teams, crunching numbers on offense, defense and tempo.

We determine each team's tempo rating by dividing the total number of possessions by games played. Teams with more possessions play at a higher tempo.

Place Team Avg. possessions per game
1 Krasny Oktyabr 77,9
2 Khimki 77,0
3 Astana 76,8
4 Nymburk 76,4
5 Avtodor 76,2
6 Enisey 76,1
7 Tsmoki-Minsk 74,4
8 Zenit 74,2
9 Nizhny Novgorod 74,0
10 CSKA 73,6
11 Vita 73,2
12 UNICS 72,9
13 VEF 72,5
14 Kalev 72,4
15 Lokomotiv-Kuban 72,2
16 Bisons 71,9

Fastest tempo: Krasny Oktyabr

Ever since entering the league, Volgograd has been known to push the pace. Nothing changed this season. Even a major overhaul of the roster couldn't affect Oktyabr's tempo. Last week, for instance, the team secured a big win vs. Enisey thanks to its terrific transition game.

It is surprising to see Avtodor so far down the rankings. Last year, Saratov finished 1st in tempo by a wide margin, but with Brad Greenberg in charge, the team took a different approach to start the 2015-16 campaign. However, he has since been replaced and Avtodor is back to playing at a high tempo, though the team remains just outside the top-5.

Slowest tempo: Bisons

Bisons bring up the rear in tempo, despite playing without a true center. Two other northern teams are next to Bisons in the rankings: Kalev and VEF also play at a slower pace, despite having the personnel to go faster. As for UNICS and Lokomotiv-Kuban, deliberate, methodical offense is a conscious choice. Both teams take a defense-first approach to the game and enjoy slowing the tempo.

The best way to measure offense is to divide the total number of points by possession. The numbers in our table are based on 100 possessions. The higher the number, the more prolific the offense.

Place Team Points per 100 possessions
1 CSKA 128,2
2 Khimki 126,1
3 UNICS 121,2
4 Zenit 114,8
5 Avtodor 114,7
6 Nizhny Novgorod 113,6
7 VEF 112,5
8 Astana 110,4
9 Lokomotiv-Kuban 110,3
10 Krasny Oktyabr 110,0
11 Tsmoki-Minsk 109,5
12 Nymburk 109,3
13 Enisey 107,9
14 Kalev 103,4
15 Bisons 102,7
16 Vita 93,2

Top offense: CSKA

No surprise here. The Army Men boast the Euroleague's top offense and have only lost once in the VTB United League this season. Teams simply don't know to shut CSKA down. It's also no shock to see Khimki and UNICS in the top-3. Zenit, meanwhile, sits 4th. After losing Kyle Landry, St. Petersburg's production has dipped, but the potential addition of Kaspars Berzins should help Zenit recover lost ground. Avtodor rounds out the top-5. Saratov has been on fire in recent games and could rise further in the rankings.

Worst offense: Vita

Only one team is averaging less than one point per possession: Vita. Bisons and Kalev have also struggled to put the ball in the basket, while Enisey ranks 13th. The rest of the league is very tightly bunched, with only 4.3 points per possession separating 6th-place Nizhny Novgorod and 12th-place Nymburk.

We calculate defensive efficiency by dividing the total number of points allowed by the number of possessions. The stat is also based on 100 possessions. The lower the number, the better.

Place Team Points allowed per 100 possessions
1 CSKA 95,3
2 Lokomotiv-Kuban 98,8
3 UNICS 103,7
4 Khimki 104,4
5 Avtodor 104,6
6 Nymburk 106,3
7 Zenit 107,8
8 Tsmoki-Minsk 112,9
9 Krasny Oktyabr 113,9
10 Bisons 114,4
11 Enisey 116,0
12 Nizhny Novgorod 117,6
13 VEF 118,0
14 Astana 118,5
15 Kalev 120,0
16 Vita 133,7

Top defense: CSKA

CSKA's 1st-place ranking is a bit of a surprise. But the Army Men have been locked in defensively since the beginning of December and recently opened up a significant lead on 2nd-place Lokomotiv-Kuban (3.5 points). Kuban may not be the productive team on offense, but the defense has been excellent since the start of the season. UNICS and Khimki sit further back in 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Avtodor is easily the biggest surprise, rounding out the top-5, only 0.2 points per possession behind Khimki. Last season, Saratov earned a reputation for blistering offense. Now they are beginning to add defense, which doesn't bode well for Volgograd's opponents. Could Saratov improve on last year's quarterfinal appearance?

Worst defense: Vita

There's one more surprise at the bottom of the table. While Vita, Kalev, Astana and VEF bring up the rear, Nizhny Novgorod is 12th, trailing teams like Enisey, Bisons and Oktyabr. Ainars Bagatskis's men are currently in 8th place in the standings, but if the defense doesn't improve, the club risks losing its playoff spot.

There's more to the game than statistics, but after 121 games, these rankings do allow some measure of objectivity. The league's top teams have entrenched themselves at the top, while the cellar-dwellers sit near the bottom of each ranking.