No two players have delivered more assists over the past three Turkish Airlines EuroLeague seasons than Nick Calathes and Facundo Campazzo, and these two premier point guards are set to square off this week in one of the greatest derbies in the world of basketball.
This time around, the 27th Clásico in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this century between Spanish archrivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid also features a battle of playmakers that have topped the assists charts in recent years.
No player has dished more assists over the past three seasons than Nick Calathes, who had 790 between the 2017-18 and 2019-20 campaigns, all of which he spent with Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. Calathes dished at least 249 assists and averaged at least 8.0 per game in each of the past three seasons – the best three marks in the history in the competition – including a record-breaking 286 assists in the 2018-19 season and a historic 9.1 average from the last season. Campazzo’s best campaign came last year, when he ranked second with 7.1 assists per game in a season shortened by the world-wide pandemic.
The two have appeared in an identical number of games in the past three years, 92, and Campazzo is the next-best assist-maker in the competition over that span, though by a significant margin behind Calathes. The two also had the most steals in the past three seasons, with Calathes collecting 143 (1.6 spg.) and Campazzo with 136 (1.5 spb.).
However, assist are not the only segment where Calathes has been more productive in the past three seasons. He averaged 17.4 points over that span, compared to Campazzo’s 14.9. Calathes also grabbed a total of exactly 400 rebounds for a 4.3 average, compared to 2.4 per game from Campazzo. Calathes was also more efficient when it comes shooting the ball, especially two-point shots, of which he took two-and-a-half times as many as Campazzo, while Real’s playmaker has been the more accurate three-point shooter by a lot.
What is interesting, however, is that nine games against each other, all in those last three seasons between Real and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Campazzo more often than not had the upper hand.
Not only did Real win eight of those nine games, but Campazzo averaged 6.7 assists to Calathes’ 5.7 in them. Calathes did have a slight rebounding edge, not surprising considering he has 15 centimeters on his counterpart, and made more field goals. However, Campazzo has scored with a lot higher accuracy, including 56.5% on two-pointers and 37.5% from long range, which is more than 18 and 12 percentage points, respectively, better than Calathes.
Now, all eyes will be on the two elite playmakers who go against each other in the clash of two Spanish archrivals for the first time in EuroLeague action