Upon reading the title, you might assume this story is about Mike James, Shane Larkin, or any other high-profile EuroLeague player. However, this player probably isn’t even considered a star.
Alec Peters is a familiar name to EuroLeague fans, having been a former NBA player on the Old Continent since 2018 when he signed a contract with CSKA Moscow. It took him a couple of seasons to adapt to European basketball, but in the 2020/21 season, he truly showcased his potential.
At that time, Peters played for Baskonia, a EuroLeague club renowned for its scouting prowess and its ability to recruit players who have yet to reach their full potential but possess the quality to do so. This is a necessity for the Spanish club, given its comparatively lower budget in Europe’s top-flight competition.
With Baskonia, Peters established himself as a solid EuroLeague forward. He averaged 11.5 points and 3.9 rebounds over 33 games while showcasing an excellent 44.7% shooting accuracy from downtown. In the subsequent season, Peters experienced a dip in his numbers, largely due to a knee injury.
Big Shoes To Fill
Following the injury-plagued season, Peters moved once more. He joined Olympiacos in Greece during the summer of 2022. Despite limited minutes, the 28-year-old forward continued to display impressive shooting skills from beyond the arc. His role with Olympiacos was primarily restricted due to the exceptional performance of power forward Sasha Vezenkov, who was named the EuroLeague MVP and earned a contract in the NBA.
Vezenkov’s highlights from last season:
In the summer, Olympiacos added power forward Luke Sikma to their roster. The American, who came from ALBA Berlin, was initially perceived as Vezenkov’s probable successor as the primary number four for the Greek powerhouse. However, those predictions proved wrong as head coach Georgios Bartzokas ultimately chose Peters for the role.
Bartzokas’ decision isn’t surprising when comparing Peters’ and Vezenkov’s playing styles. Both excel as shooters, especially from the three-point line, move effectively off-ball, crucial to Olympiacos’ gameplay, and are capable rebounders. The main difference lies in Vezenkov’s slightly greater physicality, aiding his effectiveness when finishing around the rim and in rebounding.
How Well Has Peters Played?
In brief, he’s been exceptional. After 18 rounds (Peters missed one game due to the birth of his daughter, Ava), the Valparaiso University alum leads Olympiacos in scoring with 15.5 points per game. He’s one of only two Reds’ players averaging in double digits, the second being Isaiah Canaan (11.9 PPG).
Among all EuroLeague players, Peters’ 15.5 points per game ranks eighth. However, what distinguishes the former Phoenix Sun from other high-volume scorers is his remarkable shooting percentages: 62.1% from two-point range, 52.9% from beyond the arc, and 87.2% from the free-throw line.
Of course, players like James and Larkin are incredible offensive talents with heavier burdens as undisputed leaders of their teams. Consequently, their shooting efficiency may not be at its peak. Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that Peters stands out as the most efficient scorer in the EuroLeague.
Considering statistics, is there another EuroLeague player averaging at least 60% on twos and 50% on threes? Partizan Belgrade’s center Bruno Caboclo fits the bill (12 PPG, 75.6% 2FG, 56.5% 3FG), yet the Brazilian big man doesn’t match Peters’ volume.
Caboclo has played 11 games, averaging four two-point field goal attempts and two threes per game, while Peters stands at 5.6 and 4.1 respectively. Additionally, Caboclo’s playing time is slightly over 20 minutes per game compared to Peters’ 28 minutes and 33 seconds.
Analyzing Peters’ Game
Peters is a forward who relies heavily on teammates to feed him the ball. For instance, all his made three-pointers came from assists, and 75% of his two-point makes were assisted.
Peters’ significance to Olympiacos’ offense is evident in his usage rate, estimating the percentage of team plays involving a player while on the court. His usage rate of 21.3% is among the highest in the team, on par with Thomas Walkup and behind Nigel Williams-Goss (23.9%), Shaquille McKissic (24.9%), and Giannoulis Larentzakis (25.7%).
Peters’ highlights against Panathinaikos Athens in Round 1:
Thus far Olympiacos has scored 115.3 points per 100 possessions ranking them as the eighth best team in the EuroLeague. However, with Peters on the court, their offensive rating skyrockets to an impressive 140 points per 100 possessions, underscoring Peters’ impact on the team’s offense.
Moreover, Peters’ offensive rating of 140 is the highest among all EuroLeague players averaging at least 15 minutes per game and who have played a minimum of nine games. His teammate, towering French center Moustapha Fall, closely follows with an offensive rating of 139.
What further enhances Peters’ season is his consistency. Last season’s Greek champions have seen Peters score in single digits only three times in the EuroLeague, facing formidable defenses in Milan, Real Madrid, and Virtus Bologna.
This season, Olympiacos hasn’t been the dominant force they were last season, but they’ve successfully filled Vezenkov’s shoes with a great player in Peters, who is currently having his best season in Europe. Once the team sorts out their playmaking duties, anticipate the Greek club contending for a spot in the Final Four with Peters consistently delivering bucket after bucket.